Light for a Village of Seekers . You. Me. Us.

Posts tagged ‘Shortcuts to Hope’

The Beach and an Angry Sea

God, if children are precious to You, then why do You allow some to suffer starvation and harm?

My family ceased going to church was I was eight years old, for no particular reason.

We just stopped.

Next time I stepped inside a house of worship was a decade later, for a funeral for a beloved friend, Chuck Davenport, who died valiantly in the Viet Nam war.

Our abandonment of church wasn’t because our family became agnostic, or even embraced atheism. We converted to the religion of apathy. Church was a boring inconvenience and waste of a perfectly good day.

Sundays became glorious beach expeditions for my brother and me. Hurray! Under the scorching South Florida sun, we built sand castles and took turns burying each other so only our heads popped out like globular living creatures. What fun!

We brilliantly plotted new ways to get our parents mad at us for being silly kids. We did this because when we were caught trouble-making, we were noticed and our voices heard; we weren’t invisible to our daddy. When we behaved, we were unseen, ignored, and blended into the drone of daily living.

We conspired to push the boundaries of how far we could walk unsupervised into the ocean before we’d get caught. One day we exceeded our limit, and almost died in our foolish rebellion.

The waves grew furiously higher. I lost touch with the sea floor. I struggled to stay straight up, against the gnashing water that was twisting and pulling me down.

The ocean’s battle to own me was near its conclusion. I was gasping and swallowing the acrid sea water.

“God, am I being punished for not going to church?” I yelled, “Where are You? I need You. Help!”

Savior, Do You hear my thoughts even in the Deep?

As I wildly thrashed, struggling for air, I could see the distant coast. Everyone looked so tiny. Angry muscular currents pushed me farther out. I was alone and drowning. My eyes burned from the salt as I tried to see if anyone was swimming nearby. Nobody.

Brother was gone. He vanished. No one could hear my cries for rescue over the arrogant laughter of the sea about to claim its next victim.

Suddenly, a strong hand appeared out of nowhere and reached down to bring me up to the water’s surface and then to the shore. Mommy was delirious that her daughter was alive. Brother rejoiced, as his tears of guilt were replaced with jubilant hugs of relief. He thought his sister died. Daddy fumed that I disobeyed his mandate of unescorted swims. Interesting perspectives of love lost, then found.

I have no recollection of a face attached to the brawny arm that saved me. I still don’t, to this day. Invisible love and tangible hope; a stunning reminder of God’s protection?

God, was that You? Did You set me free from death’s clutches? Why did You bother to save me? I was a nerdy friendless kid whom other kids mocked. How could I possibly matter to You?

Lord, why are You invisible?

His answer came 50 years later. He loves me. I’m precious to Him. God gallantly declares that my life matters.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:2 NIV).

A fallen world brings much effort to pull us into the murky abyss of hopelessness. Pits and graves abound.

Many question, “If God is a God of love, then why does He allow some to be born without limbs, loved ones to die in disease and children to suffer the atrocities of flesh-wasting global hunger?”

Simple answers rarely quench the outrage, or the sting. Nor do they remove the excruciating, adamant ache of loss, or dry its ever-flowing tears.

However, I’ve discovered a hidden treasure of priceless worth, in the depths of my snake-filled pits and grave’s shivering numbness. These trials and unanswered prayers aren’t randomly-flung or heartlessly-permitted by some mysterious, distant, inaccessible Being.

My near-drowning is purposeful because it forces me to reach past my human limitations and capabilities and dance with the supernatural; the impossible.

Hope is strongest when I’m at my weakest.

As I pensively gaze at the totality of my life’s experiences, there’s an in-my-face reality that I’m able to even do so; to think, to remember, to breathe, to cry, to rejoice in the overcoming.

Jesus, do You celebrate my life?

Nothing can dissuade me from the evidence that I‘m raised up, time and time again because of Who God is, not because of what I can or will do.

Miraculously, I’m still alive, housing a soul beautifully scarred with memorials of God’s intimate loving and protective custody over my life, and yes, even my heart.

“Don’t pray for the persecution to stop. We shouldn’t pray for a lighter load to carry, but a stronger back to endure. Then the world will see that God is with us, empowering us to live in a way that reflects His love and Power. This is true freedom.” – Brother Hun, author, “The Heavenly Man”

Scars, I’ve learned, are trophies for the living to testify of Heaven’s sweet affirmative embrace … and notice.

My precious Jehovah-Shammah, “The Lord is There,” personally knows the intensity and intent of scars as well. My life’s resurrection depends on them. They are indeed, glorious tributes of triumph.

His and mine.

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“Beautiful Things” by Gungor

Beautiful Things video & song from SECCWorshipTech on Vimeo.

Editor- Phillip Brock
Script Writer- Marcy Bryan
PA- Megan Bryan
Artist- Casey Hyland hylandglass.com
DP’s- Kevin Bryan, Dan Skinner, Phillip Brock
Music- Beautiful Things by Gungor
gungormusic.com

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The Woods and a Stranger

God, why do You allow evil to prevail?

