Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Material that Hope is Made Of

My belief is in the conviction of God’s goodness and my hope is the reminder of his grace.

Hope is a fascinating word, yet so wrongly defined in our westernized minds. We think of hope as something wistful and vague; like that young nurse in some Hollywood flick looking after her love as he slings a gun over his shoulder and marches out with his battalion, she is left standing there hoping that he will survive. Or hope is a word written on a porcelain Precious Moments® figurine that we give to relative in the hospital post-surgery. Hope. Our culture has redefined it from it's original meaning. Hope is not tentative and it does not leave room for uncertainty.

Hope comes from something deep, soulish conviction inside. Col. 1:5 states that faith and love springs from the hope which is stored up for us in heaven. Don’t you see? Hope reminds us of the joy that is set before us now and in the Age to come. Romans 4:18 says, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed…” And later is says that that belief was credited to him as righteousness.

My belief is in the conviction of God’s goodness and my hope is the reminder of his grace. Even when something seems impossible or overwhelming or just plain confusing I can cling to that hope, because when I do, I am choosing to look to the Lord and say, “I trust even despite the impossibilities.” And with this attitude of hope we give him glory because we are choosing, just like Abraham, to hope against all hope.

Someone said to me recently, “You can’t shorten your wilderness, but you can lengthen it.” I wonder how many times we lengthen our wilderness seasons just because we give up hope too quickly. I wonder: did Joel lengthen his wilderness by giving up hope? It makes me wonder, if even in those wilderness times when everything seems “against all hope” God is still asking me to hope because it reminds me of the joy set before me. Titus 2:13 calls Christ’s appearing our “blessed hope”. How awesome! When Christ returns for his saints, when we meet him in the air, we will see our blessed hope with our own eyes!

So keep hoping. Seek to know the faithful God in whom we place our hope and Jesus Christ our Eternal hope and salvation!

Your Hopeful Friend,


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Fragmented Worship of a Lover

Though mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
Your love O Lord remains,
You found me in the desert place,
I'll chase you in the rain.

You lead me to a safe hillside,
You feed me from the vine,
I leap after you on the mountain heights,
Your love to seek and find.
I rest fully secure in one hope, fully alive in this:
That I am a fiercely loved by the King of Kings
My eternal hope and righteousness.

Though mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
Your love O Lord remains,
You found me in the desert place,
I'll chase you in the rain.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

You Are Mine

The streets were empty of people,

The crowd had long since gone,

The festivities left behind paper scraps,

And fruit trampled on,

The street lamps were being lit,

Illumining the cold stones,

On one of these she hunched,

Holding her cup for alms.

There was no use in begging more,

All had since gone home,

But she still lingered knowing

There was nowhere else to go.

A steady ran poured down her unkempt hair,

Till suddenly she looked up,

Aware of someone’s stare.

It made her flinch but not with fear—no!

Something she had never felt,

The gaze was hot as fire

She thought that she would melt,

In that instant she realized that Someone saw her—

Saw inside.

Every bit, all raw and ugly He saw it all.

How appalled she was—Oh, how ashamed!

Then He knelt before her and with the gentlest gesture,

He took from her the beggars trencher...

Now filled with rain.

In it mirrored years of dashed hopes,

Disappointment and pain.

Regrets, fears, mournful tears

All tasting bitterly of shame.

Raising the cup to his lips without a single word,

He swallowed the heartache, dispelled the lies,

It didn’t matter—their weight, their size,

Two beautiful hands, two perfumed feet,

And a blood stream flowing red.

‘How can this be?’ asked she, weeping at how he bled.

‘Just wait,’ answered He. ‘It is almost complete.’

Then giving back the cup He raised her to her feet.

The cup, no longer marred and wooden,

But gold, remade all new.

And still, He said, ‘There is more I must do.’

Lifting his hands where the blood ran scarlet,

He declared, ‘You are mine, my love,

No longer a harlot.

‘Many idols have you served;

Many lovers have you chased,

But by my blood all this is erased,

When you carry my blood, you carry my name,

It will change your life, for I took the blame.

What I do is my vow; how deep is my love.

It knows no bounds, it is high above.’

Then filling the cup with His blood

He said: ‘Remember me, and what I have done,

Whenever you hurt, when you feel overcome,

Never forget what you mean to me,

You are mine! You are mine!

There’s no more precious thing you can be.’

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Who is this Man?

Who is this man?

I have heard a rumor that he died for me.

They say he went willingly,

Without a word.

Spat on, cursed and spurned,

Made a spectacle of shame.

Slapped and mocked and told to prophesy,

“Who hit you?” one laughingly cried.

But he—he didn’t make a sound—not even a word,

They say, he humbled himself unto death,

What an absurd—what a crazy thing to do!

He left his thrown, his glory in heaven,

And came—for me…for you.

Who is this man?

He was tortured beyond recognition,

But still he shouldered the tree,

And then his beautiful, beautiful broken body,

Hung upon it, for you…for me.

Who is this man—

This man who took on all my guilt,

That wretched, ugly sin that held me bound,

To appease the wrath of a Holy God,

He took the blame that I would be found.

When I—I should have been the one—the object of wrath,

I deserve to eternal death.

But—He—this man—this holy, beautiful man,

He turn to The Father and said, “Charge their debts to me.”

