The Silent Place for Hope

I’d like to call myself a writer, but somedays I just can’t find a single word worthy of the pen. Words have been hard to come by lately. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started but not finished a blog post, or tried to write on my book projects only to stare off out the window — its all messy and empty… my thoughts dry up in the drought of confusion.

Life is like that sometimes isn’t it? We have days, weeks, maybe even years where things run smoothly. Crops of ideas flourish in the harvest of opportunity and we soar. Then… we don’t. It happens.

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I read a post today from one of my most favorite authors, Emily Freeman. In her imperfection and random writing, I cried at its magnificent lack. Maybe we don’t have to have it all figured out. Maybe there can be more questions than answers.

Maybe that’s where love and community and diversity reside, harmoniously together.

In that humble place we all share, is the certainty of the unknown, the wonder of tomorrow. Maybe instead of fighting it, we embrace it.

I don’t have words to really talk about all that simmers in our world today… from snipers on city buildings to toilet etiquette in the department store… I just don’t know. And I, for the life of me, cannot find the right words.

Maybe there aren’t any.

I found myself in the countryside the other day, standing on a rickety old front porch. The breeze caressed the leaves in the most tender of ways, just enough to make the sunlight dance across the grass. It was a simple kind of quiet, breathtakingly ordinary. The echo of peace grew there, untouched by anyone’s complicated agenda.

I think, like the tall oaks and the wavy tassels, I won’t seek words. I won’t search for explanations or plans or programs. I think our search for the answer lies in the quiet, humble space of the unknown and we have to reside there to find it.

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Bleeding, in search of words

The clouds build on the horizon as thunder splits through the serene night sky. You can feel the fear on your skin.

City Skyline

Lord, my world weeps. Where do you find words to comfort those whose loved ones lie bleeding in open city streets? What do you say? Where is the storehouse of language to explain the ache left gaping in the souls of citizens whose trust is riddled with bullets?

What do you say to the friend of the officer who fired the gun? What do you say to the woman who’s son was the sniper on the wall, or the daughter of the woman who drove the get-away car? What words would be fitting to offer the father of each of these, the fathers of the victims and the fathers of the shooters? Where are the words?

Lord, my world is broken. The tension is thick and consuming. We are in desperate need of Your love. It sounds so cliché, so trivial, but I don’t know where else to turn. You have already given and poured out. You have sacrificed and reached across barriers for each and every one of us. From Judas, the betrayer, to Mother Theresa, the great giver – You love. You love across country lines and boundary lines. You reach across oceans and push through attitudes. You poured out for the black, the white, the Indian, the German, the Jew, the Gentile, the infidel, the Muslim, the young, the old. You love. Your blood knows no limit nor condition.

Remind us God. Remind us of You, your love. For there in the dawning of Your empty tomb is peace, hope — life. Remind us that we aren’t color or occupation or even genealogy, we are Yours. And You died to keep us.

May the peace of Your love give us a steady place from which to stand. Help us to steady our minds on the truth of who You are and nothing else. Help us God to keep our eyes on You and less on the trouble crashing at our feet.

There is nothing else that will heal these wounds, nothing. No program. No policy. No sermon. No, God, this hemorrhage can only be remedied by a transfusion of Your blood. No human word can resolve this conflict or ease the horrific pain. We will only find peace through an encounter with You.

Lord come.

“But I’m there to be found,
I’m there for them,
and I, God of Israel,
will not leave them thirsty.
I’ll open up rivers for them
on the barren hills,
spout fountains in the valleys.
I’ll turn the baked-clay badlands
into a cool pond,
the waterless waste into splashing creeks.
I’ll plant the red cedar
in that treeless wasteland,
also acacia, myrtle, and olive.
I’ll place the cypress in the desert,
with plenty of oaks and pines.
Everyone will see this. No one can miss it—
unavoidable, indisputable evidence
That I, God, personally did this.
It’s created and signed
by The Holy of Israel.”
Isaiah 41:17b-20 (MSG)

Five Minute Friday

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There are certain things that I hold dear. Things I really, truly cannot live without. They get me up at dawn and sustain me through storms. I rejoice over them and experience deep heart ache – sometimes all at the same time.

