In Spaces of Universes and of Souls

in the beginning
in the empty and quiet
in the space and in the chaos
He comes with invitation
descends with life begetting life
spoken and done

stretching space to cradle creation
speaking into the silence
embracing empty with full
hovering with Spirit breath
holding humanity to His heart
while releasing it wild and free

glory descending for a visit
with eternal implications
for all who will believe
surrendered yet held captive
by a love of limitless dimensions
spilling into spaces of universes and of souls

light

In the beginning, God was.

He was there, present in the darkness. In the chaos. In the empty. In the nothing.

He brought forth light, separating it from the darkness, and the goodness of this simple separation continues and remains to this day. It’s a separation from what once was, shaping into what would be. Light overwhelming. Finding its way in the universe. In souls.

God making space in order to give birth to life.

This open expanse nestled within the depths of humanity. Exposing a vulnerability. Creating space to create. This calling to birth something new is present within all of us. Here in the bare.

In these soul spaces where empty weighs heavy.

Some days my soul feels at odds with My Creator. Some days I am tempted to forget that God not just was, but is. I see this struggle in the lives around me, as well. This longing in the eyes of people I meet in the grocery store or at gas stations or wherever I encounter another individual treading upon terra firma. A hidden desire to be something other than what we are. A choked hope wrestling to break free of this routine of day in and day out with no end in sight. No inkling that these empty spaces within are meant to be filled with God. No thought of each day holding the potential to be welcomed with joyful expectancy, not just seen as another day of duty and obligations and endless to-do lists.

Can you feel it, too? This sense of yearning while passing by a complete stranger? This weariness of a life drained of living? I feel the heavy of longing emitting from my fellow sojourner. Space reaching for filling. Stretched expanse yearning. Bending. Groaning for wonders.

And my heart groans along with theirs.

“Lord God, come,” I pray.

Come overtake this barren longing steeped within humanity. Soothe this ache to behold a beauty as yet unknown, yet fully desired. Breathe life upon these earthen vessels, and beget hope again. Call forth Your creation to be created anew, so we can all marvel at the goodness being birthed and say with one voice, Our God is!”

Come brood and hover over us, releasing love in new and ancient ways. All beautiful. Expand potential within the hearts of spacious souls, and reveal a future yet unveiling before eyes opened by Spirit’s breath. Bend near to hear the pleading of hearts long silenced by sin’s burdens. Release the miracle of seeing good again. And again. And for forever, as we embrace this continuing newness with welcome and with wonder.

Come and create Your masterpiece of goodness as You separate us from what once was and shape us into what will be. Light overwhelming, finding its way… here in this space of universes and of souls.

 


Those Awkward Passions

This week I’ve found myself pondering what keeps folks from pursuing their passions, and I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps our greatest enemy is simply fear.

How many of us fail to engage our passions because we’re afraid of what that might look like? Of what we might look like when we’re still awkwardly developing, learning to flow smoothly with grace and finesse.

When my son Joshua was a young boy, he discovered he had a knack for the game of basketball. While there was no denying his natural ability to jump high and to get that ball through the hoop, his style while doing so was awkward. He was often all flailing arms and jerky movements, but he was good at the game. He might not have had the polished moves, but he got the job done, and he loved every minute of it.

The unsure preadolescent became a confident force to be reckoned with on the basketball court. He quickly drew attention with his enthusiasm and skill, and he developed confidence as he played, so much so that he came out grand champion of a few summer camp competitions. He pressed in and worked hard, not to perfect his technique, but to accomplish the goal of scoring the points. He learned to handle the ball with practiced control, even though he looked on the verge of losing it sometimes. And he did it all with a smile (and the perpetual tongue sticking out like Michael Jordan’s).

For a few years, basketball was Joshua’s passion, and he pursued it with gusto.

But what if he hadn’t? What if Joshua never chased after his passion for basketball because he was concerned his style might appear more reckless than another boy’s? What if he would have allowed his awkwardness to keep him from playing the game? From doing something he loved?

He would have missed out on a wonderful opportunity to grow and to become even better at a talent with which he was naturally gifted.

What about us?

What if, instead of being paralyzed by fear, we stepped out to practice our purpose? What if we dared to try something we love, even though we might look a bit awkward in our start-up?

What if we stopped neglecting that desire to throw ourselves wholeheartedly into the purpose that’s been tugging on our heartstrings? To stop “piddling’ and actually begin to pursue with devotion that thing others keep telling us we’re so good at?

I stumbled across an online article entitled The NBA’S 15 Smoothest Players, but some of its contents could just as easily be written for our own version of Christianity’s Smoothest Ministry Workers: ..being smooth is an all-around characteristic. These players rarely play out of their pace, never look fazed and are unflappable in clutch moments. There’s a graceful flow and elasticity that makes everything they do on the court seem natural.”

Yep, I know a few of those people. Everything they do appears effortless from beginning to end; the result of their endeavors is appealing to a myriad of folks; and to make it all the worse – they look good while doing it. Unfazed and unflappable in clutch moments.

I, on the other hand, often have sweat running down my face and endless piles of “first draft” attempts scattered on the floor next to the trash can. (Unlike my son’s, my aim is definitely off.) I generally feel awkward and flailing, totally flapping instead of unflappable, and clutching for sure footing during clutch moments.

