turning up the stones of my own discontent

Today feels like all my hidden sorrows have huddled to make aching war on my lower back. It’s just one of those days where the question, “Oh, how long?” seems to be the only appropriate thing to say, followed by a decided and desperate, “You won’t let me go.”

Isn’t it strange how you start to think the world is falling apart when your body aches / your brother will have face surgery / national politics looks to spin out of control / there might not be enough food this winter for the breadbasket / you’re still trying to figure out how to let love fly like crazy / the song in your soul sounds a little sickly?

No, I guess I don’t think that’s strange at all. Maybe the world is falling apart.

I better start singing this line, “You, You won’t let me go.” And then I better sing it again.

Until the Dawn Appears

Well the man of sorrows walked the shores of Galilee
And his eyes were cast with joy towards the crystal sea
Well the shadows will be gone and all these bitter tears
And my heart will hang on that until the dawn appears

Matthew Perryman Jones is one of those folk singers. He croons with a heart outside “mainstream” and his new album makes me emotional. Every time I hear, “Until the Dawn Appears,” my heart hangs on the last verse because without it the song would be only sad. Jones has a way of singing sorrow. It kind of seeps out slowly and settles in deep. The last verse (above) transfers all the sorrows of this world onto the shoulders of one man. One man who will bring the dawn that banishes the shadows.

One man who will never let me go.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

longing for a home

On my 15 hour trip across Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan, I finally had time to process Van Gogh’s letters to his brother Theo. The lyrics to the new Matthew Perryman Jones song, “O Theo” have accompanied many of my night runs, but I hadn’t realized they were so old. They date back to intimate correspondence between Van Gogh and his brother and one such letter inspired this especially earnest and confessional song.

There’s something magnetic about the words – something that pulls you in and makes you listen to what was painfully penned from a brother to a brother of a dreadful waywardness.

Under the silence of water,
Into a sky full of birds
Out from the land of our fathers,
I am falling on your words,
Oh…

Dark as the night of a preacher,
I made a bed out of hay
They paid me a handful of money,
I gave it all away…
All away…

And the righteous raised their stones
And the devil threw his arrow
That was longing for a home
With nowhere to go,
Oh, Theo…

In the half-life of the city,
She took off all of her clothes
I flew from the height of the mountains
Into a valley of dry bones
All alone

Then my heart was still unknown
I was drunk and full of sorrows
I was longing for a home
With nowhere to go,
Oh, Theo…

So, I set fires of starlight,
To burn up against the despair
I was caught in the tangles of midnight’s
Long, unanswered prayer:
‘Are you there?’

And the light of morning grows
On a field of fallen sparrows
I was longing for a home
With nowhere to go,
Oh, Theo…

Are you pulled in to Van Gogh’s plea for a home? Does something deep inside turn over when you read about his waywardness?

Van Gogh describes his desperate and failed attempts to cure himself of loneliness. He reaches out and lays all things bare, longing for a home.

In a phone conversation the other night, I heard the same longing – a beautiful soul captured by grace who longed for the security of “home” without the fear of abandonment. I heard her confession of sin and her fragile hope of new life. I heard fear drip from every excuse as she listed reasons why now is a hard time to turn from sin.

And right there we called spades “spades.” We agreed about her sin and the fear that made her cling to it. We agreed that her life looked like Jesus hadn’t accomplished anything on the cross – that He wasn’t capable of holding her up when her world crashed.

We agreed that Jesus wanted a complete turn from sin so that she could look Him fully in the face and hear the words, “Child, you are mine.”

I remember sitting on my friend’s porch a cool, August night in high school. I remember trying desperately to convince my friend that I had sin to deal with. I remember my friend saying, “That’s it?”

We all get desperate and blinded by sin. The only hope of redemption we have is to believe that Christ willingly stood in the place of that sin (because it is sin) and continually sits at the right hand of God interceding for us, not that we would continue in sin but that we would enjoy the freedom that comes through repentance.

And it is with this honest, repentant heart that we do find a home that is secure.