Favorite Reads of 2014

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Some of my favorite reads from this past year.  This stack is missing a few that greatly impacted me this past year, such as Eric Metaxes’ “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prohpet, Spy,” and Jerry Bridges “Transforming Grace.”

I sheepishly admit that I have historically been careful not to venture too far in my book choices into places that would disagree with my firmly held convictions.  I have begun to challenge myself to read some things that might intrigue, provoke, and even irritate me.  To read some things that I think I will probably disagree with.  I have been afraid to do this in the past, not trusting my mind + heart to weed out truth from lie.  As my favorite professor from school once counseled me, we can engage in content that may make us squirm because we can trust that God will separate what is wheat from what is chaff.

The longer I walk with the Lord, the more I see that He continually leads us into more spacious places.  He always leads us on to greater freedom (2 Cor. 3:17), and that He will increase our awareness of the great freedom already won for us in Christ Jesus.

Some books that made me squirm and were out of my comfort zone to read were Sarah Bessey’s “Jesus Feminist” and also Barbara Brown Taylor’s “An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith” (not pictured above).  I have to tell you: I am SO GLAD I picked those two up.  I’m not sure I can tell you that I agree with everything written therein, but I can tell you that I am better off for having read and engaged in those two books.  Well worth the journey and the squirming.  I think I’m finding that when I read things that are outside of my comfort zone, I am reminded of how much bigger God is than I can possibly wrap my arms (or mind) around.  I am reminded that it is in the diversity of the body of Christ that His incredible, unfathomable largeness and otherness is expressed.  No one denomination has a corner on all Truth, and we are wise to remember that.  I am reminded that Christ’s final prayer with His disciples centered around pleading for them to be ONE (John 17).

I have a big stack already waiting for me to dig into in 2015:

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And since I am now reviewing books for fun (pushes nerd glasses up bridge of nose) this stack will definitely grow over the year.  Of course, I will share the best with you here, as I firmly believe in sharing good resources and in reading, reading, reading.  Not just to stuff our heads with knowledge, but because we want to learn, to change, to have a conversation with the community of brothers and sisters of our faith both in the current day and in times past.  What a beautiful privilege that is!

This season of being a mother to little ones has taught me that the best things in life must be fought for.  The path of least resistance is not the way of Jesus.  I have so little time as a momma for reading, and yet I’m passionate about squeezing it in.  There is so much I want to learn and have yet to learn!  This year I am convicted afresh that my focus needs to be on my marriage and my children.  So I’m hoping to fill my shelves (figuratively speaking) with words that build up and strengthen my marriage and my calling as momma first and foremost.

Of course, I’m hoping to squeeze in some fiction as well.  Sometimes a momma just needs to get lost in a good story.

What are you hoping to read this year?  What books would you recommend?

On Worship

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“I see three stages of movement toward the ideal experience of worship.  We may experience all three in one hour, and God is pleased with all three — if indeed they are stages on the way to full joy in him.  I will mention them in reverse order.

1. There is the final stage in which we feel an unencumbered joy in the manifold perfections of God — the joy of gratitude, wonder, hope, admiration.  “My soul is feasted as with marrow and fat and my mouth praises thee with joyful lips” (Psalm 63:5).  In this stage we are satisfied with the excellency of God, and we overflow with the joy of his fellowship.  This is the feast of Christian Hedonism.

2.  In a prior stage that we often taste, we do not feel fulness, but rather longing and desire.  Having tasted the feast before, we recall the goodness of the Lord — but it seems far off.  We preach to our souls not to be downcast, because we are sure we shall again praise the Lord (Psalm 42:5).  Yet for now our hearts are not very fervent.

Even though this falls far short of the ideal of vigorous, heartfelt adoration and hope, yet it is a great honor to God.  We honor the water from a mountain spring not only by the satisfied “ahhh” after drinking our fill, but also by the unquenched longing to be satisfied while still climbing to it.

In fact, these two stages are not really separable in the true saint, because all satisfaction in this life is still shot through with longing and all genuine longing has tasted the satisfying water of life.  David Brainerd expressed the paradox:

Of late, God has been pleased to keep my soul hungry almost continually, so that I have been filled with a kind of pleasing pain.  When I really enjoy God, I feel my desire of Him the more insatiable and my thirsting after holiness more unquenchable.

