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

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Gift of Remembrance

"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt.
   Open wide your mouth and I will fill it." Psalm 81:10

        The Lord knows we forget. He understands that at times our memories are short. We get distracted, we get distraught. Worries of this life crowd out what we know is true, and Who we know is faithful. Consistently throughout Scripture, the Lord exhorted his people to set up memorials, and celebrate festivals to remember. Remember Him. Remember what he has done. But in the beauty of his grace, he doesn't just expect us to remember his goodness on our own, he is actively reminding us as well.
        "I am the Lord your God..." He always begins with himself. There is nothing greater, nor a more compelling starting point than this. He establishes his authority and rightful rule, "I am the Lord..." He who created all things, is above all things, in all things, sustains all things and in his very essence is love itself, is sufficient. Even if he never did anything for us, just who he is would be reminder enough. But he doesn't stop with himself. He gets personal. He includes us when he declares, "I am the Lord YOUR God..." He is love and love, by definition, is relational. Love acts. He works. Love intervenes. He pursues. Love fights - and He wins. Love comforts. He carries. Love enters in. He sets free...and he helps us remember.
        "...Who brought you out of Egypt." Our mighty, loving God acted. He delivered. He brought his people out of bondage and offered them the only true place of freedom - life with him. God always reminds us first and foremost who he is because he wants us to trust his heart. Then he brings back to our remembrance what he has done. He gently reminds us what he has delivered us from. "And such were some of you." Slaves to sin. In bondage to the enemy. But God, with the blood of his Son, purchased our freedom, freeing us to live as his treasured possession. Not only have we been redeemed, but we have been granted value and worth in direct proportion to what God paid to redeem us. There is no greater love than this.
        "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it." With these words, born out of his eternal abundance, God offers more. Can there even be more when our infinite God has already given us himself? There are no limits to the gifts and grace of God, because God himself knows no limit. Out of the Infinite pours the extravagant, the boundless, the endless, beyond imagination blessings of God. Not only are we reminded of who God is and what he has done, God throws open the floodgates of mercy - knowing how quickly our memories fade, and reminds us of what he WILL do. He gives assurance that no matter what comes, he is there pouring out grace upon grace, blessing upon blessing out of his eternal supply. In this moment, let us build our own memorial of remembrance within our hearts, and with faith and confidence in who God is, what he has done, and what he promises to do, let us open wide our mouths that the Lord may fill us to overflowing.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Is This the Time?

"I want to know Christ..." Philippians 3:10a

        Suffering. Just the word itself hurts; it weighs heavy and hard. It bears a touch of the infinite, making it feel endless. There is no sugar-coating suffering. It commands our attention and leaves no room for denial. In its relentlessness it offers no mercy, no relief.
        We were promised suffering; assured that trouble will assail us from all sides. It shouldn't catch us by surprise, but it does every time. We gasp for air and try to understand what won't ever make sense. It was a promise. "In this world you will have trouble." And sometimes we get stuck there, in the trouble. We get lost, lose our way. We forget who made the promise along with the rest of his words..."But I have overcome the world."
         Jesus promised trouble. In our weaker moments, that's hard to accept. Just like his disciples kept wondering when the kingdom would be restored, when he would make everything right, we wonder.  We look around in confusion, wanting answers; wanting relief. We keep looking up waiting for the heavens to part and his kingdom to come. We can't help asking along with the disciples, "Is this the time?" But it isn't the time, and his answer to us is the same as it was to his followers, "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority..." Oh, to trust the Father's time while the suffering feels infinite, while the weight bears down, and believe Jesus has overcome the world; that in him we can overcome. And not just overcome, but to know more deeply the one who suffered more than we ever will. Because while we want victory, we want purpose too. We need our hurt and pain to have meaning, for there to be a point to all that cuts so deep.
        "To know Christ..." That is the point. He is the point. Knowing him in a way we otherwise never could is the purpose, and in the end, the privilege. Sometimes we buckle under the weight and burden of our hurt, our eyes grow blurry with tears while we look up and cry, "Is this the time?!" We so badly want the pain to stop. But while it isn't yet time, we know that in the midst of the desolation and unrelenting suffering, He is infinitely worth it all.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Question

