Tag Archives: sorrow

In The Shadow Lands Of Our Story

I am a movie lover. Or, perhaps it would be more appropriate to say, “I am a story-lover.”

Movies, books, it doesn’t matter—I LOVE a great story.

Think about all of your favorite stories. They all have certain things in common, don’t they? Good guys and bad guys, disasters with all kinds of potential (if not actual) hazards. Twists and turns in the plot with questions, questions, questions. What will happen next?
Yes. To have a good story, one that really captures your imagination, you must have all the elements of risk and uncertainty, plus truckloads of unanswered questions that lead up to that suspense-filled finish.
Now, think about your story.
The one you and God are in the process of writing.
The story you call: My Life.
If you’ve been on this planet any length of time I’m guessing your story has had its share of ups-n-downs. Perhaps there’s already a good pile of debris with many well-intentioned-risks that DID NOT turn out the way you had originally planned, yes?
But isn’t that the thing about a good story?
Doesn’t a GOOD story need a few spectacular disasters here or there with a few unexpected cliff-hangers thrown in for good measure? Wouldn’t a story with everything predictable and nothing spectacular be, well, boring?
Now, shall I tell you something really strange?
This seems to be what most Christians want, a nice safe, predictable, boring life, with “certainty” being the rule rather than the exception! And, when they don’t get what they want? This is the point in the story where “the experts” (whoever “they” are) tell us that most Christians give up! Yep, they bail out. Abandon ship. God didn’t come through so, “See yah.”
There seems to be a growing trend for “the faithful” to bail out on their faith. Especially when everything they thought was going to happen, didn’t.
Right where the risks tanked, and all seems lost, and God did not come through like they prayed and believed He would so, “See yah God.”
Apparently yonder hills are scattered with former “sheep” wandering disillusioned, disappointed and discouraged; let down by themselves, others, and yes, even God.

Or, so they think.

Can I confess something? That was me once-upon-a-time.
Thrown into my own (much unwanted) holocaust, beat up, and left for dead. Angry, disappointed, and disillusioned, this is the point in my own story where I was sorely tempted to give it all up and walk away. In the Shadowlands of confusion, pain, and yes, even anger and disgust, where contradiction seemed to rule my every thought and emotion, right there in those dark shadows, where dreams and hopes had withered and died. Where people had lied, disappointed, and disappeared. Right there, in the middle of my story, I was reading, “The End.”
Mighty powerful temptation—giving up.
It’s a wide road. Well populated. Well traveled. Dark and shadowed.
We look at our story’s “first draft” and wad it up, intending to pitch it out, and say, “No good thing can come out of this mess.”

I was watching a great movie over the holidays called, The Shadowlands. It’s the love story of C. S. Lewis and Joy Gresham. Lewis is an Oxford professor, published and successful writer, a sought-after lecturer, living at the heights of his career. Smugly sure of his beliefs, sounding off to others with lofty phrases about God and His ways, until… everything crashes. Everything he believes about God gets shattered by brutal reality. Suddenly he finds himself out in The Shadow Lands with a God he does not recognize and does not want to know. He’s caught in the grip of darkness and pain with no miracle or escape on his horizon.

Now, what?

Enter Joy with his answer!

Not an answer he wants to hear but the answer he needs. She tells him that “The pain now is part of the joy then.” She is speaking of heaven but I started thinking about her statement.

Isn’t that the answer for all of us who find ourselves stumbling through the dark pages of our own story? We imagine and plan a storyline that doesn’t involve pain or disappointment. We want to write happily ever after’s only. No dark disappointments, please. I’ll take bliss and certainty every time.

But aren’t the dark pages an essential part of the greatest stories?

What if that’s an essential part that turns a good story into a GREAT story? Isn’t it at least possible?

And, if God is the one writing the story of our lives, isn’t the temporary part of our journey through the shadowlands, the last place where we should give up? What about the end of the story?

What about the end of yours?

Isn’t the pain we experience now, out in the murky-middle, part of the joy to yet be revealed at the end?

David was chased and threatened by Saul, hiding in caves. Joseph was hated and sold by his brothers, ending up cooling his heels in a dungeon. Joshua was faithful and believing, yet made to wander for forty long years with all the carping-complaining unbelieving. Gideon was at the bottom of a deep hole wondering how did this happen to God’s “chosen” ones?

All of them—destined for great endings—yet walking through The Shadowlands of their own stories.

The shadowlands were not the end of their stories.

Perhaps it’s NOT the end of yours either.

Each day, you and God together are still writing pages to your manuscript, yes? My point?

If you’re walking through the Shadow Lands of your story it’s not finished yet.

Don’t give up now.

No great story ends in the murky-middle.

Yours won’t either.

The shadow Lands is not a destination, it’s just one part of the journey. The pain now will be an integral part of the joy at the finish.

So? Simple. Your story’s not finished yet.

God has not stopped writing your pages.

If He’s not finished—neither are you.

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Seasons

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Father—Creation that you’ve made!

