Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The lessons in life worth learning are costly. Pain cuts deeply into the bedrock of our soul, and we are left with two options. We can scramble to numb the pain ourselves (this doesn't work for long) or we can run into God's arms. When deep pain is met with brokenness and dependence on Him, that carved-out place in our souls becomes the very vessel into which joy can flow as we are healed. Could it be that deep joy is not even possible without first experiencing deep pain? As we long for restoration, we come to treasure each taste of wholeness. Pain and disappointment usher us to the place where we can sit in God's presence - - hungry for Him to feed our souls, thirsty for living water. And of Him it is said ...

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (2 Cor 1:3-4)

Monday, August 30, 2004

Be Near

"You are all
big and small
and wonderful
to trust in grace through faith
but I'm asking to taste.

Your fullness is mine,
revelation divine.
But oh, to taste,
to know much more than a page,
to feel Your embrace.

For dark is light to You.
Depths are height to You.
Far is near, but Lord I need to hear from You.
Be near, O God.
Be near, O God of us.
Your nearness is to us our good."

-Lyrics by Shane Barnard (c. 2003 Waiting Room Music)
"So we're not giving up. How could we!
Even though on the outside
it often looks like things are falling apart on us,
on the inside, where God is making new life,
not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.
These hard times are small potatoes
compared to the coming good times,
the lavish celebration prepared for us.
There's far more here than meets the eye.
The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow.
But the things we can't see now will last forever."
-Paul (2 Cor 4:16-18; The Message)

Saturday, August 28, 2004

gift at low tide

We had been driving along the coast for miles, in search of the perfect view. Washington State has a lot of beautiful coastline, but so far we had seen mostly mud littered with boats. The tide must have been at an all time low. Just when we had gone about as far as you can go without crossing the border into Canada, we stumbled upon a huge viewer's deck overlooking a bay behind an exclusive resort. There were no fences or fees, so we stopped and climbed out to survey the scene. Little did we know that the treasures awaiting us would be below, not beyond the deck.
A floating dock skirted the deck, it's steep ramp nearly pitching us forward into the bay. We found the shadows below the viewing deck pungent and fishy. It took only a moment to figure out why. Rows of solid wood columns had been anchored into the ocean floor, supporting the deck above. Clinging to each log above the waterline were dozens and dozens of sea creatures - brown sea anemone, folded closed for lack of moisture; bright purple and pink starfish, each stretching a foot in diameter; mussels, clamped shut. Just under the surface hairy anemones floated and swayed in the current. Nearly transparent jellyfish pulsed past, freeform. I can't say that it was beautiful, but for someone who grew up in a landlocked state, this quick stop was proving to be quite an education! Because of the unusually low tide, we were getting a rare glimpse of the ocean's hidden life.
Why do I bother retelling this odd experience? As we explored that day, I was reminded of my own inner searching these past months. Being at low tide emotionally and spiritually has not been fun. The odors of selfishness and impatience have often been dominant; "dying to self" does not smell (or feel!) nice. Parts of my personality that used to be vibrant have folded in upon themselves for lack of water. Gifts and skills once fully functional have clamped shut, ill-suited for life on land. But despite these 'losses', I've received blessings that rarely come at 'high tide'. Unexplored areas of my soul have been exposed. I am less self-confident, but freer. Rather than fearing what lies hidden within myself or others, I have found a new contentment, knowing that whatever is discovered there is not beyond His ability to transform into something beautiful.
I do not understand my own soul fully. I cannot pretend to have seen everything that lies beneath the surface. But I know He is there, healing and loving me. And that is making all the difference.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

"When God seems most absent from us, He is doing His most important work in us."

-Larry Crabb (Shattered Dreams, 157)

shattered dreams

"God's restraint has a purpose. When He appears to be doing nothing, He is doing something we've not yet learned to value and therefore cannot see. Only in the agony of his absence, both in the real absence of certain blessings and in the felt absence of His Presence, will we relax our determined grasp of our empty selves enough to appreciate His purposes.

