‘Day One’ Blog

Quiet Endurance

Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy that was set before him
ENDURED the cross, despising the shame,
and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
~ Hebrews 12:2

When you are certain about why you’re doing what you’re doing, the ability to ENDURE becomes a little more attainable. Jesus knew what was at stake as He moved toward the cross and beyond. He knew what would be accomplished through His death and resurrection. I believe He understood the implications of everything He did and everything the rest of humanity was doing (or not doing) in response to His revolutionary message. But did Jesus ever lose perspective? Did He waver for a moment when He asked the Father if there was another way to fulfill His calling? What was it like to be fully God and fully human in those critical hours before His death?  For all the mystery, Jesus firmly resolved to finish what The Father had called Him to. He kept His eyes on the “finish line.” He kept His grasp on what was paramount and He, in harmonious cooperation with The Father, achieved victory.


I like reminding myself of these truths because especially lately, my perspective keeps vanishing. I’ve been easily distracted by a days unexpected details, because for months now, my over crowded schedule has left ZERO margin for error. Consequently, it’s been a deeply disorienting season… there is not a single day that does not have multiple “errors” built in to it (duh). So, round the clock I’ve fought to gain and then re-gain perspective, most days coming up woefully short.

At the same time many, many people in my circle of friends and acquaintances are in seasons they might describe as particularly difficult. “Winter” is lingering, and they are weary. Perspective is illusive.

I’m not made with the capacity to achieve perspective through understanding everything that’s happening around me. I have to find it another way. I have a picture in my mind of being on a ship at sea in a blinding blanket of fog. Jesus is in the crow’s nest atop the main mast and above the fog. His unimpeded view makes possible my salvation and ability to move. “I can of myself do nothing” becomes especially meaningful in that scenario.

Jesus’ perspective was linked to the joy set before Him. And so is mine. Quite literally, Jesus IS the joy set before me. I wait for Him and the eternal union with Him that is my future. That reality makes the arduous “present” endurable, albeit arguably clunky. Forward motion isn’t always graceful.

Quiet endurance, in other words, the ability to be inwardly settled even in a lengthy and painful storm, can be mine. The founder and perfecter of my faith comforts, strengthens and guides me from above the fog.

Let us run
with ENDURANCE
the race that is set before us,
 looking to JESUS.
~ Hebrews 12:1 ~

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Midway – Reflections

We use New Year’s Day as an opportunity to take stock. We give ourselves permission to think and feel, and to contemplate the bits of our lives. That’s fairly remarkable in a society driven to live at light-speed. It seems most of us resolve, not to necessarily embark on new endeavors as much as to apply a fresh application of ourselves to what already is.

Where I have lost view of pieces of my life, I seek to RE-view. Where I have lost a sense of my calling to a thing, I seek to RE-call. Where I recognize I’m lacking clarity I seek to RE-focus. Where I feel lethargic or detached I seek to RE-engage.

I’ve pondered and read these past days, stories of some of my Biblical patriarchs. What was Moses’s Life like between the burning bush and the exodus; between the exodus and the promise land? What was David’s life like between being anointed and becoming King? Or Joseph’s life, between his youthful dreams and the famine poised to destroy the Israelites. How did these men steward the “in between” times?

The truth is, the exciting memorable bits of most endeavors are attached to the beginning and the end of the thing. It’s the “in between” that often doesn’t capture and keep my attention. That’s the harder part to steward, yet I am seeing afresh, that rightly tending to “in between” is nothing short of paramount.

~
Whoever tends a fig tree will eat its fruit.
Proverbs 27:18

Two obvious and simple reasons surface for me. The first is, the substance of a thing is formed “in between.” And it doesn’t form as it’s meant to without intervention. You throw ingredients in a pot so you can eat stew later that day. It comes as no surprise that you have to tend that pot throughout the day. Not particularly fun or memorable, but essential if you want to eat.

