Saturday, November 23, 2013

What do you do?

The following is me working out something I wrestled with last night.

What do you do when someone you love is running from everything good? 

When no matter what you do or say, they still run. Throwing off all inhibitions, running, tripping, and tumbling straight into the arms of destruction and pain

What do you do when people you love climb and jump straight off the guardrail down into deep ravines even as the screams that have torn your throat to shreds are echoing after them? What do you do when someone you love snatches a vial of poison after being told of the dangers and swallows it whole simply because it looks pretty and they want it? 

I don't know.

I'm fumbling around trying to figure this out, making a whole long list of my own mistakes, failure, and follibles as I live and walk this out. Thank you God for grace.


To know what would have happened...isn't that what we all want. After a bad decision is made, whether it's a mistake or a conscious decision to step off into a ditch, at some point we sit in the rubble and wonder,

"What if?"

What if I hadn't hurt that person? What if I hadn't said those words? What if I hadn't taken that one turn?

It's so easy in those moments to give up.

When you look back at years of mess and long litanies of mistakes hardening in the unforgiving concrete of time, it's so tempting to just say, "To hell with it all," and run wild, etching more mistakes into the permanence of life and pouring muck over the whole thing.

The voices whisper and you believe every carefully crafted lie they slip to you, the cadence of their rhetoric becomes your anthem. And soon they don't even need to say anything, for you are telling the lies to yourself.

"I've made too many mistakes, I'll never be good enough, I'll never make anyone happy and I can never go home, it's too late."

Don't listen to them. You always have a choice, there is always enough room to turn around and walk back up. For you are never too deep, never too far gone; you are never beyond the reach of amazing grace.

There are always three choices we have when we find ourselves in the deep ravines on the side of the road.

1. Toss our heads, harden our hearts, and revel in the madness. Go ever deeper into the depths of the canyons weaving even more pain into our lives and the people around us, especially those who love us. Marble hearts don't feel as much pain.

2. Lay down and never get up, acquiesce to the pain. How you do it doesn't really matter, turn on your back to stare at the sun and tell yourself there is no hope, lay on your stomach trying to drown yourself in the filthy mud, or curl into a fetal position berating yourself for every bad decision; doesn't matter how you do it, you're not going anywhere.

3. Fight. Struggle. Wrestle with the demons, dig up then toss into the fire all the lies that have wound their choking roots around your soul. Move toward that pinpoint of light, no matter how painstakingly slow it is. Grapple and strain. It's not easy, it's never easy, but I promise it's worth it. Ever further up and further in.

The whole broken and fractured world is full of sad chapters and now you and I have a sad chapter in our stories; but do not give up, for love is shining through the cracks, making all things new.

Slowly grace turns pain into something beautiful, for nothing is ever wasted. Redemption has come.

The good news is that we live in a world that, though broken, is still shot through with love. Every sadness, every hurt is redeemable. Which is why we need not pretend that hurt and sadness don’t exist. -Jonathan Rogers

“But what would have been the good?"
Aslan said nothing.
"You mean," said Lucy rather faintly, "that it would have turned out all right – somehow? But how? Please, Aslan! Am I not to know?"
"To know what would have happened, child?" said Aslan. "No. Nobody is ever told that."
"Oh dear," said Lucy.
"But anyone can find out what will happen," said Aslan. "If you go back to the others now, and wake them up; and tell them you have seen me again; and that you must all get up at once and follow me – what will happen? There is only one way of finding out.”
― C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia

We can never know what might have happened, but let us, along with Lucy get up and follow the Lion  to find out what will happen. Let us move together, always and ever; further up and further in.

Take courage dear heart, we are all between the paws of the true Aslan now.

Friday, November 15, 2013

True Strength

I've met people who have told me that strength is to be found in the walls they have erected around their hearts and they have declared with insolence that they never cry; for they are sure that tears are a sign of great weakness. They toss their heads and announce they never intend to love anyone enough to be hurt, because they are too smart and they know better. They view the world through a veil of bitterness and they wear their cynicism with pride, as if it was a badge they worked arduously to earn.

Joy and wonder are for babies. They are experienced adults. 

They look at me with a kind of pity when I say I disagree, as if they are positive it is only a matter of time before I take the dragons skin of cynicism that the world will hand to me and don it over my naïveté. I can see in their eyes that they think that one day despair will stitch scales over my eyes and throw a suffocating blanket of despondency over my heart.