Spring’s sweet buds, and Summer’s glade;

Pumpkin’s orange in Fall’s bright pallet,

Forest’s sleep ‘neath Winter’s mallet…

~~~

Your seasons teach me lessons stern;

Lessons that, I needs, must learn;

That all year ’round — these changes show,

I must change if I’m to grow!

~~~

1308a7b0e1add324fa76cc5904cb37a9Why do I fight it? Fists clenched tight…

Why resist with all my might?

…with each new season in my life,

Relentless Change’s pruning knife?

~~~

Cutting away the worn, with cost,

And though I weep at what I’ve lost;

Change will not yeild — but cutting still,

Bids me swallow this bitter-pill…

~~~

‘Tis not the death of Heaven’s dream…492c7237fbdcbe72b996796e66a3ee92

‘Tis not The Father’s heartless scheme!

But Tender Wisdom from above,

Calling him Home…

Because — he’s Loved!

~~~

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And so these tears — this Season’s end…

This bitter loss of Beloved Friend;

I will accept because I know,

Change must come… and you must go…

But never forget, how we loved you so!

For My Beloved Prodigal—free at last, July 2016

Ashes

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As I sit here, from Heaven’s view

Watching you weep among the ashes?

I wish you could see, what I see

The other life that crashes

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Don’t think that you’re the only one,

That’s wandering through destruction;

That I’ve no plan to take it all

And begin the reconstruction…

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Just like I’ve done so many times,

I’ll take all you have been through

And build a life that honors Me

Your hopes and dreams renew

