I Remain Yours

Blessed is he whose help is the God
of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
the LORD, who remains faithful
forever.

-Psalm: 146:5-6

 

Your faithfulness is a guiding light, soft and warm and reminding me that I am never alone, no matter how dark the night may be or how far off the path I feel. It projects a glow that glistens, a veil of love that trails down to me, envelopes my heart in a comforting embrace.

Your lovingkindness goes on and on, an echo that spreads and reverberates, comes back, repeats. It never ends, always returns, assures my skittish heart that You are here, seeing me, standing with me. There is no reason for it other than You are, and You have always loved me first.

Your goodness is a strong anchor that has saved me. Many times. Held me up when I was sinking, flailing in the water and tempted to be tossed among the weight of waves. Your goodness has remained, pulling me to You, keeping me steady. What a joy when I’m lifted from the tempest and set calmly in Your arms. You have always been good, even in my deepest despair, in the unexpected shattering of life and dreams; it’s been Your love keeping me steady.

You are my Helper. You are mighty to save, soft with my heart, true to Your promise. You guide me when my map rips and the coordinates smudge, when I am standing in the unknown and am unable to see where to go. You lead, You walk beside me, You nudge and get me on my way. Creating calm from chaos, You show the way that is gentle and good, which way is best, and You join me on the journey.

You are my Hope. In You, I no longer need to fear the end, for it is only the beginning. I can trust You with my deepest hopes, my dreams I’ve kept locked away, forgotten, But You remind me to remember Who holds my dreams, too, and to remember You have my best in mind. You have taught me to trust You, to hand over my heart and keep it in Your capable hands. Hope does not disappoint, when I am rooted in the greatest Hope there is.

You are the sliver of light coming through my curtains when the day is stirring me from sleep, the drying flowers on my table fighting still for beauty, the smooth dance of flame from my morning candle. You are in all; You are all. Your presence brings me peace. My God, You have never forsaken me, You have only drawn me closer, longed for more of my love. And while I have strayed at times, forgetting my worth in You and trying to find it in cracked and crooked places, You have always stayed. Waiting, watching, still loving me with everything You are, ready to receive me back in Your embrace when I realize Whose I really am.

You are the One who sees, the One who stays, the One who fights for what is Yours. Blessed am I to find my help in You, to find that I can hope with brightest trust, a foundation that is not shaken. To Your beauty I turn, to Your wisdom I seek, and to Your heart I always run. You remain faithful; I remain Yours.

 

 

Filled to the Measure

… and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 
-Ephesians 3:19

 

Can Your fullness even be measured?

How do I count the numbers, the weight the volume to watch for the exact right amount in me until I reach the full line?

You are immeasurable. You are vast, You are wide and deep, always more. That’s why I’m urged towards the immeasurably more that life in You brings. No stop, no limit, only an overflow.

And this is the life I can have in You? Never enough, always reaching for the next dose, a refreshment that comes in wild and wondrous wave after wave? The waters rise within and my thirst for You is never sated, yet I am never more satisfied than when I am submerged in the measure of this fullness.

You long to be gracious, You yearn to be close, drawing me deeper in and wider out, until all I see is Your love surrounding me, all light and goodness and grace. And You beckon me to more. The immeasurably more that cannot be called or defined or reasoned into existence; it just is, because You are.

Love surpasses knowledge—no numbering and equating, no keeping an eye on the rising level to watch exactly when Your fullness reaches the mark. This love and intimacy cannot be shut out, overrun or diluted. It’s pure, unfiltered fullness that You keep giving and giving, forever and ever, in Christ Jesus, Amen.

Fill me, Lord, with what only You can give. I want to drink deeply and inhale Your love, let it resonate in every part of me, until there is no defining line between You and I, until I live a life aligned with You, until we are full as one.

 

Thank You for this fullness I cannot fathom, for the mystery that is made known in Christ Jesus. The fullness of Your love goes on and on, and there’s always more for me. May I have more of You, more of Your love, more of Your fullness, so I may live a life aligned with You. Amen.

