Glory in the Gap

::: Red Sea ::: And the treasure of this darkness was the glory in the gap.

“Your way was THROUGH the sea, your path THROUGH the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.” – Psalm 77:19 “And I will lead the blind in a way they have not known, I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground…” – Isaiah 42: 16 “FEAR NOT, for I have called you by NAME, you are mine. When you pass THROUGH the waters, I will be with you; and THROUGH the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.” – Isaiah 43: 1-2 —

It was February 2019. I was standing at the kitchen sink, washing dishes, and a subtle realization came over me. I was going down what Ellie Holcomb calls the Red Sea Road. He was holding my hand, and pulling me down this road, though I was too terrified to look back, and too afraid to open my eyes and look forward. It was like the Sun had been blocked off, because the wall of waves on my left and right — which stood high and mighty on either side of my shoulders — were dark and stormy and seemingly about to crash on me and consume me. It was a dark watery road, and I had no idea what was on the other side. I was shaking, cold, and could feel the cold spray of the waves coming off the walls and giving me the chills on my shoulders. But, I was there, and I knew He had taken me there.

The point of the darkness is not that you can’t see ahead; the point is that you can’t lead yourself out.

There’s only one way out – and that is THROUGH. And there is only One person who can safely lead you out, because He was the only One who split the sea in the first place. Do you think he led you into the hollow of the Red Sea Road to only cave in on you? Of course not. And the treasure of this darkness was the glory in the gap. The gap between who you were back in Egypt, and who He was taking you ahead and out to become…well, you don’t know yet.

Madeline L’Engle says, “We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are.” The treasure in the darkness is the realization that the only way to become more than you are is to surrender to His hand on your shoulder, your heart, and believe He is all you need to get you through. I craved seeing ahead. I craved the light. I hated being blind. I looked to my left and right, and cringed. The waves were going to crash on me, I just knew it. I was going to be consumed by the waves and darkness and terror of night and sorrow and disappointment and loneliness. I was filled with pessimism, defeat, doubt. I wanted to hold up my white flag and surrender and just die. That would be easier in a way. When you are in the dark spots of life, you don’t see treasures. You feel tortured, afraid, scared. You feel tried. You feel shaky and foolish. You don’t have treasures in your hand. Even the daytime can feel dark at times.

So how do we find these treasures? Even Moses faced the darkness. When God’s glory passes over him, God tells Moses to hid in the cool clef of the rock, and to let His glory pass by, because even Moses couldn’t face His glory. He couldn’t SEE it. But, God let Him feel it — and the glory in that gap was God’s very presence. Moses says, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.” (Exodus 33:15) We cannot always see God’s face, but He invites us into the cleft of that Rock. We cannot always see where the Red Sea Road is taking us, but He invites us to keep walking forward. By not going back to Egypt, He calls us down the road of His promised land ahead. But you have to be willing to let go. In the Bible, a woman looked back – against God’s wishes – and she turned into a pillar of salt. Who wants to die that way?! This was a unique circumstance, but the point is that God takes Himself as our Guide and Shepherd seriously. If He wanted us to go back, I’m pretty sure He was turn us around. But, just because He puts you in the cleft of the Rock, doesn’t mean He is withholding the goodness of His glory from you. He knows exactly what you can handle and see and feel. Just because He splits the Red Sea, and creates a hedge of protection around you on either side, doesn’t mean what lies on the other side of those wall of waves would be good for you — in fact, what lies on either side of those waves were the Egyptians chasing the Israelites.

What is haunting you from your past? What is chasing after you, like the Egyptians? Do you think this will be good for you, or can you be honest with yourself and realize that perhaps, it would actually destroy you? Maybe you don’t even know what would have destroyed you. You just need to believe that God protected you from something, and He is asking you to drop it, and leave it behind.

We are only given an earthly glimpse of His glory in the gap. Someday, in heaven, perhaps He’ll reveal more to us about what was actually sitting in that gap of time, that gap in the relationship, that gap in your barrenness, that gap in the loss of life, that gap in the perplexing rejection and silence, that gap in a horrific loss and tragedy. But we are not always given the God-only vision that He must handle and see FOR us while He carries us THROUGH. He is committed to His own glory, not because He is selfish or greedy or a liar — but because in His perfect wisdom, He wants to lead us into the full, beautiful vision and wide field of promise that He has for us ahead in the Promised Lands of our Lives. I don’t know about you, but I’m glad God tells us to hide our face and eyes in the cleft of the Rock while His glory passes by — He is so holy, so other, so not like us, I’m not sure what I would or could dare to see! I just feel His presence, and I know He is in that place of my soul, because I feel the warmth of His glory sweeping over me, though I am blind to actually facing it. Do you believe He will lead you to the other side?

My dear friend, Row, looked at me the other day as I cried with her about a particularly disappointing situation I was facing, and she smiled and said, “Em, He will lead you to the other side. And on the other side is pure Joy.” When we are faced with crossing a Red Sea, the question we must ask ourselves is not Where am I going, but Who is going with me?

Friends, it is Jesus! It is your Savior. It is the One who commands the winds and the waves. Psalm 46 says, “Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the Sea, though the waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved.” God is IN your midst. Not only will He not let the waves be moved, He will not let your heart be moved into anxiety and fear. He stands before us, calls us by name, and asks us to go through the waters with Him. He promises you that He will bring you through safely. Why? Because the God of Jacob is your Fortress. The rough places in our lives are pretty much just that – rough. You don’t need to deny that. It can be anything. It is rough, and you’re afraid, and you are a bruised reed that is afraid it just might break you. But friend, He will not break you — you will not snap, because He is holding you and will take that rough place and turn it into level ground.

Maybe like me you’ve experienced heart-ache after heart-ache. Loss after loss.  Disappointment after disappointment.  Ellie Holcomb sings, “When He asks us to go on How do we go on?

“We will sing, to our souls We won’t bury our hope Where He leads us to go There’s a red sea road When we can’t, see the way He will part the waves And we’ll never walk alone Down a red sea road How, can we trust When You say You will deliver us, from All, of this pain, that threatens to take over us Well, this desert’s dry But the ocean may consume And we’re scared, to follow You So we will sing, to our souls We won’t bury our hope Where He leads us to go There’s a red sea road When we can’t, see the way He will part the waves And we’ll never walk alone Down a red sea road.”

