Friday, 13 May 2011

Hope Deferred.

'The shore you left is just as distant, and there is no going back; there is only the decision to paddle in place or stop, slide out of the hatch and sink into the sea. Maybe there's another story at the bottom of the sea. Maybe you don't have to be in this story anymore.
It's been like this with all my crossings....I think this is when most people give up on their stories. They come out of college wanting to change the world, wanting to get married, wanting to have kids and change the way people buy office supplies. But they get into the middle and discover it was harder than they thought. They can't see the distant shore anymore, and they wonder if their paddling is moving them forward. None of the trees behind them are getting bigger. They take it out on their spouses, and they look for an easier story....
It's like this with every crossing, and with nearly every story too. You paddle until you no longer believe you can go any farther. And then suddenly, well after you thought it would happen, the other shore starts to grow, and it grows fast. The trees get taller and you can make out the crags in the cliffs, and then the shore reaches out to you, to welcome you home, almost pulling your boat to the sand.' 
(Donald Miller, Million Miles in a Thousand Years)

Tonight, I'm finding it hard to trust. Faith is drained and joy has run off with the sun. I want to shout out, 'SERIOUSLY???!?!?! Seriously.' I'm tired of hope deferred. I'm tired of tears. Please, I beg, can this fight be over?

Do you ever feel like there's a shore you've been trying to reach for a long time - months, maybe years? Does it seem to be alluding your every attempt? Yeah. I'm with you. 

I read verses like this in the morning, yet by evening their encouragement seems to have departed, 'Keep me safe, O God, for in You I take refuge....Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup; You have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.' (Psalm 16)....

Then I force myself to look up to the face, from which the gentle voice is emanating. And I see the nail scarred hands reaching out to me....speaking of Your capacity to love, your ability to hold steadfast.  

You, Jesus, are my inheritance, and that is why it's delightful. Not because my life is working out how I think it should, not because I'm getting married this year, not because the sun has been out in Edinburgh. And that is why it can be delightful when the promises You've spoken seem to be delayed, when the hope is deferred, when the light seems dim, when my own inadequacies feel great. 

'I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me.
Because He is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.'
(Psalm 16)

My future is secure in His hands. 

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Before All Ages.

'To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling 
       and to present you before His glorious presence 
    without fault and with great joy - to the only God our Saviour 
  be glory, majesty, power, and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, 
        before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.'
                                             Jude 1:25-6

Friday, 6 May 2011

I think God's grace is a lot bigger than I make it out to be. 

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

A Story's End.

Well, my week long plunge into the world of daily blogging has drawn to a close. It's been....a challenge. A challenge to actually write down (in a semi-public place) what goes on in this wee head of mine. Instead of just squirreling it away in the pages of my journal. So thanks for taking all these trains with me! :)

It always amazes me the paths of thought that God takes me on, through my days. Marriage. A wedding feast. I recently read this incredible article on marriage. It's short, and well worth the read. And it got me thinking....

In the beginning was a wedding, for God determined that it was not good for us to be alone. That we, as the very pictures of His being, should be joined together as one - just as He is One

The end of The Story? A wedding feast

'Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: 
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
   Let us rejoice and be glad
   and give Him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
   and His bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
   was given her to wear."
Then the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!" And he added, "These are the true words of God."'
(Revelation 19:6-9)

'The Bible ends with a wedding ceremony.....the story of God culminates in Jesus bringing his Bride, the church, home to live with Him permanently. Those who have trusted in Christ for salvation throughout history, whether anticipating His coming or looking back to when He came, will live with Him forever. The marriage supper of the Lamb proves that the covenant-keeping God honours His promises. That is your Hope, and will always be the Hope of the Bride of Christ.' 

I've had quite a few 'wedding stress dreams' so far. Some of them involving me being forced to marry a complete stranger. NIGHTMARE! Others, have to do with my dress.....something going wrong, it not being what I've chosen....Silly things like that. Except it isn't silly.

For at the beginning of our stories, we are all born with the wrong clothing. We go through life, dressed in rags of false righteousness. But Jesus came and found us, in our floundering and dirty state. He took off his robe of white and fashioned it into the most stunning of wedding clothes. And took upon Himself our muddied and ripped clothing....

But my dear brother and sister, He didn't stop there. He took us away from our life of slavery, and has set our feet inside His own palace. To dwell, abide, and rule there with Him.....And even after all of this, I still pick up the broom to serve Him. It's as if I was a bride who insisted on serving the meal to all her guests in order to repay the bridegroom for his love.

When all He longs to do, is place me at His table and eat with me. At the wedding feast. Shall I not revel in this grace and love, instead of working to repay it? To rest in the act that makes my soul complete and whole.

Donald Miller writes, 'What I love about the true gospel of Jesus, though, is that it offers hope. Paul has hope our souls will be made complete. It will happen in heaven, where there will be a wedding and a feast. I wonder if that's why so many happy stories end in weddings and feasts. Paul says Jesus is the hope that will not disappoint. I find that comforting. That helps me get through the day, to be honest. It even makes me content somehow. Maybe that's what Paul meant when he said he'd learned the secret of contentment.....Do I still think there will be a day when all wrongs are made right, when our souls find the completion they are looking for? I do. But when all things are made right, it won't be because of some preacher or stake-oil salesman or politician or writer making promises in his book. I think, instead, this will be done by Jesus. And it will be at a wedding. And there will be a feast.'

