when the skies wear out

The sky was beautiful today, but it is not forever.

The pale blue will not always look so perfect; the clouds will not always stretch across it like orphaned feathers. There is nothing permanent about the beauty we see around us. Like the thick ribbons of snow from yesterday getting trampled into brown slush underfoot today, there is nothing permanent about the beauty on this earth. At least not now.

And I have a hunger for the beauty, for the kingdom come, for the eternal. I have a hunger for a beauty that will last forever. We are in the middle of the dead of winter and sometimes it feels like our stone hearts are as dead as the dirty brown earth the snow is covering. It feels like our hearts are too dead to be revived by beauty.

Here is a bouquet of sorts. This song sounds to me like a beautiful flower delivery today – beauty and life in the dead of winter’s grim. Open it and listen and sing and rejoice because Christ makes beauty possible and Christ makes beauty secure.

As I celebrate the presence and beauty of Christ in Epiphany, I am also looking ahead (as Christ’s followers must have). I am looking ahead because, as Christ forgave sins and healed sinners, He was looking ahead to the cross.

Being present does not mean forgetting future glory. Being present does not mean avoiding future pain. Being present does not mean poor planning.

As Christ planted His presence in the soil of this earth, He also looked ahead to the ultimate sacrifice and endured it “for the joy set before Him.” He looked forward to the day He would satisfy justice and restore His children.

Rock of Ages, you have brought me near
You have poured out your life-blood, your love, your tears
To make this stone heart come alive again
Rock of Ages, forgive my sin.

Christ is the beauty that is forever, when the skies wear out.
Christ is the beauty that makes stone hearts come alive again.
Christ is the beauty that is hope secure.

the Light by which I see anything lovely

This Saturday is perfect, down to the perfect timing of a perfect rain after a perfect rollerblade in the park. Too perfect?

As we walked around the Farmer’s Market this morning, my friend (and aunt) mentioned that she and her husband had noticed the rose-colored glasses I’ve been wearing on this blog lately. Apparently, my rosy shades make every post sound too perfect. Can e-v-er-y-thing make a smile stretch across my face?

She said something like, “I mean, you are always joyful… but this sounds different. We can tell.”

My aunt and uncle are two of my most favorite people in the world. Their hammock chairs on the back porch have hosted some of my favorite conversations. They are also numbered in the very small army of people who suffer through this blog regularly. So, when they say they can tell my tone has changed, I listen.

As it turns out, twitterpated is a real thing. You know, from Bambi? I’m not sure it happened to me quite like this, but it might be why everything looks so rosy. Maybe.

But, can I get personal? I don’t do this often… or ever, I guess. I try to keep things at a healthy, ambiguous distance when it comes to life’s precious details. I probably overshare about spiritual inspiration and my embarrassing escapades, but I tread more carefully when it comes to love.

Oh, I can write about singleness all day. It’s been my life for – well, for most of 28 years and it is a beautiful place to be. Truly. And I am not just saying that to encourage my lady friends who get sick at the twitterpated spring season. I believe singleness is beautiful for the same reasons I believe being in love is beautiful. All beauty springs from the same well, which is maybe why it’s hard to get specific.

all beauty springs from the same well

There is a story to tell, though. It’s actually still being written, but I guess I’m wearing rose-colored glasses in this chapter and maybe you’ll want to look through them, too…

When a certain young man from out of town showed up on my doorstep, I forgot I had known him for 16 years. I forgot that he knew my heart so well. I forgot how our laughter made so much sense together.

After a week wrapped in prayer and blessing, he said a lot of things, but this one thing was what really melted my heart. He said, “Care, I know that you will always love the Lord more than you love me. And that’s what I love most about you.”

Maybe that doesn’t sound romantic, but it reached a place in my heart Hallmark will never find. Yesterday, I said that same thing about him, but to my boss as I explained why I would be moving to New York City soon (she assumed it was because he was so good looking).

Yes, love is a many splendored thing. It can make bad days and good days feel like heaven days. But, there is an anchor for my soul and it is not this many splendored thing called love. It is not this love that is chasing away my fear of the future and anxiety over unknowns. It is not this love that wakes the sun and illumines the moon.