Friends, stand still, hold your ground, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you if you let Him (Exodus 14). Breakthrough is coming. And you are not going no-where. You ARE going THROUGH it to the other side.  And You will see His glory pass by you.

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REST

It is Christmastime.  And on the heels of an intense, epic year of travel (10 countries) work (moving to Korea for 6 months) and school (finishing graduate school), all I want to do is sleep and rest.  I find myself slowing down in a way I never have before.  My mental, physical and emotional energy are literally kaput. Traveling during the holidays is always tiring, so I’m extra grateful this year for an approaching stay-cation which includes zero suitcases for me (wahoo).

But, it has me thinking of Mary and Joseph.  I wonder if Mary felt this way – exhausted, and sick of being on the move.  She was robustly pregnant and had to hop on a donkey and travel to a foreign place to be counted in the census at the end of the year (no thanks).  A donkey might as well be seat 49D at the back of the plane in economy in a tiny seat – literally the worst mode of transportation of that time and less than comfortable.

I imagine Joseph’s weighty burden, too – owning the responsibility of caring for, and helping his wife-to-be; wondering where they would stay, and how they would make the long journey together; and not exactly knowing when his divinely conceived child would be born.  Let’s be real, it’s not like there was the Bethlehem AirBnB to book in advance with a special friends and family coupon with egg nog and a welcome note waiting inside.  They felt entirely uprooted and headed towards the unknown, and upon arrival, were told there was no room in the Inn.

The holiday season does this – it is full of knowns and traditions, but sort of irks with this sense of the unknown and mysterious as we travel towards the unknowns of the new year.  It makes you look back at the year and ponder what you did, and what you’re proud of, and even what you wish you could sweep under the rug.  But, it definitely holds this tension of anticipation; of both running around and resting and reflection.  We go to church and sing ‘Silent Night, sleep in heavenly peace,’ but really our hearts and homes are anything but silent.  Your kids aren’t sleeping in heavenly peace, and you aren’t getting any heavenly peaceful sleep because you are probably wrapping presents, ordering last minute gifts, or packing up multiple suitcases for your family.  Or maybe you’re wrapping up work, and it’s been an exhausting month at the office, and all the holiday parties, demands, options, and expectations of the season are driving you crazy and making you wish you hadn’t signed up for X, Y and Z activities.  How can the weary world rejoice when we are so busy?

Wherever you are at this season – I pray a spirit of Rest over you and that this devotional might bring a slice of that heavenly peace to you so that you can, like Mary, ponder all these things in your heart.

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works,[a] just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest.” (Hebrews 4)

Remember He Rested

The heart of Rest begins with remembering our Creator’s own commitment to, and celebration of the Sabbath.  On the seventh day of creation, He Himself rested from His beautiful work; and, in Exodus 16, we see the Father drawing His people into a practice of rest by believing that He would provide manna from heaven for them.  The Lord’s command to the Israelites was, “Gather as much as you need.”  Nothing more, nothing less.  He asked them to trust Him by not fearfully hoarding the bread of heaven for tomorrow – why?  Because He was teaching His children that not only would He provide their daily bread, but also that He would be their daily bread.  Therefore, Rest begins with obedience.  Do we obey His call to enter into His rest with Him, knowing that He created it for our good, and His glory?

Run into His Rest

If we can believe in the beauty of rest, we soon realize that Rest is not at all passive, but pro-active. When He invites us into His rest, it isn’t so much that He is inviting us to do nothing – He is inviting into the practice of trusting His provision.  You see, when the Israelites tried to store up manna for tomorrow, it went bad.  In the same way, when we send ourselves into a flurry of activity and relentless chasing of the wind, we are left with manna spoiled by worms – the worms of fear and self-sufficiency.  But, if we re-direct that energy and activity to prayer, to speaking words of trust and belief over our hearts, to joining hands with His fellow children, we please Him.  Hebrews 4 says: “Make every effort to enter His rest.”  In other words, do whatever it takes to jump into His arms and hide yourself in the clef of the Rock.  We usually make every effort to earn money, to check tasks off our list, to impress others, to meet deadlines.  Ironically, it takes incredible self-will to consciously direct our hearts, schedules, and time to rest.  Strive to enter His rest, friends.

Realize His Redemption and Restoration

If we believe God created Rest for our good, and we pro-actively choose to enter that Rest, we then come into communion with the Father in a special way. We are still so that He can redeem our hearts and free us from sin. We are quiet, so He can speak while we listen.  We are hemmed in behind and before (Ps 139) so that He can move our hearts while our bodies and minds are stilled.  And, when we obey Him by creating this margin in our lives, we are inviting the Holy Spirit to work miracles and act on our behalf – according to our desires and prayers, but also according to His will and perfect omniscience.

Rejoice in His Rescue

The amazing miracle of being still and resting in the Father is that ultimately, we will rejoice in His rescue. Perhaps the problem with resting in the unknown is that we think something terrible is going to collapse over our lives.  Recall the irony of Jesus sleeping in the boat.  The disciples were terrified and in fact, frustrated with the Savior.  They ask him, “Don’t you care if we drown?”  Perplexed, they are truly wondering how Jesus could be resting in the midst of a storm and ensuing death. I like to imagine that Jesus woke up smiling – He was totally in control, and soon, stilled the storm and the waves and the wind.

Recently, the Savior prompted the same question in my heart: ‘Emily, why are so mad at me for sleeping in the boat while you are feeling vulnerable?  Don’t you know that I already know the outcome?  Don’t you know that I will come to your rescue?  Don’t you know that I am fighting for you?’

All over scripture, we see this call to rejoice in His coming rescue.

  • Isaiah 64 says, “No eye has seen a God besides you who acts for those who wait for Him.”
  • Psalm 37 says, “Trust in the Lord, and He will Act.”
  • Exodus 14 says, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only be Still.”

So, this season, we rest, knowing that the Father has embraced and celebrated Rest from the beginning of Time.  We rest, knowing that when we run into His rest, we are freed from our own works and effort. We rest, so that we can realize His redemption of our hearts and restoration of our minds away from fear. We rest, knowing that soon, we will rejoice in His rescue – because the Savior will be born and years of prophesy, promises and anticipation will come to fruition.