They are sure one day, I will grow up.

However, I maintain the belief that it takes courage to have the heart of a child rather than let our heart grow hard with the cynicism of adulthood. I believe it takes greater strength to fight and struggle against the encroaching darkness than to succumb to it.

 It is easy to let your heart turn to stone; fighting to keep it soft enough to be broken takes strength.

To be vulnerable takes more grit than it does to construct walls. 

Building barracks is easier than burning them down, however, the converse is true when it comes to bridges. 

It takes more courage to have joy than to be cynical. It takes more strength to search for the beauty in the rubble instead of giving into despair.

Forgiveness requires more power than bitterness. Great bravery is sometimes found in tears.

It takes courage to admit that you are broken.

There is truth in the backwards way the Kingdom works.

There is strength in humility and power in weakness. It's easier to bend under the weight of the world than to skip with the lightness of a child. Trust requires a ruthless pursuit of the belief that good will win despite the evidence that seems to scream otherwise. To bend down to find the violets in the rubble takes a bravery. To open your heart up to hope following disappointment after disappointment after disappointment is never easy, but it's worth it.

It is terrifying to think of the pain that will come as the cynical scales of adulthood are torn from our eyes, heart and soul, for hearts of flesh see and feel everything more acutely than a heart made of marble. Hearts of stone are unbreakable, unmovable.

It takes courage to believe that good can be woven in-spite of our foibles and failures, to believe we are loved in-spite of our own darkness, just exactly as we are.

To allow the Lion to sink his claws into the thing that is protecting us from true beauty, love, and glory takes a reckless and ruthless trust that the pain will be worth it in the end, the sacrifice will be worth the reward. 

But when you do - when you grasp with a trembling hand to what you think seems to good to be true, your eyes will be opened, the scales will fall off, and you will stand wide eyed, mouth agape at the beauty and glory that surrounds.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What We Look At; What We See

I think that what you see is more important that what you are looking at.

Wonder is hiding in everything; if only we would have the eyes to see it.

Watch a baby eat a lemon for the first time or taste ice-cream. Pure horror and delight flicker across their faces as they taste a piece of the world they have never tried.

Watch a child stand at the edge of the sea looking out across the water that goes on into forever. Can see the awe?

Children stand gaping in awe of the world, adults yawn.

When we look at something we've seen thousand times and get bored it is not because it has changed: we have.

 Sunsets are no less stunning, mountains are no less majestic, the fact that ladybugs fly and lamas spit is no less incredible; these things don't change. We do.

 Lick an ice-cream cone and pretend you've never had it before. Hold an acorn, look up at an oak tree and forget that you've known for years that giant trees come from tiny nuts. Watch a snow storm come and remember how incredulous you were when you found out for the first time that every flake is different.

 Look in the mirror and remember how incredible it is that you even exist.

 Touch, hear, taste and see: The Lord is good.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


I'm sorry.

I will readily confess: I am a horrible blogger.

But here we go,

I wish life was more like sketching with a pencil and less like writing with a permanent marker. 

Anger and offense fills my heart and words slide from my lips escaping into the air and hitting the floor. A line in my story is scrawled. An opportunity to show love is presented to me and I turn and pretend I saw nothing, imagining that I like the Pharisee and the Sadducee have more important things to do. An ugly mark is etched into my life that no amount of scrubbing with erase. 

We want to know more when we can't even seem to get the first two commands right....

The older I get, the longer I walk, the more mistakes I make: the higher my awe and appreciation for grace springs.

I am the sum of failing and of grace.

Oh, thank God for grace.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"I see a world where color exists, and in enormous generosity we were given eyes to see it." -N.D. Wilson

Open your door, walk outside, take five steps into the open air, stand on the crust of a spinning sphere and throw a glance into the heavens.

Stop, take a minute, press pause, open your eyes, peel off the scales, and see. Stand next to a tree and don't take the breath you have for granted.

Look around; there is beauty everywhere.

Every season has a looping signature that that is all it's own, beauty in every stroke. Be grateful that winter tightens your skin and when water trickles down your forehead in the peak of summer. Kneel down by the flowers, inhale the heady scent of spring, then forget you are suppose to be an adult and gather a bouquet of brightly painted leaves in autumn.

There is much in this wide world for us to see. Give thanks.