This love that melts my insides is merely a reflection. A very wonderful reflection that does sometimes make me feel light as a feather, but is still a reflection of the greatest Love that is every bit of the security and joy and abundant life I seek. It is more than weak-in-the-knees and more than twitterpated seasons. This greatest Love teaches me how to love by way of brokenness and sacrifice. Jesus was broken, battered, and bleeding so that I might feel His greatest Love that brings me to repentance and restoration. Forever a sure and steadfast anchor of my soul.

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:19, ESV

I wish I could say I will always love the Lord more than I love Patrick. I wish I could say I’m not swayed by being weak in the knees. I wish I could know that I will never get swept away with my own ideas and expectations of this many splendored thing. I hope all these things will be true of me and true of our love.

But, then I remember how an anchor works. I remember that God is a promise keeper and my hope is secure in His promise to make me holy. He is my sure and steadfast anchor when my soul is silly in love and when my soul is drowning in heartache.

His love is the Light by which I see anything lovely.

And yes, this twitterpated season is very lovely. I smile more and giggle often and I do all the things I thought I was too rational and down-to-earth to do. But, all beauty springs from the same well, whether you’ve gone to fetch water for one or two. And I know that this beauty is about discovering another way the Lord is good to us.

Love is what has brought us here
with the courage to come near
chase away our pride and our fears
with the Light to carry on

I must go again to the theatre

I wrote this originally in August of 2012, but thought I would share it today because (it seems) I often need a refresher.

There is a way of sharing the gospel that makes people wish it was true, even if they believe it’s not. At least, Tim Keller thinks so (The Faith to Doubt Christianity).

There is a way of sharing the gospel that draws people in first because it’s beautiful. Not at first because it’s reasonable or socially responsible or sweet sounding, but because it is simply beautiful.

I know we can do battle about beauty – what it is and who decides – but that’s for another day (and a day that’s already been).

Today, I’m trying to be a student of this kind of gospel sharing. I’m trying to understand what it means to put the beauty of redemption on display – to draw back the curtain on the glorious story acted out on the living stage. I’m trying to remember what it felt like to see the hero die for the villain… and the horrible knot in my gut when I realized the villain was me.

To share a beautiful story, one must believe the story is beautiful.

And for that, I must go and sit in the theatre. I must watch wide-eyed and remember every interaction and every awe-inspiring stage direction. I must hang on every word because every time I know the villain is doomed, but every time the story plays out opposite what I am sure I know. And it is beautiful.

To share a beautiful story, one must first believe the story is beautiful.

There is a way to share the gospel that makes a person sit on the edge of their seat and hang on every word. There is a way to share the gospel that makes one appreciate and even wonder at the beauty so much that one wishes it was true.

I want to learn this way.
And so I must go again to the theatre.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

delight; pleasure, enjoyment, rapture

delight

When did we let someone run away with this weighty word and drown it in hedonism?
When did we start using it to describe cupcakes and shallow conversations and crude innuendos?

It’s a bit of a fight today, so I’ve got delight on my brain… swimming around there and trying to evade my desperate fingers. I believe, I believe, I believe. Help my unbelief, Lord – that delight is impossible and evasive and illusive and less than rapturous.

I’m stealing it back and believing it means pleasure and enjoyment and rapture. My soul is waking up to pleasure and enjoyment and rapture in the moments where it feels illusive because I am believing delight is more than what we’ve made it. 

I believe God wrote the definition of delight. And He wants it to define my life.

Referencing 2 Corinthians 4:6 in “Future Grace,” John Piper says that, “saving faith in the promises of God must include spiritual delight in the God of the promises. … Delight in the glory of God is not the whole of what faith is. But I think that without it, faith is dead.” And later he explains,

“It is not merely the security of the promises that frees us from motives to sin; but also the sweetness of the beauty of God in the promises. It is the spiritual nature of the things promised. When we apprehend the spiritual beauty or sweetness of what is promised, and delight in it, not only are we freed from the insecurity of greed and fear that motivate so much sin, but we are also shaped in our values by what we cherish in the promise (see 1 John 3:3). If we cherish the beauty of Christ in the gospel, we will cherish behavior – even painful sacrificial behavior – that reflects that beauty.” (p. 203)

But, who is John Piper? Does Scripture really say we should be delighting in the spiritual beauty of what is promised and the One who promises?