During Christmas, this is what we are doing.  We are believing that the Silent Word was always Pleading, never Sleeping. We are believing that this baby who on Mary’s lap is sleeping is actually stirring Hope and spreading new Life to the world.  We are believing in a heavenly miracle, because the Savior has come to an earthly manger.

We are resting in a heavenly faith, because the grace of God has appeared in hopeful flesh.  We are resting, because He actually never slumbers nor sleeps. We are resting because the Son of God who sleeps in the boat with closed eyes actually sees every detail of our lives.  We are resting in stillness, because He is in strength is always fighting for us.  We are resting, because He rose from the sleep of death into glorious Resurrection, and we also – and the ones we love and long for – will rise again.

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The Green Grass Right Here

I saw the grass on the other side,

Wondering why my seed had died,

Barren over and over again,

Something was wrong with the land I was in.

They said it took just a mustard seed,

But all I saw was it choked by weeds –

And empty, standing in my field,

I asked God why the empty yield.

What about that field, Lord, so green?

I’ve watched the Sun and fruit it gleaned,

Can’t I leave these boundaries here,

Away from my pain year after year?

These lines, you said, were pleasant for me,

You asked for trust, though blind to see,

You promised you were holding my Lot,

Though so many seeds had come to naught.

I knew that my striving had led to sorrow –

Comparing, and looking out toward’s the morrow;

When all you asked was for me to abide,

In the Vine firmly planted, right by my side.

I wanted to reap the harvest next door,

When mine seemed a mine field uprooted by war,

Abandoned, alone, I fell to the ground,

Waiting for a life-giving sound.

It was then I realized, that all this time,

From you, I demanded, sign after sign –

Redeeming my story, injustice done –

The loneliness I had shared, with your Son.

Yet, there in my field, amidst the dry soil,

Stood the old Tree, like a friend ever loyal –

Its roots could withstand the wind and the rain,

Its leaves still green, despite the heat’s pain.

And even in these years of drought,

Fruitful still, despite my doubts –

My roots, by a stream, nourished and fed –

To life-giving water, You had purposed and led.

And though I saw no fruit on the Vine,

You were saving the best of the Wine,

Delayed, not denied, my Vineyard from reaping –

The harvest was coming, the Promise was keeping.

So there, I found, an Eden wild –

The faith to abide as a trusting Child

Slowly, I stopped looking outside –

My lot was enough, its treasures were wide.

For planted here, I saw no weeds,

Only life, sprouting from the Tree;

I smiled, and breathed, and opened my Hand,

The seeds I’d been holding, blew out to the Land.

I couldn’t hold on, I had to let go.

The Gardner had given me other seeds to sow

The kind of roots that storms would weather

The kind of fruit that would live forever

And there the Sun shined down on my face,

How could I leave this Eden of Grace?

A beautiful inheritance, saved just for me,

My boundaries pleasant, at la​st I could see.

Your glory I saw in the lilies and flowers,

Your intimate focus, on my every hour –

Clothing the grass, your eye on the Sparrow –

I’ll stay in your Shadow, however Narrow.

Fretting no more, I rest where You Shine –

I’ll gather your grace, within these lines.

Better is one day here, than a thousand outside –

Your commands are boundless, your plan ever wide.

And here, with beautiful room to grow,

I’ll faithfully plant, your Kingdom to sow.

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Manger Reflections


Straw

We who were Barren,
Came upon this Babe — 
In a time when we thought, 
The seed had died, the last word had been said.
Twas strange, the way
A perfect God, 
Could take on human flesh, and be found in a Manger.
When all I saw was a Stranger.
 
In my own humanity, 
He claimed Authority —
And as I stared into His eyes, 
Face to Face,
I saw that He fully knew me, 
though I did not know him.
What mystery was this?
That the Mirror I’d help us so many years,
Dimly reflecting,
The humble hope my soul had held,
Would become a Shadow –
A Shadow of true love beheld,
A Shadow of Seed birthed,
A Shadow of Joy unearthed.
 
Stone
Then a child grew,
But not before He showed me,
My childish ways.
He told me to leave them behind, and follow Him
Into His Father’s House – 
And the first to strike a Stone,
Would be blind to things unknown.
I rushed to grip Time,
And interpret all the signs.
But He simply spoke, in true form,
And truth laid a foundation.
The Eternal Branch stretched,
Far above my sight,
Far wider than my reach.
East of Eden, and
West of my watch,
He saw things in His periphery
That reached the corner of every soul.
Wonderful Counselor come,
Wiser than Witnesses,
And Weeping with women —
For the love of ones unborn;
for the love of ones who died.
Brokenness for wombs,
Resurrection brought to tombs.
Even Lazures knew His Hand,
Even lepers saw Him in their Land
Wood
The lines of His face,
Stretched toward me like grace,
And out of Dry Ground,
He uttered not a Sound
His silence, my salvation –
The unlovely Lord;
A friend to Grief
Holding my sorrows,
Today and Tomorrow.
How could this child,
Die such a death so wild?
Pierced through His hands, my pride –
I saw Him love, while He died.
But even in Anguish, the Light –
Pierced through the darkness, my spite.
And all of my hopes and fears,
Weighting down through the years,
Were met in Him tonight.
Glass
Fear reflected in the Mirror,
As the Savior drew nearer and nearer –
Face to Face he came,
And something familiar, the same –
Now Pierced through His eyes to my soul,
Filling all of my earthly holes.
And in that moment, I saw,
The veil be stripped to raw,
The raw look of love on me –
Had been locked for Eternity.
My Keeper, His gaze prolonged,
Like the best of all love songs.
And it seems that the Babe in the Manger,
Seemed nothing like a Stranger.
For He had known me, fully forever;
And nothing had it ever made it sever.
Oh, silent night of my Soul,
Sings of prophesies foretold,
And even buried in Winter,
Dreams can sing through splinters.
And thorns today – 
Will soon, pass all away.
For now, at this Manger I’ll stay,
From night to noon to new days.
Grow, give birth my friend –
For death is not the end.
And, in these quiet hours,
When desires have oft soured,
A seed is growing clear,
Through our tears and fears.
Peeking through the Veil,
Stands a Savior whose power never fails.
The miracle still comes,
His work isn’t done.
The vision awaits its appointed time,
And the Manger is the sign.
The Manger is the sign.
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Put down your Pen

Do you remember the day you held your first diary or journal in hand?  It was like a rite of passage into womanhood.  It wasn’t just about penning petty crushes or your life bucket list.  Sure, those moments of time were captured.   But it was more about your story.  The story of the life you wanted, the one you dreamed you would have, and how you would record the inspiration and insight along the way.  For me, it was about being vulnerable, and loving myself enough to acknowledge on paper the hopes and fears that were in my head and heart.  It was about making something new, when the past seemed blotted or the future, unknown.

