Sighs and Cries

Just as parents attuned to their children’s suffering or worrying hear the slightest sighs as if through a mega-phone, the Lord hears our earnest sighs as loud cries.

I’ll never forget hearing our first child whimpering in the bassinet by our bed and thinking it sounded like shrieks that were nearly unbearable. Even now that we have three more autonomous grade-schoolers, I still have the ability to hear the slightest sigh of worry or embarrassment or deep, shaking fear from the sidelines of a soccer field or across a crowded playground.

Thankfully, our Heavenly Father hears our sighs as cries across far greater distances than soccer fields and lunch tables.  Thanks to the indwelling Spirit He has graciously sent to be nearer to us than the air we breath, we have a sigh translator before the throne of God.

Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27.

The context of the above-mentioned Scripture from Romans 8 is life in the Spirit while we live on this moaning, broken planet, longing for the full adoption as sons.  Paul assumes suffering in its spectrum from daily inconveniences and exhaustion to unbearable diagnoses and unimaginable tragedy.  Sighs, both trivial and tragic, are expected and anticipated; however, they are heard in stereo by a compassionate and caring Savior who longs to bear the brunt of the weights that fall upon us in this long march to our forever home.

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Even before the Holy Spirit was poured our upon the children of God, He was accustomed to hearing the sighs of His people as cries. Moses found himself at the helm of an entire race of escaping people staring at an impassable sea with the strongest army in the known world gaining on them.

With his petrified people looking to him in fear, outwardly Moses does what any great leader would do: he composes himself and calms his people, saying, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord which he will work for you today” (Exodus 12:13).

Yet inwardly, the heart of Moses must have sighing in silence to the Lord. The very next verse says, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward’.”

Regarding this Scriptural scene, Martin Luther writes the following.

“Moses has not cried unto the Lord. He trembled so he could hardly talk. His faith was at a low ebb. He saw the people of Israel wedged between the sea and the approaching armies of Pharaoh. How were they to escape? Moses did not know what to say. How then could God say that Moses was crying to him? God hears the groaning heart of Moses and the groans to Him sounded like shouts for help. God is quick to catch the sigh of the heart.” 

Ten little words that have comforted my soul of late. God is quick to catch the sigh of the heart. He hears our silent sighs under the heavy mantle of leadership or parenting. He hears our short sighs of loneliness or exhaustion or choking grief that go unnoticed by others, and He seeks to comfort us.

Those sighs are being translated into prayers according to the perfect will of God. May we be comforted to know that our Father hears our slightest sighs as loud cries. He will continue to do so until our sighs of worry or pain or exile are swallowed up by the sighs of relief that we will gladly heave when we see our Christ fact to face in His new heavens and new earth.

Love’s Lonely Offices

E.B. White wrote that “A poet is a person who ‘lets drop a line that gets remembered in the morning’.”

In his poem Those Winter Sundays, Robert Hayden dropped such a line, and it has been stuck in my head like the thread of a spiderweb.

Those Winter Sundays

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueback cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires ablaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house.

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

The last two lines have been playing on repeat in my mind for over a week. What do I know of love’s austere and lonely offices?

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As I continue to step further into parenting, as I watch my mother-in-law care for her sick husband, as I wade into a new Church leadership role, I continue to notice more of love’s lonely offices.

Waking up at odd hours of the night to spend an hour getting her husband out of bed and to the toilet and back, my Amma knows austere and lonely offices well. She has opened my eyes to the quiet faith and uncelebrated fortitude of caregivers to the aging and sick.

Being around our church more, I see the pastoral leadership team bearing the weight of the congregation’s needs and sufferings. I have an inside vantage point to the wrestling in prayer and planning that happen behind the scenes on a daily basis, another window into love’s lonely offices.

Watching friends serving the foster care system set up visitations and caring for children that are not theirs. Love’s austere and lonely offices.

A smaller example, yet significant in its own little way: I spent time writing notes in my boy’s notebooks for school only to be told, tenderly, but still painfully, “Yeah, I saw that. All those notes always say the same thing.” A little example of love’s little yet lonely offices.

