Lenten Reflections: Making Space For REAL Light

Today’s fast is artificial light.

Without reading ahead I kind of stepped on today’s reflection. Chole describes John’s prison questions this way: “the distance between what John thought Jesus would do and what Jesus actually did was straining John’s certainty of who Jesus was.”

Oh, my! How well I can identify with this feeling!

I’ve told anyone who will listen that when Dominic was killed I dragged a lifetime of what I thought I knew and understood about God into the light of child loss. It absolutely strained my certainty of who Jesus is.

And my questions made some folks uncomfortable just as John’s question makes some Bible teachers uncomfortable.

Too often we want to shush or shout down the hearts that are simply trying to make some sense of things that neither make sense nor seem (on the surface) to reflect the loving heart of a Faithful Father.

A key invitation of our spiritual journeys is to be emotionally honest about our uncertainties. Questions such as the one asked by John are signs of a living, growing, active faith, not evidence of a dying one. Jesus’ calm response to John echoes to us today: ‘Recall what I have done in the past. Accept me as the Great I Am of your future.’

Alicia Britt Chole

Hebrews chapter 11 is known as the “Hall of Faith”.

For today’s Lenten exercise, Chole suggests laying aside screens and electric lights to read that chapter by candlelight this evening.

I highly recommend it! Do it aloud if you are able.

Speaking the names, the circumstances, the journeys of those whose hearts trusted the heart of the Lord who made them and who led them but who also allowed hardship, disappointment and even death, is breathtaking and heartbreaking.

But it puts my life in context of His bigger story.

Redemption, restoration, re-creation and the ultimate Sabbath rest of eternal glory and perfect relationship.

God needs nothing, asks nothing and demands nothing, like the stars. It is life with God which demands these things…. You do not have to sit outside in the dark. If, however you want to look at the stars, you will find that the darkness is necessary. But the stars neither require it nor demand it.

Annie Dillard

**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience.**

My Testimony: A Video

I was asked a few months ago to record a short video sharing about how my son’s death impacted my faith.

It was the first time in the more than seven years since he ran ahead to Heaven I’d tried to tell the story in so few words.

And while I’ve shared much of this same material (plus even more details, thoughts and feelings!) here on the blog, I thought a few of you may want to watch this short video to gain some background you might have missed.

I DID misspeak in one instance-my eldest son was not yet in the Air Force at that time. He was out of town though when I got the news of his brother’s accident.

So here you go:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jyzgBWffrGlKzHK9jl_Iu86bCse3ZiiC/view?usp=sharing

Random Sunday Thoughts

Sometimes church is hard for me.  

Not because I am angry with God, His people or His Word. 

But because my experience is an outlier for Western “Sunshine” Christianity.  

I don’t fit in with the folks who smile and wave and pretend that they have all they ever wanted, heaven is a nice place to look forward to, and they are “living their best life now”.  

With so much effort being poured into church growth, so much press being given to the benefits of faith, and so much flexing of religious muscle in the public square, the poor in spirit have no one but Jesus to call them blessed anymore.
― Barbara Brown Taylor

My eyes are open to the desperate reality that this world is not as God intended.  My heart knows that even though my hope in Christ is a lifeline, it isn’t anesthesia.

My soul is battered and bruised.  

My “hallelujah” is definitely broken.  

love is a cold and broken hallelujah

I have a hard time with Sunday School lessons that draw one-liner takeaways from difficult to understand scriptures.  I cannot give assent to simple life lessons designed to give congregants a mantra for the coming week.

Life is more complex than that. 

And if you listen closely to Jesus’ own words you can hear it.  

will-have-trouble-but-i-have-overcome

So sometimes I can’t gather in the halls with folks who insist life is simple, faith erases all pain and the hope of Heaven makes everything alright.  

I sit home with my Bible, my selection of honest worship songs and my God.  

He has invited me to bring my hurt to Him, so I do.  

He is a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.  

I can trust my heart to Him.

you who are weary come to me

Feet of Clay

God is not offended by my human frailty.  He isn’t looking down from Heaven, shaking His head at my halting steps forward on this long, hard road.

we are dustHe understands my fear, my sadness, my longing for wholeness.

But sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that.

I’m surrounded by messages that scream,

“You can do better!”

“Be all that you can be!”  

“Try harder, practice more, do this, do that and you can attain your dreams!”

Even in Christian circles we tend to rank one another based on hours spent in Bible study, Sunday School lessons taught, singing in the choir, serving on committees, showing up at services.

That was the way of the Pharisees-impossible burdens piled high that crushed precious hearts so that they couldn’t imagine a Father in Heaven Who loved them.

That made Jesus angry.

They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.

Matthew 23:4 NLT

He didn’t come to mock my limitations or make light of my struggles.

He came to Shepherd my heart past those very things to see His heart for who He created me to be.

He reaches out and reaches in.  He sings love and courage and hope when I’m desperate to hear it.  

For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will give you victory. He will rejoice over you with great gladness; he will love you and not accuse you.” Is that a joyous choir I hear? No, it is the Lord himself exulting over you in happy song. “I have gathered your wounded and taken away your reproach.

Zephaniah 3:17 TLB

Reality is this:  I AM broken.  I AM frail.  I AM burdened by this life on earth.  It is absolutely too heavy for me to carry.  I will be crushed to dust beneath its weight.

But He offers to take that burden for which I was never made and replace it with the one perfectly fitted for my shoulders.

His yoke is easy.

His yoke is light.

And He is the One Who pulls alongside me to bear it.

you who are weary come to me

 

 

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