Puckered up

Energy turned inward turns sour.

A relaxed grip

A look outward

Expended on these in my care

And all that wasted tension

Softens

Morphs

Spreads as something useful and

Warms outward in healing waves.

Love is an avalanche of healing fortitude.

A mountain

An ocean

A steppe

A fjord

A forest.

Life’s entire ecosystem.

Not a locked up tension-puckered-toothless-soured littleton.

It’s vista?

Always breathtaking and

Further than the eye can see.

No cheap, temporary, quarter-paid-for-a-limited-view from some man made platform.

Every crevice, ultimate horizon, expansive silence and thundering roiling

Is love’s claim.

Bringing belonging,

Springing forth,

Love changes everything.

All that’s worthy responsively?

Praise and thanks and glory remembered,

Celebrated, savored, taken in and poured back out.

Dear, dear Jesus. All and every smallness and bigness. Deeds done and undone… To You, my Lord. All offerings to You. Praise!

“Send forth your light and your truth,

let them guide me…

Then will I go to the altar of God,

to God, my joy and my delight…

Why are you downcast, O my soul?

Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God…”

(Psalm 43:3a, 4a, 5a)

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A Soul’s Dawn

Those expansive desolate saturated monoculture February fields
Might tempt me towards gray and soggy.

That dissonant electric guitar wail

Could draw me closer to fear or discomfort or distrust.

But I know what’s above the clouds and beneath the surface.

There’s plenty of evidence of what’s not seen too.

A smidgen of belief catalyzes right vision: no airplane’s needed to remind me of light’s sunshiney warming horizon-presence.

Some remembrance goggles is all.

Seeing through a glass darkly

Isn’t the only way to see.

A day’s heaviness of soul

Can break to light.

“I can feel it/Comin’ back again” a fitting and timely song confession cry just now for

Grace’s scandalous help and palpable presence.

Suddenly all this light amidst all this gray

Lights up everything

And I’m reawakened and

Woken to glory.

Glory’s in every song

Every word

Every breath

Every thought and I’m

Opened up to the pleasure and profundity and nothing’s-left-untouch-ed-ness of Love:

I’m right saturated.

A soul’s dawn

Testimony to Life given and repentance honored.

Your condescension is Your glory, and unexpectedly, remarkably, wonderingly, my benefit, Lord.

What a wonder that simply admitting wrong, desiring better, discontent with wasted time, resources, self is enough to turn it all upside down and back to glorious where before there was just muck and gray and a slough of despond.

What a wonder that forgiveness looks more like liberation than penance.

That turning toward the light – even when it’s not in plain sight – is enough to dispel the dark.
And that repenting – literally “turning away from” – what’s wrong is all that’s needed to turn toward that light.

That the remedy that ushers in the right comes from a willingness to face where one’s wrong.

What a blessing to serve a God Who’s much more interested in (my) redemption than (my) wretchedness.

What a joy that He gives 2nd, billionth, zillionth chances to turn toward Him and that He honors such turning every. Single. Time.

Hallelujah that the prodigal son is me and the welcoming forgiving father is Him, and it’s all real and better than I could have imagined. That I’m not just in story, but the story because it’s His story, and wonder of wonders He invites me into it.
What an opportunity to get to live into love’s inheritance and come into “love’s discovery” as the Indigo Girls sing it.
Husband’s air guitar and

Happy belting “free fallin'” and

Radio crooning and on the way to grocery shopping in all this gray early February day and who knew it could all be alight with wonder?

Who knew that yesterday’s despair could be today’s joy?

Ah, love. You’ll always surprise, won’t you?

You’re the God of the new and the old, the tiny and the magnanimous, the God of the unexpected, the grays, the rainbows, and the everything in between.

You’re in the mud puddles and the pure waters and the failures and the successes.

Thank You. Thank You for being available and awesome and impossibly huge and big enough to come down to the tiny. And thank You that Your coming down enlarges rather than shrinks power and purpose and love and goodness.

I’m smiling and almost overwhelmed with the goodness and the happiness of being back in my Lord’s sight.

Thank You, repentance. Thank You, redemption.

Thank You, Lord, for these, for You, for LOVE… In all Your parts and effects.a

Careful

In reading James 4 this morning, it occurred to me why to do lists are so troublesome. As soon as words are put to paper there is a permanence given to what may otherwise have floated off into forgotten oblivion. I grab on to one of the floating possibilities for how to shape time and in writing it out I also “nail it down” (picture what that phrase refers to) into something concrete. The trouble is, what comes with that is an illusion of control over what will be. A low grade anxiety may even result if I don’t do that which I asserted should be done. And certainly, sometimes there are some things that need to be done, reminders of needful things. But there is something binding about the written word. Maybe that’s why it’s so important. It’s one thing to put words to our experience. It’s another thing entirely to put the right ones to it. Every time my eye falls on what’s been written – and undone – it gives the illusion that there’s something I ought do and this may very well trip me up into a potentially misled pursuit. As ever, the only reliable plan in checking our actions is returning/inviting/placing all said action before the only One who knows what’s best and Who, mercifully, miraculously, is willing to pass on such knowledge to us. If offering that to do list/what we are to do is preceded with “if it is the Lord’s will, we [I] will do this or that.” (James 4:15), we ask Him and submit to Him first, before proceeding. We wait in quiet expectation and slow in the humbling knowledge that we don’t know any of what is before us, but He does and will give guidance (perfect at that) to our steps. Incidentally, praying before writing to do lists – or anything for that matter – safeguards us from many potential missteps. Incredible that He will bother with the likes of us.
And I don’t know how this fits, but verse 17 feels like a warning this morning: “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought do and doesn’t do it, sins.” God help us, please.

