Unsatisfied By Average

The Musings of a Stubborn Believer

The Struggle Is Optional [Oh Lord, If There Were Only More Of This] 

I knew that love was a good teacher.

I never dreamed it could teach this.

One hundred ninety-nine days from now, I get to marry my bestest ever friend. That fact all by itself is enough to fill my cup of gratitude to an overflowing mess this morning.

As it turns out though, that gratitude has ended up all over the floor, because my cup was already full. . .

Not (probably) with what you’re thinking though. This isn’t a Thanksgiving tribute to my Sweet Honey.

If it is a tribute, it is a tribute to faithfulness.

But mostly, I’m leaving it here as a plea.

— — —

Love is a miracle. Just how much of a miracle, I am finding out more every day. My heart is full of a gift I never dreamed could be—a gift I’m now convinced should actually be as common as the blooming flower of love itself.

It is basically this: that somewhere, there actually exists a heart, close association with whom can make the pursuit of holiness nearly effortless.

And yes, I use that word deliberately. Because I’m convinced we give the “struggle” too much credit, too much of the time. Perhaps because we’ve just finished giving it too much fuel.

This, of all things, is what I’m most thankful for, this Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for a hundred little choices Vanessa made in her teens, many of which laid the foundation for the longstanding friendship that would eventually lay the foundation for our love. I’m thankful that she learned to keep her heart. To lean on Jesus. To deny the pull of the world, the flesh, the devil. I’m thankful she learned to love honor, to put truth first. I’m thankful she learned selflessness. Security. Love. Loyalty. Kindness and Compassion.

All those things make her a marvelous person to be around. But that is the least of the reasons I give thanks for them. I give thanks mostly because those choices prepared her to fill a place we both believe she was created for—to become a catalyst of the deepest kind of joy, the deepest kind of strength, the deepest kind of honor in the man God would call to cherish and sacrifice for, and protect her always.

I rejoice in her choices, because from the start to the present in our relationship, every circumstance that has increased my love for her, has simultaneously increased my love for the Savior. And that, by a larger margin.

Oh, what power might be robbed from the enemies we face every day, if such could always be our testimony.

But, why isn’t it?

Well, maybe because we often squander our little opportunities to cultivate the rudiments of greatness today, and so, when tomorrow comes and we’re invited by God to take part in something more miraculous, we don’t have the raw ingredients.

Oh, don’t let that be you.

Lord, don’t let it be me.

Or sometimes we actually have improved opportunities, and are on an honest search, but we haven’t found the right person. Under such circumstances, highly aspiring as both might be, we might simply mutually lack the rudiments uniquely necessarily to foster greatness in the other.

Oh— and my little heart throbs harder here— don’t settle.

Don’t spend your life, and youth, or even young adulthood, trying to convince the world that this friendship, or this relationship, or even this engagement, is a good idea. That it will all work out. That you know them better, that you see, you hope, you believe even though nobody else can, and so if you quit believing nobody will believe, and how horrible would it be to leave some sincere soul alone. . . No.

Don’t come up with reasons why the observations of those who love you most are invalid.

Don’t come up with excuses for your own spiraling sensitivity.

Don’t ever let yourself be convinced that the stressful circle of endless explanations and justifications is actually no big deal, that you’re not wearied by it, that everything would just be fine if everybody saw through your eyes.

Don’t.

Don’t deceive yourself, try to convince yourself that you’re happy.

Let me tell you what happiness is.

Happiness, joy unspeakable and full of glory, is the product of an increasingly effortless pursuit of holiness. It is the product of the kind of communion, the kind of companionship that brings the best and only the best out of both parties, that opens the lines of communication, that increases the effectiveness of both Christian witnesses. That creates something undeniably and unbelievably powerful.

Happiness is a miracle.

If you haven’t found it yet, then go digging for greatness today, and wait quietly for tomorrow.

And never, never, never settle for less.

[The Only Good] News on Election Day

I have this countdown to Christmas, nestled into the center of my Bible. It started because my little sister-to-be went off to school, and we wanted something to look forward to, together. Our countdown is, in fact, the book of Psalms read backwards. And this morning, with 46 days to go, it has given me all kinds of reason to rejoice, on what could (will) otherwise be a doldrum day for the Nation. (Either way, mind you.)

I brought you here for the good news, not more bad news though. So here goes. Get a grip of this:

 

Psalm 46

God the Refuge of His People.

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah, set to soprano voices. A Song.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

though its waters [or people] roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.

The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.

The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come, behold the works of the LORD,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.

He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.

“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”

The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Sophisticated Godliness (Or Is There No Such Thing?)

This time of year, I find myself having conversations with the guy in the mirror more than usual. (Ehem, that would be yours truly for those thrown off by my metaphors.) It probably has something to do with being born on October 20th, just a month and a few days before Thanksgiving. Both my birthday and Thanksgiving happen to be occasions when I stop to look behind me, to learn, to wonder, to listen. . .  And since they are only a month apart, the time between usually ends up being an overflow for the same.

At any rate.

One of my friends always asks on my birthday if I have any “new year’s resolutions.”

I do, yes. I do.

I start out down the well-beaten elk trail that leads in the general direction of my altar. The dog runs out in front, and I wonder if He’ll get it right. The summer’s monsoon (which I mostly missed for my travel schedule) has coaxed the grass to grow where my little personal trail should branch off of this one, so it’s basically gone. And anyway, does the dog even remember?

It’s midday, and other than the dog, I’m quite alone.

But obviously, he does remember. We get to the spot where my trail is supposed to be, and he cuts off. And I follow.