The world is full of austere and lonely offices, but they are all glimpses of the Love’s most austere and lonely office, the office of Christ.

In the poem, the image of the father waking with tired and blistered hands to stoke the fires of warmth for his son are both moving and memorable. Yet, the image of the Creator God sending His beloved, dear Son-self into the hatred and hardness of our broken globe trumps the former image.

The image of Christ in the garden, laying with His face to the ground, in agony while His closest friends slept. Love’s austere and lonely office.

The image of Christ lifted on a Cross, perfection pounded by imperfection’s penalty, forgiving the offenders. Love’s most austere and lonely office.

In an eternal string of days, our Christ sets the table, serves His children, offering them the meal of Himself, his body broken on our behalf that we would be made whole. Often, the meal is skipped, if not scorned. Yet Christ faithfully serves in His austere and lonely office.

What a joy to know that as we go about our own nuanced versions of love’s austere and lonely offices, followers of Christ are not alone.  Far from alone, Christ’s brothers and sisters are empowered and enabled by the Spirit and strength from His lifetime of love’s lonely offices.

The Father’s sending, Christ’s sacrifice and the Spirit’s closer-than-the-air nearness transform our lonely offices into lovely offices, chances to join the Trinity in an eternal office of love.

 

 

 

 

Helpless and Full of Hope

The people at Home Depot probably thought I was crazy. I stood staring at a wall of bits, unsure what I was supposed to buy (In our household, sending me to Home Depot is like sending my husband to the grocery for feminine products; always a lose/lose). Other customers must have thought I was far too attached to my need for a 1-1/2″ bit as tears were pooling in my tired eyes.

I wasn’t crying because I couldn’t find the small metal tool, but they didn’t know that. I was crying in sheer helplessness. My feelings of helplessness from the disasters and the sudden tragedies of loved ones were all mounting like stacking blocks. They had to crash eventually.

A precious lady I led in a discipleship group many years back lost her twenty-something brother when he was struck by lightning last week. Horrific, yet the family is clinging to hope in the Lord.

My Appa’s heath continues to decline, and as such, we find ourselves hundreds upon hundreds of miles away from his bedside and the errands that would serve my Amma.

My sister and her husband live in Beaumont with her wild gaggle of boys, which only increases my sense of utter helplessness as I watch the news of raging waters and torrential rains.

The people in Home Depot did not know that my tears were not attached to their products or lack thereof, they were attached to a deep well of helplessness peppered with eternal hope that all will be made well.

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I see the same fear in my four year old’s eyes when he catches short, interpreted glimpses at the images of Harvey’s havoc. Just last night, he popped out of bed with a slew of questions and ideas. How do they get to the boats? What if you don’t have a boat? What about their stuff? Does California ever flood? What about my Legos? Are the dogs scared?

His precious brain, wild with wonder and trust, trying to make sense of pain and devastation. He innately knows that these things should not be, yet they are.

I see myself in him, I see humanity in him trying to make sense of the brokenness, trying to find explanation and categories in which to put the helplessness.

We don’t need help with helplessness, we need help with hope.

Goethe once quipped, “Tell me of your certainties, I have doubts enough of my own.”

All week, as my doubts have assaulted me, I have borrowed from Anne Bradstreet’s certainty, as penned in Upon the Burning of our House (penned after losing everything to a fire in 1666).

In silent night when rest I took,
For sorrow near I did not look,
I wakened was with thund’ring noise
And piteous shrieks of dreadful voice.
That fearful sound of “fire” and “fire,”
Let no man know is my Desire.

I, starting up, the light did spy,
And to my God my heart did cry
To straighten me in my Distress
And not to leave me succourless.
Then, coming out, behold a space
The flame consume my dwelling place.

And when I could no longer look,
I blest His name that gave and took,
That laid my goods now in the dust.
Yea, so it was, and so ‘twas just.
It was his own, it was not mine,
Far be it that I should repine;….