 

For Me

It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.
-Daniel 4:2

 

For Sarah, You kept a promise to fill her barren lands with fertile soil, producing an heir and assuring her heart of hope.

For Moses, You made his mumbles move Egyptian mountains, pulled back the curtains of the sea to let Your glory gleam a path of rescue.

For Rahab, You sent Your spies into her sultry lair and softened her heart to save her life, to keep her family from crumbling with once impenetrable walls.

For David, You took a shepherd boy and anointed his head with dripping oil, sealing his service to the power of Your kingdom.

For Esther, You held an orphan in Your arms and presented her as Queen of a nation, Your mouthpiece to save Your people.

And for Daniel, You sealed the mouths of mighty beasts and kept their claws from the skin of one who refused to bow before any name but Yours.

For me, You heard a lonely cry and caught my tears pulling me to Your protection and the warmth of Your light.

For me, You walked across the universe and slipped into a waiting world, speckled Your sandals with dust and dreams and took the trail to my redemption.

For me, You called my name upon the cross, carrying my soul through the cosmos to touch the door of death, so You would keep me at the threshold, never allowed to enter.

For me, You reached towards my trembling mouth and set Your speech upon my lips, growing my gladness at Your grace.

For me, You claimed me as Your own and bound me to Your side, where I will stay with sweet certainty and promised peace.

 

Father God, the Most High in the heavens, I thank You for the miracles and wonderful works You have done for Your people! Throughout history You have had Your hand upon Your servants and have led them to You. But what is unfathomable is that You remembered me through the generations, that You called my name to make me Yours. Let me marvel at Your grace and make my life point to You. Amen.

 

No Easy Way

What part of this did You say would be easy?

You didn’t say.

 

You never guaranteed safe passage through this voyage of life. Never said I wouldn’t struggle, that I’d never be thrown curves in a series of fastballs. You said I would have troubles in this life. But You also said to take heart and not be afraid, because You have taken care of all things terrifying.

And that You would be with me every length of the way. Even when Your footprints are not seen.

You keep coaxing me out of the boat, to take a leg and swing it over the side to stand on water. To take one step into the sea, and then another.

So I do. Warily, confidently, I lift my eyes to the light a thousand yards away. I move as if my feet were touching pavement.

Then I sneak a glance over my shoulder and realize how far from the boat I am. And how far off You still seem to be. Suddenly, the ground beneath me shivers, and I find myself sinking. How fast my faith has faltered. How easily I slip beneath the surface.

I am weighed down, but You arrive where I have fallen and reach beneath the surface to grab my arm and anchor me up. You brush off my bruises and hold me as I begin to understand the need to keep straining for the shore. You hand me a life vest in case I slip again, and guide me once more through the waves. And I want to please You, so I keep moving.

You never guaranteed clarity in this murky world. You never stretched the winding streets before me into straight passage. You only warned me that the air would be full of flying arrows aimed at me heart. But You gave me a shield and a strength to navigate and protect me once I hit the open road.

And, along the trail, lingering beside me, a pair of footprints follows, closely entwined with my own.

 

 

You never said it would be easy to take up my cross and follow You. You simply encouraged me to take heart that You are with me along the way. The road is long, the course uncharted. Please navigate me and reach out to me when I veer off course. You promise to be with me. I am holding You to it. Amen.

 

Reconstruct Me

But He knows the way I take;
When He has tested me,
I will come forth as gold.
-Job 23:10

 

I step through jagged
stones of glass,
cutting the innocent
softness of the underside
of my feet.
though I tread carefully,
pieces of the pain
embed into me,
a reminder that where I go,
I am fallen.
Walk with me.
when I crumble,
be the One
to reconstruct me.
You know my paths,
know which sands
will slice my skin.
You see me scream
my confusion into the
silent sheet of night.
Observe me,
but ready Your hand
to pull me from the mire
when I slip into
its cunning grasp.