3.  The lowest stage of worship — where all genuine worship starts, and where it often returns for a dark season — is the barrenness of soul that scarcely feels any longing, and yet is still granted the grace of repentant sorrow for having so little love.  “When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was stupid and ignorant, I was like a beast toward thee” (Psalm 73:22).

E. J. Carnell points toward these same stages when he says,

Rectitude, we know, is met in one of two ways: either by a spontaneous expression of the good or by spontaneous sorrow for having failed.  The one is direct fulfillment; the other indirect fulfillment.

Worship is a way of gladly reflecting back to God the radiance of his worth.  This is the ideal.  For God surely is more glorified when we delight in his magnificence than when we are so unmoved by it we scarcely feel anything, and only wish we could.  Yet he is also glorified by the spark of anticipated gladness that gives rise to the sorrow we feel when our hearts are lukewarm.  Even in the miserable guilt we feel over our beast-like insensitivity, the glory of God shines.  If God were not gloriously desirable, why would we feel sorrowful for not feasting fully on his beauty?

Yet even this sorrow, to honor God, must in one sense be an end in itself — not that it shouldn’t lead on to something better, but that it must be real and spontaneous.  The glory from which we fall short cannot be reflected in a calculated sorrow…

Neither God nor my wife is honored when we celebrate the high days of our relationship out of a sense of duty.  They are honored when I delight in them!  Therefore to honor God in worship we must not seek him disinterestedly, for fear of gaining some joy in worship and so ruining the moral value of the act.  But instead we must seek him hedonistically, the way a thirsty deer seeks the stream, precisely for the joy of seeing and knowing him!  Worship is nothing less than obedience to the command of God, “Delight yourself in the Lord!””

-John Piper, Desiring God (p. 85-86, 87)

There is good news

In the dead of night it can be hardest to hold onto the truths we believe.  For some reason in the dark of night, when it just seems so very dark and you can barely remember the day, it is hardest to hope.  During the day and the busy ordinary rushing, the fear sometimes seems to lessen, seems silly, even.

Maybe you’re coming off of a difficult night, a night spent battling anxiety, fear, worry over the future instead of spent sleeping.  Maybe you’ve had a night where you’ve felt nothing but weak and faltering, where you’ve whispered the words, “Lord, I cannot do this.  I am failing You!”

There is good news
There is good truth
That you could never change
No matter what you do

You are loved
More than you know
More than you could hope for
After everything you’ve done

As sure as the sun will rise
And chase away the night
His mercy will not end
His mercy will not end

There is good news
Theres a promise
That no matter where you go
You will never be alone

In the dark
In the doubting
When you can’t feel anything
Always, love remains the same

Even through the night, oh
Silver stars will shine, oh
Hope of glory’s light
That will wake us once again

                            *          *          *          *          *

As sure as the sun rose this morning, even after a very dark night of soul, the sun will rise again.  His mercy will. not. end.  You are not alone.  Even though you feel like you have to go through this alone, you are never alone.  He abides.  He abides with us when we are faithless and failing.

So if you’re going into the night, if you’re in the dark of night.. He is with us.  Where no one else can go, where no one else can walk, in the very valley of the shadow of death, His rod and His staff will comfort us.  “All the way, my Shepherd leads me, what have I to ask beside?”

For the Broken Ones

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For you who feel alone:

He can find you.

“Now the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur.  And He said, ‘Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?'” {Genesis 16:7-8}

For you Hagars: the cast out, the used up, the sin-broken, the sin-sick, the undeserving, the unwanted, the rejected ones, the forgotten ones.

“The Lord has heard your affliction.” {Genesis 16:11}

He cannot resist the broken ones, the searching ones, the lost ones.  The unseen ones.

“Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, ‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?'” {Genesis 16:13}

He sees you today.  He knows you.  He foreknew you.

“For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,

When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.” {Psalm 139:13-16}

You, His marvelous work.  His masterpiece.  Does your soul know it very well?  Present with you from the moment of your conception, your genesis, your beginning.  Delighting over you.  Singing over you.  Knitting you together.  Writing out the story of all of your days.  Yes, He saw you then.  He knew you then.

