Tag Archives: sorrow

Challenge of Jesus In A World of Brokenness

If not us, then who?“What we are faced with in our culture is the post-Christian version of the doctrine of original sin: all human endeavor is radically flawed, and the journalists who take delight in pointing this out are simply telling over and over again the story of Genesis three as applied to today’s leaders, politicians, royalty and rock stars. And our task, as image-bearing, God-loving, Christshaped, Spirit-filled Christians, following Christ and shaping our world, is to announce challenge of Jesusredemption to the world that has discovered its fallenness, to announce healing to the world that has discovered its brokenness, to proclaim love and trust to the world that knows only exploitation, fear and suspicion. So the key I propose for translating Jesus’ unique message to the Israel of his day into our message to our contemporaries is to grasp the parallel, which is woven deeply into both Testaments, between the human call to bear God’s image and Israel’s call to be the light of the world. Humans were made to reflect God’s creative stewardship into the world. Israel was made to bring God’s rescuing love to bear upon the world. Jesus came as the true Israel, the world’s true light, and as the true image of the invisible God. He was the true Jew, the true human. He has laid the foundation, and we must build upon it. We are to be the bearers both of his redeeming love and of his creative stewardship: to celebrate it, to model it, to proclaim it, to dance to it.

“As the Father sent me, so I send you…

…receive the Holy Spirit; forgive sins and they are forgiven, retain them and they are retained.” That last double command belongs exactly at this point. We are to go out into the world with the divine authority to forgive and retain sins. When Jesus forgave sins, they said he was blaspheming; how then can we imagine such a thing for ourselves? Answer: because of the gift of the Holy Spirit. God intends to do through us for the wider world that for which the foundation was laid in Jesus. We are to live and tell the story of the prodigal and the older brother; to announce God’s glad, exuberant, richly healing welcome for sinners, and at the same time God’s sorrowful but implacable opposition to those who persist in arrogance, oppression and greed. Following Christ in the power of the Spirit means bringing to our world the shape of the gospel: forgiveness, the best news that anyone can ever hear, for all who yearn for it, and judgment for all who insist on dehumanizing themselves and others by their continuing pride, injustice and greed…

The gospel of Jesus points us and indeed urges us to be at the leading edge of the whole culture,

…articulating in story and music and art and philosophy and education and poetry and politics and theology and even–heaven help us–Biblical studies, a worldview that will mount the historically-rooted Christian challenge to both modernity and postmodernity, leading the way…with joy and humor and gentleness and good judgment and true wisdom. I believe if we face the question, “if not now, then when?” if we are grasped by this vision we may also hear the question, “if not us, then who?” And if the gospel of Jesus is not the key to this task, then what is?”

—  N. T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus

You’ve got a smile
That lifts me out of here
When I’m all tripped up
And turned around
Down in the trenches
Where you lift me up again
My heart and mind so far away

For the longing, the aching and the call
There is no denying her at all now

Beauty leads the way
Beauty leads the way
To the glory of the world
We were made for
Beauty leads the way

Look in the spaces
Where the separation thins
To dislocated cracks of light
Under the surface
Up above it’s all the same
You’re everywhere but hard to find

For the longing, the aching and the call
There is no denying you at all now

Beauty leads the way
Beauty leads the way
To the glory of the world
We were made for
Beauty leads the way
[x2]

our brokenness

Take you by surprise
Go right into the flames
Measures the sacrifice
‘Cause beauty leads the way

She’s like the morning sun
The answer to your shame
Rescued from where you were
Beauty leads the way
Beauty leads the way
Beauty leads the way
Beauty leads the way

Tears, brokenness & broken hearts

“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”
― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations


 

A Closer Walk: Overcoming Dark Storms of Doubt

I was stunned at the size of the doubt-storms that were rolling across the landscape of my life. Suddenly I was being engulfed by dark clouds of questioning God, myself, what I believed about everything.

It is easy to believe in a God of Love when everything in your life is rosy, but when things fall apart? Then you begin to wonder and doubt creeps in.

Why has this happened?

Is it something I’ve done… something I didn’t do?