Here stood that trunk, and there that chest,
There lay that store I counted best.
My pleasant things in ashes lie
And them behold no more shall I.
Under thy roof no guest shall sit,
Nor at thy Table eat a bit…

Then straight I ‘gin my heart to chide,
And did thy wealth on earth abide?
Didst fix thy hope on mould’ring dust?
The arm of flesh didst make thy trust?
Raise up thy thoughts above the sky
That dunghill mists away may fly.

Thou hast a house on high erect
Framed by that mighty Architect,
With glory richly furnished,
Stands permanent though this be fled.
It‘s purchased and paid for too
By Him who hath enough to do.

A price so vast as is unknown,
Yet by His gift is made thine own;
There‘s wealth enough, I need no more,
Farewell, my pelf, farewell, my store.
The world no longer let me love,
My hope and treasure lies above.

While no houses are burning, many are resting in standing water. My prayer has been and will continue to be that those affected would be pointed to the certainties of the Christian faith, which provides a framework for such terrible pain and offers the One true hope for which we all deeply long.

 

 

A Quiet Courage

When I think of courage, images of Navy Seals on covert missions come immediately to mind; however, the Apostle Paul wrote about a much broader and more encompassing scope of courage.

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The Biblical concept of courage includes unsung humans doing ordinary things out of an extraordinary longing and hope. Thinking through this lens, rather than the Hollywood version, I am beginning to see faces and places of quiet courage all around me. My dear friend raising her four children alone while her husband is deployed and my widowed friends facing life without their lifelong partners live in quiet courage. Likewise, my mom friends who are letting their hard-earned diplomas serve as coasters for a series of sippy cups and my husband’s friends who come home from hard days at work and choose to invest in the lives of their children and youngest men are deeply courageous.

Allow me to unpack and explain.

In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul writes about living in burdened, bruised bodies in a broken world as exiles.  In this particular part of his second letter to the Corinthian church, he juxtaposes temporary residence in a tent with permanent and secure residence in a home to remind the fledgling Church of their ultimate end. We were made for glorified bodies in the presence of our Glorious Lord, not the tattered bodies and lives we inhabit while we await Christ’s second coming.

Because they were made for more than this earth, Paul reminds them that their longings will betray them every time they attempt to make the raw-hide tent anything more than that. Paul, who kept up tent-making as a side hustle when ministry support ran low, knew much about tents and had blistered his hands in their production. He, more than anyone, knew of their weaknesses and limitations as compared to a strong edifice that could not be loosened or torn.

As such, Paul draws a picture of stability and security in the Lord’s presence in bodies meant to keep, pulling the heads of the Corinthian believers back up from the grind of life on earth to their glorious inheritance as saints.

Having fixed their longings and gaze back upon the life to come, Paul ushers in the word and concept of courage.

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him. 2 Corinthians 5:6-9. NAS.

Paul’s context for courage is not limited to the battlefield or sky-diving, but extends to the everyday life of the common Christian. He told the Church then and still tells the Church now that living by faith rather than sight takes great courage. The Christians mode of operation and motto, faith over form, runs counter to that of the world in which we live.

The Greek word tharseo, translated courage, used twice above comes from a root word meaning “bolstered because warmed up,” “strengthened from within.”

The image embedded in this word, being warmed up, softened and stirred to courage, helps me understand how to stay courageous in my common life. I will not be able to courageously live by faith, choosing to forego instant gratification and creature comforts in light of eternal satisfaction with the Lord of all comforts, unless my hearts stays warm and bolstered by the fires of His great love.

The more I sit by the warming love of the Cross, the most obvious representation of His life and promises, the more my heart will be bolstered for the battle that is daily and consistently fighting to walk by faith rather than sight.

It will take a life of settled security in the love of Christ to live the life of quiet courage required of Christians while they live in torn tents, awaiting an eternal edifice.

May we warm ourselves early and often at the hearth of the heart of Christ; may we invite others and even go so far as to labor to bring others to the hearth. May we bolster each other to continue to live lives of quiet courage until we are at home with the Lord.

On School Supplies and the Spirit

My husband came home thinking it was a normal evening. It only took one look at the countertops littered with school supplies to know that he was wrong. The school supply muse hits me suddenly, roughly about a month or two before we are even nearing the home stretch of summer.

