Archives for November 2019

Why I Offer My Heart

We are all walking wounded.

wounded

 

wounded

 

We have all been hurt. We have all been rejected. We have all offered our hearts only to have them thrust back into our faces.
Why in the world, why in this crazy, angry world would we continue to offer what no one seems to want? Why would we Jesus-followers want to keep risking our hearts when we seem to receive so much hurt in return?

offer

 

Why would we, as a regular part of our God-life, continue to make ourselves vulnerable, holding out our hearts in cupped hands, when so often the result is more bruising, more cuts, more places that will not heal?
Why?
Because this is what God did.
This is why.
God continually offers Himself to us, regardless of what we will do with Him. He offers us His heart.

heart

 

heart

 

God continues to offer what we don’t seem to want. He risks Himself and often receives hurt from us in return. He continues to make Himself vulnerable, holding out His heart to us and all the while we simply thrust it back into His face.
While we were still sinners. While we were God’s enemies.

God's heart

 

That was when He offered up His heart on a cross.
And that is why we continue to offer our own hearts, why I continue to offer my heart to you in this space, to make ourselves vulnerable so that we can form the sort of community, the sort of Church that demonstrates to the piece of world around us the immense and vulnerable way in which God loves.
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.

art credit: painting of Christ Crucified by Velazquez, all other photographs copyright Made Sacred

edited from the archives

Deep Love in the Darkness

Deep love.
deep love
Deep love turning scumbag into son, derelict into daughter.
Deep love transforming stone into flesh, filth into snow.
It is beyond my comprehension, this love, a love that covers a thousand sins and yet refuses to leave me sinful.
It is a promise of restoration, this love, a hope of lasting joy, a covenant of the very Presence Himself.
deep love in the dark
What of the times I am fumbling through the dark? The times the pain engulfs my heart, the sorrow blinds my soul, the ugliness of this world threatens to destroy all that I hold dear?
What of the times when I, seemingly alone, cannot catch even the faintest whiff of Him?
It has happened before and it will happen again that I feel deserted.
Alone.
Forsaken.
My God, my God!
It brings to mind another cry. Another forsaking. Another time of searing loss as the Father turns His face away.
Yet this time it was not only a feeling but a truth. A forsaking for a time in order for me, for you, for us to never be truly forsaken.
deep love proven
Deep love that took Him to the cross.
Deep love that took my filth upon Himself, that felt the greatest of all absences so that the Father would never turn away from me.
Those times when I am fallen in the dark?
Deep love is still surrounding me, still transforming me, still giving me Himself.
I can trust in His deep love.
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.

Art Credits: When the King Came by George Hodges; photograph of wooden statue by Asta Kr

For Which Freedom Are You Fighting?

Freedom is tremendously important to us Americans.
Freedom for Americans
We live for freedom, fight for freedom, die for freedom.
We want the freedom to do what we want, be what we want, have what we want.
Freedom is tremendously important to us Christians as well.
Freedom for Christians
Yet…is this the same sort of freedom? Is the freedom lauded by our culture the same freedom valued by our Christ?
We often seem to tangle them all up together, believing that in fighting for freedom for Americans (or, in our more altruistic moments, for people in other cultures as well) we are also fighting for the kind of freedom we are gifted in Christ.
This is a dangerous entanglement to make. The two are not at all the same, and in the erroneous belief that we are fighting for something valued by God we often do more harm than good.
The freedom that we Americans value is the freedom to choose. More than that, freedom is the expansion of choice.
The freedom granted to us by God, however, is the freedom to choose the good. It is the freedom to flourish as humans, to become the sort of creature we were created to be by a wise, loving, and good Creator.
Freedom is the ability to choose to love God – free from love of the created thing, from being enslaved to the material, from fear of losing. ~ Thomas Merton
The freedom of our culture is the freedom to do whatever we want, whenever we want, regardless of the consequences.
Freedom to become a wreck
It is like a train weary of running along the tracks, longing to be free to speed through open fields of wildflowers. The moment that train leaves its tracks, it is, I suppose, free – free to be a complete wreck.
The freedom of Christ is the freedom to choose discipline and self-control, the ability to be changed by the work of the Spirit in cooperation with our own choices into the image of Jesus.
Take music as an example.
Freedom to become a musician
The world’s freedom tells me that I can be a pianist any time I like. I have the freedom to sit down at a piano, to be free of any kind of training or practice, and press the keys in whatever way I desire. The world would tell me that I am making beautiful music.
True Freedom
Yet no one would sit and listen to my concert for long.
The freedom that God offers, however, gives me the freedom to choose training and discipline, hours and months and years of practice, following the rules of music theory as I learn to play in the way the Master desires. This is the music that brings people to their feet in wild applause.
The truth shall set you free is not the kind of freedom that is valued by our culture. Truth has a way of narrowing, not expanding our choices.
You are certainly free to choose which version of freedom you fight for: the American version that offers ever-increasing choices until we are left with nothing by which to delineate among our options, or the version offered by Christianity that illuminates the path leading to human flourishing and perfection.
Just do not confuse the one with the other.
It could lead to some truly frightful music.
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.

Credit: storybook page taken from the children’s book Tootle