"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him.  Mark 10:51

       Bartimaeus, Son of Timaeus. He is named. He belongs to someone, or at least used to. He had a family, a history. But apparently there is no one to care for him any longer. He has no position, no livelihood, no ability to take an active part in the community. He is often in the way of people passing by, an intrusion in the lives of those around him as he daily begs for money so he can eat. Very few want to be bothered by someone else's desperation and endless need. To some it's an affront to their status, to others it creates fear, and to many it is too much of a reminder of their own weakness and need. It makes them all feel vulnerable in ways they try to deny. But, here he is. Day in and day out on the side of the road. Waiting. Listening. Hoping to hear the clinking of coins drop in his cup; likely hearing snide remarks of passers-by.
        There is something about sitting by the side of the road everyday. Even without sight you observe things. You can feel and hear the buzz of conversations and news all around. There had been enough chatter of a "Jesus of Nazareth" that Bartimaeus was aware of who he was, and perhaps had spent many hours sitting in his familiar darkness imagining what it would be like if he ever got to meet Jesus. On this particular day, he got his chance. Jesus walks by with a large crowd following, a large crowd full of the kinds of people Bartimaeus was confronted with everyday - the ones that dismiss him and ignore him. He is desperate to be heard, so he cries out as loudly as he can, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Bartimaeus is declaring a truth that many in the crowd reject - that Jesus is the promised "Son of David". Bartimaeus is used to being humiliated, so when the crowd rebukes him and tries to "put him in his place", he cries out even louder, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" This blind man can see what most in the crowd, with their sight, cannot. He sees his desperate need for mercy and knows Jesus is the only one who can give it. Jesus stops. He calls for Bartimaeus and asks, "What do you want me to do for you?" His answer, "I want to see."
        "I want to see." Isn't that our heart's cry? We are keenly aware of the darkness, of those areas where we so desperately need to be healed. We want light to shine in. We want the sheer brilliance of Christ's presence to dispel the shadows. Like Job, we have heard of him, now we want to see. We want to see Him. We believe Jesus is who he says he is. We know he is our only hope. Yet, at times we sit by the side of the road waiting, listening; lost in our familiar darkness. All the while we could throw aside our cloak and come to Jesus who is already here gently asking us the same question he asked Bartimaeus, "What do you want me to do for you?" There is no other answer worth giving or equal to our need than, "I want to see. I want to see You!" And therein lies our healing.  

Friday, January 9, 2015


"She...has given everything she has."  Luke 21:4

        There is no hint in Scripture that the widow knew she was being observed as she dropped the two copper coins into the offering box with her work-worn hands. It wasn't the first time she had made her way to the Temple to give an offering and surely wasn't the last. Each and every time God had watched, and all along he had seen her heart. But this time her God was there in the flesh - Jesus, taking notice and making others take notice, without the widow ever knowing. And Jesus wants us to take notice of this snapshot moment captured by him and projected for all the world to see through his Word.
        A widow. Alone. Poor. Not much to live on, much less to give away. Yet her heart is rich with love and devotion to God, and it finds its extravagant expression through her lack. It wasn't coins she was really giving. She was, at the heart level, giving all of herself to God. Jesus, having seen her all along, cries out to his followers on this day, at this moment,  "That's love. That's faith. That's trust. That's what my people do! That's what I am calling you to. That's what I'm doing for you - giving my all!" He came in poverty for relationship, was going to die for love and wanted everyone to see through the beauty of this widow what religion could never be and the religious never do. Love. Extravagantly.
        A widow. Alone. Poor. Not much to live on, much less to give away. Yet her heart was humble and kneeled to God. No one saw her, really saw her. She likely moved throughout her days within the close-knit community with the pity of the people, perhaps given a nod and a smile, but no status, no favor. But all the while, unseen, was the favor of God welling up, waiting to overflow the day Jesus is there in the Temple observing. She was so oblivious to her own self she didn't notice anyone watching. She came, she gave, she turned to leave. But she was seen. Really seen. Deep down beneath the surface seen. Jesus looks deep. He sees underneath. He gazes below to the humble heart kneeled down and lifts her up. "Humble yourselves under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time." Jesus lifted her up, not just to those there with him that day, but to us all. She was lifted up in due time, in a way that honored her heart and let her be truly seen. We don't have her name, but we have her story, because it is meant to be our story too.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Let the Children Come

Let the children come
...I came as one of these

Let the children come
...Their tender hearts reflect my own

Let the children come
...I came for ones like these

Do not hinder them
...For like them you must become

For the Kingdom of God Belongs to Such as These
...I came as a child
...I obeyed as a son
...I was led like a lamb
...I gave up my life
...I was raised up in power
...I was given all authority
...I am seated on the throne
...I rule because I became like one of these

Let the little children come and do not hinder them,
For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.