Label-maker in hand my son stood beside me carefully printing and peeling scores of neat and tidy labels to be delicately placed on each sharpened, Ticonderoga pencil and Pink Pearl eraser. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Now we have had three pregnant book bags stuffed to the brim hanging on our hooks, gathering dust. My husband knows I am weird; he doesn’t understand me, but he embraces the mystery.

Their bags are neatly packed and ready months before our hearts are ready for the change of routine. There is something about having everything they will need and a few extras at home for replenishment that settles this momma’s heart.

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The jarring reality of sending these souls with whom my soul is most at home out into an unknown school year with unknown challenges is somewhat mitigated knowing I am sending them with well-packed, love-laden book bags.

Every year, after the whirlwind of label making and crayon counting, my soul realizes in a fresh way the incredible gift that is Jesus’ supply of the Holy Spirit to His children.

Far more than a bag of inanimate objects or tools, God saw fit and had planned from before time took its first tick to supply His children with His indwelling Spirit. The Holy Spirit shows up in the Old Testament in the Book of Beginnings, hovering over the created world, protecting and preserving. He came upon and inspired various prophets, priests and kings in intermittent yet powerful ways. Yet, as William Barclay succinctly writes, “In the Old Testament…the experience of the Spirit is not an experience for the common man or for the every day.”

When Christ shared a last meal with His young and inexperienced group of fishermen-turned-itinerant preachers, He already had their book bags packed. He would be leaving them for far more than a six-hour school day, and He knew exactly what the future would hold for His disciples.

They were petrified at the thought of His leaving, but He reassured them that it was indeed better that He leave them. He knew the Supply of the Spirit He would offer to them following His Resurrection (John 14). They would have all that they would need and more than their Jewish minds could have ever imagined.

Never in their wildest dreams could the disciples have imagined that the Spirit of God who came upon the celebrated prophets occasionally would come to make His home in each of them constantly.  And He does the same for us. This truth should shock us, should shake us and support us.

The Holy Spirit is, indeed, person, not a thing or an energy or a power. Better than a book bag of gadgets or maps or money or elixirs, God supplies His children with His own constant presence and power within.

Yet, so many of us know so little of His comfort, conviction, reminders and power. We try to live the Christian life with our own meager supplies and from our own paltry power.  And we wonder why we are joyless, hopeless, disappointed and disillusioned far more than we care to admit.

When I pass by the boys’ fully-prepared book bags daily, I am reminded that God has fully-prepared me for the coming year through His Spirit.

You and I do not know what the year ahead holds; we don’t even know what tomorrow or the next ten minutes hold. Yet, we have an infinitely good Father who gave His perfect Son who gave His Holy Spirit to supply us with all we will ever need to get home to Him. Better than a stuffed book bag, God has seen fit to stuff our limited and broken souls full of the Third person of the Trinity.

With Him, we can march confidently into the unknown year, smiling at the future (Proverbs 31: 25).

 

 

 

 

 

Led by a Thread

Most of the images of leading in the Scriptures involve stubborn, stiff-necked animals having to be forcefully moved because of their stubbornness and ignorance.

Goads. Bit and bridle. Chastisement. It seems human hearts are hard to lead. I know mine most certainly is; yet God offers us a better way.

He longs to put away the bridles and the sharp objects that push us along into His ways; He longs that we would be so accustomed to His voice, His character and the paths He frequents that we might be led by a thread.

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Stubborn Means for Stubborn Hearts

In the Old Testament, Hosea powerfully compares the constant rebellion of the senseless and stubborn nation of Israel to an untrained, unwilling heifer.  Jeremiah similarly depicts God’s people as an untrained calf, needing to be moved by the strong chastisement and discipline of a Babylonian invasion and exile.

David similarly warns us in Psalm 32, saying, “Be not like a horse or mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle or it will not stay near you.”