 

Love Like That

The crowds. The echoing screams. The choice. They released a murderer and sent Him to the cross. As it was meant to be. Because while His face swelled with bruises and lips tasted sour vinegar, as His breathing labored and the sky draped itself in dreary mourning, your face flashed through His mind. Your name rested on His tongue, which was parched and took every last ounce to utter words that sealed fate: “It is finished.” Then He dropped his head, crown of thorns wrapped in matted hair, and the temple curtain tore in two, breaking the barrier between your spot in darkness and the welcoming embrace from the mighty Creator of the heavens and earth. For while He fought sin, became immersed in every thought, word and action you would cast, He know the trade was worth it. Worth the pain and humility this lowly death would take to raise you up with Him into eternity. He chose the blows that bled His breath from His lungs, because He saw the love of the Father reflected in your clear, searching eyes, begging to be rescued.

So He fought. Laid His life down for you to lift yours to sit at His right hand, the hand that held the nails and secured your salvation.

 

You’ve never experienced a love like that before. I guarantee it.

 

Prayer:

Thank You for thinking of me while I was not yet a glimpse in this life. Thank You for the nails, and for the battle against death won to save me from my sins. Please let me remember how You love, so I may show that love to others around me. Amen.

 

No More Mourning

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
-Revelation 21:4

 

You came for us while we mourned, while we wailed against the injustice, the suffering, the sting of heart that stayed a companion as we strained our eyes to catch a glimpse of You. Your heart understood ours, cracked and bled and gnarled itself up in sorrow, well acquainted with grief. Did we ever understand? Could we?

How You wept into the city, seeing how we couldn’t see. All around, religious piety and rules, regulations that wrapped us in a choke hold, one You broke free for us. But it took the shadows, the whispers, the exchange of hands for slick coins, the passing of Your body from one inquisitor to the next. And You stood silent, a lamb come for the stain of the world. Your body, blistered from whips and crushed by a crown of thorns, and still they made You climb with a cross close to You, a reminder of what was coming. Hands drilled, ankles torn by nails, a life-size painting perched for all to watch. Breath, rattled, eyes smeared with blood.

Did You imagine what it would feel like, when You nodded consent to the Father and took our  form? Did you knowingly shed glory for gore? Was it my face that crossed Your mind as You trembled on the wood?

All that Your beautiful hands had done. Crafted tables, turned them over, stroked your mother’s hair. Mixing mud and saliva so a man could see, tearing the bread, holding Mary as she wept for her brother. Those mangled hands held galaxies, transformed fish into a banquet.

You have made rough places smooth. Life from death. Light from dark. Air from clumps of earth. While we mourned, You made things new. We came to You, ourselves broken and bleeding, belief on the brink. We were so helpless and scared, yet You took mercy, even while we hurled our insults. Did we know what we were doing? Did we understand?

Our hearts are tired of crying. And You said we’d mourn no more. So we looked to You, as Your voice scratched out that it was finished, and You gave us a lifeline, revival for our searching souls.

 

Prayer:

You made a way where there was none. You gave up Your glory to become like us, misunderstood, mistreated. And You stayed the Father’s course, obedient until the last breath. Thank You for Your sacrifice, thank You for the love that permeated every inch of You, every heartbeat that broke for this world. Thank You that You have made a way for us to see the Father. Amen.

 

Trying

Main door open so just the screen is closed. I can hear the birds singing this morning. It’s not quite warm enough to sit on the porch, but the fresh air can come in. And I get the gleam of the lake, too.

I want to keep trying to be brave. I want to keep trying to be honest.

I reach for words that will comfort, that will remind me that I am not alone and the winter won’t last.

 

I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
Be strong and take heart
And wait for the LORD.
-Psalm 27:13-14

 

Spring is coming.

It’s already literally here with the season. But the spring of my heart–Your healing work, hope, life, life in full–I hope that spring is coming. It may be a way off, but I hope it is at least in motion, is coming my way, even if it crawls.

It is so hard for me to hope. But I am trying. Oh Lord, You know I am trying.

 

***

This is part of an ongoing series that will share excerpts of my book-in-progress, tentatively titled Grappling for Good: Revealing grace to light the dark. It’s my journey through a year of unexpected circumstances and soul excavation to discover the goodness of God in surprising ways.