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?” {Psalm 139:7}

And why would I ever want to, God?  There is no shame in Your presence.  There is only fullness of joy.  Because You are the God who sees, the God who saw me before any other, who knew my days and knew all my faltering and failing, and still said “Yes” to me.  Still choose me, set me apart.  Still said “No” to Jesus {Mark 14:36} so You could say “Yes” to me.  To fellowship with me.  To unbroken presence with me.

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“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?” {Psalm 8:3-4}

This sky that takes my breath away, You breathed it into existence.

The star-breathing God, the One who made all this glory.. what is one small man, one small woman, that You are mindful of us? Mindful.  Mind full.. of us.  Who are You, that You are mindful of me?

This is our God.

This is my God.

I worship You today.

This is My Father’s World

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“How can I buy the communion wine? Who am I to buy the communion wine? Someone has to buy the communion wine. Having wine instead of grape juice was my idea, and of course I offered to buy it. Shouldn’t I be wearing robes and, especially, a mask? Shouldn’t I make the communion wine? Are there holy grapes, is there holy ground? There are no holy grapes, there is no holy ground, nor is there anyone but us.” -Annie Dillard

I read this post today, and a resounding YES in my soul. I pray it will never cease to amaze me, that God, the Creator of this world, the sustainer of it even in its fallen state, works WITHIN it, not apart from it. He deems it suitable to use the elements we call “ordinary,” which really are all supernaturally derived, to convey Himself to us. To give Himself to us. Flesh and blood. Bread and wine. His immense constraint in demonstrating the divine to us in cooperation always with man. Man, his partner. What an incredible, profound, eternal mystery.

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And then, these words from that precious old hymn:

“This is my Father’s world, O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: why should my heart by sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad.”

 

preparing for storms

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Take more ground on the good days.”

I read those words some months ago, back in the heat of North Carolina’s summer.  I have thought of them so often since then.  Susie Larson, author of Your Beautiful Purpose, was writing about a concept from her fitness-instructing days.  The concept is that there are days you wake up feeling somehow stronger, with more clarity, energized.  Those are the days you take extra ground in your fitness goals: push harder, lift more, run farther.

“Leverage the day to your advantage…because a day is coming when you’ll feel less than stellar and it’ll be all you can do to show up for your workout.  In order not to lose ground on those difficult days, you need to gain ground on the favorable days.”

What am I doing with my good days, the days where running feels easy?  What am I doing with my strength, with the seasons of blessing?

The hard days just come.  God tries to prepare us, He is as up-front as He can be: “in this world you WILL have trouble,” He says {John 16:33}.  You don’t wait for the storm to be upon you before you start building up a strong home, a safe haven, a good foundation.  If you wait, you will surely come to ruin!  You run hard in the good days.  You run a little harder, a little farther.  You leverage that strength.  You prepare for the storms that will inevitably come.

You know they are coming, they are not going to derail you.

You know they’re coming, they’re not to going to make you question why a good God would allow them.  He has told you He will allow them.  He has told you to take heart because even though the trouble WILL come, He has already overcome it.  And so you plan to lean hard into that future grace.

And so when you feel like you have earned a rest, that maybe you can sit back a bit on your laurels, maybe this is the time to run ahead.

Don’t wait for the storms to come to start battening down the hatches.  Batten down the hatches on the good days, when you’re feeling strong, when you can hardly imagine a hard day in sight.  When you feel like your marriage couldn’t be stronger.  Your parenting skills are pretty great.  Your relationship with God is good.  You’ve got this “quiet time” thing down pat.  You pray like you want to.  Your finances are ship shape.  Your portfolio is impressive.  Your job is smooth sailing.

Use that good season, leverage it.  You know hard times will come.  And will your faith stand?  Will your marriage stand?  You won’t have the strength to set a good foundation in your marriage or in your walk with God when the hard blows come.  It’s then that you need a strong home already built to weather that storm.