~~~

I’ll carve from despair and discouragement,

Weakness, loss, and pain,

Doors of delight and deliverance,

Meaning and priceless gain.

~~~

Then with your humbled thankfulness,

I’ll build one final door

And you will lead—countless others through

To salvation forevermore

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Cemetery Prayers

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God? I am haunting my ruins again. Wandering past the old gravestones of long dead hopes and dreams.

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Lord?

Why do I do it?

Why do I keep coming back here?

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Why do I haunt this place?

These dreams no longer dance—no longer sing—no.

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It’s so silent here and dark, but I keep coming back, sometimes to weep and feel the pain again, sometimes to just stand and stare—feeling so lost.

Oh, God!

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I’m lost to me but I’m not lost to You.

You know the answers to all my questions.

I thought I’d surrendered all my Why’s?

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I guess not.

Maybe it’s time to ask some new questions.

Questions like…

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“Where?” or “Who?” or “What?”

Anything but, why?

Such a useless thing—why.

What good is why?

Will an answer bring a resurrection or breathe life into these graves?

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Don’t answer God.

You don’t need to.

We both know the answer to that one!

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Save me from myself God.

You’re the only One who can!

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Forget these graves… breathe life back into me!

My heart feels as cold as these marble monuments.

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And just as hard.

Only You can save me…

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Heal me.

The DREAM-MAKER’S Promise:

“Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved.” Jeremiah 17:14 NKJV

The Caterpillar’s Prayer:

Abba… Daddy-God, I have no hope but You. I have no prayer but this,”Heal me …breathe on these dry bones.”

 

A Good Lament

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I remember long ago this songwriter God.

(You know the one.)

He asked the question:

Where are the lamentations for modern day?

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He implied ( I thought) that lamentations were GOOD… necessary, now as then.

Well… is that true?

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Lamentation: makes the hard and cruel – disgusted.

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(Is that good?)

Lamentation: makes the shallow, impatient.

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(Is that good?)

Lamentation: makes the pompous reject.

(Is that good?)

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These strutting-saints in purple robes, all chorus, “No!” in unison.

They think sad words a total waste.

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But songwriter has me thinking twice.

Perhaps this oxymoron just might work.

For is it not true…

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That Lamentation gives voice to the crushed in spirit.

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(Isn’t that good?)

Lamentation dignifies – not disqualifies.

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(Isn’t that good?)

Lamentation lifts the fallen and binds the wound.

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(Isn’t that good?)

Lamentation, in dirges sweet, bows to God and sovereign plan.

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(Isn’t that good?)

So, too, I sing – will not be silent, for songs must sing to captive hearts.

Perhaps this lamentation sweet will open imprisoned hearts and minds.

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(Yes God, that would be GOOD.)

The DREAM-MAKER’S Promise:

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider and call for the mourning women, that they may come; And send for the skillful wailing women, that they may come.” Jeremiah 9:17 NKJV

The Caterpillar’s Prayer:

Father… these songs, they give voice to the deepest sorrows in my heart; things I feel so deeply, yet cannot find the words for my prayers.

Let these songs become the words; be my prayers; my heart-cries to You!

Will You bend down, in Your sweet love and mercy, and listen… hear my anguish that reaches out to You alone, for help and healing for all in need.

Our world is in such a mess Abba; such distress! Most just turn and look away.

(Sometimes, I accuse You of looking away, too…)

But, You never do!

Father, help me, to never look away again.

Weary Wondering

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Show me LORD.

Show me.

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Have I missed it? Have I understood the wrong thing all this time? Am I standing in the wrong line?

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I’m wondering at it all—and You?
(Silence.)

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Am I waiting on You?

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Or… are You waiting on me?

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I don’t remember where or when this silence started but, where will it end?

It’s Spring. Resurrection is in the air. Flowers and trees and birds are nice—but what I think I need is a resurrection in us.

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My hope is buried. (Of that I have no doubt.) What I’m wondering…
Is there something left under all that mess?
Is there yet a crocus for all this sand?

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Dead dreams indeed! This tomb, my heart. Perhaps I have turned to stone and yet, I keep my sentry post.

Why?

Why guard this heap of cold gray rock?

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This road I thought I could endure?
Too long, too weary, I’ve become!
And all I’ve left—this tiny spark.

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This smoldering wick stands on Your promise in weary wondering…

(Can a stone yet speak?)

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The DREAM~MAKER’S Promise:

“O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You. In a dry and thirsty land. Where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1 NKJV

The Caterpillar’s Prayer:

Oh Father, I’m too tired to pray.

Besides, I no longer know what I should pray for. The length of this journey has made me sick at heart.

All I can think is “Help me LORD… please, help me!”

The Taste Of Tears

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Tasting my own tears again. Thinking, “This is not how I would have done it.”

How often God takes us a way we would not have gone— points to a path we would not have chosen.

Dear Reader, have you often pondered the words:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

How often I have pondered God’s ways with the taste of tears in my mouth.

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Perhaps there are Christians that can walk the path of captivity with great joy, but I confess to you, I am not one of them.

… My thoughts are not your thoughts…

Yes.

I remember the LORD whispering to my heart before I came here, “…there is no other way.”

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I confess I did not truly comprehend the enormity of those three little words until now…

 

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No other way.

Looking back… to who I once was, I now know:

⦁ There was no other way to bind the wounds of betrayal without being betrayed.
⦁ There was no other way to learn the words of comfort for the abandoned without being cast out.
⦁ And, how else could one sing the song of deliverance, had one not felt the chains?

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To become a wound dresser one must endure many woundings; one must taste their own tears, over… and over again.

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To receive “a new heart” (Ezekiel 11:19) indeed… there is no other way.

The DREAM~MAKER’S Promise:

“Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved,
For You are my praise.” Jeremiah 17:14 NKJV

The Caterpillar’s Prayer:

Father help me to believe in the process of transformation, though it may be full of pain, it is also a miracle in the making. I don’t want my tears to blind me to the miraculous things You are creating, in me.

And not just for me, but for others, too.

A God Past Finding Out

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Why would God deliberately send a famine? To punish the guilty? But, what about the innocent? Is that a God of Justice or a God past finding out?

I remember when the famine began in my life—the captivity.

In one event, things were put into motion that turned my life from green and fertile into a wasteland. Like dominos falling, I saw my nice, neat, orderly life, dissolve into chaos.

Is that what happened to Joseph? David? Job? Jonah?

Why does God step into our sweet order and so rearrange us that the result is famine, captivity, confusion, and sorrow?

Dear Reader, were you as stunned as I was when the chaos descended?

Job was.

Dear sweet Job. Minding his own business. Living a life of holiness and obedience and, suddenly.

Yes, that’s it. Suddenly your nice sweet orderly world slips off its axis, and suddenly everything you thought you knew about God, about others, about yourself—all of it is put through the fire!

Did you try to understand it?

I did. Job did. But we, Job and I, were about to be introduced to a God “past finding out.” (Rom. 11:33)

Have you met Him?

If you’re reading this chances are you have.

And, I imagine you’ve made some discoveries about Him, haven’t you? Like, “… My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways…” (Isa. 55:8)

I have a much different view of those words today.

Past finding out? Yes. Unsearchable? Yes! A God of Justice?Yes, but on His terms, not ours. His plan. His purpose. His servant. His way.

Even in famine, injustice, and captivity?

Yes, even that.

The DREAM~MAKER’S Promise:

… He called for a famine in the land; He destroyed all the provision of bread. He sent a man before them – Joseph – who was sold as a slave. They hurt his feet with fetters* He was laid in irons. Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the LORD tested him.”

Psalm 105:16-19 NKJV

* a chain or shackle for the ankles or feet

A Caterpillar’s Prayer:

Father, this is some of the hardest stuff you give us. Famine. Our mind may look for Your plan, and try to see the good in all the bad stuff that happens… but our hearts? Oh God, how our heart’s reel under some of the things you hand us! It has taken me a long time to learn this very difficult discipline of singing: songs in the night. I confess LORD, for so long… there was no song in me… only stunned, dumb, silence… wincing and stumbling through the dark. Holy Spirit, come. Comfort every hurting heart reading these words today. Truly, You are the only One who has the balm to heal our brokenness. Heal us LORD. Help us. We lift our tear-full eyes to You ~ for You are our only hope.