02 May 2013

alone along the way...

linking up with emily over at imperfect prose today...

you probably know he hasn’t forgotten about you, but sometimes it feels like he has anyway, doesn’t it? the promise you’ve held close has withered and grown cold; the vision, the dream, the hope that burned like prometheus’s gift, now sits abandoned, like a bonfire on the beach that has been doused by the tides.

it’s easy these days to find empty promises, slick slogans to attempt to jumpstart your faith. it’s as easy as sowing a faith seed, speaking your promise into being, thanking God for what he’s going to allow your faith to manifest. we are encouraged to become our own personal witch-doctors, conjurers of a reality that isn’t real at all. at least not yet.

the alternative, though more real, and i would daresay more God-honoring, is decidedly more painful, too. the alternative is simply to wait, to sit, to try to stand, to ignore the voices in your head telling you that you were wrong, it’s too late, death really is the end.

it’s alright that it feels like he’s forgotten you. Jesus felt that way, too, and he doesn’t condemn you for your doubt, for your despair, for your questions. he’s been there, and it’s okay.

being in the shit, as it were, is not tantamount to being in the wrong place, unless of course joseph and daniel and mary and john and jesus found themselves in the wrong place, too. the harrowing reality is that the right place for us may sometimes also be the hardest place for us. this is the eternal truth of life coming from death, dawn breaking from dark, gain borne from loss.

you probably know he hasn’t forgotten about you, but sometimes it feels like he has anyway, doesn’t it? i know. me, too...

20 February 2013

a thought from the drive in...

if you wait for the world to ratify your dream then it, and perhaps you along with it, will die unfulfilled.

there is a very good chance that this thought scurried across my brain earlier this morning simply for my benefit.  but just in case you needed a reminder, then here it is. 

because it's your dream for a reason. it's on you to claim it, to believe it, to pursue it, to refuse to let it go even when the people closest to you would prefer it if you'd just be quiet about it all and get on with your life like everybody else. 

because what you see right now is not proof of what you one day will see. you may not be as good as the world will say you are once your dream comes true, once it's safe to believe in you and what you've done, but neither are you as bad as you think you are now, toiling away in obscurity, painting or singing or writing or talking or sewing or mothering or fathering or touring or preaching or golfing or swimming or waiting. the truth is, your dream isn't about being good or bad or known or accepted, it's about simply being

our dreams represent some part of who we were made to be, and what people think of that has nothing to do with anything at all. i suppose a large majority of the humans walking this earth want to be well thought of, but our dreams are meant to take us further, far beyond this. 

you were not made to be well thought of, in the same way you were not made to herd the wind.

if you wait for the world to ratify your dream then it, and perhaps you along with it, will die unfulfilled. 

your dream was ratified the moment it took its first breath within your soul...

17 February 2013

sitting in silence...

sitting in silence forces us to answer the question, is right here, right now, enough? more than this, perhaps, the question becomes, is God enough?

it's become so easy to fill our minds and hearts with words, images, thoughts, desires. what then will happen if we endeavor to empty ourselves of all this and simply wait?

will He come? will He suffice? will we be left wanting more?

here, perhaps, remembering the ways by which we sometimes address God may be of some benefit.

Emmanuel, God with us; Jireh, our provider.

He is here.

and He is enough...

21 January 2013

the one where i ramble and end up at God...

what i really want to say, a lot these days, is how can you be a Christ-follower and talk that way, think that way, believe that way, act that way? but then those questions should really be asked of myself first, shouldn't they?

as angry as i get at what has become of the evangelical movement in our country; as confused and as frustrated and as sad as the facebook posts and comments about our president and about guns and about immigrants and about insurance and about the poor and about homosexuals and about marriage and about love make me, i can't bring myself to say much about any of it.

i drive an hour each day to work, and every day on the way in i think about all the things i'd like to say to the church in america in 2013, and every night on the way home i say something else.  i do this every day, in an attempt to exorcise the demons of my frustration, to calm my jangled nerves, to at least make things right in my head.

i'm so angry sometimes that i want to argue, and in arguing i want to be right, but more than that, i want them all to be wrong.  but then, quickly and quietly, the spirit of God tells me that being right and others being wrong isn't what i'm called to.

why do you call anyone good, why do we call anyone right?

what does being right do for the hungry and the cold and the naked and the oppressed and the attacked and the forgotten? how many bullets won't be fired because i was right on facebook?

yet aren't we called to speak truth to power, aren't we called to raise our voices for those that can't, or in the place of those that won't, or to be heard above the din of the voices raised out of fear or hate or confusion or a thirst for power or money or control?

i know less today than i did yesterday, and less more than i did one, two, five, twenty years ago.

but this i know, this i know still: we aren't called to bear arms so much as we are called to bear each other; we are not a people of rights and freedoms, we are a people who are bound to the law of love; we are not our own, we are not self-sufficient, and we are not as strong or right or wise or powerful or successful or happy or limitless as we think we are. we are people who were dead, lost and alone and (seemingly, anyway) irrevocably without hope. we have been brought to life, not by the amassed, deployed forces of heaven, but by the death of the only One who could have genuinely and literally and rightfully killed them all and let God sort them out. we are a people who have been called to forsake whatever rights man's government may seek to apportion and to instead bind ourselves to the simple notion that the other is more important than the self.

the best thing i know: he is right, and he is making all things right. it hurts, yes, and he is not working in this world the way i think he should, but he is right, and it will all be well.

all manner of things will be well...