Love. Hope. Faith. 

You can take my house, my car, cancel my memberships, even take my dignity. But if either of these three things come up on the chopping block…

I’ll get fierce. 

These are the essence of my soul. Without them, well, I’m not living. But they aren’t guaranteed. Nope. They don’t come without sacrifice and they most certainly aren’t handed on a silver platter.

It takes protection to keep them. 

Like the saying goes- Love is a verb. To keep love alive I must do and pursue and give.

To hold onto Hope I must fight off doubt. Literally. Anything contradictory is rejected and pushed aside.

And faith. Well, faith starts as a seed. Simple and small. But I must tend it’s growth and protect it from harsh circumstances.

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13)

 

Hey! This post is part of a really fun Mob of writers. We take a one word prompt and free-write for 5 minutes. No editing. No long thinking… (ok sometimes I cheat here). And then we all gather together to cheer each other on. It’s crazy fun! Come check us out: Five Minute Friday

P.S. BOOK UPDATE!! Five Minute Friday book is nearing completion (I totally saw a sneak peak- it’s going to ROCK. Eek, I can’t wait to show you!!) 

The Discipline of Obedience

I sat with a friend the other day, over a delicious pizza pie. Our kids were chatting it up in the booth next to us and the air-conditioning hummed above our heads. She started sharing about a journey she’d been on recently. A trip full of adventure, wonder and even some wild faith steps. I was glued to her every word, expecting an amazing outcome, a big ol’ glory moment.

That moment didn’t come as I had expected, and apparently not like she did either. Between pepperonis she said:

“You know, I went on this journey and would ask God to help me prepare for both the positive and negative outcomes, but he wouldn’t let me. He wanted me to press on as if there was no safety net.”

No safety net.

Then she said, “Jesus didn’t get to have a safety net. He was sent to earth to fulfill a purpose and He simply had to obey with no safety net, no back up plan. Why would I have anything different?”

Woah.

She’s right. Jesus faced incredible suffering (beyond comprehension) and yet, He still pursued His purpose, He still obeyed. That’s the discipline of obedience. I heard it said once we learn obedience by obeying. And that process is a lifetime of faith and a whole lot of surrendering.

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There’s a moment where Jesus asked God about the back-up plan.

Then Jesus went with them to a garden called Gethsemane and told his disciples, “Stay here while I go over there and pray.” Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he plunged into an agonizing sorrow. Then he said, “This sorrow is crushing my life out. Stay here and keep vigil with me.“

Going a little ahead, he fell on his face, praying, “My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?” …

He then left them a second time. Again he prayed, “My Father, if there is no other way than this, drinking this cup to the dregs, I’m ready. Do it your way.”
Matt. 26:36-38, 42 MSG

The words “crushing my life out” are so vivid. The weight of the ‘what if’ is so much Jesus feels suffocated.

This man, this flesh and bone, the Son of God, wrestled with the safety net. He was not only facing grueling physical torture but more devastating was the thought of being separated from God as He took on the sin of the world. I don’t know about you, but I would seriously wrestle with the what-if’s around that one.

He would face more rejection, more backstabbing, more judgement than you and I ever will. He would face more pain, more suffering than we can imagine. And here He is contemplating the cost of his obedience. He wants the finished outcome, He desires the full completion to His mission… but can he finish this work?

“Lord, not my will, but yours be done.” Matt. 26:42

There’s only one mention of a heavenly response to Jesus’ pleas. Luke 22:43 says: “An Angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” No magical switcheroo, no celestial eraser to just make it all better. Jesus still had to endure the process, but His prayers didn’t go unanswered.

So often the in-between of being called and finishing the work is flat out grueling, sometimes devastating. Just today I laid out on my bed and declared “Lord, I want to quit”. The process was too frustrating and me, well I’m weak and discouraged. But just like Jesus, my cup wasn’t taken from me, instead God’s presence became palpable and here I am finishing this blog post.

