"God is rest, and where He dwells is stillness."
-Freda Hanbury Allen

Monday, December 22, 2014

An Invitation to Dance

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." Luke 2:14

        Truth can get lost in traditions because traditions eventually lose their meaning. They become rituals done by rote, with only a hint of their original depth and purpose. There is always a place for them, and an element of importance to them. A central part of our calling is "to remember". Jesus himself gave us a remarkably simple, yet deeply profound ceremony to remember him, his sacrifice and his gift of life. But sometimes the traditions need to be set aside and truth aired-out and given space to breathe and shine in its own sacred light.
        "Glory to God in the highest." Our eternal God in the eternal place of his dwelling. Glory to God. This is where our purpose and the purpose of God merge in a beautiful dance that allows us to get a glimpse into eternity, experience a beautiful sliver of it in our time-bound world, and even participate in its arrival. We are God's dance partners accomplishing with him his eternal desire. Glory to God. It is the eternal purpose of God to display his glory and to receive all glory. His glory has come down; it has been revealed. Through the majesty and intricacy of creation, the submitted life of Christ - his humiliation and his resurrection, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and his active involvement in even the smallest corners of our lives. And no less, it is his eternal design that our purpose mirror his own. We behold his glory, we receive his gifts, we stand in awe of him and give back his glory in praise, in worship, in celebration, in obedience and surrender. Glory to God. Let's receive his glorious presence and glorify him and his name in grateful response.
        "And on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." Finite man in his temporal dwelling.
"On earth"- a different realm, a broken place, and yes, in His grace, temporary. The Lord assured his disciples - and us, that in this world we would have trouble. Jesus entered into that trouble and at his arrival peace was declared. Peace was promised. What does that mean in our violence-rattled world where hostility grows and evil abounds? It means His Peace. Eternal peace. Our peace IS here. Our peace is the glory of God come down. It is The Eternal entering the temporal. It is Jesus. It is the display of His glory to those on whom his favor rests. It is His favor. It is our salvation. The declaration of peace is God's invitation for mankind to join him in the dance of his glory. We are his delight. For his name's sake we are the favored and chosen of God, along with all who take his outstretched, love-scarred hand and join the dance.
        Let's remember our purpose. Let's remember His promise. Let's let the light of peace shine brightly in our hearts as the favored of God. Let's dance with God this Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Tears Are Grace

"Jesus wept." John 11:35

        Some of the most profound and life-altering truths are presented so simply that they are easily  missed, or passed over in our haste. But if we pause, and breathe, and wait...He comes. The Spirit of Truth. Quietly pointing us to him who is The Truth. So stop. Breathe. Let him whisper to your heart... Jesus wept. He wept. Let it wash over you. Let it sink deep. Let it fill you up. Let His tears flow into yours. Let his heart speak through his tears. His tears. Streams of grace.
        We don't like to cry. It makes us feel exposed and vulnerable. Unsafe. We swallow hard the sharp corners of our hurt and gulp down air trying to stave off the evidence of our pain. We hastily wipe away the tears so they aren't seen; so we aren't seen. So the deepest and most real parts that make us who we are can remain hidden and protected. Yet, they keep coming. Our tears give us away. We do want to be seen. We do want to be known - but not with judgement, with understanding; with the eyes and heart of grace.
        God gave us tears. Tears are grace. Because sometimes life is too much. Sometimes we are full and there is no more room inside for any more of anything. And so, our tears make room. They pour out some of the hurt, relieve some of the pressure, and offer space for Him to enter. And he does, if we invite him in. He comes with tears, because it is not only us who cry. God created us with tears, knowing he would come and grieve the most deeply. He came as The Man of Sorrows, familiar with grief. God wept. He gets it. He gets us. He weeps with us, mingling his tears with ours.  But his tears don't carry the salt of helplessness. His tears come with healing and hope. His eyes meet ours and overflow with grace.
        We weep because the hurt cuts deep and we are overwhelmed. Jesus wept, but he was not overcome. Jesus wept and then he overcame. He turned loss and sorrow on its head, first for Lazarus, Mary and Martha, then for all of us. Jesus wept. Then he conquered death, first with a simple command, "Come forth." Then, with a loud, bone-shattering cry on a cross made not just to cut deep but to sever, "It is finished."
        Our tears still fall, but even in the torrent that comes from living in "the now and the not yet", our tears mingle with the healing tears of Jesus and we find comfort. Jesus wept, and so we have hope. God cried and so we know we are not alone. And now, on the other side of his perfecting obedience, we have been invited to share in His suffering only because he first entered into ours. Jesus, a man of sorrows, wept and because he wept our hurt isn't meaningless, but redeemed.
         One day, our God who wept with us, for us, and because of us will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Until then we have the grace of our tears and his tears falling together...ours falling, making room for his to heal.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Sometimes pain is given
And we are reminded
That there is more than this life
Broken and splintered