~
As in water face reflects face,
so the heart of man reflects the man.
Proverbs 27:19

The second point is hand-in-glove to the first. HOW I apply myself, and the attitude of my heart AS I apply myself matters as much as that I apply myself at all. Without question, sometimes you simply have to grit your teeth and get a thing done. But it makes a world of difference to me and those around me, when my heart is right as I do that thing.

In this new year, I pray that you and I, by stopping the train and giving God a chance to speak to us, will have a fresh orientation to the people and circumstances in our lives. We are marathoners, not sprinters, so the need to take stock and a willingness to shift accordingly will follow us the rest of our days.

~

Please Lord, let me apply myself with renewed purpose to all you have placed before me. 2017 is fully known to You. You ask for my hand, eager to walk me though every day of it.

Even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
Psalm 139:10

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Jesus Messiah

There is no more thorough, compelling rendering of the breadth of the beauty of Jesus, than that found in John’s first chapter. So comprehensive is this passage… painting Jesus in the most vivid colors:

He is from the beginning, Eternal
He is the Word
He is God
He made everything that is
Life is in Him
That life is the light of men
Darkness cannot put it out
Jesus was coming into the world that He made
His own people did not know their Maker
Those who DID believe were GIVEN the right
to become His children, born of the will of God
Jesus is credited for the possibility of and the ability to be saved
Jesus, the Word, dwelt with us
We have seen His glory
He is full of grace and full of truth
From that fulness we have received GRACE UPON GRACE
Grace and truth came through Jesus
Jesus, Himself God, made God known to us
He is the Lamb of God who takes away the world’s sin
He was baptized by The Holy Spirit
He is the Son of God
He is Messiah
He is King of Israel
He is the Son of Man

This Christmas, my heart overflows with thanksgiving for Immanuel. That He would come to save, come to reveal, come to reconcile repentant sons and daughters to Himself is more than my mind can grab hold of. While my mind fails to understand, my heart is alive, full of awe and adoration for the Savior of the world.

This Christmas I pray He’d be honored… lifted up as He ought to be, as He deserves to be. I pray I would reflect a woman having received grace upon grace, by giving grace upon grace to my people. I pray I would express to Him the treasure He is… that there is no thing, no one, no pursuit worthy to compare to Him.

~

Riches I heed not nor man’s empty praise
Thou my inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only, You’re first in my heart
High King of Heaven my treasure Thou art
Heart of my own heart whatever befall
Still be my vision oh Ruler of all
(Mary Elizabeth Byrne; Eleanor H. Hull)

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Kindness In Suffering

kindness
The Lord is
faithful in ALL His words
righteous in ALL His ways
kind in ALL His works
~ Psalm 145:13,17 ~
~

This beautiful truth found in Psalm 145 has been especially meaningful of late. Life is hard these days… very hard. I’m not the only one I know clinging to Jesus like never before.

It’s difficult to find evidence of kindness when you are suffering, or someone you love is suffering. But it’s there. God has had to reshape my view of kindness. I’m picturing a doctor re-breaking an already broken bone so that it will set properly… terribly painful, terribly necessary. And of course in the grand scheme, a great kindness. Context is everything when I think about the possibility that kindness is present in suffering.

If the Psalmist David got it right, when the Lord is at work, kindness is always present. I stop to look across the vast plain of the people in my life right now. I see cancer and abuse and crippling anxiety and loved ones dying. I see mental illness, financial crisis and demonic influences. I see lethargy and apathy and spiritual weariness so that one battles not to topple over the brink of despair. I see the Church abroad dying for their unwavering commitment to follow Jesus. I see the church at home divided, some fighting tirelessly for Biblical values, others spending their best energy trying to be comfortable morphing along with our modern culture.

That there would be kindness evidenced in some of God’s work is conceivable, but His kindness is present in ALL His works. That’s a far weightier thought for me. I am offered, in the midst of suffering, an invitation to search for the treasure that is the Lord’s kindness. It’s there. And it bears remembering that kindness is a virtue of LOVE. In discovering the Lord’s kindness, I’ve also discovered His love.