Prayer. Gut level honesty with God. Sweating out your fears, bleeding out your doubts, face planting your complaints — all of this is the discipline of obedience. It is far beyond showing up when you don’t feel like it. It goes deeper than fighting off the pain of exhaustion. The discipline of obedience is in the surrender of it all. Surrendering the outcome, the process, and yes, even yourself.

Apparently it is all worth it. God takes the messy surrender, the honor of your discipline of obedience, and turns it into glorious grace.

 

Linking up with some amazing sojourners today over at Purposefulfaith.com And all scriptures are linked with BibleGateway.com.

Cave Dwelling

Sometimes it’s the unanswered prayer that hurts the most. The long awaited dream, the sought after goal that gets lost in the un-answers. Silence can be interpreted as rejection. Delay can be translated as defeat. It can hurt deeper than any flesh wound, causing your very heart to ail.

A young shepherd boy was called out from the fields by a somewhat-put-off older brother. Once back inside with his father, this youngest of 8 was greeted by the most prominent leader outside of the King. Samuel reached inside his pocket and pulled out the anointing oil. Only 15 years old, with sheep dung still on his boots, David was anointed King of Israel.

I wonder how he slept that night, dreams and thoughts and ideas raging in his mind. I wonder what prayers he began to pray as he led the sheep out again the next morning. Can’t you see the radiant twinkle in his eye!

David’s journey from anointing to appointing was a long and treacherous one. After one leisurely, normal summer of serving in King Saul’s courts as a musician, David spent the next 20 years on the run. Yes, I said 20 years. Running, not for the protection of his call to be King, but running just to save his life. At one point, this shepherd-boy-anointed-future-King is found hiding in a cave.

A cave. (Note: we’re not talking Motel 6 in some podunk town, not even an abandoned home in the middle of no where. I don’t mean he’s got to stay in his apartment when he dreams of palaces, or drive his beater car when he looks forward to chariots driven by white stallions. I literally mean rock walls, dirt floor, dark and damp and cold cave.)

His father’s humble tents were better than this.

David was hiding for his life, while being hidden from living. His anointing, the very purpose God had placed on his life, the very passion that put life in his veins, was now the very thing that sent him into this dark and lonely cave.

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Where was God? How could God call a shepherd boy out of the field to anoint him as King and then lead him into a cave, hiding for his life?

Have you been there? Surrounded by cold, dark walls. Unnoticed, alone, confused and scared. Have you sat in the dark and wondered if taking the step, accepting the anointing, was a mistake because it landed you here, in this cave? Ever thought you were crazy, the fool, for thinking you could do that thing, have that goal, get that result?

David did.

“I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out before Him my complaint; before Him I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me…. Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me.”             Psalm 142:1-2a, 4

The name of the cave where David hid was Adullam. Adullam means “resting place” in Hebrew. In the run for his life, in the battle to hold on to his call, God lead David to a resting place. There he placed his burdens, his offenses, his anger, his fear, and yes, even his doubt at the feet of God. In that dark place of solitude David prayed, a lot. He worshiped along those cavernous walls. And he listened in the silence. What could have become an ending to his confidence, a blow to his heart, became an influence of faith.

“My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises! Wake up, my heart! Wake up, O lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn with my song. I will thank you, Lord, among all the people. I will sing your praises among the nations. For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May your glory shine over all the earth.” Psalm 57:7-11

We, like David, can turn this cave of hiding into a refuge of rest.

 

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Today I’m linking up with a community of writers who are inspiring me to live life a little brighter, to pursue Him with everything I am and to write my heart out! You just might find a word of encouragement if you dare to meet me over there. Click HERE if you dare!

P.S. Did you know that Bible Gateway is loaded with tools to study your Bible. It is one of my all-time go-to’s to study! Check them out at BibleGateway.com (all scriptures quoted in this post link directly to the NLT version on Bible Gateway.:)

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