Archives for April 2019

Easter Joy and Sorrow

I had another post ready for this week, but have been grieving my Gram and Papa a little more heavily this week, so decided to post this from the archives instead, as it more accurately describes my current feelings. May it bless you as well.

Easter.
Spring.
New life.
On Easter morning, my eldest ran into the living room where we had left Jesus on the cross the night before, eyes wide with hope of resurrection. “Daddy, look! Jesus left us flowers that God made!”

Hope and joy at the end of sorrow and pain. This is Easter.

On Easter morning, gathered with our Family, we sing

The greatest day in history
Death is beaten, You have rescued me
Sing it out, Jesus is alive!
Endless joy, perfect peace,
Earthly pain finally will cease
Celebrate Jesus is alive!
Oh, happy day, happy day…
My heart swells and overflows with emotions that at first glance seem to be at odds. For some time now, I often feel both joy and gratitude, sorrow and longing.
On Easter morning, the joy is easy. Jesus is alive!

Sorrow and longing, though, those are things that are more difficult. Yet they are real and, although hard, they are what should be.

My sorrow is over our first Easter without my Gram.

March-July10 036
As we celebrate Jesus’ victory over death and as our family celebrates a new season of birth from my youngest brother and his wife, we miss Gram with a physical ache.

We acknowledge that all of this, this pain and death and sadness, is not how it was supposed to be. None of this existed before we rebelled against God.

And so I sorrow.

My longing is for that day of redemption and transformation. The day when earthly pain will cease and death will be banished for all time. I desperately wish to be gathered into Jesus’ arms and told that all is now well.

And so I long.

Sorrow and longing. At second thought, they are what we should feel. After all,

Our kind, heavenly Father has provided many wonderful inns for us along our journey, but He takes special care to see that we never mistake any of them for home. ~ C.S. Lewis
May I return for a moment to gratitude?

On Easter morning, as we worshiped together, we sang

You make beautiful things,
You make beautiful things out of the dust.
You make beautiful things,
You make beautiful things out of us.
My heart cries out “Why?”

Why do You love me that much?

You went to the cross to allow me to become a daughter of God. Wasn’t that more than enough? Why would You now also work so very hard to make beautiful things out of the dust that I am? Why would You pour so much into molding me into someone who looks like You?

There is much deep theology in this. Perhaps I will explore these things later.

For now, I will fall on my knees in gratitude for such deep love.

On Easter morning and beyond, I will let my heart swell with sorrow and longing, joy and gratitude, knowing that Jesus is alive.

art credit: The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise by Benjamin Westheaven picturecross picture by Asta Rastauskiene

To Hope While Living in Hell

To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

 

What does it look like to become like Jesus?
becoming like Christ
What does it look like when your heart is in the process of being transformed?
transformed
I have come to believe that one major characteristic of those who are being sanctified by the Holy Spirit is the supernatural power to keep your eyes fixed on Christ when your world is crashing down around you.
eyes on Christ
Whether it is your inner world or the world all around, the ability to cling to God no matter what is a powerful witness to all around us.
physical pain
grief
loneliness
depression
worry
fear
There is so much that could swamp us in our life with God.
be still
I am learning that being still before God, practicing the disciplines of silence and solitude, is one of the most important ways that we can open up space to allow the Holy Spirit to change us.
I hope to write more about that soon, but I wanted simply to write today about the idea that God can so surround us with Himself that nothing else can devastate us.
I don’t mean that we won’t feel negative emotions such as fear or sadness, but that we will still be able to hope regardless of our inner and outer circumstances.
In the monastic tradition, the highest form of sanctity is to live in hell and not lose hope. ~ Gregory Boyle in Tattoos on the Heart
Hope
trust
To know that God is with you, even when you don’t see Him.
To know that in the end everything will be okay, even if the end is not in sight.
To know that below all of the the hurt and pain, underneath all of the heartache and sorrow, there lies the incomprehensible and immovable peace and joy of Jesus.
Hope
hope
May God grant you the ability to hold on to hope, no matter what happens to you this week.

Art Credits: St. Peter’s Rescue from the Lake of Galilee by Herbert Boekl; Jesus and His Disciples on the Sea of Galilee, author unknown

To Confess I Cannot

We are on spring break this week, so I am posting a Lenten essay from the archives. May it bless you this week.
To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

 

I really hate admitting that I cannot do something.  I have experienced quite a few tragedies that occurred because I was unable to swallow that thing inside of me that rises up and prevents me from asking for help.
I cannot
The one notable exception is raising children.  I am all about seeking out advice when it comes to my children (which is its own problem because too much advice leads to indecision which invariably leads to paralysis).  This is not by any particular virtue of my own, rather it is because I am completely terrified of irreversibly messing up another human being.
Messing up my own life, however, is fine, because whatever the thing is, I can do it.
Even if I cannot.
This causes a definite problem, however, when it comes to my faith.  I want to be able to be good enough, to make myself righteous enough, to climb up the ladder and reach God all on my own.
Tower of Babel
I would have done well in Babel.
I want to do it myself so that I can then take credit.  I want to be proud of my own accomplishments.  I want, in short, to seek and worship myself.
Worshiping Self
God, however, is quite clear.  We can never rise up to Him, so He, in His infinite mercy, came down to us.  
Lent
This is folly and this is scandal.  It cannot be understood by our own reason and intelligence.  This is offensive.  It offends our pride to know that there is nothing for us to do.
God is too high and holy and our sin is too deep and depraved for us to be able to reach God.
Our souls become crippled and cramped by trying to rise to the highest height.  The end is despair, or a self-righteousness that leaves room neither for love of God nor for love of others. ~ Emil Brunner
It hurts as a crucifixion always does, but I must crucify myself and admit that I cannot reach God.  I cannot be good enough and I cannot make myself righteous.
So God descends to us at Christmas and finishes His descent on Good Friday.  What is His goal and where does He end His descent?  He ends where we belong.  In Hell.  Our rightful place is separation from God, which is hell, and God descends down to hell.
Fire
Jesus experiences our separation from God and despairs of loneliness from God so that we can be free of it.  He descends all the way down so that He can lift us out and reconcile us to God.  It is the only way.
Lent
If the only way to receive God’s Spirit and nevermore to be separate from Him is to admit that I cannot do it, I will crucify my pride every single day and bow my head to the ground in worship and thanksgiving.
I will confess: I cannot.

Art Credits: Construction of the Tower of Babel painting by Pieter Brueghel the Younger; The Three Crosses by Rembrandt; all other photographs copyright Made Sacred 2019