I asked the Lord

Oh, friends.

What happens when you reach the end of your rope? What’s after the end – another rope?

Today, I’m asking the Lord.
Actually, I just kind of sat for a few minutes and let space pass between me and the Lord. I let this song do all the asking, because it seems to write the kind of lyric my heart is singing. Hymns pack a pretty hearty punch when it comes to expressing what feels hidden too deep for language. John Newton first penned these words in 1879, so their strength does not surprise me. What does surprise me is how accurate his description is (after 133 years) of the woeful condition of my heart. Even as I seek the Lord in earnest prayer, I often ask for what most benefits me – what most quickly satisfies or appeases or quiets or calms. I am earnest, but I am disappointed when what He gives is abundant in every opposite way.

I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He’d answer my request
And by His love’s constraining power
Subdue my sins and give me rest

Instead of this He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry powers of Hell
Assault my soul in every part

My conversation in quiet moments with the Lord that started with an honest desire to grow in grace and faith ends with frustrated confusion. God must not have understood – I wanted to grow in grace and faith. 

And here I feel, again, the guilt and weight of my sin – the hidden evils of my heart that lead even my prayer life away from the Lord. O, how gracious to set me free from self and pride – again and again so that I might seek my all in Him.

Lord why is this, I trembling cried
Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death?
“Tis in this way” The Lord replied
“I answer prayer for grace and faith”

“These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou mayest seek thy all in me,
That thou mayest seek thy all in me.”

come awake in 2012

Waking up was hard to do this morning, but smiling at this golden beginning to a new year was pretty easy. Yesterday was an exhibition in overflow. Yesterday splashed like crazy with “my cup runnin’ over.” God keeps pouring more of Himself (Romans 5) out through His Spirit and I can’t help but burst with joy. The more the Spirit pours out into my life, the more overflows everywhere else.

.gelato and coffee and conversations with cousins, with the right overdose of laughter
.folding up into a perfect sized hide-and-seek closet, awaiting the spirited search and discovery
.the other side of sunset – the expanse of sky gathering up all the reflections and hiding them in clouds
.hay bales piled on top of hay bales and warming in the unseasonable sun
.car rides riddled with conversation with my sister, where our friendship is given deeper, livelier roots
.a NYE celebration with new friends who live spur-of-the-moment and believe that laughter can be holy
.neighbors with open doors and friendly greetings and stories to share
.sweet sleep in a warm cocoon and a dawn that brings a fresh start

overflow

The burnt, lifeless leaves sweep up into a circling wind outside the kitchen window and shake away some of the Sunday afternoon reverie. The chorus from this morning’s service seems stuck in my soul,

Christ is risen from the grave
trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave

The bold dawn has cast out the shadows of this day, this year, this sickness, this fear, this life. We are living the already, not yet life where dawn claims victory over the darkness of night in prelude to the Forever song. Today is a post-Easter, pre-Eternity day where we can rise up from the grave of death because in Christ it has no sting!

Today, I’m praying my heart would come awake to God’s heart. I’m praying my mind would come awake to the Word. I’m praying my actions would come awake in obedience and my life would come awake in Truth.

I’m praying I will live 2012 awake, eyes wide open in search of blessings to name and receive and count and respond with a life of gratitude.

May you all be blessed in 2012 with awakened hearts and minds, that you would pursue the Lord with everything in you, knowing that He will be found by you.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy
in 2012!

the blessing and the mess of it

How is it that the political push for presidency has made a mad rush at the Advent stage?

I have friends – good friends of mine – who have reasons and schpeels and thoughtful arguments about who I should support in the next election. After being out of US politics for three years (not that there wasn’t plenty going on in Honduran politics to keep me occupied), walking around inside its borders feels like another case of the blind leading the blind.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful.

I’m thankful I don’t have to worry if the policeman pulling me over is legit.
I’m thankful there aren’t men with large guns guarding every fast food restaurant.
I’m thankful I can open my Bible in a coffee shop.

But, it’s not perfect.

Liberties, freedoms, greed, possibilities, money, truth, defense, cause… sin – the blessing and the mess of it are mixed together like a good, Midwestern casserole and sometimes it’s hard to tell what ingredients were thrown in.

Reminds me of the human condition – the blessing and the mess of it.

We’ve got people occupying Wall Street because there’s a bunch of money they don’t have.
We’ve got people marching in support of our troops, who are marching in other countries.
We’ve got people rallying to bring those troops home – for good.
We’ve got people protesting abortion clinics and people protesting the elimination of them.

We’ve got a bunch of sinners in this country, can you believe it? I don’t know how that happened.

Wait, yes I do. And I know the way to redemption. His name is Jesus.

God knew, before the foundations of the world, that we would make a mess out of His perfect Creation. He knew we would kill our brothers and hate our neighbors; that we would spit in the face of His provision and throw away manna like it didn’t just fall miraculously from the sky. He knew and He still provided a way.

His name is Jesus.

Nowhere in history can we see a glowing story of human victory over evil. Nowhere in history have we ever been able to redeem ourselves or pull ourselves out of the deep, dark pit called evil with our own strength.

There is a way.

His name is Jesus and God planned that He would be born into the blessing made mess called Creation, so that He might restore us into right relationship with our Creator.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

God, come and be with us. Show us the way into beautiful. Come, disperse the gloomy clouds and put death’s dark clouds to flight. Bring the brilliant light of salvation.

Jesus is the only way to truly see beauty in the blessing and the mess of this life.