Unsatisfied By Average

The Musings of a Stubborn Believer

Author: Sean Nebblett (page 1 of 2)

Because Love Lasts

Dear Journal,
Sweep past all the prepositions, and you’re left with this:
Since, then, you have purified yourselves through obedience, unto brotherly love,
Because love lasts.
Because [only] love lasts.

This morning, a clean but sparsely furnished room on the third floor overlooking a bustling street in Harare. (Bustling even at 0100, 0200, and 0300 in the morning. Yeah. Don’t ask me how I know.)
Yesterday, Most of the day in the clouds in an Emirates A340. Sleeping. (Yeah… Again, don’t ask.)

The day before that, an all-day, all-zones pass to the world’s longest metro in my pocket, a brother with big ideas at my side, and miles on foot through unutterable opulence, at 100 degrees.
And this moment?
And all along the silky-smooth metro track suspended above the endless construction zone that is a playground for the uberwealthy? And past 7 star hotel, and out to the end of the palm, and beside blue glass reaching up towards heaven, and surrounded by the mist of a fountain synchronized with song? (Perhaps the only cool spot outdoors in all of the emirates?)
This thought:
It’s all going to go. All of it. Either a hundred dessert summers will take their toll, and the luster will fade, or, (and much more likely) the world will wrap up before the building is even finished…
Only. Love. Lasts.

“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” 1 Peter 1:22-25


Dear Journal:
Is it possible to hope and tremble at once?
Or maybe they’re actually inseparable. Maybe hope is what brave souls do [anyway] when they feel the trembling. They lift their faces, and smile even in dark so deep a hand can’t be seen 6 inches from the face.

And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

Or: If you claim God as your Father, then let your time on earth be marked by a constant trembling…

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

Trembling that you might “live up to” your purchase price. That you might honor the sacrifice. Because it wasn’t paid in silver or gold…
It was paid in blood. God’s. Own. Flesh and blood.

Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

Who was ordained before the foundation of the world, but manifested now, for you. To secure your faith, and inform your hope.

By Which We Obtain…

Dear Journal:
Hope keeps coming up. This magnificent obsession. This marvel searched out by generations of prophets, never fully understood. This mark that sets the winners apart from the losers. The rich from the poor, the bond from the free. This means by which we obtain the impossible. Indeed, itself our very grip on that impossible. Hope.

“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;…”

Ready your mind for work. Dig in your toes, and set for the gunshot. When it goes off, leap. Surge. Fly. And stay the course. And whatever you do, keep hoping. Even if you’re 10 yards from the finish, and appear to be in last place. (I watched an Olympic speed skating race like that once. Yeah. The guy in the back won.)

“…As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy”

Not simply dabbling (once again) in the ignorant lusts of yesterday. Or the guy in the next lane. Or the distraction at the starting line. Only preoccupied with Him. Hanging on to Him.
So that as He is, (read: glorious and strong, swift, certain, and obiously triumphant) So might I be. That’s what it says to me.
He is, therefore, I can be.

Hope for Today, Inheritance for Tomorrow

Dear Journal:
Observation #2 regarding Peter: He uses long sentences. Long. And it takes a bit of time to restate his point in fewer words. But this is gold…

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, [to] an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Or: Blessed is the God Who gives us this gift— The lively hope of an incorruptible inheritance, grounded on the resurrection of Christ, and reserved for those kept by His power.

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”

In which hope we greatly rejoice (even in the midst of heaviness), and which Christ we love, believe, and rejoice in, even though we have not seen Him. So that the trial of our faith today might result in praise, honor, glory and salvation tomorrow.

“Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into…”

And which hope, (and which inheritance) is a miracle. Searched out by prophets, and marveled over by angels themselves…
I have always held that it is the way we relate to the unseen that makes Christians different than the rest of the teeming masses. Because we believe Him, rejoice in Him, though we haven’t seen him. Because we joyfully lay down today, in favor of tomorrow. Because we count the testimony of ancient writers sufficient to fasten our contemporary confidence.
And because we believe in the invisible, we have access to the power of the eternal.
I suppose it is a miracle. A miracle twice over.

Identity Before Activity

1st and 2nd Peter loom large on my horizon, thanks to the next GYC Memorization Challenge. And since that which is understood is better remembered, I’ve set out on a study of the same. What follows are some of my reflections, by section…

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied…” I Peter 1:1, 2

Before he’s said the first word of exhortation, or revealed the first of his agenda, he fixes this— his identity. And quite the identity it is.

