Saturday, January 30, 2010

While It Was Still Dark (March 25, 2008)

"Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdelene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance." John 20:1

As I sat in Easter services this weekend and read the text of John 20, this phrase repeatedly captured my attention..."while it was still dark." I have often marveled both at the living nature of God’s Word (that it is always actively fresh and relevant) and at its detail. This small detail is a great example.

Sitting there, I began to think about many of my friends and family (and even parts of my own recent journey) who are in a "while it was still dark" situation. Many are in situations that have been dark for a while. There has been a "death" of sorts, whether a literal death of a loved one, death of a ministry, a friendship, a marriage, a dream...and those dark days can seem overwhelming. The temptings of doubt, unbelief, and agonizing silence...the inability to see beyond that dark, all seem to threaten hopes of anything beyond the grave.

But I wonder, for how many of us who are in these "while it was still dark" situations, is God quietly cheering us on as he works out a wild plan for resurrection. In Mary’s story, I see our own. Mary was out in the dark, heading to minister to her Savior’s body. I’m sure the grief of losing what she thought would be her Messiah was agonizing. Doubts, pain, questions must have muddied her mind and darkened her vision as she put one foot in front of the other to face that tomb. And I see us, discouraged by what we can’t yet see....painfully tearful over what appear to us as dead end roads and sealed tombs... stumbling as best we know how to "plant seed" in the somehow muddle through believing, if even only with a mustard seed of faith. We journey through the dark to face the final resting place of what we see as a closed door, a sealed tomb.

But Jesus. When Mary got to that tomb, it was open and Jesus wasn’t lying there motionless, dead, unaware of her grief. Suddenly, in a day, in a moment, all that Mary knew had changed. What she deemed to be her greatest grief, the most painful death, a sure dead end, a forgotten dream, the darkest night, was now pierced with beams of light. And as she encountered the risen Christ, all of her darkness was diffused by His Light. As she turned her face upon his, He changed everything about that moment. What was once her darkest hour, became a miracle of His glorious Light. And He rewrote her story...far beyond anything her mind could have previously conceived, above any of her previous imaginations...Here was Christ, risen, alive, her King had come!

As we stumble tearfully through the dark to face the tomb of our own dead ends, I wonder, do we see that God may just be at work to do an absolute miracle right before us? Perhaps, He is setting the stage for the darkest night of our lives to prove the power of His might...a resurrection of sorts. After all, His Word says that the same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in those of us who believe.

So friends, for those of you who are in a "while it was still dark" moment, I encourage you to hold on! Your resurrected Christ is at work in you, for you, to His glory. What you see as your greatest defeat may just be the groundwork to display His splendor! Stand and see the salvation of the Lord!

"Jesus said to her, ’I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’" John 11:25-26

Believing God for your resurrection...

What if?

(Saturday, March 10, 2007)

what if?

what if God does something totally unexpected in our lives? what if, in His wildness, He completely blows our miniscule ideas about our lives out of the water? what then?

what if, in His majesty, He refuses to climb into the "god of my life" mold i make for Him by my own preconceived notions of who He is (which hold no merit against scripture)? what then?

perhaps it is a fault of definitions and parameters. if God is really God to me and i have truly surrendered my life to Him, then it's not really my place to put conditions and parameters as to how He can use my life, how He should bless me, what the next step for me is to be. faith like that is no faith at all. it shamelessly reduces the glory of a wildly powerful and magnificent God to the trappings of mortal men. and that God i do not find in my Bible.

i am learning head on just how selfish and demanding i am. as if God should bow at my every whim because after all, "He loves me so much." no, i am learning instead, that if i meant it when i told Him He could have my life, then i am also giving up my claims on what that looks like and the timing of how things come to pass.

don't misunderstand me though. there is something deeply liberating about trusting God in His wildness, about joining Him on an untamed adventure of faith, where all of the eggs of the basket of life are in one wild place. but oh what a place to be! it's like a bird finally plunging out of the nest to fly...terrifying and liberating all at once. and the view so much more broad, so much more breathtaking than the "safe" place lived before.