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul uses such imagery while sharing his conversion story with Agrippa in Acts 26. Paul recounts how he heard the Lord say in the Hebrew language, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

It seems God reverts to using stubborn means for our stubborn hearts. Like a parent who has gently instructed and guided a child to obey only to be met with strong resistance and refusal, God lovingly used force in the form of pain, invasion, natural and unnatural consequences to teach His unwilling people.

As soon as His people repented, He relented.  He longed for their softened hearts, finally stilled enough to listen to Him, being wearied of the consequences of their rebellion.  Even as the Lord was prophesying the invasion of Babylon and the coming exile of God’s people through Jeremiah, we see a window into the heart behind the stubborn means.

Thus says the Lord: 
“The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness 
When Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away. 
I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Again I will rebuild you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel. 
Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.” Jeremiah 31:2-4.

A Subtle Leading for Submissive Hearts

While it is strangely comforting to know that God will love us with by administering uncomfortable discipline, the goal is that we would increasingly become those led by a thread.

God longs that we wouldn’t have to be yanked and cajoled to follow Him. He would much rather we be receptive children with hearts so attuned to our Savior and the leading of the Spirit that a simple look, a gentle word of reminder or a subtle nudge would be enough.

To be led by a thread, we must know our Savior well, linger long on and in His words, spend time with Him early and often. It took years for me to know my husband well enough to be able to tell from a glance or body language or a squeeze or a slight chance of tone what He is communicating.  But the longer we have lived together and studied one another, the more accustomed we have become to one another. In much the same way, through the spiritual disciplines and cumulative hours spent together, we can begin to learn the Lord.

A puppy must be trained to sit and stay, and training can be monotonous and uncomfortable; yet, a well-trained puppy becomes a faithful dog able to walk loyally by the side of His master without leash or enticement. The presence and pleasure of His master is enough for him.

If you are like me, you are more accustomed to being led by the yank of the bit and the poke of goad than by a gentle tug on a thread. However, there is great hope that as remain under His training, our spirits will become less stubborn and more submitted.

May we gaze upon the One who did not have to be goaded to the Cross, but set His face like flint and resolved to move toward His death at Golgotha. As we do, He will make us more receptive to the Spirit who gently leads us through the Word to Christ.

Oh, Father, train our stubborn hearts; make us increasingly accustomed to walking by Your side, in step with Your Spirit. May we become those who are led by a thread, as was your perfect Son, our Savior.  Amen.

 

 

Led by a Thread

Most of the images of leading in the Scriptures involve stubborn, stiff-necked animals having to be forcefully moved because of their stubbornness and ignorance.

Goads. Bit and bridle. Chastisement. It seems human hearts are hard to lead. I know mine most certainly is; yet God offers us a better way.

He longs to put away the bridles and the sharp objects that push us along into His ways; He longs that we would be so accustomed to His voice, His character and the paths He frequents that we might be led by a thread.

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Stubborn Means for Stubborn Hearts

In the Old Testament, Hosea powerfully compares the constant rebellion of the senseless and stubborn nation of Israel to an untrained, unwilling heifer.  Jeremiah similarly depicts God’s people as an untrained calf, needing to be moved by the strong chastisement and discipline of a Babylonian invasion and exile.

David similarly warns us in Psalm 32, saying, “Be not like a horse or mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle or it will not stay near you.”

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul uses such imagery while sharing his conversion story with Agrippa in Acts 26. Paul recounts how he heard the Lord say in the Hebrew language, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

It seems God reverts to using stubborn means for our stubborn hearts. Like a parent who has gently instructed and guided a child to obey only to be met with strong resistance and refusal, God lovingly used force in the form of pain, invasion, natural and unnatural consequences to teach His unwilling people.

As soon as His people repented, He relented.  He longed for their softened hearts, finally stilled enough to listen to Him, being wearied of the consequences of their rebellion.  Even as the Lord was prophesying the invasion of Babylon and the coming exile of God’s people through Jeremiah, we see a window into the heart behind the stubborn means.

Thus says the Lord: 
“The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness 
When Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away. 
I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Again I will rebuild you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel. 
Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.” Jeremiah 31:2-4.