 

Think about opening up a new moleskin journal.  The spine is stiff, the pages are blank and fresh, and the chapters are unwritten and mysterious.  You hold a pen in hand, and part of you wonders if the next chapter will be better than the last, less mundane and more extraordinary, with unknowns crystallized, or simply the fruition of “the best is yet to come.”  But part of you hesitates.  Why?  Because, like me, you know that maybe a part of your story isn’t as beautiful and perfect as you want it to be.  Or, it isn’t like your friends’ stories and you feel like an outlier.  Or, you feel stuck to the story you’re living – the one that has grown comfortable like shoes, but too easy to slip into every day.  Or, maybe you just don’t even know what you want your story to be or where you want it go; in fact, it feels safer to just stay where you are.  Quite frankly, maybe you’re so caught up in thinking that others’ stories have greater value and societal meaning than yours…so, you shrink back.  You feel behind, or simply not enough.

 

I think loving yourself well requires us to first re-define how we celebrate and own our stories.  Like my best friend said the other day, Champagne is needed to celebrate the small victories, not just the big monuments.  In fact, the Psalmist, David, praised God because he believed that He had already written his story, and instead of striving to write it himself, he could simply embrace it, and live it.  In the 139th Psalm, David says: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it well.  My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made…intricately woven.  In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”   

 

Maybe we’ve gotten it wrong for too long and that’s why we hate on ourselves, and our stories.  We open the first page of our life, holding a pen, and not only place pressure on ourselves to write our story, but then crash in disappointment when the chapter doesn’t end the way we want it to, or when the chapter we want never seems to come.  For a long time, I think I have subconsciously believed that I was the author.  That I could fill the blank pages.  And that I could change the direction of a particular chapter or even my fellow characters.  At times, I’ve even believed that the ending I could write, that I’ve wanted to write, would be better than how God would pen it.

 

But, isn’t it true that sometimes the best things, people and opportunities that have come into our lives were the very ones we never expected or asked for?  I wonder how we can dedicate so much time curating our Instagram stories (and comparing our own to others) when we could be actually living out our stories – walking down the street with our eyes open to the possibility of a beautiful Interruption – a simple surprise in the day’s story of our lives.  Instead, we have become story-masters – moving from scene to scene, updating anyone and everyone, and hoping for as many people as possible to “like” and therefore affirm our story, when if we were truly honest with ourselves, we wonder deep down if we ourselves would hit “like” on our own story, too.

   

I believe that loving yourself well starts right here – acknowledging that pop culture and societal norms can’t curate the perfect story, and neither can we.  But when we let go of all expectation and intention, we are set free to embrace the story of our lives that God has already authored, and is perfecting right now, for us. 

 

Yet, freedom always comes with a price – the price of pride, our egos that cry, “Look at me!” Indeed, loving ourselves well means coming to a place, in the quiet, raw, unveiled solitude of our souls when we are rest with ourselves, because God is at rest with us too.  Not as we need or want to be, but as we are today – in the present moment.  Not needing or grasping for more, not calling for others to fulfill the desire for love and self-worth we hunger for, not even building our self-confidence and worth on what others have said of us in the past, or who the world thinks we have become.  Rather, this freedom is found in embracing the truth that by God’s grace, we are what we are, and His grace to us is not in vain.

 

When I moved to Kenya at the age of 24, I remember sitting on the plane reading “Out of Africa” by Isak Dinesan, and comparing myself to this incredible Nordic woman who in the 1950’s, was such an outlier to society as a single, Western female who chose to spend most of her life making such a deep impact on the African people. How could my year abroad be nearly as extraordinary as hers was?  Before I even had the chance to compare my story to hers, I read her words that directly stopped me in my own tracks:

 

“Pride is faith in the idea that God had, when he made us. A proud man (or woman) is conscious of the idea, and aspires to realize it. [She] does not strive towards a happiness, or comfort, which may be irrelevant to God’s idea of [her]. [Her] success is the idea of God, successfully carried through, and [she] is in love with [her] destiny.  People who have no pride are not aware of any idea of God in the making of them, and sometimes they make you doubt that there has ever been much of an idea…They have got to accept as success what others warrant to be so, and to take their happiness, and even their own selves, at the quotation of the day. They tremble, with reason, before their fate. Love the pride of God beyond all things.”

 

Friends, loving the pride of God is loving His pride for you.  Loving yourself well starts not with competitive pride that either lords over others’ stories, or with self-shame and pity limps in pain or disappointment over the story you have.  Loving yourself well starts with being conscious of God’s idea of you, accepting the happiness of God’s idea of your story, finding success IN that present moment, and carrying it through; in effect, falling in love with the pages that you are living in, and the chapters you are contributing to.  Ultimately, pride finds faith in God’s making of us – not as we wish we could have been, or others expect us to be, but in the very person we embody.

 

I don’t always love myself and my story well – in fact, I may shock you in saying that at times, I have hated my story, because I lived too many years placing pressure on myself to walk out a story similar to others.  But, steadily and with each passing year, I am learning to embrace it as it is, and await the beauty that will come in time.  I don’t need to occupy myself with things too wonderful for me, because I am shadowing the great Author, and know He has good things coming.

 

Are you in love with your story?  Are you leaning forward because you believe that on today’s page, and the next page, it’s going to be good?  Not just sort of good, or mirroring the good you see others have – but perfectly good for you.  No, not every scene is serene.  It is messy.  It is filled with tears, pain and loss.  It requires failure, acceptance, refinement, and faith to move ahead.  It shocks our system when the unexpected comes.  It ebbs and flows with other characters – some who stick around for life, some we only knew for a season, and some who maybe were only meant to make an appearance in a couple chapters.  It is raw and vulnerable. But your book is beautiful, because it’s the first, last, and only edition anyone will ever get to see.

 

Love yourself well, my friend.  Don’t just read the lines, skim the pages, or try to cross out the parts you wish you could forget forever.   Love your lines, and live them well.  Embody them, play your part that no one else can play, and focus on every word the Author has written for you, because you never know where the red herring is going to be.  If you peer too long at the book your neighbor is holding, you might just miss your best moment of all.