He could do something. Yet He does nothing, at least not what we ask Him to do. Why? To deepen our desire for His Presence, to strengthen our passion to pursue Him, to help us see how preoccupied we are with filling our God-shaped souls with something less than God.

...Through the pain of shattered dreams, God is awakening us to the possibility of infinite pleasure. That is the nature of our journey; it's what the Spirit is doing."

-Larry Crabb (Shattered Dreams, 121)

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

root beer water

I was 15. We were canoeing through lake Bayano, ready to head upriver to bring good news to a tribal (Kuna) village. Who's we? you ask. "We" were 25 teenagers chaperoned by a few really brave adults and guided by a little man who spoke both Spanish and Kuna. But that's another story. It's the water I'm thinking about today. We cruised across the enormous lake and then headed up a tributary in the blazing equatorial sun. For 8 hours straight. Thirsty? You'd better believe it. Each of us had filled our canteen with water from one of two huge drums that rode into the jungle atop our team bus. In their former lives, the huge plastic containers had been storage for root beer & orange soda syrup (respectively). We were reminded of that fact every time we took a sip from our canteens. It's already been 12 years but I will never forget the taste of warm water laced with root beer. We were 8 hours by bus and 8 hours by boat away from civilization. Clearly, this water was our only option. So we drank it. But it was not exactly what you would call thirst-quenching. To this day I have a special appreciation for clean, cold water that doesn't taste like anything.

Have you ever noticed how the things we crave usually don't satisfy our thirst? Just a few days out of the city to rest ... a good book ... an irish cream latte at Starbucks ... a quick computer game. Instead of feeling refreshed I often feel even more restless ... cloudy-headed ... dissatisfied. Am I substituting root beer water for the real thing, and then wondering why I'm still thirsty? Hmm ...

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

journal entry

Each time I write the date I can sense myself searching, wanting to be anchored somewhere, longing to know just where I am and where I've been and where I'm going. Hoping inside for a forgotten memory to just hit me ... "Oh! the 24th! That means only 7 days left until ..." or "Oh! Tomorrow is my birthday!" No such luck. Today is simply the 24th. Yesterday the 23rd. Tomorrow the 25th. No special plans or exciting new journeys. Or are there?
Perhaps any day can be a holiday in the Spirit. Could it be that time spent with Jesus can breathe new life into any boring and forgettable day? I'd like to think so. I sure hope so.

His mercies are new every morning,
never stretched and worn thin like my patience.
He is never gone on teacher inservice days,
never off-line,
never boarded up for repairs.

"The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;
And His song will be with me in the night,
A prayer to the God of my life." Ps 42:8

Oh, God of my life, lift my eyes from this tired maze of details and decisions that cannot be made. Help me to become so enthralled with Your presence that waiting for answers becomes truly peripheral. I so long for a sense of purpose, energy, and anointing. My soul is thirsty and discontent. Satisfy my soul in You. Only You.
"Measure thy life by loss instead of gain;
Not by the wine drunk but by the wine poured forth;
For love's strength standeth in love's sacrifice,
And whoso suffers most hath most to give."
-Ugo Bassi
(quoted by Elizabeth Elliot in 'Keep a Quiet Heart,' 66)

Monday, August 23, 2004


before I journeyed here
my heart was full
now I sojourn
far from home
emptied of all I once knew

afraid that before I find
my voice in this culture
I will have nothing left to say
what was profound and meaningful before
now seems

so, Lord, I sit here
like the jars at Cana lacking wine
thirsty for You to fill me again
with your living water
so I can again pour
into the lives You've gathered
around me

Come, Lord Jesus,
do your miracle in me.

(from my journal March 7, 2004)
"Let the one who is thirsty come;
let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost."
Rev 22:17

"If you knew the generosity of God and who I am,
you would be asking me for a drink,
and I would give you fresh, living water."
- Jesus