Dark night of the soul.

“In his face there came to be a brooding peace that is seen most often in the faces of the very sorrowful or the very wise. But still he wandered through the streets of the town, always silent and alone.” — C.M.

By Yaoyao Ma VA

Of all the goodbyes, why has this wounded so deeply?
There were others held in higher esteem, futures that shone brighter still.
But why this? Why now?

Was it the nonjudgmental welcome?
Your feigned confusion with my questions, and the honest and creative response.
Even when the answer was beyond you, you walked through the depth of the maze with me, both guided by light one step ahead.
(Though time and again, I wondered if you were there, and waited until I arrived there, too.)

At the end of the maze, I look back and realize it was not perfection, not skill, not beauty, not abundance… No.
It was just a willingness to walk together — to wander, to be lost, to wait, to be found… repeating this again and again on this path full of strange and unexpected turns.
That it was a choice. To choose the same again, and again, and again.

And I think the wound is this.
At the end of the maze, I see a fork in the road.
One is well suited to you, and the other, me.
There is no reason to choose any other. Logically, we should embark our own.

You asked why ‘joy’ was the most difficult one for me.
It is this: To live with unknowns and the painful aftermath…
Yet believing that all is well and will be well.
To sit silently, bearing pain and wondering about the meaning.
To be reasonably happy here, and supremely happy in the next.

To wake up.
Those seconds of blissful forgetfulness.
To be washed over by these same waves over and again.
The anchor is faith and hope in Him.
Healing is with Him, too.

(That this will not be known here, until the day we stand. That, too, is well.)

Tonight, the wound is fresh, and deepens with understanding.
But ‘all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.’


Faith in Work & Play

Then the Lord said to Aaron: “You and your sons and your father’s house with you shall bear the iniquity related to the sanctuary, and you and your sons with you shall bear the iniquity associated with your priesthood.  Also bring with you your brethren of the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, that they may be joined with you and serve you while you and your sons are with you before the tabernacle of witness. 

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Just before sunrise on the Masada snake trail

A great deal of honour God had now lately put upon Aaron; his rod had budded and blossomed, when the rods of the rest of the princes remained dry, and destitute both of fruit and ornament. Now lest Aaron should be puffed up with the abundance of the favours that were done him, and the miracles that were wrought for the support of him in his high station, God comes to him to remind him of the burden that was laid upon him, and the duty required from him as a priest. He would see reason not to be proud of his preferment, but to receive the honours of his office with reverence and holy trembling, when he considered how great was the charge committed to him, and how hard it would be for him to give a good account of it. Be not high-minded, but fear.

…This is a good reason why we should neither be envious at others’ honours nor ambitious ourselves of high places, because great dignity exposes us to great iniquity. Those that are entrusted with the charge of the sanctuary will have a great deal to answer for. Who would covet the care of souls who considers the account that must be given of that care? (Matthew Henry)


Therefore you shall say to them: ‘When you have lifted up the best of it, then the rest shall be accounted to the Levites as the produce of the threshing floor and as the produce of the winepress. You may eat it in any place, you and your households, for it is your reward for your work in the tabernacle of meeting.  And you shall bear no sin because of it, when you have lifted up the best of it. But you shall not profane the holy gifts of the children of Israel, lest you die.’”


When the Levites had thus paid the tenth of their income, as a heave-offering to the Lord, they had themselves the comfortable enjoyment of the other nine parts (Num. 18:30): “When you have thus heaved the best from it (for still God’s part must be the best) then you shall eat the rest, not as a holy thing, but with the same freedom that the other Israelites eat their part with, in every place, you and your households,” Num. 18:31. See here what is the way to have the comfort of all our worldly possessions so as to bear no sin by reason of them, as it follows, Num. 18:32.

[1.] We must be sure that what we have be got honestly and in the service of God. It is your reward for your service; that meat is the best eating that is first earned; but, if any will not work, neither shall he eat2 Thess. 3:10. And that seems to be spoken of as having a particular comfort and satisfaction in it which is the reward of faithful service done in the tabernacle of the congregation.