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Longing that makes the Heart grow Deep

In honor of Saint Aurelius Augustine’s birthday: November 13, 354, Tagaste, Numidia

I remember reading “Confessions” in my senior year of high-school.  I was on the couch with a torn ACL, longing to be on the basketball court with my fellow team-mates for a final season.  Instead, I was engaging in the strenuous activity of being still (my least favorite pastime) – before myself, in my thoughts…and before God.

My body and heart were restless, and as Augustine pointed out, would continue to be until I rested in God.  I wrestled against my situation.  And then, there it was – that beautiful, strange Latin phrase, “desiderium sinus cordis.”

Desiderium sinus cordis?  Huh?  Then, the explanation — “yearning that makes the heart grow deep.”  It was a central theme of his pilgrimage on earth, and the true cry of one’s heart and soul:  “Give me one who yearns; . . . give me one far away in this desert, who is thirsty and sighs for the spring of the Eternal country. Give me that sort of man: he knows what I mean.”

C.S. Lewis then followed in Augustine’s footsteps, expressing this concept so beautifully in my favorite book of all time, Till We Have Faces. The protagonist, Psyche, has fought for justice and fairness her whole life…an intense, continuous longing for a resolution to that which was not right, and to leave the pain of the world: 

“It almost hurt me . . . like a bird in a cage when the other birds of its kind are flying home. . . . The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born.  Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.”

This hollow hunger of longing to “go back” was her spiritual homing device. She was like that bird in the cage, stuck in a house, when all she wanted to do was fly and go home.  Something, someone beckoned to her, and when Psyche finally comes before God with unveiled face, she voices her complaint.  But, then she falls strangely silent before Him:

“I ended my first book with the words ‘no answer.’ I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face, questions die away. What other answer would suffice? Only words, words; to be led out to battle against other words.” 

How can we long for that which is undefined, intangible, untouchable, unimaginable?  How do we live on earth with this tension, this healthy dissatisfaction of longing for redemption – to make right that which is not right, to heal from that which has broken us, to find peace in the chaos and hardships of this life?  And, what does it mean for the heart to be made DEEP?

C.S. Lewis answers this by arguing that no earthly object or experience can satisfy man’s profound and intense feeling of longing. Instead, he calls this feeling of longing ‘JOY’, which he defines as ‘an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction’.  The depth and ache of longing becomes Joy.

Over the past month, I have experienced an intense sense of Desiderium sinus cordis.  I have wept for dear friends who have experienced tragic loss.  I have wept for the loss and fading of my Grandmother’s memory, and my great Uncle Ted’s passing, who inspired my passion for piano and writing and cross-cultural experiences.  I have wept for friends experiencing barrenness, miscarriages, and the longing for a family to call their own.  My heart has ached for those who have experienced broken trust in marriages.  I have longed for things to be made right in the mishaps and mistakes of business.  And, I have cried tears for my country and its divisions between politics and people.

I’m not writing this to express an opinion about the election results.  I’m not writing this to corner anyone with a discourse on religion, morality or ethics.  I’m not writing this to compare or discount others’ longings and hopes and hurts.

But as we enter the holidays, the season of awaiting and longing for our Messiah — the grace of God that physically appears — I am simply writing this to pose the question, Are we not all yearning, thirsting, longing for something – someone – that nothing on this earth and in this life can satisfy or fix?  In the face and frailty of our own humanity, we are all living with yearning that makes the heart grow deep.  We are all – in our own way – wandering, watching, and waiting for the sight of something better, truer…something more satisfying…something more trustworthy.

dsc_4683“Give me that sort of man: he knows what I mean.”  

I mean, do you know what I mean?  I LONG to reach that Mountain, to find that place where all the beauty came from in the first place — my first country, my final country.  Do we think all this longing is meant for nothing?  The longing for a true Home?  Indeed, it now feels not like going, but like going BACK…

These longings have given me fresh perspective for my 30’s. What of my petty arguments, complaints, comparisons, judgments?  Why my selfish choices, prideful ambitions, arrogant words?  What of my tasks, instead of embracing all the divine interruptions of my day as an opportunity to love others more than myself?

All of our yearnings and longings and viewpoints are surely different — we cannot always understand, compare or judge the perspectives and/or longings of our fellow man to our own, and everyone must be accountable to their own moral compass.

But we can all embrace the power of longing together.  The reality of yearning together.  The realization of THAT day coming.

You are yourself the answer.  Before your face, Lord, questions die away.  What other answer or explanation would suffice?  

In the desert of our longings, I think St. Augustine was onto something…it’s not that the sting and pain of our emptiness, longings and sorrows mean nothing.  Our longings precisely mean EVERYTHING.  Our longing is not wasted.  Our longing is not in vain.

It is a language that perhaps only the human heart — in the stillness and quiet of our moments when words do not suffice — can truly understand.  It is the unsatisfied cry of souls for our dwelling place, and safe haven, to finally be found and habited.  It is the aching to see God, and be with God forever.

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At the end of the Bible, The Apostle John writes:  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”   And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.

I believe there will be a Day when the dwelling place of man will be with God (Psalm 90). I believe that our faith, the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen, will someday be sight (Hebrews 11).  I believe there is a city that has perfect foundations, whose designer and builder is God, and that someday our sojourning through the desert will be over.  Though I have seen and traveled the world, and have loved and embraced the beauty of many  cultures and countries, I believe in a better country, a heavenly one.

But until that Day, I am living with Desiderium sinus cordis. We are living with longing, a yearning that makes the heart grow deep.   And, we are never too young to pledge allegiance to our true Home.   Despite the sorrows and brokenness we face in this world, these afflictions are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs them all – somehow, someway, our longings are not for nought.  I would rather my heart grow deep in longing, than be shallow of love for others.  I would rather my soul be hungering and thirsting, than fat and quenched, satisfied in this temporary life.

And I pray, more than ever before, that God’s love – the perfect Love that casts out all our fears and differences forever — will be the very Love that I extend to others every day.  That I embrace as the source of all of my questions and longings in this life.

He is the Alpha and Omega of our longings, the beginning and the end.  He is the Divine Love that began with a Longing to create and be with and know us…and He is the Divine Love that will be the end of our longings, the glory of redemption, hopes fulfilled, and faith finally seen – in the face of Jesus Christ forever.  And, we will dwell in His House forever.

