Change.

“I am not what I ought to be. I am not what I wish to be. I am not what I hope to be.
Yet, though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor what I hope to be…
I am not what I once was…and “By the grace of God I am what I am.” ”
| John Newton

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We set out with our maps, eyes on the ‘X’.
Little did we know what would come our way: The fog, the swamps, the deserts, the peaks, the valleys, the jungles, the springs, the pastures, the sea.

The friends and foes (and how roles change with time)…
And others whose roles You have yet to make clear.

The good and bad (and yet good if they were from and allowed by You).
The questions and answers.
And answers to questions I didn’t know I had.

To realize Your patience and forbearance now (yet I shall never grasp their full extent).
For if such nourishment and excellent environment had been given to plants, they would have flourished and produced much fruit.

Yet I grew wild…And with love, you trimmed me that I could grow. On the road where I thought I would bring change, You continue to change me instead. And with every step, I grow to learn this truth, uttered with awe and praise from the lips of those who walked with You in times past:

I am not what I ought to be — ah, how imperfect and deficient!
I am not what I wish to be — I abhor what is evil, and I would cleave to what is good!
I am not what I hope to besoon, soon shall I put off mortality,
and with mortality all sin and imperfection.
Yet, though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor what I hope to be,
I can truly say, I am not what I once was; a slave to sin and Satan; and I can heartily join with the apostle, and acknowledge, “By the grace of God I am what I am.”

No sweeter thing, no sweeter song
The day I knew my sins were gone
My failures and my broken life
Were washed in blood the day You died…
And what I was, I am no more
All my life surrendered…
To You alone, I owe it all
All my life forever
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Wrestling.

“For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.” — Psalm 139:4

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You know all our hopes
Lord, You know all our fears
And words cannot express the love we feel
But we long for You to hear…

If words could fall like rain
From these lips of mine
And if I had a thousand years
I would still run out of time

So if You listen to my heart
Every beat will say
Thank you for the Life
Thank you for the Truth
Thank you for the Way…”

When you asked for my thoughts, I realized how little I know of the world.
Who is fit to judge but One.
Who sees the true intent behind actions?
Who can judge true intent but the One who sees our hearts?

Presenting this one, too, Lord.
And if there is no answer on this side of eternity…
If I never receive an answer from You…
Let me rest in silence and not speak without Your truth.

Let me have that “peace, be still,” knowing that You still sit on the throne.

 

 

 

Mine.

“I think God wants to make me pure gold, so He is burning out the dross, teaching me the meaning of the fire, the burnt offering, the death of the self-part of me.”
― Amy Carmichael

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The question that keeps coming, the one after, “How are you?”
The one that shakes my roots when I thought I was standing…
The one I often take back to You.

Of course, the giants who walked before me, on whose shoulders I climb, were right: When You don’t give answers, You give Yourself.

And Your reminders to me:

“Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace. If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace. In that stillness, you will know what His will is…

The best training is to learn to accept everything as it comes, as from Him whom our soul loves. The tests are always unexpected things, not great things that can be written up, but the common little rubs of life, silly little nothings, things you are ashamed of minding one scrap” ― Amy Carmichael

And in this season, Your answer has been who You are, and who I am before You.

Thank You that You continue to deepen my roots, that when the fruits do come, they may have Your sweetness.

I have seen you in the thick of it
When all of your walls come crashing down
I have known you in your worst regrets
When everything broke is breaking out
Oh, if you’d only, finally, hear me when I say
You are mine oh you are mine
I will always be beside you through the darkest of nights
You are my child, so open your eyes
Lay down your armor, surrender the fight
And oh, my child, you are mine
There are days ahead so troubling
But I will never leave your side
(Still learning to hear you, and to listen)

Let.

“In the valley of my mind
On the road of the unknown
When the shadows of my doubts are closing in
You are the light that brings me home

I don’t understand but I can feel it
Every waking moment in Your presence
This peace won’t let me go
There is freedom In laying all my worries at Your feet again
Even in my struggle I’m surrendering
Your peace won’t let me go.

 

Always a struggle to find the right words to say… At the right time.
Years later, I realized what it was.
It was the sense of being let down.
The dashing… of hope.
And yet, even so, You are here.
And even that, was for my good.

And You will never let me down.
Never let me go.
Nothing can separate me from that eternal love in You.
Will You grant me freedom through the security of Your love?
With Your peace, that will not let me go?

Waiting Differently

“For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.” (1 Chronicles 15:13)

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Let me learn from Your ways.
For mine were wrong, and You — in love and truth — gave correction.
Rid me of stubborn rebellion and foolish self- will, that I may not err this way yet another time.

Secure me in Who You are.
To know that You are good and loving (not cruel),
that You are working (not lax),
that You are purposeful (and life has meaning because of You).