Chosen by the Eternal God, long before he was,
Sanctified through the work of the Spirit,
Anointed and Obedient in and to Jesus Christ…

It is for this, and through this, and to these, that he writes, this “Apostle of Hope.” Because it is most significantly who he is, that informs and inspires what he does. Remember. And if the fruit is good, if his identity is worthy to be grasped, then hear his words…

No Fear Of Gethsemane

That place where the sun never rises, where sorrow never sleeps, where the trees watch somber as the grave;

That place where the rocks are rent from the struggle, where the earth soaks salt and red,
where the dew lays crystal blankets over bowed and fervent head;

That place where the songbird never warbles, where faithful friends nod off, where trembling hand takes bitter, burning cup, and one swallows. And where a kiss doesn’t mean what it ought…

That place is called Gethsemane.

I know, dread horror.

But oh, wait. Before you follow instinct, wait. If you’re brought here… do not flee away. Clutch the cold ground and take the cup. Whatever. bitter. cup. Yours can’t end in death, only in morning.

This garden is no longer an eternal grave.
If you’ve been invited here, it’s to find His company. This is the only place in the universe where one can be alone, together. Because He’s “alone” here too…


I ache.

Over emptiness.

Not my emptiness, no. I have life, mercy of mercies.

Partly, I ache because there is emptiness. Because as I move through life at a trot, I often feel like the landscape is littered by people I love, scattered out like spent shells. Because where there should be life, and love, and liberty, there is just this horror of stillness…

But mostly, I ache because there are too many 60 second stretches in a day, when I do nothing about it. 
The emptiness, I mean.
I won’t even run down all of why…

Just this, tonight:

The entirety of my life is to be spent doing one of two things:

Gaining strength,

or giving it.

All else breeds emptiness. Is emptiness.

He Loves Too Much

Freedom comes at a price, they say.

For a million battered israelite slaves, Moses’ first moves made things worse, not better. Until they cried out against their deliverer, and Whoever he was getting his marching orders from.

Better to die in bondage, than to face the same old brick quotas, only now, while also having to hunt up their own straw…

I’m glad God loved too much to listen to their requests that He forbear.

I’m glad He still does.

May it not be said of us that while God was working for our salvation, we were clinging to our destroyer.

“For oh! He loves thee far too well 
To leave thee in thy self-made hell, 
A Savior is thy Lord!”

The Miracle That Isn’t

Seeing that we were created in the image of the Highest, it makes sense that sympathy with Divinity, identification with the heart of God, would be life at it’s best. 
I daily aspire. 
But is that aspiration alone enough to water the ground where this miracle grows?
Or wait… Is it really a miracle?
I remember slipping between the sheets after a string of days full of giving, and asking if I might be made more sensitive, more sympathetic, more caring about the things on God’s own heart…
–only for my soul to hear this whisper: 
For that, you need no miracle. Just time. I can’t do your part and Mine.
It is not easy to find sufficient time for communion when on the trot. I’m not going to lie. 
It is only barely easier to find time for communion when at home. 
But of this I have become convinced: 
Activity is no substitute for communion. 

“O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself:
it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” Jeremiah 10:23

One Life To Give

I’m sitting in my own room, long before sunrise, on my own bed, lost in my own thoughts. You know a summer has been extraordinary when your own space feels extraordinary. When you’ve used your pillow just 11 nights of the past 84.

I’ve made a lot of new friends in the past 12 weeks. Flown a lot of miles. Preached a lot of sermons. Prayed a lot. Trembled a lot. Looked back towards the light. A lot. Loved a lot of broken lives. Witnessed a lot of salty tears.

But sitting here, I have a refrain much like Jeremiah’s running through my head.

“Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears,
that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people.”  [Jeremiah 9:1]

Oh that I could do more, be more, weep more.
The sheer magnitude of fear in the world is enough to make the bravest man pause at times. The sheer magnitude of pain. The constant white (black?) noise of performance without transformation.

I’m not afraid though. I just wish there were more hours in the day. I wish there were more beats of my heart. I wish I had more lives at my command to spend spreading light, and clawing away at pain. I wish my heart were large enough to hold a piece of the sorrow of every person I love without imploding. Or wait… It is. But barely.

Once again, this stunning limitation settles into my consciousness.
I have only one life to live. Only one chance to love the hurting world.

Oh, let every breath count.

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