And when we get down there, he hesitates, glances at me as if to say, “whistle when you’re done if I’m not back yet” and trots off to do a bit more exploring.

And I stand there to do a bit of searching.

You know, if there’s one thing in greatest danger of getting a bit fuzzy by the time a frenzied summer is over, it’s the simple power of this.

I spend long days working, long nights praying, untold conversations trying to unravel human complications, and show how the gospel is enough. And the more sophisticated the human problems get, the more difficult it is.

Now I’m standing back where the rubber actually meets the road for me, and realizing this:

What I’m thirsty for, what my heart longs for, what I’m going to remember and keep remembering this year, is that regardless of how sophisticated human problems become, there is no such thing as “sophisticated godliness.” Godliness is “primitive.” It’s utterly basic. And therein lies it’s power. What I need, in the midst of a long grind to understand the complex psychological and neurological implications of addictions, and depression and OCD, and OCPD and Anxiety Disorder, is not a more complex gospel. 

It is a simpler one. 

The simple one I find here, in a cool little glen overlooking a little pile of rocks where I always find God waiting. 

It’s always here, after all, that the world comes to make the most sense.

The dog comes back, sits down. Seems to stare at the same things I’m staring at.

And I sigh and look up, and then get up, and whisper as I back away:

“I’ll be back. Let’s do this another year.”

On Why My Birthday Is My Favorite

Well, because it’s sister’s birthday.

I had to celebrate by myself for 11 years, and then I got this real reason to party. Of course, I didn’t find out about that reason until 16 or 17 years later. But, minor technicality. Hindsight is 20/20.

Now I do know. And I’ll be celebrating forever.

Happy Birthday, sweet Stina Bee.

Sisters

“Surprise” is not the word I’m looking for.

Maybe “achingly beautiful, undeserved, unexpected, priceless gift?”

It is one thing to choose one’s siblings. It is another thing entirely when new siblings choose you.

Let’s climb another thousand hills together,

Let’s pray a thousand prayers beneath the stars

Let’s keep alive the dream He had before we saw the start. . .

We must believe the way He leads will sweeter be than memories,

Each dawn we’ll love you more than at last dark

Oh how we love your hearts.

Glory

Can I just say, in His presence is fullness of joy?

And at His right hand are pleasures forevermore?

I love so many things about these days. Mostly though, I love the fact that Jesus becomes dearer with every encounter. That every new gift comes wrapped with Him, filled with Him, delivered by Him. Hallelujah.

It is glory to be in Your presence, Your Grace. Glory to eat at Your table. Glory to be surprised day after day by the new and fresh ways You pour yourself into the hearts and lives of Your children. Glory to taste of your mercy over, and over, and over again. Such mercy it is, too; so deep. It is glory to see Your love lived out in such unselfishness, such sacrifice as is mine to behold every time I look at this gift.

Thank You.

 

Take The Pieces

“But I cannot, and what’s in my hand is proof. . .”

“Proof?”

Like nails all awry, torn out of wood they were supposed to hold together. Their time cut short. Evidence that, you know, our skill isn’t what it should be, and our labors are not enough.

Not enough?

What if what He wanted when He asked for your open hand was not what’s in your hand, but the hand itself. What if He just wanted to hold it? To hold you? What if the reason He asked for the twisted bits is that He knew they were a burden, and He wanted to help you off with it? Wanted to curl His warm fingers around your cold ones, and couldn’t do it without hurting you if you still held shards within?

These pieces, whatever they look like, are good enough for Him. . .

Just give them away?

But You Are Chosen

 

Chosen.

This word carries behind in it the power to root my confidence like nothing else around.
The fact that we were born for a purpose, and then chose treason, seems to have been lost on the Powers that Be. It isn’t really, but let’s just say the story would probably have been different if that power had been you or me.

He doubles back on His creation-newly-turned-antagonists, and says through promise and action, 
I made you. I lost you. I choose you. I’ll buy you.

Have you ever stopped to think that if He had me you or me, throbbing with the power to create, and with an indominable hatred for sin, and an eternal love for things beautiful, He would’t have chosen? He might have just started clean over, and let the new planet learn from the old?

Yeah, but He isn’t. He’s not like you or me at all. He Is…

And therefore, He chose.

I choose too.

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

Always The Same

Dear Journal:

Considering the former, the promise of gracious deliverance from the lusts of the world, the pledge of “buildling up” into something spiritual and strong, and the power to become a miracle–

Unto you therefore which believe he is precious:

No brainer.

but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

First note: the opposite of “believer” isn’t “unbeliever.” Not here anyway. Belief is a safeguard against disobedience.

Second note: those who disbelieve (and therefore disobey) find themselves at odds with the same power the believers rejoice in. This is certainly the proverbial “short end of the stick.”

To all, He is the corner stone. His authority remains intact regardless of recognition.
To some, it is a precious stone.

To the rest, an offense.

It would be well to remember that the confidence or shame, the joy or pain, peace of frustration with which we relate to the Lord Glorious are indications of our position, not His. His mood never changes…

Remind me next time. If God at any moment seems less than gracious, the problem is mine.

Unmovable

Dear Journal,
Two things—

First, a notice that the greatest miracles (stones that are alive?!) in the history of the earth will always meet with the resistance of earth-dwellers. (Even as the Greatest Miracle did.) Either because they are afraid of them, or because they prefer to be in control. Or both.

Second, you and I have been invited to be the miracles in this generation.

“To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up…

And not just to be a marvel. The idea is to be a link.

“…a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

And along with the responsibility (and the implied resistance) comes the promise that because the Corner Stone stood unmovable, the rest of the stones can too…

“Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.”

I’m in.

« Older posts