Who is this man?

Who came to die that I—

That my soul be saved

Amazing grace how sweet the sound,

The sweetest sound ever made.

The precious blood that covers you and me,

And set these old lives free,

Who is this man?

A Moment in Time Wherein We all Pause and the Author Recites her Memoir

If I had to classify my life in a type of genre, I think it would have to be some kind of raw, urban fairytale. The rawness to keep it truthful and the fairytale bit celebrates the fact that I am alive and just living is a grand adventure!

I see the world differently from the average, garden variety John Doe, I think. I have heard some photographers say that they: ‘See the world through their lens.’ I like that, it has a poetic ring to it. And I—well, I see the world through words. Every smell, every feeling, glance, conversation, song, laugh, color, sunset, touch, relationship, emotion, sigh, and quiet happy moment can attach itself to words. Words. Beautiful words. How I love using them! They are like some precious dangerous thing that we are entrusted.

I like to attach a story to everything and everyone I meet. To me, everything is a mystery worth finding out whether it be: an abandoned house, a new neighbor, or a stray mutt.

Within three seconds of meeting someone I’m asking myself a dozen questions about them. Secretly, I cast a few glances down at their hands. Next to the eyes and vocal timbre, the hands say the most about a person. What kind of hands does he have? Soft, thin skinned, long fingers—the scholarly type or a desk worker. Tanned, harry and round-veined—the outdoorsy, active personality. Its hard having a critical, writer’s eye for things because then you have to be so darn honest about what you see. In order to write truthfully you have to be analytical. I can’t just say: “the man was ugly.” I have to describe the unique characteristics of his face that make him fall under that classification…

He was the ugliest man I had ever seen. His shapeless potato nose (which looked like it had been broken one too many times) was red and porous from years of excess drinking.

And then, dear-oh-dear, I check myself. I ask the question: is all this scrutiny okay? Are these the kind of thoughts a church-going-elder’s-daughter should be thinking? Better still, are these the kind of thoughts one who is pursuing holiness ought to have? I had come to a crossroads—no—I was in an epic game of tug-of-war…and I was the rope. God vs. Me. Faith vs. Fantasy. Right vs. Wrong.

But what was wrong? Was it really wrong to want to depict truth in its honest and truest form? Was it wrong to draw from life in this way, even if wasn’t completely about redemption and holiness and grace all that time? After all, I wasn’t writing immoral things just daily observational things, some were profound epiphanies, others just my random thoughts.

Additionally, I wonder…does all this scrutiny make me a detective or a neighborhood busybody…

Derek Shepherd, Detective, solves mysteries before they’re afoot, never counts the cost, brave, daring, tall-dark-n-handsome, with a casual, half-smile he breaks a dozen hearts, he strolls around confidently smoking a cigarette and has the best comebacks, thinks on his feet and always wears an even poker faces.

Hm, no. Regrettably, I am not like the very fictional, tween heart throb Derek Shepherd (I made him up, FYI, you won’t find this dream man on Facebook search ladies). My definition of daring is mixing peanut butter in my yogurt, I have scared small children when I practiced the “casual half-smile” and all my best comebacks are two days tardy. So, detective? I don’t think so.

Silva Stocks peeked for the third time out the window to the teenage couple talking across the street. She recognized the girl, Megan Williams, the pastor’s daughter. But the boy, who was he? Strange looking young man and—oh—my! Horror of horrors! Blessed morals and goodness! Could it be? Did he really—no he couldn’t possibly—yes he did! He had two, cheap diamond earrings—in his EARS! Silva rushed to the phone and dialed a number with shaking hands.

“Debbie! Yes, it’s Silva! I have some bad news about your daughter…”

Um, I don’t think my tendency to stare and spy has gone to that extreme, thank heavens, but I’ll keep myself in-check.

So what is my problem? How does this obsession to record life in an honest, down-to-earth way stay in-check? Best of all, how do I express these things with my Christian values remaining as the foundation?

Since I couldn’t find an answer I realized something had to change. I grieved the death of my personality as a carried it up the mountain and laid it on the altar to sacrifice it to the Lord. I was doing it because I loved God more than my quirky habits and creativity. With trembling hands I held up the knife. But then God reminded me of something that in all my zeal for righteousness, I hadn’t thought of before.

“I created you with a curious mind.”

I frowned lowering the knife. “Did you say that Lord? ‘Cause I thought you wanted me to die to myself?”

But God continued to show me that he delighted in my uniqueness and curiosity of the world. Yes, dying to my sinful nature is imperative, and God has done so much sanctifying in me in being careful with my words. But I have to separate the two issues and realize that He never meant for me to die to everything that makes me… That’s just stupidity. I can still write with passion and truth and remain faithful to Him. Christ called fishermen. Messy men with free wills and misconstrued presuppositions about Him, but He called them all the same.

The Lord has given me passion a to write. I just needed to think about it rightly and not worship or compromise it.

So, guess what? I can die to myself and live more fully because of that death. There is nothing good in me, but a because of Christ I am a daughter and His beloved. What an insane paradox this faith is! What a bright and dazzling adventure!

So anyway, that’s me. You can you can applaud, disagree, or you can scratch your head in utter confusion.

Yours Curiously,