I. Want. To. See.

Here’s to another Five Minute Friday where I take a one-word prompt and write about it for a brief five minutes. You can join by linking up with a group of writers over at http://www.lisajobaker.com/five-minute-friday.

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SEE

Blind eyes long to see.

Voice rises, desperate to be heard.

Presses for mercy despite the crowds threatening to silence its plea.

Jesus hears and pauses to embrace this broken.

Drawing beggars to Himself.

Inviting neediness to encounter the All Sufficient.

What do you want Me to do for you?

And door swings wide open for glory to descend and weigh heavy…

Upon me.

The needy and broken one.

 

Lord, I want to see.

No hesitation.

No second-guessing.

Just a plea for sight.

For eyes to be fully opened.

Filled with vision of Holy.

 

All I want this year is to see You, Jesus.

To have my life opened to grace.

To follow You.

To praise God.

And to bring a thankful crowd along with me.

(Inspired by thoughts from Luke 18:35-43)

Once Upon a Shattering…

Contrary to what the fairytales would have us believe, all stories do not begin with the fabled words, “Once upon a time…”

No, all stories begin with a shattering.

The breaking of a set pattern, an ideal of what life is supposed to be, a turning from the norm as we have thus far known or experienced it.

In the beginning, God spoke the words, “Let there be light,” and effectively shattered the empty darkness. With the power of His word, He obliterated the heavy blackness, piercing it with the brightness of day.

He shattered nothingness to bring about marvelous works of His glory never before revealed. Constellations and planets flung into space; sun, moon, and stars hurled across the galaxies, coming to rest in precise position to provide a perfect balance of light and darkness for the new earth He was creating.

With the brooding of His Spirit, He shattered the calm of the deep, bursting through the surface to bring to life a vast array of fishes and dolphins and whales of all shapes and sizes. Oceans teeming with life and motion and breaking tides upon the shorelines.

Earthen crust was shattered with the creeping of roots taking form, rising into stalwart trees and life-giving plants to sustain the wonders of this world in the making. Flocks of winged birds hovered in their branches, shattering the quiet with their songs of praise before lifting in unrestrained flight, wings outstretched and soaring. Herds of gazelle broke across the open fields with pounding hooves turned loose to run with graceful abandon, joining the conglomeration of creatures now filling the barrenness.

Most miraculous of all, the breath of life exhaled upon hardened clay, shattering dusty particles to form a work of wonder called man. Image created by hands of the Divine daring to soil themselves to bring forth this most treasured creation.

Molding, breaking, and molding again. A perpetual work in progress through the ages as generation after generation rises from dust into life, then flows back into dust only to rise to life once more. Shattering the belief that this world is our eternal home.

Like the earth in which I live, so too, a shattering marks the beginnings of me.

God created a form in the darkness of a womb where no form was. He shaped and molded and grew me into His likeness, then expelled me from the confines of that darkness with a breaking of water and a shattering of the protective covering in which I had dwelt for months. New life, born through the shattering of all that had been known to me, would continue to be made known to me year after year as I followed the path stretched out by His hand.

Through the growth and maturing of days morphing into years, there are a myriad of shatterings that mark our paths.  A constant breaking from the patterns of life. A pull to move beyond the confining expectations thrust upon us by others, and those held firmly by ourselves.

It’s easy to look at the moments of life – each with its own joys or trials – and deem one worthy and the other somehow lacking. But grace is everywhere, really. Even in the shatterings. Perhaps, especially there… if we would only live with eyes open to see it.

Every bit of our days plays into something. Something yet unknown. Something large. Something hidden from the whole.

Somewhere in it all, there’s a pattern of shattering aching to birth new life. A beautiful array of roses and thorns and leaves and stems, all reaching to consume and contain a beauty we ache to grasp. To breathe it; hold it closely; crush it tightly. And release it lavishly into the shattered world in which we live. Every. Lovely. Hurting. Moment.

All of it matters.

All is necessary to produce the purpose of the whole beyond the fragments. Every seemingly disjointed, unnoticed, unworthy piece.

