Monday, October 12, 2009


It is late again, and once again I find myself awake. I am soooo sleepy, weary, desolate during the day, but once I lay down... an ache starts in my extreme lower back and soon this nagging pain drives me to find some other, more comfortable way to lay, to sit, to stand. . . anything. . .

And I am awake.

It is never in vain to be awake, however, if our God has something to say. Trouble is, I do not seem to understand it. I know my trust has been lacking lately. I have been so tired. Tired of the same old battles that never seem to be won, only fought endlessly and repetitively. Tired of pain. Tired of waking up. Tired. Funny, many of my earliest memories are of being tired. I remember being sleepy in school, groggy when we were dropped off, exhausted when we were picked up. In fact, I cannot remember a moment in life when I was not tired in some measure or another. Just the other day, my husband took a look at me during breakfast and sent me back to bed. I told him I didn't feel I could sleep, that I wasn't very tired. Then I woke at noon. From that point on, I realized that I was just regular tired for the rest of the day, not the bone-crushing, strength-sapping weariness that typically presses on me. I was merely sleepy, not borderline psychotic.

So why all this muttering about being tired? Well, the truth is that I do understand what God is saying to me. I have been discontent, but He calls me to focus on Him and be satisfied. I have been restless, but He calls me to rest. I have been angry, but He calls me to love instead. I have felt slighted, but He reminds me that apart from the slights Christ bore, I would receive wrath as well. I have felt despondent, but He whispers that my reward is not here on earth, my life is not for my own pleasure, and my mind must not linger anywhere but on the Author and Perfecter of my faith. Of course, He is right.

I have dwelt on my own sorrow and discomfort rather than on the One who laid aside glory to cloak Himself in clumsy flesh. Doing so, He gave up comfort for pain so that I may some day be free entirely, trade this perishable body for an imperishable one, and truly live. In coming to live and die as a man, He was willingly bereft of Something--some bond, some part of Himself--in a way that I can never completely grasp, just to pay the penalty for my crimes so that I can live with Him in eternity. He loved me, not when I was careful, sincere, and generous, but when I was reckless, false, and stingy. Not when I was striving to achieve the glorious purity of holiness, but when I was spiritually akin to a grime-layered, homeless junkie who cared only for the next fix. He called me to trust Him when I did not even trust myself, and I did.

Now He reminds me: "You came to Me, dear, and You believed. Belief must not waver now that your rags are patched and your belly full. Yes, little one, you are tired, but you must not give up. I have given you a task to do, and you must do it even if you do not think you can. Trust Me to use your little strength for My glory. Do as you are told, even if it doesn't seem to come out right just now. Leave the results to Me. For I have searched you and known you. I know when you sit down and when you rise up. I discern your thoughts from afar. I search out your path and your lying down, and am acquainted with all your ways. Even before a word is on your tongue, I know it altogether. I hem you in, behind and before, and lay my hand upon you. You are weary, but I shall give you rest. Just come to Me, know that My hand is indeed upon You, and rest in Me. I, your Lord, have the rest that no sleep can provide, the peace that no circumstance can offer. In Me you will find the life-giving Water so that you may never thirst again. I am your Rock, your Shelter, your Comforter and Guide. I am your Savior and your Creator. I AM. Come to me, lay your burdens down, and go about your work with a good cheer. I will be with you always... "

And I believe Him.

"I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


It is nearly midnight--a time I have only recently seen when a thunderstorm or nightmare wakes one of the children--and I am wide awake. Many thoughts have been careening through my head in the last few hours, and I am only just beginning to sort through them. Where do I begin? I suppose it would be best to begin with love. It was love that began me, after all.

When I speak so of love, I am not speaking of the rather clunky attempts humanity makes of the thing, nor do I mean to make a crude joke of the eros that was, nonetheless, certainly a fact of my beginning. I am speaking of Love as a Person. It is written that God is Love, and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. So you see, Love began me long before my earthly parents met or were even born. My Father had already set in motion a staggering number of events that would eventually lead to the birth of the child that was me. Astonishingly and almost unthinkably, this is no less true for anyone, whether or not they believe.

In this same multitude of events, my Father had also arranged for the death of that child, just as He arranged for the death of His Son. Jesus died selflessly, bearing my sins. I died shamefully only when I began to understand the weight of what He had given for silly, selfish, petty me.

Today (or to be particular, yesterday as of two minutes ago), as I celebrated His resurrection with my blood family and my church family, I thought of Paul as he wrote, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." True, my flesh is not dead, but a person is more than their meat. The part that is me is crucified--hanged by the sheer perfection of Love and my own unworthiness of it--and it is dying the slow death of crucifixion as each year reveals yet another layer of separation from God and yet another facet of the merciful Savior who stands ready to receive me into life--real Life--once this death is complete. This Savior without Whom I would have no chance whatsoever of seeing my way free of the absolute human bondage of sin; without Whom I would not even see the chains.

Oh, and all this is just a mote--just a speck that I am struggling to put into words! This is the second time I have been flooded with a love that was far too exquisite to be human, far too immense to be my own. Along with that pulsing, cascading, aching sharpness is the certainty that it is also but the merest breath of True Love. So much love, so much life, so much mystery rushes through my mind. . .

How I love each of my brothers and sisters in Christ... not only as brothers and sisters, but as members of the same Body. . .

How I love the gifts and strengths of each and long to see them finally unbound by that which is crucified . . .

How I am torn by the weaknesses of each--my own included--and weep at the frailty of flesh removed from glory by sin. . .

How I am at once exhilarated and frightened by the depth of this Love that is both an unquenchable fire and a rushing torrent of water. . .

How I am captivated by the wonder of it all, wanting at once to be consumed by it and yet still clinging to the old self out of simple fear of the unknown. . .

How even now as I sit typing, groping for words, I know that this Story is too expansive to be contained by mere words. I can only communicate in terms of my experience with taste, touch, smell, sight, emotion. . . I am captive of my senses, and yet I have the distinct impression that even sensuality is only "dirty" by the corruptive twisting of sin.

In contemplation of self or in love of others, it is often impossible to separate the sinner from the sin. My God, blessed be His name! does not share that problem, and in Him all things are plain, pure, undefiled, and Real. A child understands such simple and complete love without the complications or nuances added by a decaying mind. For we are born into decay, and the corruption grows as our bodies grow, infecting us more and more completely. It is only by opening ourselves to Love, by allowing the crucifixion of that which is perishable, that we can be raised one day imperishable. It is another seeming paradox. But what is paradox if not to show the fragility of human understanding? One breath of truth and it all comes tumbling gloriously down.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.