Friday, April 15, 2016

A Wavering Faith

Have you ever seen yourself, your life, in the Bible? I am not talking about the Bible reflecting a glimmer of who you are through a verse or a passage of scripture. I am talking about seeing your entire life spread out and laid over the pages of scripture from Genesis to Revelation. Without making the Bible say something other than what it actually says, there is a correlation between the entire cannon of scripture and our lives. The Bible is about One Person, but it speaks to every person...every messed up one of us who are all in need of encouragement.

Honestly, aren't we all looking for some comfort these days? Can't we all get lost in a few moments of assurance and embrace? In a political and religious landscape littered with lying and deceit and misrepresentation, we could all probably use a glimpse of truth and a little bit of hope. I know I could use that about now. My life is still messy. Still searching. Still without answers. 

This is a story. Not just my story, but your story too. How do I know your story? I don't, except that I know we are all more alike than different. 

My story and yours started...

...in the beginning.

...........................................................................................................................................................

What was only without form and void became molded into life. Out of darkness, out of nothing, you came to be (Gen. 1:2). Naked and unashamed you came, trusting and free (Gen. 2:25). In the beauty of infancy, you learned to walk in the cool of the day (Gen. 3:8)The world confronted you and promised you that your desires would make you wise (Gen. 3:6)Despite Love, you took and ate (Gen. 3:6). Where are you (Gen. 3:9)? You hid (Gen. 3:8). And then went to work (Gen. 3:33).

But you were angry and confused. Your face fell (Gen. 4:5). You turned aside (Pss. 53:3). Now all you hear is silence. You beg, do not keep silent (Pss. 83:1). Your heart yearns for peace, peace (Jer. 6:14).

Your Consolation comes. (Luk. 2:25). Life changes. You who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on you has light shone (Mat. 4:16). But it's not perfect. You're harassed and often feel helpless against the onslaught of this life (Mat. 9:36). It still hurts, you still weep for what is no more. (Mat. 2:18). It is still messy. You do not do what you want, but you do the very thing you hate (Rom. 7:15).

Peace in the midst is your theme. You are blessed...your lawless deeds are forgiven (Rom. 4:7). And yet, pain breaks the bow of your blind faith. You grow weary and tired, and stumble badly  (Isa. 40:30). Where is Peace? You cry inside, why have You forsaken me (Mt. 27:46)? Through tears and letters and lament you cry out, I believe, help my unbelief (Mrk. 9:24).

You wait for the Lord. It's all you can do (Pss. 27:15). And you live, trying not to be anxious about tomorrow (Mt. 6:34). You wait, and you believe that you shall look upon the goodness of the Lord (Pss. 27:13).

But the questions remain. Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden (Job 3:23). Silence. Awaiting, your hope is from him (Pss. 62:5). Your faith though it waver, is not up to you. There is an Author and  Perfecter of your faith (Heb. 12:2).


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You will see his face and night will be no more (Rev. 22:4-5).


Behold, He is coming (Rev. 1:7).

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Silence of the In-Between

solitude by serhatdemiroglu
Having just celebrated another Easter I am reminded of the mysteries of faith. I admit that I have more questions than answers these days. I haven't written here in a while due to a full work and school schedule. But I confess that it is also because I have run out of words (hard to believe for those that know me). This blog has always been a place of certainty, at least when it came to the gospel. However, if you've been around this little space you know the struggles I've shared and the questions I've wrestled with lately. When one speaks of the dark night of the soul it seems to be temporary by definition. Night always turns to day. 

And yet, it's still dark.

The same was true over two thousand years ago. It was the silence of Saturday.

It was the silence of the in-between...

...the day after your hope is dashed, but the day before it rises from the ashes. 

There is nothing you can do but wait. Even when the calendar has spoken. Even when Sunday comes, it still feels like Saturday. The celebrations have ended and the bonnets go back in their boxes. Sunday fades and Monday dawns but it still feels like Saturday. I think that for many who have experienced this silence it seems like a double wound when as believers we fail to acknowledge that reality. 

What was happening in the lives of Christ's followers after the resurrection? So often we paint the picture with a rainbow overarching it and a pot of gold on the other side. We just need to skip along the yellows and oranges and everything will be o.k. Only it's not o.k. It wasn't o.k. then. You can read about what happened to the disciples here. My point is this. I long for the day when churches can be honest about what it really means to live life as a Christ follower. It is not happy clappy. It is not always clear, in fact most times it's not. It must be how the disciples felt. Yes they had just witnessed the resurrection of Jesus. And yes that changed everything. But life was still hard. I wonder, did any of the disciples feel silence? Did any of them ever experience a dark night of the soul? I can only say that when I read about the disciples I find that I am more like them than not. They doubted, questioned, and denied Jesus. They were all kinds of inappropriate. I see that I've struggled in the same ways they did so I have to conclude that at some point they must have struggled in the same way I do. I wonder if they recalled what Jesus told them and what he tells us today, "I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Even when it still feels like Saturday.