'Come, come, we are friends: let's have a dance ere
we are married, that we may lighten our own hearts
and our wives' heels.' 
(Much Ado About Nothing)

'Play, music! And you, brides and bridegrooms all,
With measure heap'd in joy, to the measures fall.'
(As You Like It)

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Love is?

Love is graciously 
patient with another soul,
kindhearted in all 
the movements of its hands 
and words.

The green root 
of envious feeling
does not colour its deeds.

Empty phrases of forecful validation,
proof of self's worth,
never burn within.

The heart of love is not only gentle,
but also humble;
seeking the other,
not its own pursuits.

It longs
always reaching out;
not expecting to be sought,
but to seek.

Love is not unneccessarily
harsh or brash,
with the precious closeness
of another being.
The spark of anger 
is always 
before the setting of the sun.

The record of past wrongs
does not trouble
the thoughts of Love,
they are buried deep
within the waters
of forgetfulness.

Love's eyes are full
of Truth.
And it is delighted in this holiness.

The vulnerable are protected
withing Love's strong
and steady
Open-armed embrace.

It trusts
in the strenght of joy
which fills its being
with Hope,
and the faithful perseverence
of grace.

Love is gloriously triumphant.
          He never fails.

P.S. In a follow up thought from yesterday's post, check out this article if you've got the time. Seriously one of the best things I've read on marriage:


To come; a coming together; a meeting or agreement of minds.
A mutual consent or agreement of two or more persons, to do or to forebear some act or thing; a contract; stipulation.
In theology, the covenant of works, is that implied in the commands, prohibitions, and promises of God; the promise of God to man, that man's perfect obedience should entitle him to happiness. This do, and live; that do, and die.
The covenant of redemption, is the mutual agreement between the Father and Son, respecting the redemption of sinners by Christ.
The covenant of grace, is that by which God engages to bestow salvation on man, upon the condition that man shall believe in Christ and yield obedience to the terms of the Gospel.
In church affairs, a solemn agreement between the members of a church, that they will walk together according to the precepts of the Gospel, in brotherly affection.

I've been thinking about this word quite a bit lately. It's four months and a week until I make the biggest promise of my life. And I'm scared. I'm going to be promising to love when I'm empty, to give when I'm hurting, to see when I'm blind, to hear when I'm deaf, to be strong when I'm weak. The depth and breath of this vow of marriage overwhelms me slightly....I am but slight and frail. I am afraid of failing, of twisting love into some knarled and cracked, dying root. 'What's if there's a drought?', my heart queries in subtle desperation. Or not so subtle desperation, depending on the day.

I place myself under the covenant of works..... 
.....forgetting that my heart has been set free in the redemptive covenant of grace

Covenant of grace? The eternal plan of redemption entered into by the three persons of the Godhead.

Fear has no place in this covenant of perfect Love....For Love Himself has promised to be faithful unto me. And in this Love, my weakness is enveloped in His strength. My ears have been awoken to the music of His mercy. My eyes have been pierced by the rays of His light. He has given His very self into my hurting, fearful soul, healing my wounds with every morning. And because of this, I am free to pour out all that He has poured within....Love has called me to Him, to empty my very that I can be filled to overflowing. So that I may walk in the good news. That I might dwell in the promises. That my fragmented being might be pieced back together into the mosaic that Love alone knows how to create. That I might be able to love in return. This is the God I can trust in.

'Let us hold unswervingly to the Hope which we profess, for He who promised is faithful.'
-Hebrews 10:23

Monday, 2 May 2011

A Glorious Reminder.

Today was a beautiful, glorious reminder of what it's all about.

Good news. Jesus.

We, as a wee little family here in this city, got to witness four people being baptised this morning. I was overwhelmed with the majesty of the story in which I find myself. In which we as a church find ourselves. To see these four people, such dear and true friends, stand up and share their journeys - so varied and powerful....was full of heart-deepening beauty.

Jesus? You are present and living and dwelling in our midst. Why do I so often forget this?

Do I live as if You hold all the ages between Your fingertips?

I greatly fear that I do not.
But then I see Your eyes. So full of grace and truth. And I see sights like today....hearing stories of healing and wholeness, of hope and a future. We hear of another thread in Your story-tapestry, all the way from Nepal. We hear of the ministers there, the miracles which abound....and my faith slowly rises - like an engine that's been stuck out in the cold. We open our mouths and sing of Your great deeds.

You are so good. Thank You for not leaving me where I am at, but always and ever calling me 'further up and further in'.

I know this video might be a 'tad' on the pretentious side...but it challenged me a few years ago, and I managed to find it again. What does good news look like to those dwelling amongst us? 

YOUR HOPE from blaine hogan on Vimeo.

P. S. I swear I had this almost finished on time....:)