Hope may seem a flimsy thing in the face of acedia’s cold assurance that nothing matters and that waiting is unmitigated hell.
The musings of a modern-day contemplative activist. A blog dedicated to artists and artful creatures who want to grow in their life with God. A collection of poems, ponderings, art, and scripture to accompany those "on the road" of life in Christ. May this be another source of alternative fuel for you, dear artists. Don't forget to feed your soul..
We spend so much time in the “natural” realm. Chronos, not kairos. We spend our days getting by on fume-prayers, occasionally throwing stones at giants, asking for God’s help. But sometimes it’s not just giants you face. Sometimes it’s mountains. (I don’t know, perhaps giants might seem more menacing to you.) But there are some “curve balls”, some unexpected “plot twists” that just seem unscalable. Sometimes God asks you to climb. Sometimes you have no choice. There’s no middle ground between victory and defeat. Only unbelief and misery. And you wonder where your mustard seeds went. Sometimes faith is the only route. Sometimes faith is the only peace. But not just faith itself, but rather the Author and Finisher of our faith Himself. He’s essential. Without Him it’s game-over. Unanchored faith will very quickly expose its ambiguity. It won’t get you very far. Trust me.
God’s word becomes very important when you’re searching for something certain. Sometimes his presence isn’t palpable. Sometimes the pain is just so loud, you can’t hear his whispers. Sometimes the volume of Satan’s suggestions (despair, doubt) and of our own emotions make it nearly impossible to hear the Gospel. There are times when we won’t see the Gospel in our stories…. not yet. Some days are Good Fridays. Many are Saturdays. But what God calls us to is to live in the knowledge of Sunday, when we face our crosses on Friday.
It’s not as poetic as it sounds.
There are times when the breath has to be knocked from your lungs, to fill it back up with the resuscitation God provides. ”What, God? You always said you were greater than all of these things, do I really have to trust you to be who you say you are?” ”What, Lord? You say your word is true, an anchor for our souls— you want me to stand on it?” So we try. We gulp, and we try. Standing on little Bambi legs of faith, we begin to see that the true-ness of God’s truth is much more essential than peripheral. We begin to see that the unseen is really more of we need, what we long for.
In tragedy and grief, we come to know that yes- indeed- this is wrong, terribly wrong. This wonderful world of paradox, full of beauty and life is also an intimate bedfellow with unbearable angst and loss. Angst. Physical, emotional, spiritual. In these crosses we’re asked to carry, we are asked implicitly to also carry with us that angst. The groaning. The “almost” but “not yet”. We’re asked to arise and walk, following as faithfully to the light as we can in (what can be) perhaps the darkest of times. In the valley of the shadow of death, the light of Heaven becomes a LOT more important. Because there is a way to suffer hopelessly - and then there’s suffering with faith. We are called to suffer in way that takes into account the promise of the Gospel; we’re called to stare winter and the face and still remember the melody of spring. Even when it’s buried deep beneath the ice.
And I hate it. But I know we need it. I would be a baby of faith my whole life if I was never wrestled to the ground and forced to use it. In our world, pain is our enemy. But God knows better than that. And while there are endless mysteries I can’t explain- grief too deep for me to know- it’s in those moments where our acute need and hope for Resurrection grows. In those moments where we ask God, “Is that really the end of the story?” The Gospel becomes really important. God turns our (.) periods into (…) ellipses . . .
Maybe that’s why we have to see a certain amount of suffering - to call to mind that this actually isn’t “it”. To remind us that the zip code here is not the one for Eden. (It’s a cold-shower, early morning wake-up call from reality.) I think sometimes we forget that.
And ultimately, in growing to know the grief of our “Fridays”, we also come to know the heart of the Father… who willingly sent Christ to be acquainted with our grief and to bear it bodily for us. We don’t think of sin as cancer. But it is. And even watching someone suffer from cancer, it blows my mind to think that God stepped in to bear it for us.
I know as much as my mom hates this time - and all of us hate this for her - I know she would bear it for us if it meant we didn’t have to. She has the heart of Christ. And watching her being asked (chosen? forced?) to walk through it, my heart writhes within me. But that’s God’s heart for his Son. He chose to wear my cancer. He chose to fight our greatest enemy, and told us HE is greater than even death itself.
The resurrection speaks that spring is coming. Winter’s death will be swallowed by life.
May it be so, Lord. May it be so.
I like the idea of it. Just as I like the idea of working out early in the morning. Idea vs. reality. I tend to live this life like it’s reality, when really it’s much closer to an idea than the real thing. Our real life is hidden in Christ, our real life is to come. Our life is the Kingdom.
Yadda yadda yadda.
Personal question.. Does that really mean anything to you?
I want it to really, really mean something to me. Have you ever heard the term “the hope of Heaven”? Let’s be honest… are we hoping for heaven? The easy answer is yes; given the alternative, we hope for heaven. But really, actively, in our day to day decisions and lives, is Heaven even a passing thought?
I don’t like thinking about resurrection. I don’t like thinking about death. Thinking about the afterlife freaks me out! We toss around words like we’ve got it all figured out, but have you stopped to think about it… How many completely alternate realities have YOU lived in? How many lives have you lived outside your body? Seriously, it’s a little freaky.
But today I longed- or began longing- for resurrection.
My mom’s going through cancer right now. She’s going through cancer, and I can’t wrap my mind around it. At times its almost more than I can bear. It’s as though you don’t realize how much you long for PHYSICAL resurrection bodies until you’re faced with how fallible ours are. Don’t get me wrong, I love the human body. As a dancer, I know and love what beauty we can create and be. But I know that we are indeed fragile clay jars, that chip and smash and falter.
I want to see, in the face of suffering, the face of my Savior. I want to know Him more than I know the enemy that lies before me. I want to know His heart through the tears of my dear mother. I want to feel God’s pain as He witnessed the cross, His only son, beaten and broken on account of sin. Cancer. And the treatment for cancer, just as the treatment of sin, is not flimsy. It’s severe.
I want resurrection like the winter longs for spring. I want it now. I want Jesus NOW. The more I watch the news, the more stories of broken hearts and broken bodies that I hear, I long for Jesus NOW. And it’s for these reasons, that I don’t want to just play house. I don’t want to phone it in. (I can do that on my own.)
Shouldn’t we be encouraging one another in this way? Shouldn’t we be encouraging one another to stop trifling with lesser loves, to help one another toward real freedom, truth, & devotion? Or is this really all there is?
I don’t want my life to look the same as everyone else’s. Not because I’m better than the world- because I’m not- but because I have a hard time following Jesus. Not with the idea of Jesus… on Sundays.. at Bible Study.. but in my heart. I have a hard time synthesizing the words that he left for us, the words that are supposed to be LIFE and FOOD for us, and letting them possess me.
All in all, I don’t think any of us realizes what’s at stake. I think God calls us to more than we think he does; I think he also offers us more than we think He does. I don’t want to live like this is all there is.
Oh Lord, you are merciful and gracious with me and with my sin. Open our eyes to reality as you see it. Whisper to us when we are exchanging shadows for light. Stir our hearts God, move us by your Spirit to ache and long, in confident Heaven-fueled affection for You.
Sometimes we need to have this prayed into us.
Romans 15:13- “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Also encouraged by the reminder that “neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow…can separate us from God’s love.” (Romans 8:38).