Sometimes sacrifice is our calling
And we are offered a chance to die
That we might live

Sometimes tears pour down
And we are granted the joy
Of sharing in His suffering

Sometimes gifts come in ugly wrapping
And we know that only in eternity
Will their true beauty be seen

Sometimes the pain, tears and sacrifice
Are burdens we carry
So we don't hold onto this world too tightly

Sometimes we groan with wordless longing
Because we've held eternity in our hands
But we know we cannot keep it

We watch it slip away and weep-
Yet we know that even this is a gift
Because we want to love the Giver
More than His gifts

Sometimes beauty is other
Than we imagined it to be-
And we are given a glimpse
Of the shattering perfection called Love
That came in brokenness to save us

Sometimes He is all we have to hold on to
When suddenly we realize
That we are the ones being held

The severe beauty of our "sometimes"
Will one day meld into the glory
Of a timeless eternity

And so, in our "sometimes"
All we can do is believe
And let ourselves be held

Our Need - His Invitation

 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened..." Matthew 11:28

        We are a needy people. There are all sorts of ways we try to cover it, camouflage it, push it into the background, but we can't escape it. When it rises up like bile, and cuts like shards of glass, there's no denying it. Need wraps around us like a vice. We strain and struggle desperate for victory, longing for freedom from ourselves, from our sin, from all that relentlessly afflicts us.
        Need doesn't seem to bring rest or allow stillness - at least when looking on the surface of things. It exhausts us and makes our hearts bleed and our heads spin. We just want it to stop so we can catch our breath. But it doesn't. It seems endless, bottomless-pit endless. But what if this is by design?
        By design...meaning there is order in the disorder, purpose behind the pointless, intention beneath the random, beauty in clashing patterns, and yes, rest in the chaos. Rest. The word feels like hope, like a promise, like a precious gift in humble wrapping. If we are willing to look beneath, peek behind, peel back the unsightly wrapping of our desperate, endless need there is The Gift...The Promise. He meets us there; inviting us, whispering through it all, "Come. Rest."
        There is a quiet place  where we are embraced by the gentle heart of the great Designer. It is here that we see the eternal beauty and purpose of our relentless need. In His stillness we recognize our need for what it is - the invitation. "Come." A sacred invitation, beckoning us deeper into Himself - his indescribable beauty, his infinite love, his endless power and eternal provision. "Come...and you will find rest for your souls."

Saturday, December 13, 2014


"Thomas said to him, 'My Lord and my God!'"  John 20:28

        In the infinite space between eternity and our frailty, comes grace; quietly, yet urgently; knowingly, but deeply tender; simply, yet profoundly powerful. In its own mysterious way grace comes only in the light of truth, yet never allows the glare of failure to cast a shadow of shame. The stark reality is there must be failure in order for there to be grace.
        As humans, we want to gloss over and ignore sin. It makes us uncomfortable. In our universal brokenness we deny our own and condemn others for theirs, because we're all afraid and hiding. But not grace. Grace acknowledges and accepts. Grace offers invitation, then revelation. Grace offers light, because it was born out of God's eternal light. Only in the light can we be set free.
       Thomas. Didymus. Those were his actual names. That's what he went by, how friends, family, and his community identified him. To us he is known, more often than not, as "doubting Thomas", because somehow adding adjectives makes us feel better.  Not grace. Grace has been known to change names entirely, and it always creates new identities, but it never names us by our failure. Grace calls us by who we can be, who we are becoming, and who we will be, without ever side-stepping why it is needed in the first place.
        Everyone of the disciples there has already seen the Lord. They have already been met by grace in the tumult of their need. But not Thomas. Not yet. They are all gathered together, obviously afraid, as the doors are locked. Thomas is present, but struggling, and likely has been since Jesus was arrested. He can't fit all the pieces together, no matter how hard he tries. Thomas is grieving and probably disillusioned. And yes, he is doubting. Grace isn't afraid of truth. It speaks it without hesitation because it knows that it is truth that sets us free -The Truth, scarred and blood-stained, broken for the truth of our condition.
        Now, to this house, to this broken man Jesus comes. He always comes. Never deterred by locked doors or locked hearts...
"Peace be with you." This is the heart of grace.
"Put your finger here..." This is the invitation of grace.
"See my hands..." This is the revelation of grace.
"Reach out your hand and put it into my side." This is the experience of grace.
"Stop doubting and believe." This is the power of grace.
Grace that calls forth new life.
Grace that gives birth to deep, profound worship.
Grace that leaves Thomas undone, yet miraculously whole.
"My Lord and my God."
For us, like Thomas, there is nothing more to say.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Recognizing The Miracle

"Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him...." Luke 24:31a

        Miracle...Just the word itself conjures up so many emotions - curiosity, anticipation, excitement, awe, even hope. In our heart of hearts we all long to experience the miraculous. We want to see God break through the ordinariness of our lives, swoop in and do something extraordinary and supernatural. We long for him to take special notice of us, of our circumstances, of our need - oh, our bottomless need, and display his intervening power and send his glory down. We want the "unnatural" laws of pain, hurt, loss, poverty, and  disease turned on their heads, just for once, just for us. We want to be "that one", "that person" who has the God-story to tell; the "against all odds" testimony, the story full of "coincidences" with too-amazing-to-believe details that everyone we tell it to knows...knows it was God orchestrating, God intervening, God acting, God performing what we all so desperately long for - a miracle.
        Miracle...that is what the religious elite demanded, what some shrugged away, what the desperate pleaded for, what the humble were surprised by, and what a few outsiders got to experience by the grace of God. All of these had the same need - whether they realized it or not. Only some of these recognized that the miracle was right there in the midst of them. Our human nature cries out for, even demands the spectacular; but what our souls really need is the quiet, already-there miracle, the God With Us miracle. Jesus was the miracle. Jesus is the miracle. He was in their midst: unassuming, humble, ordinary-yet extraordinary. He is in our midst-in the everyday ordinary, which, if we can see it, is the extraordinary.
        Miracle...He is here. He is The Miracle doing the miraculous. We are each, in fact, "that one" with the "against all odds" testimony. We each have our own unique God-story to tell because he has sent his glory down. We need him to open our eyes so we can see him; recognize him in the mundane, in the  grind, in the here-and-now moments where we so desperately want and need a miracle - The Miracle.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Our Hovering God

"...and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters."  Genesis 1:2b

        Our God hovers. We tend not to picture him this way, but it's true. Our magnificent, all-powerful creator God - hovers. He hovers because he sees what we cannot.  He hovers because he knows what we can't possibly know. He hovers because from the very beginning he has been anxious to create and make new - new things, new people. 
        Inherent in hovering is waiting. God, who is perfect in strength and power; God, who created time itself, had to wait by his own design. He hovered for millennia upon millennia waiting until the perfect, mysterious moment when he brought eternity into time. Our loving God hovered over, "overshadowed" a humble, peasant woman - who to the world was nothing and had nothing...she was formless and void. But God saw. He knew. He hovered. And in the mystery brought forth what no man would or could have ever fathomed: Eternal God come in the flesh and bones of man. Fully God. Fully Man. The Broken One who would mend. The Dead One who would rise. The Risen One who reigns. The One who would send his Spirit to hover, to live in, to dwell, to make new.
        Over our brokenness, over our formless, empty lives the Spirit of God is hovering. He is eagerly anticipating, ecstatic at the thought of who we'll be when his infinitely beautiful, creative work is done. He can see it. He knows. We wait, while he hovers. We seek, while he hovers. We groan, while he hovers. We hope, all the while he is hovering - speaking form and fullness into our lives until, at just the right moment time and eternity meet again. 
        Our God hovers. He is eager, yet so very long-suffering, because he sees. Because he knows. Because he is still creating and making new until all things are made brand new.