[2.] We must be sure that God has his dues out of it. Then we have the comfort of our substance when we have honoured the Lord with it. The you shall bear no sin by reason of it, when you have heaved the best from it. This intimates that we must never feed ourselves without fear, lest our table become a snare, and we bear sin by reason of it; and that therefore we are concerned to give alms of such things as we have, that all may be clean and comfortable to us.
(Matthew Henry)

You are good, even when You are not understood.
(You chose us to be a royal priesthood.
To proclaim your light to the nations.
Keep Your people on my heart always.)


“Since I know, O my God, that You try the heart and delight in uprightness, I, in the integrity of my heart, have willingly offered all these things; so now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here, make their offerings willingly to You.
“O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, our fathers, preserve this forever in the intentions of the heart of Your people, and direct their heart to You…”

— 1 Chronicles 19:17-18

Who’s good enough?

We’ll spend years, Lord, toiling for a mention in the books of history.
But the world forgets… forgets the greatest and the worst.

Capernaum. Contemplating Jesus’ offer of comfort

“Be Extraordinary.”
“Stand Out!”

Yes, and dinners and parties and conversations and worth.

But all spotlights dim.
What then?
Left in the dark again.

Where does this leave us?
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Of all the books, this Book is the only one that matters to have your name in — a matter of Life and death.

Nevertheless, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:20)

Yes, Lord.

O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. (Psalm 90:14)

And the reminder that while the world looks for elites, ‘cream-of-the-crop,’ the perfect people… You came for the broken! You came to heal the broken!

…the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners. (Isaiah 61:1)

Jesus answered, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32)

Good enough? Not good enough?

By Your standard, none is.
But here is the place for Grace.
And by grace, through faith (not because we were good), but by the gift of God, we receive the acceptance that our souls have long cried out for.  

Then Lord, may all thoughts of inadequacy, all worries of worth, all doubt past-present-and-future be laid to rest. Let the only work they achieve be to prompt us to seek You.

Thank You for loving the broken.

But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I am all Yours

Hope Unseen.

” If you put your mind and thoughts really at the disposal of the apostolic teaching and say, “Anything in my thinking that needs to be destroyed, destroy it,” that can utterly undo you.

There have been seasons in my life where I have wept over the dismantling of what felt like really important structures in my brain, so I think that is the first thing we do. We listen to Paul.

We submit everything we think — all of our ideas, all of our worldview, all of our viewpoints to God — and we say, “…Let your Word dismantle me if necessary.” ”
— J. Piper, DesiringGod.org

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. | 2 Corinthians 10:4-5



The water’s warm here, but the fire’s gone out
I played it safe for so long the passion left
Turns out safe is just another word for regret


‘Oh, teach me what it meaneth.’
We give love from an abundance — From leftover love.
We love the elite.
We put the ‘broken’ on the side.

If You saw us today, what would You say?
Lord, help us.



Condemned to camp

Summer… Good time for camping in the great outdoors.
But can you imagine going camping for months, or years?
… Or 40 years? … In the wilderness, the unforgiving desert?
…With all your family, and everything you own? (Suddenly not sounding so fun.)

The faithlessness at Kadesh Barnea by the Israelites, despite being so close to the Promised Land, resulted in these 40 years of wandering for a faithless generation.

When God has freed us from bondage in Egypt, is our response, once freed, to seek a return to captivity (Numbers 14)?

But God is faithful.
See how He provides and guides them still.
And He guides us still, He is still going before us!

My friends, how close are we to God’s promise?
Has the wait been so long that we’re losing faith?

Do not let Him find us a faithless generation. 
He has freed you! Do not seek bondage again, in your faithlessness.

Believe in His promises, and go on by faith, not sight.

So it was, whenever the ark set out, Moses said: 

“Rise up O Lord!
Let your enemies be scattered,
And let those who hate you flee before you.” 

