Sunday, December 29, 2013

The One Word for the New Year - Trust 2014

So I'm sitting there just breathing the silence before those hundred voices and two hundred feet come trampling in and out again for the afternoon.  I'm thinking about stretching at Christmas, the end of comfort and the coming of Emmanuel, and the indwelling of Christ in me.  I'm thinking about him and about us and how our relationship is drawing it all to the surface... that crying out of never enough time.  Never enough space on the calendar.  Never enough room to breathe.  Never enough.  And how do we nurture and cultivate relationship when we're scraping the bottom?

There is this Promise on the horizon, this stirring in my heart for all that Life holds.  I don't know exactly what it looks like, but I can see it, sense it in the distance, this rich Beauty.  There are actual dreams of the future, yes, but it's more than that (and isn't it always?).  It is dreams of Redemption, Restoration, Healing, Abundant Life, Peace, Forgiveness, Mercy, and that ever so amazing Grace.  Yeah, it's dreams of all that a Savior brings and makes possible, and of walking in that consistently.  And it's really more than a dream... It's a need, entering into the broken places and making things right.  And I believe, but as I struggle to come up for air, I find myself asking with Mary, "How will this be?"  Because from where I am standing, from this current season in life, there are some things that just don't quite seem possible.  "The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it."  Whatever the "it" is, God will accomplish... but, in all of the expectancy and hope of all that is coming, can I just ask you how?

And it comes out in words.  A series of texts full of all I would never say out loud, or a conversation in the waiting room riding a cloud of sheer emotion like ashes on smoke.  The words are out and they can't be taken back and in the reflection I see my own heart and how I've started to -

Grip fear more than I grip Hope...
Grasp for answers to the how more than I grasp the Truth...
Cling to anger more than I cling to the Cross...
Get more wrapped up in fairy tales and ideals (idols!) than in His Everlasting Arms...
Bend the knees in a lunge for control instead of in Surrender...
Care more about the shadows of a vision than I do about being overshadowed by the power of His Presence.

And how have I so lost sight of the beauty of it all?  Of the joy and the gift?  How did I get swept away?  There are dreams.  There are desires.  There are even needs.  But there is also One who knows better and greater and more, who loves deeper and truer and stronger.  And it's like the eyes are opening again.

How appropriate it is that we usher in a new year so close after we celebrate the coming of our Lord!  To continue in the spirit of hope and expectancy into something new. We'll put the tree away today and the nativity back in the box and look to the future.  Some will make a list of resolutions, but me?  I'm choosing a single word for 2014.  One word to reflect on, a lens through which I can view life.

And the word is not how.  The word is not when.  The word is not what if.  The word is not move or forward.  The word is not even hope or peace.

The word is trust.  Trust.

Because trust points to the Word and the wonder of Him, of God come down.  Trust drives me to adoration and adoration is the answer to anxiety.  Trust says "give thanks."  Trust says "exhale."  Trust says "let go... give it over."  Trust releases me and all those around me from expectation and performance, from impatience and worry and the lunge for control.  Trust is the pressing into God, and the pressing into God opens the door wide to adventure, and opens the hands to receive all that a Savior brings. 

So it is - Trust 2014.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Only an Ice Prison - Why the darkness is just not that strong.

It came gradually.  More gentle drizzle than downpour.  Beautiful to watch, really.  Problem was... it was so cold, and before we knew it, that gentle mist had coated our world in sheets of ice.  And suddenly, without us even noticing, those everyday roads we travel and paths we walk?  Danger zones.  Traffic slows to a crawl or goes spinning off into ditches (take your pick).  School is canceled.  We are stuck.  A full weekend stuck in our apartment.  And maybe if Texans knew about proper shoes and salting roads and chains on tires and not using the brakes this wouldn't ring true, but we don't, so the ice imprisons us.

And yeah, it really is like bondage, like pain and brokenness, like hopelessness.  It creeps in slow and coats cold and hard until you are stuck.  Just stuck.  And we find ways to cope.  Curl up on the couch under a blanket.  Crank up the heat.  But there is only so much Netflix you can watch before you really want out.  We long for freedom.  We can try to get comfortable, but at the end of the day it's freedom we want.  It's freedom we need.

And as I'm driving home from work today I can see only glimpses of the ice-bondage that was.  Just a few slippery patches left in the shadows, but for the most part life is back to normal.  And I'm finding the Truth of Advent.  Pain, bondage, danger, these are all too real.  There is an enemy whose aim is to destroy us all.  But it is only an ice prison.  Strong enough to hold and cold enough to sting, yes.  But Light comes down and breaks through and the cold cannot stand and the ice must melt and the darkness must flee before the One who came to save.  

And I know.  I know in the middle of it all it seems trite to say pain and bondage will just melt away.  But listen to the deeper heartbeat of Truth and find rest: the pain is real enough to bind you up and knock you down and wrap its cold hands hard around the throat of Hope leaving you gasping for air.  But God (those two miraculous words) sent the Son and the Light and He's real enough.  Real as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.  Real enough for you to hold, and to hold you close and pick you up and melt the grip of pain to restore your Hope and heal your heart.  

It is a profound truth that, slowly but surely, pain melts into memory and the Son lives eternally.  The darkness is real, but it's really not that strong.  They are only ice prisons.  Lord, help our unbelief.