Tag Archive: God


Clothing the Grass

Quiet. It was the first thing I noticed after I stepped out of the door, an uncanny, unusual stillness. It was as though the world about me was holding its breath. Nothing moved. The chickens were huddled silently inside the coop. The cats were nowhere to be seen. The sheep, thanks to the obscuring fog, couldn’t see me and therefore didn’t bleat. Perhaps a wild bird or two made a swift dart from branch to ground and back again, but even they were restrained and noiseless. The cold, damp and heavy, bit to the bone. Nothing, no matter how thickly furred or feathered, wanted to stay out in it.

It is winter, chill and white, and despite its bitterness, it does possess a beauty. It’s a world at rest, on hold, waiting for spring in its green frenzy, but for now, quiet, even… magical. The fog and the cold make of this place a winter wonderland. Together, they have slowly frosted every surface. It’s almost an organic process, the slow partnership of frigid mists. Everything freezes, and bit by bit, tiny crystals of ice collect at the extremities. Leaves, blackberry thorns, spider webs, spikes of grass, etc. – they are ever so delicately begemmed about their edges. Days have passed here. Each day has seen the icing a bit more pronounced, a bit more crowning, a bit more elaboration on an already stunning theme.

It is so beautiful – the silence, the frost, the green hinting beneath the ice – that it makes me stop and catch my breath. I don’t love the cold, but I do appreciate the charm and delight of the moment. It’s a good time to stop and consider the lilies, to appreciate how marvellously “God clothes the grass of the field.”

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I Believe in Love

I have been painting a wall blue today. It’s a beautiful, deep, rich cobalt, so blue it’s almost purple, and it looks really good on my wall. It will look even better once I get the last coat on and it’s had time enough to cure. Painting walls is a familiar task. It doesn’t take a lot of thought to run my brush and roller along, shedding blue onto white, so I’ve had plenty of time to think about other things. Curiously enough, I decided to listen to Leigh Nash today while painting, and the album is titled Blue on Blue. I didn’t remember that until most of the album had played through. Funny how a mind works, hm? Many of the album’s songs talk about love. I’m sure that had nothing to do with my thoughts dwelling on love while painting.

Couldn’t be.

Pure coincidence.

😉

Love – in a state of reverie, I thought about love. The music, Ted Dekker’s Black, conversations with friends and family members, a coworker’s upcoming wedding, thoughts started as I moved from task to task at work yesterday, and who knows what all contributed to the thoughts drifting off the rhythm of my brush. I’ve been thinking about it. I’ll probably still be thinking about it tomorrow.

All these thoughts, some half formed or vaporous, intersected and coalesced into a single, strong, bold insight. I believe in love. I BELIEVE in love. I live for love.

I don’t mean a cute idea, a sloppy word, a nice sentiment, or even a verb. I’m not talking about ordinary love, like the love held for family, friends, communities, or a spouse. As wonderful as all of that can be, it is… inadequate. Insufficient. Pale imitations, all of them. Anemic shadows, too often selfish. These ordinary sorts are not enough, don’t last long enough, don’t fill me up well enough or long enough. They’re great, and I appreciate them, but they poop out. Those types of love get tired and stop, sometimes when my need for love is the greatest.

How about I Corinthians 13? Romans 5:8? Romans 8:38, 39? John 3:16? What about a love that never stops? That never quits? That gives? That is unending? That perseveres? That is transformative? Redemptive? What about a love that flows into and over, more than fills the need, straightens the crooked, and blesses the good? I believe in that kind of love.

That is how God loves me. That is how God loves you.

And it doesn’t stop there. The love God pours into me doesn’t have to stop at the edge of me, at my boundaries, changing only my life. It also pours into others. It can transform the love I offer from anemic to something more robust, something fueled by God’s love that can give more and go longer, something less concerned about me and more concerned about you. I can love others better because God loves me.

In that kind of love, I believe.

For that kind of love, I live.

I believe in love.

Getting back to brokenness, more brokenness, and Isaiah 53, I found out something interesting about Isaiah 53. I’d been told that passage was a prophecy concerning the coming of Christ. I can’t say I’d ever investigated that, so I thought maybe before I went blathering on about how it is about Christ, maybe I should check and see if that was anything more than my imagination or a belief held by a weird minority. It seems to be a pretty widely held belief in Christianity, so – whew! – all good there. What was interesting was this bit from Wikipedia: “Isaiah 53, taken from the Book of Isaiah, is the last of the four Songs of the Suffering Servant.” I like that phrase, not in a “it warms the cockles of my heart” sort of way, but as in it seems significant. It seems applicable. It seems relevant to what God has been teaching me about brokenness. I want to to think it over a bit more, but since I’m talking about Isaiah 53 now, it’s worth mentioning. Guess I better move along to Isaiah 53.

One thing that stands out immediately is that this man is going through some hell. His life is not at all easy. He’s the “man of sorrows” who is also described as “rejected,” “crushed,” “wounded,” “afflicted,” “oppressed,” and other painful adjectives. I don’t know about you, but when I think about how I want my life to be described, words like these are not on my list. They make for a hard life.

To make it even more difficult for him, “we esteemed him not.” The poor guy didn’t even get any sympathy. Nobody cared that his life was hard. I guess he just wasn’t… attractive enough. His life was hard and full of troubles. It wasn’t pretty. He wasn’t somebody other people wished to emulate. Instead, folks assumed that he was “stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” People were pretty sure that not even God liked him. The man was cursed.