A Subtle Leading for Submissive Hearts

While it is strangely comforting to know that God will love us with by administering uncomfortable discipline, the goal is that we would increasingly become those led by a thread.

God longs that we wouldn’t have to be yanked and cajoled to follow Him. He would much rather we be receptive children with hearts so attuned to our Savior and the leading of the Spirit that a simple look, a gentle word of reminder or a subtle nudge would be enough.

To be led by a thread, we must know our Savior well, linger long on and in His words, spend time with Him early and often. It took years for me to know my husband well enough to be able to tell from a glance or body language or a squeeze or a slight chance of tone what He is communicating.  But the longer we have lived together and studied one another, the more accustomed we have become to one another. In much the same way, through the spiritual disciplines and cumulative hours spent together, we can begin to learn the Lord.

A puppy must be trained to sit and stay, and training can be monotonous and uncomfortable; yet, a well-trained puppy becomes a faithful dog able to walk loyally by the side of His master without leash or enticement. The presence and pleasure of His master is enough for him.

If you are like me, you are more accustomed to being led by the yank of the bit and the poke of goad than by a gentle tug on a thread. However, there is great hope that as remain under His training, our spirits will become less stubborn and more submitted.

May we gaze upon the One who did not have to be goaded to the Cross, but set His face like flint and resolved to move toward His death at Golgotha. As we do, He will make us more receptive to the Spirit who gently leads us through the Word to Christ.

Oh, Father, train our stubborn hearts; make us increasingly accustomed to walking by Your side, in step with Your Spirit. May we become those who are led by a thread, as was your perfect Son, our Savior.  Amen.

 

 

In Barreness or Bounty: Micah 7

Places have power, especially deeply personal places. There are certain spaces and places that evoke deep emotions for each of us.

To others, a childhood home, a favorite tree or a frequented restaurant may appear to be nothing more any other house, shrub or eatery.  However, as we all know, the commonest of people, places and things take on uncommon meaning when they are ours.

In much the same way, certain Scriptures evoke deep and layered memories and meanings to those who have camped long and often in their locale. My soul has favorite nests and sitting spots, places where I could sit for hours recounting my fears and His faithfulnesses, my tears and His taming presence.

Strangely enough, Micah 7 is one of my soul’s favorite campsites. Even just hearing the reference, my heart beats more quickly, my lungs breathe out a little more deeply.  Different pruning seasons in my life, seasons of depression and deep anxiety parade before my memory, escorted by the Lord who brought me bravely out of each season.

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It seems a strange campsite to frequent, with its images of woe and weariness, famine and fallow fields. Micah imagines himself a picked over field, all stripped and sapped of its fruitfulness. As one who has lived in the South and seen the quick transformation of a cotton field from a white, fluffy field of life to a barren field of sick sticks, the picture deeply resonates with me.

Woe is me! For I have become as when the summer fruit has been gathered, as when the grapes have been gleaned; there is no cluster to eat, no first-ripe figs that my soul desires. Micah 7:1.

For all its melancholy, Micah 7 is a field of a hope. I love Micah’s stubbornness and his desire to sit right there, in the middle of a barren and picked over place, waiting for God to come back, brining the life that always accompanies His presence.

But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Rejoice not over me, O my enemy, when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against Him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgement for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon His vindication. Micah 7:7-9. 

I love Micah’s seasoned confidence, his cries of defiance to anyone who would say he and his field were abandoned. It is as if Micah says, “Think what you will; let my field and I appear to you as they may. My God is committed to me and my field, despite all of our failings and foibles, we are His. He will do what He always does. He will make this field fruitful. I need only sit here and cry out to Him.”

For those of you who find themselves sitting alone in barren fields, may Micah give you hope in the Lord. Jesus, the one who visited the barren earth all broken and ravaged by our sin, was planted on an instrument in death. From that Cross as epicenter, life has been rippling out ever since.

I wrote this poem as a poetic version of Micah 7, one of my soul’s most storied spaces in the Scriptures.

Micah’s Prayer

When the first ripe figs
Lay crushed and rotten,
My sad, starving soul
You’ve not forgotten.