11 January 2013

trifecta weekend challenge: new beginnings

linking up with the folks at trifecta for their weekend challenge. this time around its 33 words about a new beginning...
When he left I was glad, because at least now he'd know.
He wouldn't think I was dead, or in China.
Now he knows I'm okay;
He knows he's free.
Happy Birthday, dad. 

09 January 2013

imperfect prose: if i stand...

i actually shared this on a friend's site a few weeks ago, but i think (i hope) that it fits with the prompt over at emily w's place for imperfect prose, so i'm sharing it again. enjoy...


the thing is, nothing has turned out like i thought it would. it took me the better part of two decades to finish my college degree, i spent ten years in ministry and when i left i had exactly nothing to show for it, and after leaving the ministry the best job i could get (at first, anyway) was setting appointments for dishwasher repairs across the southeast. i had given God a third of my life and what he gave me in return was a two bedroom apartment next to some college kids and a frequent wheeler and dealer card at the local pawn shop.

and so i began to think that God was testing me, purifying me, disciplining me, maybe even flat out punishing me.  over the past four years my views on some things have begun to evolve, and it occurred to me one day that maybe i was becoming a heretic, and maybe God was allowing me to experience hell on earth to help me avoid experiencing hell in, well, hell. and so i prayed.

and i prayed some more.  and i cried, and yelled at God, and berated myself for my inability to see things through, to believe for something better, to obey his call and command.  i pleaded with my wife to forgive me for being a bad husband, a bad provider, a failure. i would look at my kids and weep for what i had robbed from them by not being able, better, smarter, tougher.

after a couple years i got a job that was (way) better and i started making a little more money, and i began to think that maybe this was my time. God had, for whatever reason, allowed me to walk through the desert, but in so doing, had brought me to the sea, and now i could rest and revive and renew myself in the lush waves of better paychecks and health benefits.  it was great, really. we moved to a bigger place, we went out to eat every once in a while, and the wife was able to go to the doctor and not the local health clinic.  it was great.  it was hopeful. it was fun.  

it was over in eleven months.

i got laid off, and wallowed in unemployment for eight months.  when i finally found steady work, it was in a warehouse making sure people who had ordered a mixer online got it in time for the wedding shower or the church bake sale.  i started out scheduling appliance repairs, and now i had come full circle and was shipping the appliances new and in the box. i worked ten hours a shift, moving, sorting, lifting, sweating, despairing, questioning, cursing.

and then it happened again.  a few weeks ago i got a call about a job opportunity with better pay and the promise (please, God, please!) of a raise and benefits and security.  dare i hope? do i have the strength to believe something good might happen?

ultimately, though, what choice do i have? i will believe, because that is who i am, who we are.  we are people who endure, and having endured, we believe, and having believed, we persevere, and having persevered, we again find it is time to endure, and then to believe, and so on and so on, until...

we are all too often made to believe that the rewards for surviving difficult times all wait for us here, on this side of glory, as it were. i no longer believe that. at all. what i do believe is all at once much simpler and much more complicated than that.

i believe that tough times are simply part of our journey.  i also believe that as Christ-followers, it is not for us to attempt to divine when these times will come, or even - and this is absolutely, positively, the hardest bit - why, but rather it is for us to simply join mary, the mother of Christ herself, as she turns to the angel and says, “be it unto me according to your will”. did she know what all that meant? i think not.  could she have foreseen the murder of the innocents, the flight to egypt and back again, the agony of the garden, the abandonment of the cross, the empty hopelessness of the tomb? no.  nor, however, could she have seen it all come into focus in the cool of the morning that seemed like the start of the rest of her empty life.  

i don’t have all the answers.  sometimes it feels like i don’t have any answers.  with all that is in me, i hope and pray that God is bringing me and my family into a season of blessing and ease and rest and restoration.  beyond this, though, it is my eternal prayer that i will walk with him through whatever he has for me.  

and this is my prayer for you, too, that in days of sun or rain, hope or despair, rest or strife, you will know not only that you are not alone, but that the one who accompanies you has seen the pain you see, has known the sting of betrayal you may feel, has been abandoned and lonely and poor and broken. he has been all of these things, and so much more, and in all of this, he has overcome.

he stands today, he stands yesterday, and he stands tomorrow.  and because he stands, we will, too.

you. will. stand.

as will i.

14 December 2012

in the wake of it all: a prayer...

father, send us to the broken tonight.  keep us from seeking to give easy and shallow and wearying answers to questions that are bigger than us, stronger and more frightening than we can comprehend. give us the courage to allow our hearts to break alongside those whose lives have been shattered in the passing of a singularly eternal moment. fill us with the strength we need to keep our mouths closed and our hearts and arms and homes and souls open. above all else, send your peace to us, that you might send your peace through us, that we may hasten the day when all tears will be wiped away.  by your spirit, may we be to each other the grace we so desperately need. through Christ our lord, amen.