It’s part of what is so hard and broken about this life here on this terrestrial sod.  The working never really ceases.  You clean the floors, and that’s about as good as it gets for a few minutes.  Because part of the fallenness of this place is that left to its own devices, everything naturally falls into a state of decay.  Nothing improves without our working.  Without maintenance and constant, persevering attention.  And without our attention, everything slowly quietly falls into disrepair.

You don’t do this out of fear.  You do this out of wisdom.

You need some scripture planted deep down in the marrow of your soul for the times when you don’t know when to turn in His Word.  For the times when you’re groping for His voice.  {Consider joining in here with a group to memorize scripture, soul-sustaining words from Christ in the Gospel of John.}

Maybe you need to try some new things in your marriage, make some goals that include sustaining and nourishing your marriage in new ways.

You place yourself in a network of other moms, maybe some older moms too.

Maybe you seek out and build up some solid friendships even though you’re feeling pretty good and independent.

I know some people aren’t into January and new year resolutions.  Who wants to set goals when you just finished the last year and feel like you blew it?  Who really wants to try again?  And some people argue we should always be living in today so we don’t need to be setting goals for tomorrow.  But what about stepping back and taking stock?  What about seasons where we evaluate how we’re doing, where we clear our muddled vision and set sights afresh on the goal, and consider how to run for that goal well?  This is what I love about January, and the freshness of a new year, and the setting of goals or resolutions.

This is what I love about a God who gave us the physical illustration of seasons, each season bringing its own “now” and each season calling us to prepare for what’s ahead.  Tilling soil and planting seed in spring, months before you’ll see that harvest.  Chopping and stacking wood in the heat of the summer, months before you can even imagine a cold bone-chilling wind, so that it dries out and is ready for the unexpected need.  Canning and storing the yield of that harvest for the days when the ground is cold and hard as iron and no fruit is hanging from the vine.

Always, the working, the leveraging today’s strength for tomorrow’s weakness.  For what unknown but certain storm is ahead.

So tell me.. what are you doing with your good days?

my good reads of 2013

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I believe in the power of words, the written word especially.  Words are highly flammable, explosive.  And I believe in resources.  In fact, I’m somewhat of a resource geek.  I know the power of a good book at the right time, words that can wake up the dead, words that can be used of God to heal, to transform.  I have a passion to connect others with good resources, because when you’ve been set free, when you’ve been transformed, when you’ve been brought to life, you can’t help but share it.  It burns in you to be told, and it’s a crazy dizzy happiness in you that must bubble out.

I also believe that reading is a discipline we must continue to cultivate.  Since God gave us His Word in written form, I believe even for those of us who find reading dull or difficult, we must continue to teach ourselves, discipline ourselves, to read.  It was eleven years ago that I read J.P. Moreland’s wonderful book Love Your God With All Your Mind and I believe that reading God’s Word and good books is a part of how we do that.  The Christian faith is not a mindless, reasonless faith.  The Bible has satisfied some of the greatest minds in history, and continues to today.

With that said, I believe in sharing here in this little quiet space of the internet my humble finds.  The books that are speaking to my soul, the truths that are ministering to me.  I hope that it can be helpful to you in some way.

This stack of books were some of my very favorites from this past year, the ones I just couldn’t {and still can’t} stop thinking about and flipping back through.  The ones I know I will read over and over again.

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Anything by Jennie Allen
This one rocked me and gave words to a restlessness that I have been struggling with for a solid year.  {I will have more to say on it in a separate post.}  Jennie Allen wrote this book to describe her & her husband’s experience of leaving behind the Christianized pursuit of the American dream.  She writes of becoming restless with worship of a small “plastic” god and finally surrendering to the one true God.  They prayed a prayer, a one-word prayer that forever changed everything:  “Anything.”  Whatever You want God, wherever You would have us go.  You can have us for anything.  This book is the story of how that little prayer exploded in their lives and led them on the adventure of a lifetime.  An incredible read, I flew through it in a few days.