When once fruitful fields
Sit eerily fallow
New depths of soul
You’ll grow and hallow.

When once fertile ground
Hardens like steel,
Your comforting presence
I’ll increasingly feel.

Feverish and fig-less,
I’ll sit down right here.
You’ve sworn in due time
Again You’ll draw near.

Let passerbys laugh
And enemies deride,
For my God shall arise
And return to my side.

Baskets of bounty
With Him He’ll bring.
Then this tired soul
In worship shall sing.

Lord of the Harvest,
In drought I’ll wait,
Knowing You’ll come
Not a moment too late.

Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus!

An Anchor & A Buoy

An anchor and a buoy could not be more opposite in their purpose. One is meant to weigh down and hold something fast while the other is meant to lighten and to lift. One increases gravity, one increases levity. The gospel, in its infinite scope and mystery, is both. No wonder when speaking about the […]

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A Mid-summer Day’s Confession

Mid-summer checkpoint: We have done the beach and the bay and the lazy mornings. We have stayed up late and eaten more popsicles. On the outside, all is well, but my soul has not been well.

Through self-pity and comparison, which have been on a low, silent simmer for a few weeks now, I have allowed sin to insidiously seep into our summer.

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Rather than be filled with joy for my friends, I have envied them their exotic vacations and neighborhood pools. I have bought the lies of picture perfection yet again without realizing it, imagining that there are no sibling spats and errant attitudes in your homes. As such, I have felt ashamed at my own irritability with my dear but far-from-perfect children. Rather than confess it quickly, I have heaped on “What’s wrong with me and them?” shame.

I have allowed the combination of lower structure and higher time with my crew to distort my vision of my children. Rather than seeing their strengths and wise choices, I have had a magnifying glass on their weaknesses. This distorted vision starts with the way I wrongly imagine God views me.

Somehow this summer, I have slowly forgotten that Our Heavenly Father doesn’t wear sin-magnifying shades, but looks upon us through the lenses of love He has for His perfect Son.

In the midst of trying to find a perfect formula for lowering screen time and raising reading, decreasing grumpiness and heightening fun, I have minimized His grace and maximized my contribution. As such, by mid-summer, I have come to the end of my own small storerooms of patience, peace and joy. Thankfully, He has silos upon silos of these commodities to offer me when I come to Him in repentance and rest.

In the likely event that there exists another introverted momma who craves structure and alone time and has wearied herself trying to create a memorable summer for her chilren on a tight budget without air conditioning, I would love to lead us through Psalm 32.

Psalm 32 is a well-worn trail through the narrow places confession to the broad spaces of comfort and consolation at the Cross. David deeply loved God but was not immune to seasonal sin patterns; throughout his life, he got tripped up in the same way, as seen in the repeated introduction to his slippery slopes, “In the spring when the kings went off to war, David…” (2 Samuel 11:1; 1 Chronicles 20:1).

David’s feet knew ruts of unrighteousness but they also learned ruts of righteousness through repentance, Psalm 32 being one of those paths that lead us to Christ.

Blessed is the one whose trangression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. …I acknowledged my sin to you and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgression to the Lord and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”….Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found.
Psalm 32:1 & 5-6.

It is not a lack of sin that separates the godly from the ungodly; rather, it is the acknowledgement, uncovering and confession of sin that delineate the two. Both groups struggle with a chronic sin-sickness, but only the godly drag that struggle into the shadow of the Cross.

I am not surprised by my sin, but I am continually shocked at how long it takes me to honestly call it sin and bring myself exposed to God through Christ. When I come to Him in such naked vulnerability, He quickly covers me in His abundant blankets of forgiveness and grace.

When, and only when, I am warmed by His grace, I am able to offer forgiveness and warmth to my children and those in my flock.

After dumping the slow buildup of summer’s sin at the Cross, I am ready to face the rest of the summer in His strength rather than my own. While cirucmstances may not have changed and our scenery will likely not change, my heart is changed and renewed by a fresh reapplication of His grace. We mommas know sunscreen has to be reapplied double-time in the summer; may we know that the same is true of God’s undeserved grace.