and in time, living in this kind of reckless abandon of faith,we begin to discover that what we thought was so precious and well planned...those courses and prescriptions for our own happy picture of life have become wildly redefined. we discover dreams and frontiers we could have never imagined on our own because they are painted with the majesty of a wild and sovereign God who knows better than we do what we need, what will bring us true joy and life. we discover in an unforgettable way that God is about making us holy more than making us happy. (if the latter, then He would be nothing more than a genie. and let me be the first to testify, He is no such thing.)

i have walked with God for many years and i never tire of learning more about His fascinating power and His incredible love. He has FAR outgiven and outranked any miniscule thing i have give up to follow Him. i am realizing that He has more to do in and through me than i would ever believe about myself.

so as i journey with Him to break the will of my whining, selfish, faultfinding soul, i find Him forging new territory of faith and adventure in me. and i am so humbled at His invitation to take a deep breath, jump and let the wind of His Spirit blow wild through my hair as i learn to soar to new heights.

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to Him who is able to do immeasureably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations for ever and ever! AMEN!

Friday, January 29, 2010


I just want to give God praise for giving me the courage to do this, what to many seems like nothing much. To me it feels monumental. This song is such an inspiration for me to follow Christ forward and I hope it will do the same for you today. Wherever it is He is asking you to, just step out of the boat and walk forward.

Following the Leader

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

I was in Nashville a few weeks ago with some dear friends. We were headed out to breakfast on the last day, so I was following my friend to get to the beloved Pancake Pantry. She's lived in Nashville for years.

As I drove behind her, I really enjoyed taking in the beautiful scenes of Tennessee. It was a gorgeous day and the trees and hills were so beautiful. I liked looking at all of the different types of homes and shops along the way.

And then it occurred to me. This is what it should be like when I'm following Jesus. When I was following my friend, I wasn't tapping my foot, worried about knowing every turn ahead of time. I was just following her lead and enjoying the drive. It didn't matter that I didn't know where I was going, because she did. I trusted her heart and her knowledge. I knew she knew that area like the back of her hand. I also knew she wouldn't leave me stranded. Fear that she would leave me or mislead me never even crossed my mind.

And that's how I want to follow Jesus. I want to rest peacefully in the fact that He's a good leader. He knows the roads I'm on like the back of His hands. I can trust His heart toward me and I can trust His leadership. I don't have to know every turn to get to my destination. I don't even have to have ever been to the final destination before, because my leader is trustworthy.

As I continue this journey, I want to stop pounding down God's door with anxious demands to have it all mapped out before I take my next step. I desperately want to surrender my panicky grabs at the GPS and my stranglehold on the steering wheel (which is really an illusion anyways). Instead, I want to trade trade them for resting in remembering that my God has been incredibly, remarkably faithful. So here's to letting go, laying back and enjoying all of the beautiful scenery of this ride I'm on! Regardless of the twists and turns, the hills and valleys, my Leader is faithful. He's sure. I can trust His wisdom. I can trust His leadership. I can trust His intentions. Even if I don't know where we're going.

Playing Catch Up

Ok. This isn't the first I've attempted at some sort of public writing. I've dabbled here and there but I've gotten waylaid and distracted by time, circumstance, and honestly-excuse. So I'm gonna throw a few of my older pieces up here so it's all together. Enjoy!

Moving Forward

Marathons begin in steps and blogs begin in keystrokes. Dreams are funny that way. We see them as monumental, powerful in force at their sheer size. Sometimes we stand dumbstruck beholding them, not knowing how to get at them. But admiring them doesn't bring dreams to pass. The best way to get at the thing is to just take a step forward. Every day a step forward. As an old saying goes..."How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."

So here's to my own personal marathon: a dream to pour my heart out on in the hopes that it helps and inspires someone else to tackle their own elephant. And more importantly, to give glory to the amazing God I serve. For today, I have taken one of the hardest steps...that of getting started, of pushing forward in spite all of the unanswered questions. It's a leap of faith in elephant eating and dragon slaying! Thanks for stopping in to share the journey along the way.