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year Hopefullies

Yep, I just made up a word.

Hopefullies. 

It's the whole long list of things you hope for in the coming New Year...

hopefully, this year will be better than the last...

hopefully, my marriage will get better...

hopefully, I'll find a new job....

hopefully, the biopsies come back negative...

hopefully, I can find my way out of this addiction...

hopefully my depression will ebb more than flow...

hopefully I'll shake myself out of this funk I've been in for the last eight months...

and, hopefully, I'll be able to pay my bills on time.

Hopefullies.

You have them, so do I. Your hopefullies may be on that list...

and then maybe not.

Maybe you have hopfullies you would never share with anyone...

hopefully, I can stop looking at porn.
hopefully, I'll stop purging.
hopefully, no one will catch me in my web of lies and deceit and cover-up.
hopefully.

That must be why we cling to New Year celebrations and shiny new resolutions.

We are almost giddy at the thought of our hopefullies. Why?

Because, the thought of one more stinkin day of our struggle wears us out. It rips us apart and in the darkness after the smiles fade we're left with a quivering upper lip. Please, can anyone tell us it will all be better?

That's why the thought of a brand new day without our struggle brings a glimmer of hope...

a tiny shiny ray of light peaks through the darkness.

It is the reason we celebrate, right?

It is the very reason we await the day.

...the one day.

...the 1 day.

...the first day.

...january 1st.

It even sounds fresh.
It sparkles with promise.

It is the one day of the year when we believe change is possible.

When we long for a difference and we believe it can happen...

this time.
this year.
this day.

Because, if there is one thing we all want more than anything else, it's change.

Will that child give up the one thing that's holding them down?

Can we just go back to the way we were? Can our relationship just be a little more romantic, a little more considerate, a little more honest?

Will my job be a little more exciting, a bit more appreciated, pay a few dollars more?

Can my health improve? Just a little? Will this be the year I'll have more energy and less weight? Will this be the year the biopsies come back clean? Will I finally eat right, lose weight, lower my blood pressure?

I really hope that things will be different this year. How about you?

What are you hoping for?
What's in your bag of hopefullies?

I am convinced that this longing, this gut-wrenching desire for newness and change simply reveals our heartache for a fresh start.

We want a slate wiped clean, no looking back.

With clenched fists and grinding teeth we push forward and plead and beg and pray, Lord, let it be different.

Only this year, it is different. It is already different. Maybe it's the years piling up. Maybe it's the unmet longings and the reality of life crashing in. I'm not sure. But, it is different. Clenched fists are gone. Grinding teeth have stopped. Things are different. Oh, don't get me wrong. I've lived my life nestled among the words of this post. The struggles are real.

Yet, I have come to know that reality and humanity have just as much to do with the spiritual and the divine. They were never meant to be separated. We know this because we just witnessed it. The incarnation. God in human form.

But we forget it. We go out and live our lives as if we have to be God. We leave behind the reality of human"ness" and act as if we can actually "live like Jesus." I now know that's not true.

When I look at my list of hopefullies, I'm not looking through a rose colored lens anymore. I see clearly - no filter. I see rough edges not feathery filtered images. I see streaks and shatters and missing corners and over exposed portions.

My hopefully is not masked with a faith that lies to me. Faith does not lie. The gospel is truth. And the truth is, we are not God. We are humans. We do our best, but at the end of the day we are left with ourselves. I don't know about you, but I have lots of regrets and stacks of apologies I have yet to make.

Interestingly though, this is not a depressing message. You might think, how in the world is there any hope in all of this?

The hope is this. There is Hope. Hope has come, and it's not the fake, happy clappy hope we over dramatize and then feed others when we don't know what else to say. I'm done with pat answers and lame assurances.

Hope has come, we don't need lame answers.

Hope has come.

We don't need to fill our lists with all the hopefullies that are wrapped up with translucent ribbon. Our hearts see through them anyway.

We can be honest. We can face our fears, our struggles, our realities. We don't need to pretend.

Hope came.

Hope is here.

The Hope that came down as a baby is still here.

Hope is here, scarred and bruised...just like you and just like me.

Hope is here, begging God...just like you and just like me.

Hope is here, knowing suffering and knowing pain.

Hope is here, knowing the realities of harsh lives and empty hands.

Hope is here, knowing cold hearts and doubting minds.

Hope is here, in the midst of it all, never going away, always loving, forever holding on, to you and to me.











All of our hopefullies have already been met in Hope. The gospel is everything you have ever longed for. No empty promises...just one Promise to cover an eternity of unfulfilled hopefullies.