And when it rested, he said,

“Return, O Lord,
To the many thousands of Israel.”

Numbers 10:35-36

“When our hope is lost
When our strength is gone
He is rising up
We will overcome”

Watch it unfold.

You know full well the reason and purpose I write today, though at this time, it is not fully clear to me.

You know each ‘yes’ and ‘no’ of days past.
You know the ‘no’ today, and the weight it carried. (Carries still.)
Only You know how many more to come.

You hold the length of days in Your hands. (Mine, and all the rest.)

Joy and acceptance stand on opposite shores, between which stands a raging sea.
But You are the Lord who calmed the wind and the waves.
You took a stroll on the waters as though it was simply a walk.

As I stand on the shore of acceptance, will You lead me to the shores of joy, and show me that the sea between is nothing if I walk with You?

Will You teach me to know the meaning of faith with hope?
With Your grace for Your glory.

They told me
The dreams they had so worried
I said one would live
But the other would die
I was forgotten in my chains
But there was something greater running through my veins


For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
| 2 Corinthians 1:20-22

Live (Don’t Linger).

(Sorry, back-to-back notes. There’s much on my mind; I’m not sure where to start.
I shrink from answering your questions out of fear that I’ll say what I don’t mean.
Today was about laying down burdens to the One who can carry them.
The evidence of burdens entrusted is to walk away with joy.

Go on.
You’re called to live, not to linger.

“…What is that to you? You — follow Me.”)


I can’t walk without watching where I’m going
I can’t speak without knowing what to say
I can’t love and have any hesitation
Cause I know that you don’t work that way

I’m not gonna fight you anymore
Not gonna try to lock the door
You took your life and gave me yours
There’s no reason why
I shouldn’t trust you with mine

It’s never easy changing my direction
It’s so unnatural to loosen up my grip
Are you growing weary of all my good intentions
Cause I know that You don’t work that way

Somedays… This weight upon my shoulder
Is my shame
I know I should know better
Cause you say
That I must now surrender
There’s no other way

Hope deferred.

Then Job answered the Lord and said:

“I know that you can do all things,
    and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
    things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
 ‘Hear, and I will speak;
    I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
    but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
    and repent in dust and ashes.”

(Job 42:1-6)


Matthew Henry explains:

I have hidden counsel without knowledge. I have ignorantly overlooked the counsels and designs of God in afflicting me, and therefore have quarrelled with God, and insisted too much upon my own justification: Therefore I uttered that which I understood not,” that is, “I have passed a judgment upon the dispensations of Providence, though I was utterly a stranger to the reasons of them.”
I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear many a time from my teachers when I was young, from my friends now of late. I have known something of thy greatness, and power, and sovereign dominion; and yet was not brought, by what I heard, to submit myself to thee as I ought. The notions I had of these things served me only to talk of, and had not a due influence upon my mind. But now thou hast by immediate revelation discovered thyself to me in thy glorious majesty; now my eyes see thee; now I feel the power of those truths which before I had only the notion of, and therefore now I repent, and unsay what I have foolishly said.

Note, (1.) It is a great mercy to have a good education, and to know the things of God by the instructions of his word and ministers. Faith comes by hearing, and then it is most likely to come when we hear attentively and with the hearing of the ear.

(2.) When the understanding is enlightened by the Spirit of grace our knowledge of divine things as far exceeds what we had before as that by ocular demonstration exceeds that by report and common fame. By the teachings of men God reveals his Son to us; but by the teachings of his Spirit he reveals his Son in us (Gal. 1:16), and so changes us into the same image, 2 Cor. 3:18.

Let us… make it our care, in the strength of his grace, to govern ourselves and our own hearts well.


(Who are You, truly?)
To know You and to love You.
To live without the burden of doubt because I live in the unchangeable surety of Your love.


“A person will worship something, have no doubt about that.
We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will come out.
That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character.
Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping, we are becoming.” |RWE