December 31, 2012

snapshots of grace.

 I contemplated doing the "end of the year" post as I was scrolling through pictures on my computer. I was overwhelmed with this one thought.. this was a year of grace. Rich, undeserved, merciful grace. This year was up and down, it was both bitter and sweet. This year brought a lot of tears and heartache and a lot of rejoicing. But in all of it I can see that the loving Father was the master Artist, weaving and shaping everything together for my good. He ordained some things I don't understand yet, and changed my plans quicker then I thought I could handle. In so many ways I still feel like I'm stuck in the undertow and everyday is a fight. I haven't arrived yet, but I know I won't until that sweet day in heaven. But looking at 2012 I see a common theme of amazing grace. Grace to sustain, grace to encourage, grace to step forward, grace to fall, grace to rest. I know that in the coming years, each year will prove the same. I'll be able to point to the suffering and heartbreak but I know that he's using it to make me more like him. He's calling me to himself, and I pray that each year that comes and goes will prove a stronger declaration of how sweet it is to trust in Jesus.

December 17, 2012

Long expected Jesus.


Come thou long expected Jesus 
Born to set thy people free 
From our fears and sins release us 
Let us find our rest in thee 

Israel’s strength and consolation 
Hope of all the earth thou art 
Dear desire of every nation 
Joy of every longing heart 

Born thy people to deliver 
Born a child and yet a king 
Born to reign forever 
Now thy gracious kingdom bring 

By thine own eternal spirit 
Rule in all our hearts alone 
By thine all sufficient merit 
Raise us to thy glorious throne 

Sitting in a Starbucks waiting for my mom to be done at the MS clinic, a regular, soon to be very regular occurrence for her.  Experimental drug trials, though free and a unique blessing, are exhausting, time consuming and sometimes risky. My mom is a perfect example of someone living in the goodness and sustaining grace of the Father. Someone who is longing for Jesus return, longing for a new body that works properly, pain free, but that says "Hallelujah all I have is Christ." 

There are seasons when you can't seem to get out the words, you don't have the strength or clarity to imagine a world where you don't struggle with your finances, difficult friendships, illness, failing marriages, constant loneliness, haunting depression. Father, pain is very real, emotional, physically or mental battles are exactly that, battles. So for all the circumstances that we'll face today that will leave us tongue tied and tempt us to discouragement, I pray for a tangible grace to get out of bed and choose you. May our hearts turn to you and your promises so that we can sing, "Come thou long expected Jesus, Joy of every longing heart, Let us find our rest in thee." Jesus you are the cure for every spiritual disease. You came, you met our greatest need and provided a way for us to be adopted as sons and daughters of the King. Our hearts our wired for you, they long for heaven and so we pray for more of you while we live our lives here in this fractured world. 

December 6, 2012

Outwardly rich, inwardly dying.

"So we do not lose heart. fThough our outer self4 is wasting away, gour inner self his being renewed day by day. 17 For ithis light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 jas we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

Too often as Christians, we feel the need to fake, fudge, or push our way through trials and struggles rather then being transparent. We choose to live outwardly rich, inwardly dying lives. But when we do this we fail to see all the people around us, people just like us, fighting the same things.

Too often I look at my own heart and say, "Come on! You're still here, still fighting? " or,  "You've given up, you're lukewarm, apathetic!". How quickly do I feel lonely? Isolate myself? Beat myself up over my failures? Choke on memories of failed friendships, feel the sting of regret regarding far too many harsh words? How often do I wallow in my brokenness. Marinating in bitterness, ashamed, alone and all the while secretly loving it.

Father I'm sick of it. I'm sick of this pathetic attempt to "be okay" through this desert like season. I look around at people I love and I see them dragging their feet in the sand along with me and I'm asking you to forgive me! Forgive us, for a lack of faith! For a lack of trusting your sustaining grace in our lives. For loading up our camels and confidently saying "Lord, I can get there alone." Forgive where I've been hardened and become bitter towards you. Forgive us for heaping expectation and hope on things that will not last. Forgive us for believing that we can keep our heads down and wait out this storm. I know you're a loving Father that welcomes and more than that, runs and greets with a celebration, his younger and elder prodigals home. It's either pride or discouragement, so Father help us hear your voice calling out to us saying, "Come in out of the storm, I'm enough for you." And help us lives live that's proudly proclaim how broken and loved we are by a rich, gracious Father. 

Hallelujah that no matter how lukewarm, tired, burnt out, I am you never change. Your love, grace and mercy don't ever falter, you never get thrown off or surprised by anything. You never change your mind or loose traction. You don't trip, fall or even stumble. Your hand is steady and just. You love your children and paid the ultimate price so that we could call you Father and attempt to glorify you with our lives. Help me today to remember who you are and what you've done more then how i've failed. But when those thoughts come, and oh how timely they roll into the forefront of my brain, I pray that they would only make me more aware of you.