Christians often (maybe too quickly) grasp promises and make them ‘givens’ – the kind of phrases you run to when you’re worried the IRS will knock on your door or when you’re afraid of getting fired. “But, God is good and He promises to be good to me!” we might say to ourselves.

Though it is true that God is good, Piper helps us understand how delighting in His promises is different than assuming the benefit of His promises. Our delighting in His promises is freedom – moment by moment – from believing the lies that threaten to entangle us in this world. This delighting in the promises is never an end, but a great catalyst as we delight in the beauty of the One who promises.

Delight pours out delight and the well is infinitely deep!

I’m testing the depths today, but I have not yet found the floor. For every desperate moment I reach deeper, and there I find a delight that frees me from worry and fear. It’s not just my job that needs this deep well of delight – it’s my thoughts, my free time, my Tuesday nights, my phone calls, my lunch hours, my relationships, my family – it’s everything that needs redeemed.

If Christ is my greatest treasure, then everything (ev-er-y-thing) else is a secondary variable. No matter how convinced I am that my day could be ruined with one email, phone call, encounter, fight, bill – there is one most important trump card called Christ. If I dive in to delight in His promises, reveling in the security and weight of them, I will stay swimming in the delight of God’s beauty, that He would promise anything at all.

Are you overwhelmed yet?

Steal the word delight back today
and let LOVE fly like cRaZy

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalm 16:11 ESV)

Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
(Psalm 37:4 ESV)

Rejoice in the Lord always,
and again I say rejoice!
(Philippians 4:4)

Also, see this helpful devotional that sparked my thoughts from David Matthis over at Desiring God, “He Wants You Happy.”

brushstrokes like fire

 

my morning drive

This series of moments called autumn, when fall picks up her paintbrush and tickles the leaves with shades of fire, is favorite. When the morning wakes up to shine the sun’s spotlight on the trees stretching out in multi-colored glory, you might as well give me a brown paper package all tied up with string.

This is favorite.
(so much so that it is indeed worthy of noun status)

Autumn. Harvest. Provision. Beauty. Gatherings. Family. Colors. Bonfires. Hot drinks. Fall. Road trips. Friends. Books. Blankets.

When the September sun warms like a blanket on a cool, 70 degree day, Creation sings melody along with its painful, groaning harmony to the tune of “already, not yet.”

Even the seasons invite a study of God!

I delight in the beauty of the season unfolding around me, but I am acutely aware of all the ways Creation groans for complete restoration – where beauty can be displayed forever, free from any threat to its perfect and colorful song.

Here, in this season of beauty, we are home.
And here, in this season of beauty, we long for home.

So, today I am singing with lungs and heart full of praise for the One who invites me in to His  always home.

 

believing the gospel is beautiful means sitting in the theatre

There is a way of sharing the gospel that makes people wish it was true, even if they believe it’s not. At least, Tim Keller thinks so (The Faith to Doubt Christianity).

There is a way of sharing the gospel that draws people in first because it’s beautiful. Not at first because it’s reasonable or socially responsible or sweet sounding, but because it is simply beautiful.

I know we can do battle about beauty – what it is and who decides – but that’s for another day (and a day that’s already been).

Today, I’m trying to be a student of this kind of gospel sharing. I’m trying to understand what it means to put the beauty of redemption on display – to draw back the curtain on the glorious story acted out on the living stage. I’m trying to remember what it felt like to see the hero die for the villain… and the horrible knot in my gut when I realized the villain was me.

To share a beautiful story, one must believe the story is beautiful.

And for that, I must go and sit in the theatre. I must watch wide-eyed and remember every interaction and every awe-inspiring stage direction. I must hang on every word because every time I know the villain is doomed, but every time the story plays out opposite what I am sure I know. And it is beautiful.

To share a beautiful story, one must first believe the story is beautiful.

There is a way to share the gospel that makes a person sit on the edge of their seat and hang on every word. There is a way to share the gospel that makes one appreciate and even wonder at the beauty so much that one wishes it was true.

I want to learn this way.
And so I must go again to the theatre.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy