My Awefull Life » A Pilgrimage of Wonder

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I was reminded this morning how miracles don’t always arrive as instantaneous lightning bolts and flash floods of relief. The small, fleeting whispers of the miraculous echo of thunder in the distance, rain on the distant horizon. Still, I must keep watch, keep Hope.

Years into our own personal version of Plan B, it is easy for me to forget the details of what’s missing- for her, for me, for our family- and in weariness just beg God to make it all right. “And on the double, Lord- please and thank you…”

Four familiar words, offered effortlessly and in abundance by her siblings, yet largely absent from her vocabulary. But on a Saturday morning in August, as I sit on our deck admiring the reflection of trees against my black coffee, little feet dance by, headed back inside to sneak more grapes from the kitchen counter.

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Is that thunder I hear beyond the hill?

And there as the door closes, the weather shifts for just a second. Pushing past heart’s survival armor, out of her mouth trickle four little rain drops,

“I love you, mom,”

and she’s gone. No lightning, no downpour, just an echo and a promise of rain- our Miracle in the making.

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This garden tomato isn’t the prettiest- she has flaws, rough spots along the skin and is just kind of dirty- worn from the elements of her growth. Slicing through toughened skin, nostalgia in scents of fresh and earth and home pour out. There laid open, the depth of hue and meat underneath skin tells of her intense flavor and beauty- better than anything store bought all shiny and blemish-free. And there He speaks, Isn’t it the same with your life? The imperfect life always tastes sweeter in the end.

My blemishes and wounds, the exposure to storms- they mottle and scar altering the landscape of me. Some of the flaws may cause others to pass me over for a prettier, less damaged option. And I strive hard and long to hide my imperfections- deflect the rough patches with humor, cover over the wounds with works to make you love me in spite of…me.

***

I haven’t been writing much for several months. OR more truthfully, I haven’t been writing with ease – the words coming in chokes, forced out at times in near defiance and spilled as tears to paper in others. Though I may celebrate and champion you on to embrace the mess of your own life, the fact of the matter is I prefer to keep my world neat. All grace and go get ’ems for others, doubt and condemnation when taking in my own race. Friends, my life has gotten really, really messy. And in the weeds, my words turn on me and run. I log onto “life” and am hit with the fact there is always someone better for the task in front of me. I scroll past super moms, uber homeschoolers, Proverbs 31 women by the dozen- rocking their marriages, their homes and dropping ten pounds to boot. There will always be smarter theologians, more poignant writers, photographers who make my work feel like prints sitting under the counter at WalMart no one cared enough to pick back up. Comparison…the thief of joy, the mirror of unworthy discontent. And there I hang clinging to the vine(1), tattered in wind, poked at by the birds of the air. It is I, not all the beautiful Internet people, who holds the keys to the undoing. Because I don’t know how to do this messy, without being ALL the mess. I can’t share my life and have it wrapped up tidy in 800 words or less for public consumption. Actually, I do know how, but not with an honest authenticity to where I care to still know my name by the time I press “publish.” Living and writing inside ALL the mess scares us, we just push our shopping carts right on past the bruised fruit because it is ugly and broken and sometimes just plain ol’ stinks. So the words halt, edit themselves void before ever exiting my soul. And friends, there is no resolution today, probably not tomorrow either. In the most transparent, humble way I know- by way of this barrier of screens and keyboards- I will tell you I am wrestling. I am questioning. I am reasoning(2)  this mess out, and it’s ugly. I have the scars to prove. But the silence is strangling me, so in trepidation and a mustard seed of faith, here I am. 

***

Standing there at the kitchen counter, summer burgers on the grill, kids heard playing in other parts of the house, scents of rain from an earlier thunderstorm still in the air, I slice an imperfect tomato, and lay bare my imperfect life to the One who sees and already knows, but never for a moment stopped loving.
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*(1): I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. -John 15:5 ESV

(2): Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. – Isaiah 1:18 ESV

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O Lord, God of vengeance,
God of vengeance, shine forth!
Rise up, O Judge of the earth,
Render recompense to the proud.
How long shall the wicked, O Lord,
How long shall the wicked exult?
They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly;
All who do wickedness vaunt themselves.
They crush Your people, O Lord,
And afflict Your heritage.
They slay the widow and the stranger
And murder the orphans.
They have said, “The Lord does not see,
Nor does the God of Jacob pay heed.”

Pay heed, you senseless among the people;
And when will you understand, stupid ones?
He who planted the ear, does He not hear?
He who formed the eye, does He not see?
10 He who chastens the nations, will He not rebuke,
Even He who teaches man knowledge?
11 The Lord knows the thoughts of man,
That they are a mere breath.

12 Blessed is the man whom You chasten, O Lord,
And whom You teach out of Your law;
13 That You may grant him relief from the days of adversity,
Until a pit is dug for the wicked.
14 For the Lord will not abandon His people,
Nor will He forsake His inheritance.
15 For judgment will again be righteous,
And all the upright in heart will follow it.
16 Who will stand up for me against evildoers?
Who will take his stand for me against those who do wickedness?

17 If the Lord had not been my help,
My soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence.
18 If I should say, “My foot has slipped,”
Your lovingkindness, O Lord, will hold me up.
19 When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your consolations delight my soul.
20 Can a throne of destruction be allied with You,
One which devises mischief by decree?
21 They band themselves together against the life of the righteous
And condemn the innocent to death.
22 But the Lord has been my stronghold,
And my God the rock of my refuge.
23 He has brought back their wickedness upon them
And will destroy them in their evil;
The Lord our God will destroy them.

Psalm 94 NASB

The sun had been shining full and bright in our January skies for three days straight, bringing with it a tangible lifting of souls. My own now acutely aware how even with the unwavering knowledge of its sure rise each morning behind all those clouded over and gray days- it is the beating down warm on my face days I crave. To watch light’s rays dance through tree branches and eyelashes, to chase it down on country roads at dusk. My appetite for light, insatiable, increasing with every monochromatic winter.

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***

Arms raised and voices loud on a Sunday morning we sing,

“All eyes will look on Your glorious face

Shining like the sun

Who is like You, God?”*

For just a moment it’s as if the roof has been pealed back, my face turned to the sky shines warm in the presence of Glory. And I see – behind all my clouds, all my soul-gray, Jesus is there shining like the sun down upon me. Never leaving nor lessening in burden-lifting Glory, despite what my weak curled-in-a-ball-until-fairer-skies faith says.

Standing, head lifted to meet His warmth, it is the three days of restorative earthly sunshine for which I give thanks, yet in the exhale of gratitude my spirit is given a glimpse of eternity’s Light awaiting. Our promise of no more clouded view, no veil of gray between my face and His. If three days of sunlight has such power to lift, filling sleepy lungs and spirits, what unimaginable wholeness awaits- an eternity spent face to face with the Light of the world? Moment passing, I am left with a peace.  Resolved to the persevering in hope and promise of Home; with a bottomless craving of Light to feed me through all of life’s winter.

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*lyrics: Holy, by Matt Redman