Teach me to see with the eyes of faith.
That I may learn to hear You above all.
That I may walk with You.
That I may choose — yet not I, but You.
That I may do and gain that which You have purposed for me.

 

“I’ve been here so long that my faith is getting weak
So I just have to believe
Maybe You’re speaking through the silence
Maybe it’s all I need to hear
Give me the patience if it’s quiet
I need to rest here
And be okay to wait

 

When did I start not believing that You are who you promised You’ll be
Faithful to finish what you said You would do

 

Although right now I can’t hear you speaking
I will choose to believe
Maybe You’re speaking through the silence
Maybe it’s all I need to hear
Give me the patience
If it’s quiet
I need to rest here
And wait For You
as long as it takes

 

Against All Hope.

“What do you look forward to this year,” they asked.
Minutes later, I’m still silent.
I couldn’t think of anything…

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That is, I couldn’t think of anything that could sum up everything that I do hope for, in the timeframe that they hoped I would answer.

And today, You asked me who I think You are.
In the quietness of my room, before You alone.
“Who Am I to you?”

Of the many answers, one is Hope.

Against all hope, the Hope Whom I believe.

In Your graceful and wise silence, in Your thunderous majesty, in the painful but clear answers… You are grace and truth.

In the midst of pain, of misunderstandings, of crushed hope, of uncertainties… In the chaos and deafening silence, in secrets revealed, You are my anchor, my stronghold, my foundation, my strength, my comforter.

And now, Father.
Only You know when the other shoe will drop.
And when it drops…
When that hits the ground and the cascade of effects ensue…
And what was asleep looks viable once more…

Father, then be my Guide, my Shepherd, my Defender, my Peace.
(Praying, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:13).)

If I should be asked again, I think my answer is this, ‘You are my Hope. And I yearn for a closer walk with You, to know You more through experience, to be more like You.

And on this road, not to be the voice who condemns out of frustration, but who points others to You. That if I should help, then they should remember not me, but You.’

 

I just look forward to more of You.

From heaven’s height to manger low
There is no distance the Prince of Peace won’t go
From manger low to Calvary’s hill
When your pain runs deep
His love runs deeper still
He has always loved you, child
And He always will
Somewhere in your silent night
Heaven hears the song your broken heart has cried
Hope is here, just lift your head
For love has come to find you
Somewhere in your silent night
…Lift your head
Lift your heart
Emmanuel will meet you where you are
He knows your hurt
He knows your name
And you’re the very reason that He came

This is love.

I was trying to imagine what love in faith looks like.

After a while, I realized that I recognized that love when someone comes and spends time with me in His Word. It is the quiet reassurance in this process when I learn and know that they are immersed in and living by His Word. And as they speak, they speak not out of their own heart and wits (even if it was out of love for me), but they speak out of the fullness of Your Word, and they are interested not only in my physical but also my spiritual well-being.

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A picture of love.

And so, I recognize love when someone comes to sit with me with a Bible opened, ready to spend time together in His Word. Ready and patient to answer questions, not afraid of not having the answers, because we know He has them and will give it to us in time.

This morning, we were asked think, on the day of our funeral, what would we hope that those in attendance would say about us?

After a while, I realized it is still this:
That she loved God, and she loved us. 

And Father, will you remind me that even as I write now, this is for You.
If anyone and anything should be won, let it be for You and to You, and not to myself.
The Puritans have written about my heart better than I…
And I repeat that which resonates with my heart:

——-

O LOVER OF THE LOVELESS,

It is thy will that I should love thee
with heart, soul, mind, strength,
and my neighbour as myself.

But I am not sufficient for these things.
There is by nature no pure love in my soul;
Every affection in me is turned from thee;
I am bound, as slave to lust,
I cannot love thee, lovely as thou art,
until thou dost set me free.

By grace I am thy freeman and would serve thee,
for I believe thou art my God in Jesus,
and that through him I am redeemed,
and my sins are forgiven.

With this freedom I would always obey thee,
but I cannot walk in liberty,
any more than I could first attain it, of myself.
May thy Spirit draw me nearer to thee
and thy ways.

Thou art the end of all means,
  for if they lead me not to thee,
  I go away empty.

Order all my ways by thy holy Word
  and make thy commandments the joy
    of my heart,
  that by them I may have happy converse
    with thee.
May I grow in thy love and manifest it
  to mankind.

Spirit of love, make me like the loving Jesus;
give me his benevolent temper,
his beneficent actions,
that I may shine before men to thy glory.

The more thou doest in love in me and by me,
  humble me the more;
  keep me meek, lowly,
  and always ready to give thee honour.

— Christian Love, The Valley of Vision

 

 

Thou hast given me silence in my heart
in place of murmurings and complaints.