Praise you Lord, for Your kindness, in view or out of view. It’s there, and that is all I need to know to anchor in the midst of my disorientation.

~
I led them with cords of kindness,
with the bands of love,
and I became to them
as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
and I bent down to them and fed them.
~ Hosea 11:4 ~

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‘Day One’ Archives – Thoughts On Transitioning to a New Normal

So many of my peers are experiencing the loss of their parents. I still have the gift of having both my mother and father here. My friends, without exception, remark that you cannot be prepared for the depth of the loss. You think you are, and you aren’t.

Each time I hear that someone has passed on, I’m reminded afresh, the invaluable gift that grief is. God invented it. He knows we need some forum for our pain to live and express, and spend itself. He knows the deep permanent grooves carved by those losses, and in His kindness, He provides for us.

I hope this re-post will encourage you if you are grieving. I hope it will give you fresh insight into those you are caring for in their grief.


grief

These are thoughts not necessarily in sequence. Each paragraph is meant to make sense independent of the others, (fingers are crossed). I’ve written them down for someone I have the great honor of walking beside in their grief.

A man’s spirit will endure sickness,
but a crushed spirit who can bear?

~ Proverbs 18:14 ~

  • When someone has experienced significant trauma, there is no vein of life that is untouched by it. Normal life vanishes. Grief comes, entering the center of the person in pain, and a journey ensues, transitioning them from what was their ‘normal’ to whatever the ‘new normal’ will be.
  • Anyone who has truly experienced the process of grieving will tell you that while there are markers and stages of grief, each journey is unique, customized to the individual and their situation. The way I articulate it is: grief has a life of its own. No one but God gets to say when it’s over, and NO ONE but the one grieving has the right to say where they are in that process.

And when they saw him from a distance,
they did not recognize him.

And they raised their voices and wept,
and they tore their robes
and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven.
And they sat with him on the ground
seven days and seven nights,
and no one spoke a word to him,
for they saw that his suffering was very great.
~ Job 2:12-13 ~

  • I believe God invented grief, offering it to us as an indispensable resource that helps us in our profound disorientation. It’s meant in part to serve us until we have our feet again, to the degree that we are able to find stability in our new orientation. In this way, grief is truly our friend.
  • Grief is a gift. It provides a forum for those deepest places within us to express and experience pain and loss. God meets a person there, entering the transition and guiding it. It’s interesting to think about the fact that God gives us this gift, then walks along side, like a caregiver administering whatever is needed for however long it is needed, so that you are never alone.
  • Whatever a persons general disposition, when they are in trauma, those pre-dispositions often present in a manner that appears disproportionate. For instance, a person who would consider themselves moderately high-strung, may find they are having panic attacks or dealing with extreme anxiety. A hug or a simple word of truth might have stabilized in the past. Something proportionate will be needed to assist post trauma. This reminder can be a great gift to your grieving friend, who may silently be wondering if they are loosing their mind.
  • For life altering trauma, the process of transitioning may take years. Grief will run its course during the transition but will never depart altogether. A person who has suffered deeply will never be the same, nor should they be. Our struggle as caregivers is to put down the temptation to persuade them to “get back to normal” or to “move on.” There is no such place, and it puts a terrible burden upon a suffering soul to imply there is. The marks of their wounds are worthy to be remembered, even if the remembering causes pain.
  • A person who has been immersed in the fire of suffering will never be who they once were. But the spectrum of emotions pushes out on both sides, so that while they have never felt such agony, they now have a capacity to feel joy that is proportionate to their pain. It is one of the truly redemptive aspects of experiencing sorrow. Many who have suffered will tell you they are grateful to have this capacity, perhaps even in light of the cost.

Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.

~ Psalm 30:5 ~

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