Or, am I just a victim of chance after all?

In the first days after I returned home from the hospital, I have to tell you, it was God’s silence that made these storms almost unendurable.

How could God be silent when I was in so much pain?

Dark, dark, thoughts paraded through my head daily.

I didn’t want the life I had just been handed. If this was what my life was now to be? I didn’t think I could bear it.

depression The darker my thoughts became, the deeper my depression grew.

It felt as if I was on a long slide into nothingness.

Nothing in my life looked good to me anymore. I felt broken, yes—but worse, I felt broken beyond repair.

This is what depression will do.

It takes you to a place where everything is doused in dark colors and shadows. All brokenness looks irredeemable. You feel completely disconnected from anyone with hope.

Because your hope, has been buried under a landslide of pain, and unanswered questions!

I found myself in a place where songs, sermons, and Christian cliches, could not even begin to reach me.

A severely depressed person sees no hope, because they see no future. Clouds of doubt and fear swallow you whole.

Only one thing was able to pierce my darkness: His Voice.

He whispered, “Life is not over…” and a small glimmer of Light pierced the darkness and found its way into my broken heart.

It was a start.

The dark and The Light began doing battle each day.

His Voice brought hope—but still the dark persisted.

The dark had all my broken evidence on his side.

He drew me outA tug-of-war was going on in my heart and mind; faith pulling one way; darkness and doubt pulling the other.

Strangely enough, it was an ancient song that turned the tide; a psalm of David.

His words from centuries past spoke to me with understanding and commiseration.

My present doubts and darkness were not unfamiliar to him…

“I waited patiently for God to help me; then He listened and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path…” Psalm 40: 1-2Psalm 40: 1-2
English: World English Bible - WEB

40 For the Chief Musician. A Psalm by David. 1 I waited patiently for Yahweh. He turned to me, and heard my cry. 2 He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay. He set my feet on a rock, And gave me a firm place to stand.

WP-Bible plugin
David was describing exactly where I was.

And, how I felt.

journal

RUNNING IN CIRCLES

Don’t let the enemy sidetrack you honey.

See how he taunts you; how he works to provoke you?

You’ve really got him worried Sweetheart.

The Light of God's VoiceJust settle down in Me.

(Abide, remember?)

Don’t let him stir up your inner man.

Don’t let him create chaos in your outer circumstances.

You have this power over him, not the other way around! If he can provoke you; get you running in circles emotionally; he can hinder My work in you and through you.

But you are too smart for him. You know what to do and how to do it! You have come, too far, to let him sidetrack you now.

Don’t you hear it? The music? Don’t you hear what is flowing from your heart and soul? A new song—a new symphony from you to My world!

My feet are on The RockYou thought it was just for My people?

Oh, no. I have much bigger things in mind for you.

Why do you think the enemy torments you so, day and night?

I see. I hear.

But, child… oh, My sweet adorable one… the music!

The music!

Where once there were squeaky notes of discord, ah now… the rhythm and harmony… how I love it! (How I love you!) You are beginning to understand how much I love you. And together—together we are writing new songs for the whole world to sing!

Keep your peace honey. Don’t let him steal it, ever!

It is the prelude to music!

a closer walk“He has given me a new song to sing… many will hear of the glorious thing he did… and put their trust in him.”

Psalm 40:3Psalm 40:3
English: World English Bible - WEB

3 He has put a new song in my mouth, even praise to our God. Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in Yahweh.

WP-Bible plugin

 

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.