BUT… again relying upon words from our Smoothest Players article: “That’s not to say those who don’t fit that description and aren’t included on this list are inferior, because production comes in very different styles.”

Production comes in very different styles. Your strengths might not match up against your neighbor’s, but that doesn’t make you somehow ineffective in getting the job done. It just means your style and approach is uniquely your own. Uniquely as God created it to be.

It’s time to get beyond our fears of not making the “smoothest” list and start releasing the passions within us. Regardless of how they line up against the passions of others. Comparison is a false measuring tool, my friend, and a fearful trap meant to keep us from ever sharing those unique gifts we have been given to grace this world.

So instead of leaning hard upon a particular form or a flawless style, how about we all lean hard upon the Lord? Let’s trust our passions to the One who placed them within us, and trust Him just as much to pull them forth at just the right moment, in just the right way, to be used to bless just the right person, at just the right time.

It’s even okay if you need to stick out your tongue to get the job done.

66436_10200214311501179_475180793_nAnd that basketball-loving son of mine? Well, he’s all grown up and is seldom seen on a basketball court nowadays. Instead, he’s allowed God to turn the desires of his heart and lead him to the other side of the world where he travels through remote mountain villages sharing the name of Jesus with those who have never heard. Still awkward and imperfect at times, yet still passionate. Filled with the love of a different game – to carry the promise of God’s kingdom come to dwell within the hearts of men. A worthy passion, indeed.

To Embrace the Turning

I found myself feeling remorseful this morning as I read the verses staring up at me. It was one of those times when my Bible randomly fell open in my lap, exposing my heart with the strength of the letters dancing before my eyes. Like a mixture of raindrops and hailstones, the words coursed and bounced through the crevices of my soul, seeping into its depths with a sensation that was simultaneously refreshing and stinging.

It’s no secret that I have been fighting against the turning of the seasons this year more than ever before. Like a defiant toddler, I’ve been dragged, kicking and screaming, into the beauty of autumn days. I’ve been throwing such a fit, that I’ve denied the beauty of the colorful surroundings and the crisp, starry nights staring me in the face. Stubbornly digging in my heels, I’ve tenaciously clung to the residual signs of summer, grasping for the last vestiges of sunshine and warmth which continue to slip faster and faster through my clutching hands.

And I’ve been irritated by it all. Irritated because I feel gypped out of summer. The days were far too cold, too rainy, too overcast, too short-lived for one so addicted to the sun.

In short, I’ve been facing the approach of what’s before me with a longing for what lies behind.

By looking back to hold onto and hold out for more of the same, I’ve neglected to enjoy what lies before me this day. I’ve failed to gasp in wonder at the debut of autumn’s unveiling, closing my eyes against the buttery yellows, stunning reds, and creamy tans making their way across the treeline. The crunching of fallen leaves has frustrated me rather than issued an invitation to dive into their piling depths with childlike abandon. Instead of being soothed by season’s changing, reminding me of life’s steady continuance, I’ve been saddened by it all.

Could it be that I have simply forgotten?

In my anxiousness to hold onto what is known and loved, have I somehow neglected to remember that God is the Shaper of seasons? Every. One. Of. Them.

With the purposefulness of all that Father does, He brings each season’s changes. He is the One who allows days to either shorten or lengthen, sustaining the precise hours of each with His own timelessness. How’s that for an oxymoron?

He who is timeless holds all time in His hands.

He who spins the axis of Earth upon His fingertips steadily turns the pages of each season of my life – those within and without.

And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.  (Daniel 2:21-22)

God changes the times and the seasons because He realizes each specific moment of every day is imperative to the next. He knows that spring and summer could not produce to their full potential without the rest that winter and autumn afford. As much as I long for all sunshine and warmth, even I can appreciate the cool, reviving rains that fall in order to soothe the soil and bring forth new life.

In the smallness of my wisdom, I turn my gaze heavenward and once more ask for more. I ask God to come and bring a greater abundance of knowledge into my stubborn heart. I pray for a larger portion of  understanding to allow me to see beyond what I feel. For truth to nestle deeply when my faith seems so tiny, so fleeting. I ask for Light to shine brightly when darkness encroaches upon my days, squeezing itself into my waking hours and tempting me toward despondency.

For if He is light… and He is.
If He is always with me… and He is.
If He is both the Shaper of seasons and of souls… and He is.

… Then I can rejoice always.

ALWAYS – whether all is green and sunny with flowers and gardens in full bloom; whether dry and crunchy with wind stripping trees bare; or whether icy and snowy with all signs of the living silenced beneath clouds of gray and heavy blanket of white.

Life is still very much living throughout each and every season.

Not one heartbeat has ceased, no matter how dormant things may appear. The buds are being revived in secret places of hiding – held firmly by the Holder of all creation. Life is being formed anew in the darkness that is not merely fully known, but fully encompassed by the Light of the world warming its depths.

No shadow of turning.

Not one spot of gray able to dim so bright a truth as God in me and me in Him.

So I look to this turning season rushing toward me, and instead of fleeing from its storms or fighting against its cold, I reach out to embrace it.

With wind whipping through my hair and hailstones pounding for all they’re worth, I stand with arms outstretched and face lifted to the heavens as I open my eyes to look upon the One who steadily turns the pages of time.

And I whisper a prayer of thanks for each and every moment, trusting He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.

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