The woods near our home were such a source of adventure for my brother and me during our childhood.

We were fearless tree climbers, master fort builders, and relentless insect finders. We chased rabbits and boldly dared snakes.

Fifty years ago, with parental blessings, we could happily bicycle to destinations more than a block, even a mile away, to explore the hinterland of woods and wonder. There were no dangers from strangers.

We were safe; until Innocence fell prey to the Predator.

One chilly Fall day, my curiosity with a fire the adult stranger built deep in the woodland, and his cunning to send my brother and a few of our play pals to retrieve additional firewood so the stranger and I were alone, changed my understanding of Trust, forever.

Why was Heaven silent then? Why couldn’t I remove the stain of shame and fear from my little-girl heart no matter how many times I washed my hands? Why wouldn’t I tell anyone what was stolen from me until 20 years later?

Did God cry for my loss? Was He even there? Did He see what happened? What would it cost me to trust Him and others again? What did it cost Him to heal me and restore wholeness from my ugly, broken existence?

Abba, will I ever be able to trust again?

Have you ever wept from tragic loss, “Now what, God, now what?”

I know my tears significantly matter to my Creator.

I’m profoundly grateful that God strategically used every hurt to reinvent my definition and direction of trust, hope, and true peace. He lovingly did so through the ordained lifelong wanderings in the wilderness, the years of gut-wrenching thirst and hunger for significance, and the aching solitude of my own thoughts.

I now know more fully, what my grief and the source of my heartbreak, ultimately cost this God of Rescue. The Man of Sorrows knows intimately, heartache, loss and agony. His then, mine now.

I’m fully convinced my Creator cried five decades ago for my loss of innocence and every other assault against my peace since then. I know to the core of my being that He weeps now at the recent catastrophic passing of my carefully-constructed dreams, plans and hopes; a necessary soul excavation permitted by The Divine to make room for a new thing to spring forth (Isaiah 43: 18-19).

This cavernous wound and its bleeding, the outcome of a fallen world, is why He came and suffered His own pain, on my behalf, 2000 years ago on that Day of Intervention (Isaiah 53:4-5). He compassionately did so to assure the ancient ruins of the future He had in mind all along for me, will most assuredly be rebuilt one brick at a time, cemented together with the crimson-stained mortar of Heaven’s tears and mine.

God has promised me a crown of beauty for ashes; oil of joy for mourning; a garment of praise to replace a spirit of despair (Isaiah 61). My broken, shredded heart will mend in time, and I rejoice in knowing to the core of my being, that after the cross, there is always a resurrection. Always.

“For You are the God of my strength [my stronghold ― In Whom I take refuge]; why have you cast me off? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectedly for Him; for I shall yet praise Him, Who is the help of my [sad] countenance, and my God.” (Psalms 43:2 AMP).

Father, what does my future look like?

I’m forever touched by God’s daily kindness toward me as He sweetly, tenderly reminds me, of how much I truly matter to Him by protectively clutching and preserving my soul. I’ve given my King complete custody of my heart and life because He has proven Himself a faithful refuge, time and again.
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Trains and Pigs

The train of hope, God's heart for you, is never far away.

When I was a little girl, we lived earshot close to some railroad tracks. We also lived near a pig farm. Life was hard, due to severe child abuse, but the smell of the pig farm, and the whoo-woo of the trains were rhythms threaded in my life that gave a tumultuous existence, some constancy.

Winds coming from the east were especially pungent in the middle of the night, under the covers of a non-air conditioned home, in Southern Florida. Nothing outside of intentional burrowing under the suffocation of sheets and a light blanket would allow escape from the stench.

But, at 4am every morning, no matter how alone I felt, or desperate for solace from the madness of a home environment where my father struggled to make sense of his own life, and my brother, mom and self dodged to keep out of his way, the trains came. Faithfully. On time. And wide-awake dreams followed the symphony, of where I imagined these trains could take me, if I jumped on.

God in His kindness would blow the winds westward into this little girl’s open windows, to carry the soothing clickety-clack, clickety-clack of the train’s old wheels on the rusted track
joints, the squeal of steel brakes on the rail coming through town, and His voice of consolation in the distance, to promise rescue disguised as the train’s recurring horn.

Exodus 2:23-25 proves God’s care for us in our darkest nights, in our times of captivity where we feel abandoned.

Distractions are like squealing, hungry pigs; never satisfied.

But then there are the pigs; the squeals for our attention, which distract us from the need for silence to hear and believe that help and hope is on its way. To avoid the stench and noise of our pigs, which we seem to not escape, we muffle the sound of the forthcoming train, buried under the covers, ignorantly preoccupied.

Yet the train, relentlessly on a liberation mission, speeds forward. Will you not hear it? Do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43: 18-19).

The train of hope, which transports precious cargo, God’s heart for you, is never far, if we will just be still enough to hear its assurance of deliverance and a new thing born.

Throw off those coverings, wake up your sweet self, and know that it is God alone who stands lovingly in the front engine as the Conductor to invite you to jump on, and remind you of your future destination.
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