And you know what? None of it was his fault. His situation, full of the bitterness of grief made more heavy by the pettiness of people, was not his fault. He “had done no violence.” He was an honest man, an innocent man. He didn’t deserve the pain he experienced, the contempt he faced, or the death he died.

And “yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him…”

What?

He’s innocent. He’s righteous. It’s well established that the ones who merit punishment (and the suffering servant sure seemed to have been punished!) are the wicked. The guilty are the ones who have earned wrath and hard things. The innocent, the righteous, the just, the downtrodden… aren’t they supposed to be exalted, glorified, comforted, and otherwise cared for by the God Who is their provider and defender?

What’s going on here? Why is this okay or desirable? “It’s not fair,” would be what my emotions like to indignantly scream when I hear about situations where my sense of fair play gets offended. This would definitely be one of them. Why, God? Why is this okay?

Tell you one thing. Why is it all about me? Why do I read something like this and get offended? Why is my sense of fair play so important? Why do I instinctively, without the least thought, make it all about me and my values?

Until next time!

No Escape from Brokenness??

Previously I’d talked about my dissatisfaction with my own brokenness, and I left off at a point where God asked me to consider the “what if” of limping for the rest of my life. It was a profound question. What I wanted was out.  I wanted to escape the pain and struggle in my life. I wanted away from my problems, the things that I believed were to blame for my pain and anguish. I just didn’t want to hurt any more. I believed God could do all that for me. He healed that lady who bled for 12 years, right? Blind folks were seeing, dead people were living, and all kinds of crazy stuff happened. Why not me? Why couldn’t I have a similar miracle, a new life? What the heck was God doing, asking me an awful question like that?

By that time, I knew Him better than when I was a suspiciously minded teenager. I actually knew that love was worthwhile and believed Him to be good and to have my best interests in mind, so I didn’t throw a drink in His face and tell Him where to go. Instead, I thought about what He was saying. While I still upset about the question, at this point, I was also curious. It’s a good thing that I’m not a cat, and that God loves me. I’ve noticed that He frequently catches me by pricking my curiosity.

First off, He wasn’t telling me, “No way, Jose.” It was not a denial of my request. It was important for me to realize that. I’m sure I’d have thrown a more impressive temper tantrum, otherwise.

So He’s good, and He’s looking out for me, and He works things out for those who love Him, which ruled out crazy whim or caprice, too. He was not flexing or bullying or doing anything like that.

He’s also omniscient, right? God knows everything. If He did, that meant the questions He was asking weren’t particularly important for Him. If that was true, then they were probably more for my benefit. There was something meant for good in this situation for me. What could it be?

I thought about it. I still think about what good there could be in brokenness, and when I do, a passage that consistently springs to mind is Isaiah 53. It is well worth a thoughtful read, so I’m going to paste it in and leave you there until the next post. If you’d prefer NIV over the KJV, click on the Isaiah 53 link. Bible Gateway has many other versions, too.

Isaiah 53

King James Version (KJV)
53 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Brokenness

Somewhere in my blog’s post section, there’s a blank post titled “Brokenness.” I’ve been trying to write this post for weeks, and I keep getting stuck. I’ve fallen asleep at night trying to form it. I’m sure I’ve walked down halls muttering to myself as I’ve wrestled with it. It’s been something of a pain. I can’t quite forget it, but I haven’t quite produced it, either. It’s important to me, though, so I’m going to keep trying.

A few years ago, I was definitely working through some stuff. In some ways, it was a great time in my life. God helped me do some serious cleaning up of my attitudes, emotions, habits, questions, and so on. I had baggage. I’m pretty sure nobody escapes their childhood without some (even good homes come with some!), and growing with abuse, neglect, and all that certainly marked me up. I had trouble trusting. I hated being touched. I was alienated from my emotions. The list goes on. God and some good friends helped me dig into that and deal with the causes, and the results were great. However, the process was absolutely awful. I was alienated from emotions for good reason. There was so much pain, fear, and other painful and scary emotions I’d  been shoving to the side that I somehow had to actually process and release. I hurt a lot. Most of the time, I wasn’t sure the pain was ever going to go away. It was overwhelming, and it went on and on and on.

I frequently thought about brokenness during this, especially as I hurt. I prayed about it a lot, because part of what was happening to me was having to face and accept my own brokenness, my lack of perfection. I wasn’t perfect. I’d really wanted to be perfect, though, and I’d tried hard to do and say and be all the right things so that I could be perfect. It wasn’t my fault that I had failed. I really did my best, and I talked to God about it all often. My prayers went something like, “God, I hurt. I hurt so much, and I’m not sure it’s ever going to end. I’m tired. I’m dysfunctional. I can’t do things the way they should be done. I’m just… screwed up.” I would sigh, pause, maybe cry a little. It was… Hard overly simplifies how I felt. I was frustrated. I was disappointed in myself, in God, in my circumstances, and in other people. I was in pain. I was frightened, because I was having to admit inadequacy, and I’d been taught that was a very dangerous thing to do. I didn’t know if I could or should have hope. I wanted to be better. Oh, my gosh, I just wanted so badly to be better and done, to be fixed, better, something – for it all to be over. I ached for that.

In not quite words and more than a feeling, God talked to me about that. He asked me a horrible question. Right in the face of my aching desire to be better, He asked me, “What if you don’t get better? What if healing for you doesn’t look like the removal of your brokenness? What if it’s not just gone, and you spend the rest of your life limping?”

The rest of my life? What would you do? How would you feel?

I think this is a good place to stop and wait and ponder, so I’ll see you later.