Reply to Me

Then call, and I will answer;
Or let me speak, then reply to me.
-Job 13:22

 

My voice is an echo that reverberates into the abyss. I strain to speak and folly falls from my lips. Pride seeps from my pores; I say I want Your will but do I truly? Am I willing to lose myself to gain life?

You are close, yet I stretch to touch You. I spin myself in circles deciphering Your direction. A thousand nights I search the sky to catch Your eye upon me. Each star blinks, coolly, secrets veiled in an inky canvas.

I know my prayers get caught in jet streams on their way up to You, a little muddled and twisted when they finally reach Your ear. Words are crossed, punctuation forgotten, it is a jumbled mess. Sometimes, I don’t even know what I’m saying when I begin my message.

Then I wait with pensive anticipation. Hoping for a response, afraid I will be left standing in my solitude. Day after day, I send my secrets in exchange for forgiveness, yet when I construct a note for You to notice me, I create it out of crystal and am afraid the edges will brush against the dust of destruction and shatter and scatter back at my feet.

You hear. You receive my words but do not give response and I continue to swell in a tide of torment.

Once. That’s all I ask. For You to roll Your voice against this tempest raging inside me and speak sanity to my soul. For an answer. Just a clue. Something to tell me I am not sailing this sea blindfolded.

The heavens cannot contain You. You give borders to unending galaxies and the angels sing of Your great glory. You are seated on Your throne, mighty, above all. How dare I demand Your presence, offering you every scraped and patched hole in my heart, digging to uncover Your depth? I am selfish, believing I deserve Your conversation. But I linger, still waiting for Your mouth to turn to me with wisdom.

The storm grows stronger in Your silence. Do not let me toss about the waves much longer, for my legs grow weary and my soul faint.

 

I know You hear me when I pray, but I feel that You are answering in silence. I know I have no right to question why You answer this way, but still I get confused. Grant me patience to wait a while You work Your will. And let me realize that even silence is communication from You, and I should be thankful. Amen.

With Me

You are with me.

I am in silence, in a silky black realm of reality that reaches with needy fingers for my soul. A heaviness presses against my chest, squeezing out my air of expectancy. Who am I to fight this battle, to strike out with soft palms and slap at translucent taunts that laugh when I come up empty?

I squint my eyes to see movement, any sign that I am not alone with this confusion, but my vision is muddied and outlines carve my sight. In the blur, I am begging for breakthrough.

With faltering feet, I wander deeper into my shaded hope and uncertainty prickles my skin. I am surrounded by a ripping feeling that something stirs beneath the earth.

You tell me that You are here with me, tightly tucked to my side. My hand moves to feel You but I grasp at air. Just a fistful of particles that slip between the slivers of my nails. The sky gives no light, no assurance that when I place one foot in front of the other, I will walk with stable support beneath me. You see me standing, see me claw my way through the caverns of this mystery I have tied myself to. I am looking for answers and instead find silence. I reach my voice across the slipping sounds of night, praying they do not tangle with the pleas and prayers of every other enchantment inhabiting this blue space beyond my rational mind.

You are the One who first told me to open my eyes, to dream wide awake and decipher the stars. You brushed my heart with belief and curved my course to Your sails. Walk with Me, You whispered into my ear. Talk with Me and let Me teach you how to come alive.

So I soared into starlight, colored the cosmos with Your hues and floated in fantasy. I walked through waterfalls and slept in beds of beauty untouched by mere mortal magic. You spun me golden blankets of grace; I slept peacefully in their warmth and woke with Your breath in my lungs. Somewhere along my revelry I slipped from Your strength and weakened my will with a course of my own.

Navigate me. I am directionless in this circle of solitude. You say You are here with me, have always been beneath my heart, the key to my unsteady compass. Show me. Inhabit the wind and whisper the way to my craving soul so I will feel the brush of Your mouth on my face, ruby ribbons rushing through this damp and diminishing maze of my mind.

You are with me. Deliberately cupping my heart and leading it to the dawn of dreams once again. My hands may not be able to touch You, but my soul speaks in upturned secrets that spill out from the overwhelming presence of Your map unfolding in my memory.