Every broken.

Every shattered.

It’s all the making of me.

Every moment a page in the story of creation, and it’s worth the read.

Once upon a shattering… God turned an empty nothingness into a creation of wonder.

Once upon a shattering… you were spoken into being.

Once upon a shattering... you were redeemed and called into your purpose as Light-bearer.

Once upon a shattering… death was conquered in victory.

Once upon a shattering… God will speak yet again.

Once upon a shattering… every broken thing will be raised into newness and life.

Once upon a shattering…  the old will be obliterated by the timeless splintering of HOPE.

For all eternity.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus… let the shattering begin.

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To Carpet the Earth

The other day I read the following statement in a blog by Esther Emery:

Pain happens anyway. Do we spend our days trying to carpet the entire earth? Or do we wear shoes? Learn and teach how to live in the grief, work in the frustration, heal in the physical pain. Learn how to be the broken people we are, because that doesn’t go away.

I am so guilty of wanting to “wish away” life’s hurts. For myself. For my family. For my friends. If I had my way, I would carpet the entire earth so everyone had a smooth path to travel.

And I would be surrounded by a whole lot of weak people, myself included.

As much as I love going barefoot, sometimes I have to wear shoes. Because there are places that just plain old require that.

Going barefoot is only an option when the road is less than thorny. And all too often, it’s not.

In response to Emery’s statement of pain and brokenness, I began journaling my own thoughts…

I cannot remove the suffering, no matter how much I wish it away. But I can partner with others on this broken journey of sin-soaked soil and shine a little light in the darkness. No matter how dimly my little light shines. I can train my focus to turn from removing the obstacles for others; it is too exhausting for these fragile, earthy hands of mine. Instead, I can work toward strengthening myself in the divine. Toughening the calloused hands that embrace the broken pieces of too much living. Because the suffering will remain as long as His coming tarries. The hurts will always be here on Terra firma…

In the middle of my writing, I was interrupted by a phone call from a loved one. A  friend whose voice broke into tears almost immediately after my initial “hello.” While I waited in silence, her voice haltingly shared her most recent hurt. And I was faced with the urge to “carpet her earth” in that moment. To set her feet on a softer path where she could experience the joy of going barefoot through the softness of a journey that was all sunshine and roses – without the thorns.

Though it warred against my rising compassion, I resisted the temptation to pacify her heart against the convictions burning within her. I could not find a loophole that would soften the blow to her heart as I was reminded, in real time, that as much as I want to “wish away the pain,” I know it lies deeper than my hands can reach.

And so I listened. And loved. And prayed for God’s grace to grow and somehow overcome the hurt. The all-tied-up-in-a-knot emotions of a heart disappointed. I avoided preaching the “quick fix” mantras of Christianity, because there really is no “quick fix” for a heart hurting, no magical repair of relationships gone terribly wrong. There is only grace. And love. And that, we will always have, even while facing a circumstance that neither of us wished were true.

But to remind a broken heart while it’s breaking seems almost pointless. Even cruel.

After hanging up the phone, I picked up my pen and continued my journal entry with the following:

The hurts will always be here on Terra firma… But so will the light. And no matter how darkly the coverage of gathering storms clouds up the skies, the light will always be strong enough to pierce its thickness. So love through the hurts, walk hand-in-hand through the broken rubble, and trust the love that lingers when circumstances make no sense. Engage your will against resistance, and travel on. Together.

No, I cannot possibly carpet the whole earth and soften the blows of pain that are certain to come, sometimes with knock-out proportions. I can only train myself to rest in God’s love and take the brokenness that surrounds me before the One who makes all things new…

Even when our hopes have been shattered and our minds cannot begin to comprehend what He is up to.

So I will lace up my shoes – though I’d much rather run barefoot – and join you on this journey that stretches before us. And together, we will trust His love that lingers when the temporal flees.