Keep my wishes from growing into willings,
  my willings from becoming fault-finding
    with thy providences,
  and have mercy on me.

If I sin and am rebellious, help me to repent;
then take away my mourning and give me music;
remove my sackcloth and adorn me with beauty;
 take away my sighs and fill my mouth with songs;
and when I am restored and rest in thee
give me summer weather in my heart.
— Repose, The Valley of Vision

Even.

You’ve never let me forget this.
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And even now, you make me exclaim,

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”
(Psalm 139:7-10)

 

Here are some notes in a song that spoke truth and comfort to me recently:

On the nights when the dark last a little bit longer
When the wind and the storm is a little bit stronger
When the fear in my heart dips a little bit deeper
When my faith to stand gets a little bit weaker

Where could I run to?
Where could I go?

Even when it feels like my world is shaken
Even when I’ve had all that I can take
I know
You never let me go…

When the days up ahead look a little bit brighter
But the grip of the past holds a little bit tighter
I’m reminded Your grace never asks for perfection
Oh I’m restored ’cause I’m Yours and I stand forgiven…

And even in the middle of a struggle
And even when it’s hard to remember
You alone are my defense when
I’m standing on Your promises

 

Some days, joy feels as elusive as it did when I first started.
Some days, I feel like a walk in uncertainty, listening, watching, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Though that ‘shoe’ is almost sure to drop…
I know that Your good is even surer.

But Father, make me not only to know.
Let me live this truth, in the goodness of Your will, according to Your purposes.

And as I see Your hand at work, let me know more of Your heart.

 

And Father, heal mine.

Unsettled

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This nothing profound… It is simply a collection of the fragments of the mind, spurred on by a season that promise meaning to those who abide by its laws.

But the thought of home and stability are often the very things that make me unsettled.
(Or, if we’re honest, was it this morning’s reminder of what today was…?)

Yet storms end, and that which will be gone will go, and that which is meant to stay will remain… But until then, somewhere ‘safe’ to keep unsettled (and unsettling) thoughts.

“Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.”  
― Fred Rogers, The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember

 

“Is it really possible to tell someone else what one feels?”
― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

“It is a grave injustice to a child or adult to insist that they stop crying. One can comfort a person who is crying which enables him to relax and makes further crying unnecessary; but to humiliate a crying child is to increase his pain, and augment his rigidity. We stop other people from crying because we cannot stand the sounds and movements of their bodies. It threatens our own rigidity. It induces similar feelings in ourselves which we dare not express and it evokes a resonance in our own bodies which we resist.”
― Alexander Lowen, The Voice of the Body

“We experience ourselves our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.” ― Albert Einstein

“To hear never-heard sounds, 
To see never-seen colors and shapes, 
To try to understand the imperceptible 
Power pervading the world; 
To fly and find pure ethereal substances 
That are not of matter 
But of that invisible soul pervading reality. 
To hear another soul and to whisper to another soul; 
To be a lantern in the darkness 
Or an umbrella in a stormy day; 
To feel much more than know. 
To be the eyes of an eagle, slope of a mountain; 
To be a wave understanding the influence of the moon; 
To be a tree and read the memory of the leaves; 
To be an insignificant pedestrian on the streets 
Of crazy cities watching, watching, and watching. 
To be a smile on the face of a woman 
And shine in her memory 
As a moment saved without planning.” 
― Dejan Stojanovic

 

That was it:
A moment saved without planning.
A collection of moments.
Memories kept when the bodies which once housed them have moved on.
You’ve once asked why I liked to think deeply.
(I found your question strange, and didn’t answer.)
I didn’t know then. I think I know now…
To think, for me, is to breathe.
The deeper I think, the more alive I feel.
And if I should stop thinking, I think I may drown.

Defeat

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(There is a loss that feels much like defeat: The loss of control over what we had deemed our own, the relinquishment of the throne and reign over our own lives. Neither submission, nor obedience are easy words on this vocabulary.  Yet wise friends have whispered, “This loss is gain…” And there, may I find Your voice. Until the day, I see it just so…)

“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,

    and do not resent his rebuke,
 because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    as a father the son he delights in. 

 Blessed are those who find wisdom,
    those who gain understanding,
 for she is more profitable than silver
    and yields better returns than gold.

By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
    by understanding he set the heavens in place;
by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
    and the clouds let drop the dew.

 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
    preserve sound judgment and discretion;
 they will be life for you,
    an ornament to grace your neck.
 Then you will go on your way in safety,
    and your foot will not stumble.
When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
    when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”

(Proverbs 3: 11-14, 19-24)

 

 

 

Still my soul be still
Do not be moved
By lesser lights and fleeting shadows
Hold onto His ways

(What can I say? I still don’t understand it.
But it is so.
Give me faith to obey in the face of unchanging circumstance.
Melt the ice of this wild soul.)