7507f7e20df9153b049f14d29ba2eecf

 

Seasons

dbba89069c66fb654d01bb340b41628c~~~

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!

~~~

3948074-woman-walks-through-an-old-cemetery

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

ashes_to_ashes__dust_to_dust__by_cheesysteele-d3nfklw

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

~~~

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…

~~~

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

AshesMed2P1210554

Cemetery Prayers

b8cc58074a7811b6df25019e55d74494

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

woman_thinking_j0381855_wide

Lord?

Why do I do it?

Why do I keep coming back here?

25742-scared-woman-1200_1200w_tn

Why do I haunt this place?

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

13834-girl-woman-waiting-watch-look-bored-food_1200w_tn

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!

3572571326_d99a600ce0

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?

CRITICALTHINKER

I guess not.

Maybe it’s time to ask some new questions.

Questions like…

arton2724

“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?

spiritualgrowth_onewomanstory

Don’t answer God.

You don’t need to.

We both know the answer to that one!

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAa3AAAAJDY0MjAzNmQ0LTM3YTAtNGY4Mi05MmM3LTM3ZjU4MTA0ZWEzMg_edited

Save me from myself God.

You’re the only One who can!

sad-man

Forget these graves… breathe life back into me!

My heart feels as cold as these marble monuments.

alone-girl-sitting-sad-lovesove

And just as hard.

Only You can save me…

17709-sad-man

Heal me.

The DREAM-MAKER’S Promise:

“Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved.” Jeremiah 17:14Jeremiah 17:14
English: World English Bible - WEB

14 Heal me, O Yahweh, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for you are my praise.

WP-Bible plugin
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

HFNNk2G

I remember long ago this songwriter God.

(You know the one.)

He asked the question:

Where are the lamentations for modern day?

1296b9c2e1407fa08c2e032f59ff1ca1

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

Well… is that true?

images95BTI622

Lamentation: makes the hard and cruel – disgusted.

giphy-facebook_s

(Is that good?)

Lamentation: makes the shallow, impatient.

impatient-viewngr

(Is that good?)

Lamentation: makes the pompous reject.

(Is that good?)

SnobbyGuy1

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

They think sad words a total waste.

9e9572f92bda86a1639c05d59915825f

But songwriter has me thinking twice.

Perhaps this oxymoron just might work.

For is it not true…

a3cd702554748ee9f696318ace4627d0

That Lamentation gives voice to the crushed in spirit.

3ee638e1809d16998619f1d7d592f8d2

(Isn’t that good?)

Lamentation dignifies – not disqualifies.

73840647c51585018884a9a2b54a3c82

(Isn’t that good?)

Lamentation lifts the fallen and binds the wound.

1ba6cd7b2a3084817a984a61517d47e3

(Isn’t that good?)

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

20f1615a1994741b965f010913c5e4d2

(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.

07d70314cf576fdf9d5c2e97d242d9c3

(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 9:17Jeremiah 9:17
English: World English Bible - WEB

17 Thus says Yahweh of Armies, Consider you, and call for the mourning women, that they may come; and send for the skillful women, that they may come:

WP-Bible plugin
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

images

Show me LORD.

Show me.

images5XBYAMUM

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

man-praying-dark

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

woman-praying-at-church1

Am I waiting on You?

Woman Among Lit Votive Candles
Or… are You waiting on me?

old_woma

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.

93f23d1a6c1d0127e8e367c9d0e8595c

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?

eb69484ba72c7fc925c1482434098a33
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?

10444_Josef_Cerhak

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

smouldering wick

This smoldering wick stands on Your promise in weary wondering…

(Can a stone yet speak?)

755a0dbccef2dee5830646ee56dba9be

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 63:1Psalm 63:1
English: World English Bible - WEB

63 A Psalm by David, when he was in the desert of Judah. 1 God, you are my God. I will earnestly seek you. My soul thirsts for you, My flesh longs for you, In a dry and weary land, where there is no water.

WP-Bible plugin
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

medium_the-pain-of-the-world-and-the-purposes-of-god
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 55:8-9Isaiah 55:8-9
English: World English Bible - WEB

8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says Yahweh. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

WP-Bible plugin
)

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

179550_5_1458553794

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.”

woman-crying-285x300

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

 

crying-woman

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?

arabwomanweeping

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

cfe10287780f445c4c32336245e59ee5

To receive “a new heart” (Ezekiel 11:19Ezekiel 11:19
English: World English Bible - WEB

19 I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh;

WP-Bible plugin
) 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 17:14Jeremiah 17:14
English: World English Bible - WEB

14 Heal me, O Yahweh, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for you are my praise.

WP-Bible plugin
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.