Monday, August 19, 2013

You make it beautiful

"We are family here."

These are words my friend spoke as we gathered in her home--they were there to welcome us back to the island, and we were grateful for the warm hospitality that greeted us. In a circle of friends to find little inhibition and no need for adhering to politeness or manners, there was a glimpse of home-away-from-home: a place to rest and feel safe.

"It is a sacrifice."

These were words spoken of our return. It was hard to come back this time. We were tearing ourselves away from familiar comforts, family ties, our new baby niece, close friendships. Nearly overwhelmed with a sense of loss (and perhaps lost-ness), I wondered what was worth it all and clung to the memories we had made with our friends made here.

He fills the empty places.

There is no grime that He cannot wash clean; there is no brokenness that He cannot heal; there is no ugliness that He cannot transform to beauty. I know this because I see it in the lives of my brothers and sisters; I know because this, too, has been my life.

A group of us gathered in a home the other night to hear testimony of God's pursuing love, covenant faithfulness, and transforming power. The night felt raw and tears were shed and I wondered what it is about God that makes us cry -- are these tears of joy or of longing?

There are many things that I fear for the future, but it all comes down to a lack of faith in a faithful God. My heart is weak and my knees wobbly but one by one I pray to take back the Truths for all the lies I have bought. As He lifts the scales from my eyes, I will see the dead bones take on life, and it will not be a sacrifice to be here, but a privilege.

It is a privilege.

Hold on to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons, they fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

"Home," Phillip Phillips

Sunday, August 11, 2013

a long journey

Photo Credit*

 From where I sit at the window, the broken, weather-beaten corrugated tin over our neighbor's porch flaps in the hot summer breeze. There is a sad melancholy to it. Snapshots of decay and ruin surround me here, affront my senses wherever I go. There is a desolation in my heart. Here there is little assurance that this is the good life; instead all is struggle--buildings struggle against disrepair, cars struggle against rust, atmosphere struggles against dust and smog. Even human existence is a struggle. People struggle to survive, to get ahead, to win, or at least look like it. To have "enough." And the eternal tragedy is that there is never enough. It is never enough.

The bleakness within is a raw and palpable sense that this is not my home. But isn't this an abiding truth? That we are actually sojourners far from home, and Jesus is the One Who has come to find us, and then take us Home one day? Perhaps until now the reality has never been clearer to me.

The challenge to me is this: to take the broken bread, the cup, and give thanks.

“Something always comes to fill the empty places. And when I give thanks for the seemingly microscopic, I make a place for God to grow within me. This, this, makes me full, and I ‘magnify Him with thanksgiving,’ and God enters the world. What will a life magnify? The world’s stress cracks, the grubbiness of a day, all that is wholly wrong and terribly busted? Or God? Never is God’s omnipotence and omniscience diminutive. God is not in need of magnifying by us so small, but the reverse. It’s our lives that are little and we have falsely inflated self, and in thanks we decrease and the world returns right. I say thanks and I swell with Him, and I swell the world and He stirs me, joy all afoot.”
--Ann Voskamp, "One Thousand Gifts"
  I need to know that God is here. God has gifted all these to me and more, and He Himself is more than Enough.

“...He takes the empty hands and draws me close to the thrum of Love. You may suffer loss but in Me is anything ever lost, really? Isn’t everything that belongs to Christ also yours? Do I not own the cattle on a thousand hills; everything? Aren’t then all provisions, in Christ also yours? If you haven’t lost Christ, child, nothing is ever lost. Remember, ‘through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God’ [Acts 14:22], and in ‘sharing in [My Son’s] sufferings, becoming like Him in His death’ you come ‘to know Christ and the power of His resurrection’ [Phil 3:10]”
--"One Thousand Gifts"

Jehovah-Shammah, Fill the empty places.