May the Lord bless you and yours this Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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Seasons Part 2: The State of Waiting

This is Seasons Part 2: The State of Waiting.

I’ve been in a sort of grave for the past three days.  The stomach flu hit me fast and furiously on Friday afternoon, and I have finally risen this morning, feeling normal again.

It was the kind of flu that tears you down, strikes you quickly to your knees, and leaves you frail, weak, and empty.  As it violently hit me and I fell to my knees, tears spontaneously filled my eyes, as I couldn’t help but think that it was 15 years ago this month that my namesake and Oma was approaching her death bed.  She had fought cancer for two years, chemo, sickness, weakness, ups and downs…and she knew what it meant to live on her knees, literally and figuratively.  She knew what it was like to not be able to hold anything down.  Then on March 25, 2001, she passed from death to life into eternal peace.  She had wondered when her hour would come, and she had waited for freedom from her earthly body and the pain and sickness she had battled.

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I don’t know why, of all times to be thinking about someone you love, it hit me while I had the flu.  Perhaps it was because another dear friend’s mother passed away from cancer this week, too, and March always reminds me of Oma’s death, but also the hope of healing and new life…waiting to be healed…waiting to be free…waiting to awaken again and rise.

I couldn’t help but think of Hosea 6:1-3:

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“Let us return to the Lord; he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.  After two days, he will revive us; on the third day, He will raise us up, that we may live before Him.  Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn that breaks; and, he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”

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Ironic, isn’t it?  It never occurred to me that this passage reflected the Resurrection of Christ, the three days of stillness, quietness, and waiting that Christ experienced in the grave.  The disciples buried him, the tombstone had been locked into place, and Jesus had died.  Sometimes in our waiting, I think we don’t want to experience being struck down and torn and brought to our knees in weakness.  We don’t want our life to be placed in Another’s Hands, at the mercy of our Father who will revive and raise up back up again. We want to do, not be still, waiting for Him to truly heal us — not just physically, but emotionally and mentally — from whatever has torn us down.

To be strong in our waiting is not the epitome of physical activity and productivity.  It is the essence of stillness.  Only the Father could raise the Son to new life.  And only we can be raised by our Savior in His resurrection power.  To know and trust that “Aslan” (CS Lewis reference to the Chronicles of Narnia) is “on the move,” is not easy.  He is working behind the scenes, in our stillness, to make all things beautiful in His time. But, we KNOW He is on the move – that the ice is melting, that the winter is fading, that green is springing up, and that He is the Great Physician who is ensuring that all of our wounds are healed before we rise up and “live before Him.”  And, He asks us in our waiting, Child, be still – take heart – wait for me.

Psalm 31 is a beautiful reflection of Christ’s suffering on the Cross, entitled “Into your Hands I Commit my Spirit.”  This is what He cried out on the Cross in his moment of death and separation from the Father.

Of Jesus, David says, “I have become a broken vessel. But I trust in you, O God; I say, You are my God. My times are in your Hands. Rescue me. Save me in your steadfast Love.  Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have STORED UP for those who fear you, and worked for those who take refuge in you. In the cover of your presence, you store me away in your shelter. The Lord preserves the faithful.  Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who WAIT on the Lord.” 

In our waiting, God is so very wondrously busy.  He is busy with His goodness. He is busy with His Glory and His kingdom. He is busy sorting out the details.  He is busy preparing our “times” and storing up abundant goodness for His children.  He is holding us strongly as the Rock of Ages, behind the cleft of His rock, so that we can be made whole again and strengthened in that Cleft, and be prepared to “live before Him” and others when the time to Rise Again is at hand.

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As we approach Easter, and the reality that the tombstone was rolled away, the door to Christ was opened up again, let us joyfully ponder 1 Corinthians 15:

“If Christ had not been raised, our faith would be in vain. We would be found to be misrepresenting God, because we testify about God that he raised Christ from the dead. For if Christ had not been raised, our faith is futile and we are still captured in sin and death.  In Christ, we would have hoped in this earthly life only.

But in fact, Christ HAS been raised from the dead!  For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam we have all died, so also in Christ we shall all be made alive.  What is sown, is perishable; what is raised, is imperishable. What is sown in dishonor, is raised in glory.  What is sown in weakness, is raised in power.  What is sown as a natural body, is raised a spiritual body. Thus it was written, “The first man Adam became a living being; but the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.  Just as we have borne the image of first man of dust (Adam), so shall we also bear the image of the last man of heaven – Jesus Christ.”

In the season of Lent, we wait for our blessed Hope to rise.  In every season of our waiting, our faith is NOT in vain.  In fact, it is being primed, positioned, empowered.  And, He is already on the move…we need only stand still, trust Him, and let His strength shine in our weakness, for we know that our Savior is not held down by death or sin or the grave. He has already conquered it forever.

What a hope, that what we sow in weakness, He raises in power. 

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Seasons Part 1: The State of Being

Take my Life, Let it BE – 
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee; 
Take my Moments and my Days, 
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
The song came up next in my Spotify playlist as I was driving to work this week.  Let it BE, Lord?  Really?  Why doesn’t the song say, “Take my problems, let them go?”  After all, don’t you want our seasons of life to be filled with joy, peace, clarity, direction, love, and everything wonderful in between…?”
I’m a Doer. I walk too fast, and geez, Emily, why don’t you stop and smell the roses?!  Is your life a chase? 🙂  To which I reply, “No, no!  I have things to do, people to see, places to go, and dreams to fulfill!  I’m excited about the next thing!”
The next thing.  We are always looking towards or for the next thing, aren’t we?  My Mom said I crawled at 7 months.  And when I learned how to crawl, I learned to walk at 8 months.  And when I learned how to walk, I wanted to climb up on the counters and tables and chairs to SEE and peer over the heights of whatever I couldn’t see to catch a glimpse of what was BEYOND.  And when I finally got up on the edge of the counter, whoopsies!  I slipped and cracked my chin open and my Mom takes me to the hospital 5 times for stitches before 5….because, well, I was a busy-body-being…
I scan back through the years, through my seasons of life, and not much has changed, I suppose.  I am still so good at running through seasons of life checking things off my To-Be List (I call it the “To-Be List” because there is a difference between the Identity-I-Want-to-Be List and His-Child-State-of-Being list.)  If I’m enjoying a season of life, I go 120% like a madman, living whole-heartedly and soaking it up, and driving myself into the exhaustion of production — and then the season is over, and I look back, and wonder, gosh, maybe I should have stopped and smelled the roses more!  Or, if I’m despising a season of life like a child refusing his green peas, I shrink back in fear, despair, anger, bitterness, sorrow, and doubt, and beg God to get me out of this season, and just grin and bear it and pray-to-God-on-my-knees that I won’t break and crumble and that somehow people will still think I’m confident and brave and getting things done and being a rockstar.
And, I chuckle because in every transition of life — whether a joy or a trial — in every ebb and flow of seasons — in every break of the chapter to the next one where you feel like a Nomad wandering through the Sinai desert, hoping to stumble upon the next camp and the next cloud covering that God promises to provide — I come right back to the same ole’ question: Who am I really, Lord?  And, what do you want me to Be?  And what is my life?
 