Taste and See

Nudges and Glimpses of ebullient quality,

Encroaching, hurting troubles

Serve up all their own

Flavors of glory.

Center You and

Reoriented, reminded, returned me and I’m (blessedly) back to

Positionally sound.

You:

Filler of spaces

Piercer of light and dark places

Present. Here.

Sweet, bitter, salty, sour

Regardless of how all this may taste

You nourish.

Seeing, willing vessels

You nourish

In spite of

In light of

In love of.

Oh, You,

Author of glory,

Glory-sharer.

All of me – all of us?

Taste and See.

Value, continued

“The whole concept of the Imago Dei…the ‘Image of God’ is the idea that all men have something within them that God injected…This gives him a uniqueness, it gives him worth, it gives him dignity.
And we must never forget this…there are no gradations in the Image of God. Every man from a treble white to a bass black is significant on God’s keyboard, precisely because every man is made in the Image of God. One day we will learn that.
We will know one day that God made us to live together as brothers and to respect the dignity and worth of every man.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

An Ocean

It might sound cliche, simplistic,

Pseudo-poetic

But – and I know I’m not supposed to swear –

But I swear it was real –

There was an ocean and 

It was in me and around me and with and in spite of and in comfort of.

So much water and moving waves that it was

An endless surface and me tiny upon it.

The ocean – 

I just got to be there with it, on it, in it.

An ocean – but no scary – and

It all rose and fell in a landscape of clean.

I was alone – in a way – but also held

Amidst this continuous, absolute, consumptive presence

Not my own.

Weeping, 

Love

(That I don’t deserve) 

Pours out and over my vessel’s rim.

I offer nothing but

Ears to hear

Eyes to see

Asking through belief and

(Sometimes out of desperation and by tenacious, teeth-gritted faith:

Also gifts, these)

Gifts of grace

He shares a whole ocean of love.

I am absorbed, carried, cleansed, filled

To overflowing.

Offering nothing, 

Grateful, overjoyed, so pleased to be HIS.

What else is there?

Where else would be better to be 

Than submerged, cleaned, carried on a whole ocean of love?

Thank You and 

Glory!

Value

Desperately trying to make right yesterdays’s lack of motivation and hence the resulting lack of real or meaningful work accomplished because of it, I started writing in my journal this morning about value. I felt guilty over yesterday’s ineffectiveness (and yet, how do I even know whether or not I’ve been? Why this constant bent towards quantifying everything that’s done/not done? How in the world can time spent possibly be measured? And yet, I torture myself with all this ridiculous energy on measuring my activity or self’s output.) so in trying to be gentle on myself (I’m calling that progress), I started reading Jesus’ words in Matthew, looking for words of affirmation to remind me of my value to Him. (And the fact that I was looking for something specific to feed my own ideas about things ought to have been a clue that I was already out of whack.) I needed to be reminded about how God feels about me really. Jesus’ perspective. The one that loves and sees me as precious (and likeable even!) regardless of how “good” or “effective” or “hardworking” or “cheerful” or “altruistic” or skinny, self-controlled, kind, selfless I’m being or have been on any given day. That is, I am loved and delighted in just by virtue of the fact that He chose to give me life.

It’s amazing to me how much I continue to quantify. And when I quantify and/or measure my value based on what I’m  doing, I fall short of any and all marks. Or, horror of horrors, if I happen to do something well or “right” (again, because I’ve quantified) I may just end up chalking myself up to alright. I may start believing that I’ve added something. Been worthy of credit or praise for a second. But regardless of whether what I’m doing is “good” or “bad,” “sinful” or “righteous” (depending on your persuasions or affiliations), none of it really matters at all, makes not one tiny scrap of difference. None of it either qualifies or disqualifies me from the value I get to enjoy because of what God’s done. For me. Without a single iota of participation from me. 

What Jesus came for was the redemption of the human family. Any and all of my (or anyone else’s) goodness (at least as far as God’s concerned which is the only opinion that matters) is from Him. His gift, for free, to me, for us. Regardless of whether or not we deserve it (which we don’t), all that glorious inheritance (that is, any and every good thing in the universe) is ours to enjoy when we get this Jesus guy. (I used “get” in place of “believe in,” “have faith in,” “accept as true.” Sometimes our words have all kinds of nasty churchy attachments that we need to forget in order to properly remember what God REALLY wants us know.) 

And by “get” all I really mean is that we believe that all He said and did for others – for us, ultimately – is true. That we can totally not just believe the hype surrounding Jesus, but we can even enjoy it for ourselves. Yeah. We could totally enjoy and bask in and savor Buddy the Elf’s compliment, “You look miraculous” if we accepted this Jesus guy as a close, personal friend, counselor, guide, helper. And it wouldn’t matter how good or bad, lazy, fat, effective, or relevant we thought we were. None of that would matter at all. In fact, what we think of ourselves matters very little. What God thinks is what matters… And He loves us A LOT.