“God builds our lives whether we give him permission or not.  It is the fight for control that has us all tied up, while it’s really an illusion anyway.  We control because we are afraid of what may happen if we let go.  Do we really think we are better captains of our lives than a God who sees everything and deeply loves us?…He calls the shots on what happens to us in this short stint here.  He calls them, whether we want to let him or not.  Our faith must remain greater than our pain and our fears.” (Allen)

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Weakness is the Way by J. I. Packer
Ever since doing Priscilla Shirer’s recent study on Gideon earlier this year, I have been deeply affected in the way I view weaknesses, my own in particular.  Why are we trying to present a shiny veneer to the watching world?  Why are we trying to craft a pinterest-perfect life?  It is natural for us to want to cover our ugliness, our weak areas, of course.  But what if all our posturing and pretending serves only to suffocate us, to stir up pride when we gain other’s much-sought-after approval, or to further isolate us from others who find us too “perfect” to be approachable or real?  What if all our pretending-perfect only makes others feel like less?  Is that really the goal?  What would happen if we let the guard down and let our weaknesses show?  What if we stopped trying to be sufficient on our own and let our weakness drive us to Jesus?  What if we stopped resenting our limitations and instead let the one whose strength is perfected in weakness perfect His strength in those limitations?  This is essentially what Packer is reflecting on in this little book, as he unpacks truths from 2 Corinthians.

“When the world tells us, as it does, that everyone has a right to a life that is easy, comfortable, and relatively pain-free, a life that enables us to discover, display, and deploy all the strengths that are latent within us, the world twists the truth right out of shape.  That was not the quality of life to which Christ’s calling led him, nor was it Paul’s calling, nor is it what we are called to in the twenty-first century.  For all Christians, the likelihood is rather that as our discipleship continues, God will make us increasingly weakness-conscious and pain-aware, so that we may learn with Paul that when we are conscious of being weak, then–and only then–may we become truly strong in the Lord.  And should we want it any other way?” (Packer)

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A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman
O
h gosh.  I don’t know how not to write an entire blog post on this one.  I’ve mentioned it a couple times on the blog already, but I don’t think this blog would even be here apart from this book.  We continue to live in a day where the age-old dualism between the sacred and secular abounds {to learn more about this false dualism, I highly recommend this book}.  Where we either don’t realize or live like Christ’s redemption extends beyond just our souls.  I could go on, but that’s another blog post for another day.  Emily Freeman writes to show that all of life can be lived to the glory of God, not just the time we spend reading the Bible or praying.  All of life lived for His glory, even the small and mundane tasks of our day, can be the art that we offer to the world to the glory of God.  You may not see yourself as an artist, I certainly didn’t before reading this book.  But she argues from scripture how God made each of us a work of art, and each of us have an art to offer.  Whether its washing dishes, decorating homes, hammering nails or hammering words on the keys, God is not so small that He is only glorified in what we typically call “spiritual” activities.  He wants to be revealed and glorified in all that we do.  These words are words I will read again probably every year.  She is an incredible writer, and her words set me free and brought so. much. joy.  {As an added bonus, there are videos that accompany each chapter with the author discussing here.}

“Exploring desire might be uncomfortable for you.  In one way, it almost seems cruel to ask you to access this part of your soul, because really, on earth, there can never be complete satisfaction of our deepest desires.  To imply that there can be is unfair and untrue.  But hope does not disappoint.  When we recognize the place where our desire runs parallel to that of Christ’s, then we will live in the midst of the now-but-not-quite-yet with a peace that goes beyond our ability to understand.  When we rescue the dreams of our childhood and respect the hope of things to come, we are agreeing with the Trinity: I am an image bearer.  I have a job to do.  We trust he knew what he was doing when he made us as we are.  We accept ourselves because of the work of Christ, and we accept his invitation to us to enter the world as co-creators with him.” (Freeman)

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Your Beautiful Purpose by Susie Larson
Such a beautiful and practical read.  I loved this one from cover to cover and slowly went through the study material, soaking it all in.  Larson’s writing is scripture-saturated and Christ-exalting.  This book encourages you to uncover God’s purpose for you and helps with practical things like when to move forward, how to wait on God’s timing or discern His voice, how to walk in your own calling and not coveting another’s, what to do with being criticized, etc.  So very good and helpful and encouraging.  I will return to this one often!