In every season of life, I believe we must ask God this question, and let His Spirit answer quietly to our souls as we ponder our true state of Being in Him. And with Spring upon us, I think of Psalm 90 as David numbers his days and discovers the dwelling place we find in God through time, through every season. Bear with me as I slightly modify this passage so that the theme can soak into your heart:
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“Lord, you have been my dwelling place in all seasons...from [season to season], you are God…you return man to the dust.  For a thousand seasons in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.  You sweep them away as with a flood – they are like a dream.  like grass that is renewed in the morning; in the morning each season flourishes, and is renewed; in the evening, each season fades, and withers away.  For all our seasons pass away under your holiness; we bring our seasons to an end like a sigh.  The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength, eighty; yet their span is toil, and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
So teach us to number our seasons (days) that we may gain a HEART of wisdom.  Satisfy us in the morning, in each season, with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice, and be glad all our seasons.  Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil.  Let YOUR work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to our children.  Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands in each season – yes, establish the work of our hands.”
Some things to note about this passage:
1) In every season, we can rest in the fact that God is our dwelling place, the beginning and the end of our travels through seasons.  I’m not just talking about a physical dwelling place — but a dwelling place for our minds and hearts, when they are scattered and detoured and dashing about for answers.
2) 1,000 years is like YESTERDAY to Him. We are so impatient, aren’t we?!  God’s Timetable isn’t our own – to keep us in a season, or to move us on.
3) Our days are (yes, get over your wrinkles and gray hairs growing in!) passing away — and their span is toil and trouble.  My Mom always said to me, “Most of life is lived in the mundane.  God’s love and blessings and the joys we have in this world, family, friends, and loved ones make it extraordinary — but most of life is pretty darn ordinary.”
4) God wants to teach us to number / count / cherish / ponder / treasure our days.  Part of the state of Being God’s child, His daughter, His loved one, His own, is being still and knowing that He is God – the God of our hearts, our problems, our desires, our sins, our days, our seasons.  I like the use the word cherish / ponder / treasure, because I think it isn’t just about having a sober, realistic view of our days, and their fleeting nature — it is about truly cherishing the present, and the present work that God is doing in and through us. Otherwise, He would have said, “Teach us to forecast our days.” 🙂
5) We cherish our days, THAT we may gain a HEART of wisdom. A lot of people are super wise – intellectually, mentally, in a worldly sense, in a professional sense.  Even men and women of God are wise as it relates to their head-knowledge.  But, in various seasons of life, are we letting God season our hearts…?  The deep seasoning of the soul is a process by which we allow God to speak into the cracks of our thinking and logic, and through trial and error, fault and failure, testing and trembling, we allow God to season our hearts with the beauty, and surety, of His wisdom and commands and law and testimonies and statutes (Psalm 19).
 
6) Lastly, God constantly promises to satisfy us with His steadfast love.  Steadfastness doesn’t alter through seasons and changing circumstances.
Last year, someone taught me a very valuable lesson in the art and vulnerability of love.  This person taught me how to let someone love me, how to be cherished, valued, served, blessed, accepted for who I was without make-up, and loved for who I was in the ugliest moments when my true self came out.  I argue that this is hard for Doers and Type-A women.  We are good at loving ourselves, understanding ourselves thoroughly enough to comprehend how best to take care of ourselves, do things that make us feel good about our identity and body and career and status before God and man.  But, we aren’t always good at being dependent, and letting God love us, our husbands love us, our families and best friends love us.  And, we must learn to be loved by others, by first letting God love us — which requires BEING in His presence and open-hearted before Him; to give Him the time of day to declare His intentions towards us, His affections, His ardent and enduring loyalty towards us.
Sometimes familiarity is so much easier than vulnerability.  And this is true of being vulnerable with others, but most importantly, with God. So I meekly stagger back up to His throne and into His arms, and hold up my face with tears streaming down my cheeks, and say, Yep, Here I am again, Lord.  My messy self and my weary heart and my doubting mind and my distrusting thoughts towards you — take my life, let it BE – AGAIN.
BE yours, BE pure, BE holy, BE loved, BE resting, BE hope-filled, BE still, BE established, BE envisioned, BE healed, just BE.  And, through the past 10 years of this cycle, I have been blown away by God’s steadfast love to accept my unveiled face and heart, raw and broken and tainted and bruised.  And despite my heroic (and foolish) attempts to mold my own identity of being in this life and figure out “Who I am,” He says three words to me, season and season again — You. Are. Mine.   
 
And, then I let all my hopes, dreams, visions, longings go up into the cavity of His love, and ceaseless Praise begins to flow out from my heart, because in the making of space for His love, and the letting go of my self-loves and thing-loves and doing-loves, there is a wide open plain for Him to consecrate me. To His covenant, to His promises, to His plan, to His timing for my present season, and future calling.  It’s ironic, isn’t it?  If we clench our fist tightly to hold onto all that we want to hold onto in each season of life, somehow everything seems to slip through the cracks of our fingers, even though we thought our hold was tight enough to keep everything intact.  But, if we loosen our grip, and open up our hands so that He can take my life and let it BE (whatever He wants), somehow He ends up filling our hands with more than we could ever dream or dare to have landed into our lives.
Oh, Lord, truly, you have been our Dwelling place…in every season.  From season to season, you are God.  Establish us for your glory, and for our Good. Give us a heart of wisdom, as we number of seasons.  Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love.  Make us glad for as many days as we have felt afflicted or bruised or battered or broken down by the disappointments of hopes deferred, of longings unfilled, of trials borne, of Your will awaited.
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Simeon

There was a man from long ago,

Who dreamed a dream gone by –

Watching, waiting, for the One –

He’d see before He died.

