Until Every Drop is Spilled

On my run this morning, I was listening to Pas Neo’s “Who Do You Say that I Am?” album.

Who Do You Say I Am?

All of the songs on the album relate to the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. I picked it because it is very appropriate for the season with Easter coming on Sunday.
My favorite line comes from the song, The Joy Set Before Me, which is sung from Jesus’ perspective while praying in the Garden:

“My blood seems to know
there are souls to atone.
It gives with no concern for its own
and will not stop
until every drop is spilled.”

This is the Passion of Christ. Wow.

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The In-Between Life

If I flip back through the photos that I’ve taken this year, there are only a few highlights:

  • Photos from my wife’s birthday
  • Photos from The Big Snow
  • (Less)  Photos from The (Next) Big Snow

Not much in between or after that. But there have been have been a lot of days in between.  81 days to be exact.2009_11Nov_2510

Frustrating days, happy days, weary days, and just blah grey days that seemed to last forever. I don’t have photos from any of those days.  Just from the highlights.

A lot of times, I live for the highlights, even if it is just a lazy Saturday after an incredibly busy and frustrating week.  I look forward to those times and endure the in-between days to get to the “next big thing” that comes along in my life. Big decisions, big events.  Things that need to be remembered.

It has occurred to me that God is using my In-Between Life to prepare me for my next day as well as the Next Big Thing that comes along.  Little decisions that I face on a daily basis can either form my character and chip away little pieces of “Self” or can cause me to fall back and fail again.

It is these in-between times that I question scripture the most. It is where my truest self (good or bad) comes out. It is where life seems hard and grey and God seems far away.

Somehow, I think that God is even more interested in the process that we go through (the in-between life) to get where were going, than He is with us actually getting there.  He’ll take us the long way around, because it is in the process that we learn to Trust Him.

Merry Christmas

 

My favorite part of Christmas this year was lighting the final Advent candle and reading the Christmas story.  Those familiar passages come alive once again and remind us of the promise that we have in Jesus. A gift far better than the ones under the tree.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

Isaiah 9:6-7

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Turning 40

2009_11Nov_2402 A few weeks ago, I turned 40.  I got the normal “getting old, over-the-hill” kind of jokes from my sisters. I was called “Old geezer” more times in one day than I ever have in my old life.  I do feel a bit older, a bit wiser, and a bit more tired and weary than I have before.

My back has been acting up again and had been limiting and inhibiting me from lifting and carrying stuff.

Among the cards and the old age jokes were a couple of letters that I received from my folks. They contain birthday wishes, among other things. They remembered the past and anticipated the future.  But one phrase has stuck in my mind:

“We become jaded without even trying…”

It’s true.  There is this strong “been there, done that” mentality that I have slowly been succumbing to. A wearied, hardening crust has been gripping my soul. I’ve felt it more as the Christmas holidays are upon us and they drag out all the trite and sentimental sayings, carols, and symbols of the season.  And I cannot bear it. 

Meanwhile, my boys are bouncing off walls, enraptured in anticipation and joy.  I used to be like that…

Even today in our worship service as they started singing about the majesty and power of Jesus.  I tried to sing those words, but they fell short in my mouth. Just words.  And I couldn’t sing.  I was tired of the same ol’ same ol’ and just stood there, my heart crusting over again.  And I thought of that phrase again:

“We become jaded without even trying…”

Disappointment.  Frustration. Weariness. Unmet expectations.  Here I am 40 years old and what have I done with my life? It’s easy to become jaded because I try to lower our expectations so I don’t become disappointed.

God, I don’t want to be jaded.  I want to see life through new eyes. I want my heart softened again, tender toward You, tender towards my wife and my boys and another new life joining our family. I need Your perspective.

I can’t do it myself.  There is no magic pill to take and snap me out of my mentality. I’ve lost my rose colored glasses.  But I do know the One who gives sight to the blind and can correct the vision of a weary, jaded soul.

Which brings me to another phrase from one of those letters .  Advice to a wide-eyed 40 year old from one who has been around the block a few more times and still has a twinkle in his eyes:

“Don’t grow weary. Keep praying. Love well.”

His Kind Intention

open hands Recently at work I’ve been involved in resolving a very serious customer issue involving millions of dollars of equipment.  I’ve had to go to daily status meetings  where the environment has been tense and confrontational and where I have to daily answer for how I (and others) are making progress on the issues.  Unpleasant at first, these daily meetings (beatings, I’ve called them) have become wearisome and dreaded after a few weeks. I’ve found myself defensive and guarded, trying to say as little as possible.

My quiet times have grown sparse and infrequent—the avoidance of yet another “duty” that has been placed on me—to submit to another master, face another expectation.  I’ve projected the stern, confrontational disciplinarian image on God, and I can’t face facing Him.

But doesn’t it seem that way sometimes? You find yourself in a life situation that comes out of the blue.  You get blindsided by something that you never saw coming. And you ask, “What did I do to deserve this?” “How did I get into this mess?” And you wonder how you’ll survive.

I know I’ve questioned why God has allowed certain things in my life.

This morning, I saw the words in Eph. 1:9: “…His kind intention…” The whole verse is:

He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in [Jesus]…

It reminded me of the safe loving arms that we find in our Heavenly Father.  He may allow certain things in our lives, but it is always in Love.  I may question why He allows the situation, but am reminded that no matter the circumstances, His intention toward us is kind.

Instead of conflict, there is a shelter. Instead of an adversary, there is a place of rest and hope.  I can lay down my defenses and be safe in His presence.

I don’t know how to get through it, or what the outcome will be, but I can trust that God will be with me in it, and that He loves me and intends to show His kindness to me.

For Our Struggle…

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Eph. 6:12

I caught this verse on the way out the door this morning and noticed the words, “For our struggle…” The thought occurs to me that our struggling is a given, a foregone conclusion: If you’re alive, then you will struggle.

Paul does not say, “If you struggle, then it will be not be against flesh and blood, but against the rulers…”

Somehow this thought heartens me, because sometimes life seems hard, but the struggle isn’t unexpected.  It is supposed to be a struggle—don’t be surprised that it is.

Just a thought.