Who we are and what we possess.  These are the two targets the enemy aims for again and again.  If he can get us to doubt, he can trip us up.  If he can get us thinking we’re poor though we’re really rich, we’ll scratch and claw our way through life; and we’ll live anxious and afraid, like we’re without hope.  And if he can convince us we lack something good, he’ll be able to tempt us to live frantic and hurried lives, never satisfied, always wanting more.  We’ll skim life’s surfaces and miss its depths.  We’ll live jealous, me-focused lives and forsake the whole reason we’re blessed: because God loves to love us, and He loves to love through us.  Jesus promises that those who trust Him lack no good thing (Ps.34:10).  These aging earthen vessels carry the treasure of heaven within.  Ponder the significance of that truth every single day.” (Larson)

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Simply Christian by N. T. Wright
One of my very favorite bible professors from college tells me if there were one great mind she could learn under for such a time as this, it would be N. T. Wright.  I wholeheartedly agree!  This book makes sense of Christianity and the basics of what we believe.  It is easily readable for someone who is interested in understanding Christianity but has no current background with the faith.  It helps one understand the longings and basic desires of humanity, the longings we have for justice, for beauty, for relationship with others, for spirituality, and how God designed us to long for these things so that we would seek and find Him.  So that He could fulfill those longings.  He beautifully weaves together the overarching themes and purpose of the Old and New Testaments so that one can see the whole of the story God was writing and our place in it.  The truths and foundations of our faith revisited in this book brought solid joy, bolstered my faith and gave me much to chew on.  I found his final chapter on “New Creation, Starting Now” especially compelling.  His constant upholding of the full redemptive work of Christ made my soul sing.

“A great many arguments about God–God’s existence, God’s nature, God’s actions in the world–run the risk of being like pointing a flashlight toward the sky to see if the sun is shining.  It is all too easy to make the mistake of speaking and thinking as though God (if there is a God) might be a being, an entity, within our world, accessible to interested study in the same sort of way we might study music or mathematics, open to our investigation by the same sort of techniques we use for objects and entities within our world.  When Yuri Gagarin, the first Soviet cosmonaut, landed after orbiting the earth a few times, he declared that he had disproved the existence of God.  He had been up there, he said, and had seen no sign of him.  Some Christians pointed out that Gagarin had seen plenty of signs of God, if only the cosmonaut had known how to interpret them.  The difficulty is that speaking of God in anything like the Christian sense is like staring into the sun.  It’s dazzling.  It’s easier, actually, to look away from the sun itself and to enjoy the fact that, once it’s well and truly risen, you can see everything else clearly.” (Wright)

Happy reading, friends!

for the hard days

The hard days just come.  Suddenly, you realize you’re going to have one, when you thought everything was going just fine.  When what was going along suddenly careens off course.

And the soup you made tastes like fish, and sour.
And the bread in the breadmaker is a flop, something went horribly wrong, and its barely cooked or edible (and how can you mess that up?)
And its a small failure but it wipes you out.
And you cry and your husband holds and says he’ll make dinner.
And you hear the news that the car is dead.
And the numbers in the budget won’t crunch down any further.
And you’re clinging hard to Jesus, to that simple sentence that is packed with power, that “perfect love casts out fear” {1 Jn. 4:18}
And you’re not feeling power at all.  And it doesn’t feel like perfect love at all.
And you realize for all your clinging, you are not so much holding on as you are held.

And there comes rushing in the hope: nothing can shake this one truth.  Nothing can change it.  The mountains might crumble and fall into the sea, but this one truth will remain:  I am His, and He is mine.
Forever and for all eternity.
And if by faith, and by quiet surrender, I let it be, it can be, enough.

In this life I will have trouble… but He has overcome the world.

I will suffer, but I don’t have to fear suffering, because I will survive it to glory and I know the sure end.
I know my sure end.
And it can be enough.

There’s nothing as effective as pain and need to wake one up, and I want to live awake.

I want to live awake to the reality that my tight-fisted grasping for control isn’t possible.  And in knowing that comes rest because I cannot hold onto my life, but I am HELD.  My life and all that concerns me is held in the hands of another–and He is good.  He is love.  He is out to give me ultimate joy and life.  And He says, “Do not fear for I am with you” (Isa.41:10) and He promises that His presence with me is enough.