 

Simeon, they called him,

Righteous, devout and old –

Weathered by his waiting,

Of a promise long foretold.

 

He said the Spirit told him,

The Messiah would be born,

To console and save His people,

And kingdoms that were torn.

 

I sat there in the temple,

He walked by me to pray –

Never here before,

But prompted to come that day.

 

Lo, behold, a mother,

Walked in, with swaddled child –

Helpless in my eyes,

Tender and so mild.

 

I watched as Simeon held him,

And marveled at the way –

Someone could wait a lifetime,

For this moment, on this day.

 

Patient in the journey,

And now, he seemed complete –

The fruition of God’s promise,

And Faith, his greatest feat.

 

I wrestled with my thoughts,

The series of my Whys –

How could this child, now born,

Give peace, for him to die.

 

How could one bank his life,

Upon a word you hear?

How could he simply know,

The Grace of God, appeared?

 

I had so many visions,

Dreams for which I longed –

And in the empty echoes,

It seemed I had been wronged.

 

How could a little baby,

Make his soul fulfilled?

How could new life, make death,

Seem joyful to his will.

 

Perplexed by this occurrence,

He explained it all to me –

This child, a door of Hope,

Into eternity.

 

A vision, old and ancient,

Its appointed time was here,

Hope had come to brighten,

The darkness of our fears.

 

And just as he gave Simeon,

A promise not in vain,

This Christ, had come to redeem,

My sorrow, hurt, and pain.

 

Mine eyes had seen God’s glory,

For years, but not the Lord –

But now, with unveiled face,

I saw true grace that poured.

 

That poured out through this child,

A promise made and kept –

Messiah of the World,

For which he later wept.

 

He’d walk my road with love,

He’d fight for me, to win,

He’d carried that old Cross,

And forgive all of my sins.

 

Hope had come that day,

And hope has come, this Eve –

God with us, we know –

So may our hearts believe!

 

Believe that through the shadows,

The valleys, tears, and nights –

Our Savior Jesus guides us, with

Heaven’s Glorious Light.

 

Amidst the things unseen,

We call this Hope to mind –

While we wait with eager longing,

In Him, our joy, we find.

 

So let your heart make room,

For Jesus on this night –

Hope has come forever,

Our faith has turned to sight!

 

Simeon lived for a moment,

But we, my friends, can sing –

Future, past and present,

Christ lives, our glorious King!

 

And someday, He will say,

Welcome home, my son;

Against all Hope, you stood,

And now your Faith has won.

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Rising Strong

Rising strong, 

He holds me still –
Like the sand,
The Ocean fills.
I’ve swum to shore,
I’ve drifted to sea –
And all the while,
He has asked me to Be.
Still in His Love,
Still in His Strength –
Even when I,
Cannot go the Length –
The length of great Faith,
The width of Love –
The depth of His wealth,
Hope’s Height from above.
And when I am weary,
With the length of this Way,
He speaks to me,
At the break of Day.
The hallways of Time,
Echo so bright –
The good and the bad,
Shine forth in His Light –
What has been, and
All that is Past –
I hand off to Him,
To hold what will last.
Last for my Future,
Endure for Tomorrow –
And, smiling I wave,
Goodbye to my Sorrows.
The scars remain,
And I’ll always recall –
The loves that changed me,
Their rise and their fall.
The fall of mistakes,
The rise to what’s Real –
The fall into Love,
The rising to Heal.
Into a person,
Seasoned and sown –
Wiser, today,
More vulnerable and known.
I look in the mirror,
And wonder just how,
These years have all passed,
And who I am now.
So much has changed,
And much more to come –
But He will remain,
Steadfast like the Sun.
And when others move on,
And my life feels behind –
I look back to remember,
His Goodness, I find.
People have asked,
Why I believe,
Why I have faith,
In this life, He has weaved –
Drawing these shades,
Sketching these stories –
Of love braving pain,
Of heartache to glory.
How could one ever,
Deny such a Gift?
That offers such bounty,
Not a finger, we lift.
To pay or to earn,
This freedom of Peace,
In His Arms, all our
Strivings, simply cease.
Outlandish it seems,
Too good to be true –
And yet it’s more real,
Than all that I knew.
Knew in my head,
Felt in my heart –
It doesn’t make sense,
Being whole, yet apart.
But walking this road,
Between faith and sense,
At some point, we must –
Jump off of the Fence.
To taste and to see,
The mystery of Good –
Beyond this one side,
Past where I’ve stood.
Our logic must go,
When hearing His voice,
Suddenly we realize,
He offers a Choice –
The choice to embrace,
More than we hold,
From our own making,
From all this world told.
And beyond the science,
Told by our books,
The story fits perfect,
When I dared to look.
To look and to savor,
Peace from my fears –
A Shepherd to guide me,
Through all of these years.
Someone I found,
At rock bottom, of Hell,
Empty of Hope,
My Soul, found this Well.
Deep as the ocean,
Full as the sky,
Quenching forever,
Past how and why.
He opened my hands,
He carried my Loss,
He showed me His heart,
Broke at the Cross.
So when I am weak,
And all words are lost –
I remember the One,
Who counted the cost.
To love me, forever,
To love me, in pain-
To love me, so boldly,
His death, my gain.
Still, I will wait,
Still, I will go –
Still, I will sing,
Through all these unknowns.

 

Rising strong, 

He holds me fast –
He whispers to me,
The first shall be last.
The first shall be last,
And finally the Day,
Will break through the dark,
And show me the Way.
The Way He has planned,
Up out of this Well,
And Glory, we’ll speak,
Of His Love, we will tell.
Our children will dance,
Our children we’ll Hold –
And someday these words,
To them will be Told.
So hold onto Hope,
For all that we long,
Falling too weak,
We’ll rise so strong.
Rising strong,
Into His glory –

Rising strong, 

He’ll tell the story.
The story He planned,
Down in the deep,
The things He reveals,
And the details He keeps.
And whatever He shines,
And whatever He shields –
I’ll trust His Hand,
His best to yield.

 

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