Archives for November 2015

Hold On

Why do we expect a life free from ugliness?
Why do we think that we should ease through life surrounded by comforts?
Why do we think that we should be exempt from pain?
God promised, after all, that life will be hard, that life will be full of trouble.
And He promised that it would all be okay in the end.
He didn’t promise that we would see the end while still in this world, but He promised that it would be okay.
Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end. ~ John Lennon
So many died while still hoping for Messiah, still believing that He would come.
He came
And He did.
So many of us will die while still hoping for God to come and make everything beautiful again.
He is coming
And He will.
But not only that.
If that weren’t promise enough for you.
Not only has He promised that everything will be okay, but He promised that while it is still not okay, He will never leave us.
So hold on. Be still and hold on to those promises with everything in you and you will find that joy and peace that goes beyond anything that is happening around or inside you.
Hold on.
You who are watching her die before your very eyes.
Hold on.
You who are hurt by the one who should protect.
Hold on.
You who are frightened by all you see around the world.
Hold on.
You who feel like your life doesn’t matter.
Hold on.
Hold on.
He will never leave you. And someday it will be okay.

Art credits: dead rose photo by Deb Knoles; Christ on the Cross photo by Asta Rastauskiene; Nativity by Antonio da Correggio; Tulips in sunlight photo by Kirk Sewell Photography

The Absurdity of Jesus

Once upon a time, there was an American who took a hike in the Smoky Mountains.
He was a couple of days down the trail when he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.
Now by chance a State governor came along the trail, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.
So likewise, a conservative talk show host happened upon the American as he walked down the trail, and he too passed by on the other side.
Also a local pastor, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
But a middle-eastern man, dressed in military fatigues and carrying a sub-machine gun, looking much like the pictures of ISIS soldiers, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds…
Much of what Jesus says is ridiculous. Completely unreasonable and absurd. Crazy, even.
You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and to the evil.
Then the King will say…, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father…For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a refugee and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.
It doesn’t make sense and it is uncomfortable and it is hard. It is so very hard.
The idea of praying for those who want to bomb me is ludicrous. The thought of welcoming people who might be preparing to hurt my children is absurd. It makes my heart freeze and my stomach hurt.
I am frightened and I want to obey Jesus only when I can see the outcome, only when I know that I will be blessed, not blown to smithereens, in return.
There are so many commands of Jesus that I skip right over. I look at them, read them, and decide that they are not for me. Following Jesus is hard, and I am a coward.
Which means, if I am honest with myself, that I am no better than those I am frightened of.
while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…
And God reached down to earth for me. He became a refugee, a stranger, for my sake, to bring me back to Him.
God, help me.
Give me courage, give me strength. Give me faith to trust that in Your ridiculousness, You know what You are talking about.
Help me to love You enough to obey You. To obey all that You command.
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever.
Help those who do not love You, including myself who does not love You enough.
Emmanuel, God-with-us, help me. Help your Church.

Art Credits for Good Samaritan paintings in order: David Teniers the younger; Maximilien Luce; Russian iconPelegrín Clavé y Roqué; Rvalette; Domenico Fetti; All Saints Church wall painting

The Brilliant Colors of Jesus

Autumn is my favorite time of year.
The cool, crisp air striking your skin, the blazing bonfire scent filling you up with every breath, the crunch of leaves underfoot. Most of all, the leaves. The dazzling display of fiery colors that fill your sight in every direction.
Those radiant colors that inspire poetry and art are, I recently discovered (or perhaps rediscovered as I feel sure I probably learned this at one time during my elementary school career), actually the true colors of the leaves. The green that we see for most of the year, the green that fills up our springtime and summer, is just the tree-feeding chlorophyll covering up the brightness. It is not until the tree is no longer making food, not until the leaves are beginning to die, that their true colors blaze out.
I want that.
Oh, how I desperately want that.
As I age, as my body moves closer to death, I want for the colors of this life to begin to fade away and the colors of Jesus in me to blaze out.
From the moment we choose life in Jesus, we are changing.
Little by little, day by day, the green of this world starts to fade.
Little by little, choice by choice, the light of the life to come begins to shine.
The older I become, the more I want people to look at me and see Jesus. I want the colors of me, the colors of my natural self, to fade away. I want the brilliance of Jesus to take over.
At the end of my life, my body will be bent and wrinkled, dry and withered. My prayer is that by then my own self will be so one with Christ that when people look into my eyes, they are taken aback with the dazzling display of Jesus that fills their sight.
What are some of the lessons that Mother Nature is teaching you about our common Creator? She speaks loudly if we will only listen.
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. ~ Romans 1.20

Would You?

He looked in her eyes and asked, Would you?
He showed her the beginning, the imagining of dread,
the fear for her baby, the images in her head.
He showed her the disappointment, how time and again
she would hope and then lose, how hope starts to wane,
and asked, Would you?
He showed her the middle, the losing of hair,
the nausea and mouth sores, the exhaustion she’d bear.
He showed her the baby, the years she would miss
and the husband she’d leave and how he’d come adrift,
and asked, Would you?
He showed her the end, the terrible pain,
the loss of her own self, how her mind would be changed.
He showed her how hard it would be to let go of
her life, showed the grief of all those that she loved,
and asked, Would you?
Then He looked in her eyes and showed her one man.
One man who would see the result of God’s plans,
the plans that would turn her pain into glory,
the plans that would turn her night into morning.
He showed her the one who would see what she went through
and the result of his seeing would make him become all new.
He showed her the one who would see her pain, the one
who would watch and see Jesus the Son.
He showed her brief pain lift him out of the slime
and give his soul over to God for all time,
and asked, Would you?
She looked in His eyes and said, Yes.


The beautiful idea behind this poem came from my Dad.