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When Words Fail

today i cannot find them
they disappear before i catch them
escaping my thoughts
like puffs of dandelion dust
fleeing in the wind
scattered letters
overtaken
divided
loosened from their core and
tossed by tempests of
too
much
hurt

piles of letters upon letters
fragments eluding containment
refusing to come together
evading arrangement
defying any semblance of order
much like the thoughts of my heart
disjointed emotions
fleeting feelings
ceasing to make sense
refusing to
complete
the
whole

encouragement falls by the wayside
gasping for breath with each
crashing wave of grief
too many tears
that fill and weigh heavy
smothering
choking at hope
loosening light
exchanging joy for mourning
in this reversal of roles that
taunts
kingdom
living

i am undone
but not in awe
i am consumed
but not with the promise of abundant life
not lifted by the winds of praise
but overwhelmed by the aching of
bending to these breezes of brokenness
ceasing to live
i merely exist
struggling to be something more
than
simply
raw

What do you do when words fail?

Where do you turn when the only place you long for is a solitary place away from the demands of others? Away from the crushing weight of daily living that is filled with sorrow and emptiness? When no clear thoughts can be formed in your mind, let alone lived out in your days?

In short, what do you do in the face of so much hurt?

Try as I might, I can’t come up with that answer for you.

To fill your ears with incessant chatter seems pointless; indeed, it seems that it would only heap hurt upon hurt. Even to flood this page with Scripture verse after verse, though filled with the truth of God’s promises, may only cause you more frustration than hope.

So today, I will join you in this struggle for words, and I will remain silent. I will sit and listen and pray that my presence in your pain somehow brings a bit of comfort to you.

When words fail, love remains.

If nothing else, may you trust in that truth for your life today.

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Stronger for the Breaking

January has been a month of breaking. On so many levels. In the last few weeks, it seems as though every time I turn around, something or someone is breaking. Broken vehicles, broken covenants, a broken furnace, broken finances, broken relationships, a child’s broken health, friends broken by the separation of death and the finality of suicide, broken promises, a home broken into, and hearts simply broken by too many bad choices. And in the breaking, I have felt nearly shattered.

The light within has flickered with the steady waves of disappointment until all I can do is pour my heart out to my Father. And even then, my words have seemed too many or too few.

It’s so tempting to approach God on my own terms. So hard to keep from leaning upon my own wisdom, from interjecting my own short-sighted desires into my prayers. It’s so easy to let my tongue rule my heart instead of allowing God’s Word to rule them both.

For in the breaking, there is not only the desire for healing, there is a host of hurt, anger, disappointment, frustration, and a myriad of other less than holy traits that long to break free in me. And though I know what is right and what God desires from me, there is a heart that still so easily wants to succumb to the unholy. There’s still a yearning to turn to the “dark side” of unbelief.

HOW can God possibly fix all this brokenness? How can this shattered, ground-into-the-finest-of-dust brokenness ever be anything other? How can something good come from this wreck of humanity left bleeding and gasping for breath by the wayside? How will restoration find its way into so many broken places? Into so many broken people?

And that is when His Spirit reminds me to think upon His Word. To once again turn to those long-forgotten promises that have withstood the test of time and trial. Those ancient paths that have guided me through other broken places, other times when my heart was wont to crumble in despair. And into the stillness of a heart prostrate before His throne, He speaks truth yet again:

A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not quench; He will bring forth justice in truth. (Isaiah 42:3)

And I grasp at this truth that is known in the depths of my soul. I cling to His mercy… and find it strong enough.

For though these temporal trials crash against me, they cannot overwhelm the Lover of my soul. And in resting within the hand of the Most High, I am held. Held above my sorrows. Held securely. Held in favor.

And that dimly burning wick? It is kindled once more by the breath of the Creator who first breathed it to life.

The glowing grows with remembrance of the One whose gentleness restores me.

Bruises bathed with healing balm of heaven’s glory.

Brokenness rebuilt, beautified from the inside out by Hands that crafted the universe.

A heart set free, though circumstances remain.

Because I trust in the One who heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Because I choose to rest in the mercies of the One who remains constant always.

Even when I’m broken. Perhaps, especially then.

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