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The Musings of a Stubborn Believer

Category: grace (page 3 of 4)

Hope is My Prison, Lord

It’s been one of those weeks…
You know, when every 20 minutes there was another I-should-blog-that moment. And indeed, I would have posted more, had the luxury of time been afforded me. 
Instead, I transformed the office into a recording studio/mastering suite and ran through life from summit to valley to next summit (every twenty minutes!) taking it all in faster than I could even journal about it. 

Then yesterday afternoon it all came together. 

I haven’t written a song in over a year… (Though I’ve half-written at least half a dozen)
And it wasn’t because I didn’t really want to. Just something would get me halfway through, and then drop me. 
I got to the point where I was nearly convinced I’d written my last song. 

Until this week. 

Then I recognized a sweet little melody woven through everything…

– Through the boxes and boxes delivered by our friend the UPS man
– Through fists wrapped around a taught barbed wire while starring into the canyon, and talking to a God that’s a million lightyears away, and still within easy reach.
– Through middle-of-the-night prayers for a friend’s safety
– Through reality checks
– Through emails not so easy to read  
– Through prayers for you– my blog friends. (I pray for you by name– all of you) 
– Through reminders of loss
– Through conversations with my little sister…
– Through hours spent pacing over dust and rocks fighting darkness and finding light…

Here’s just an excerpt. Maybe the melody will never be published, I don’t know…
But I’ll always pray the prayer.


Water Your dreams my Lord, 
  with tears I shed
Feed hungry children Lord, 
  my promised bread
Send me to darkness Lord, 
  teach me to pray
Through fire or freezing cold, 
  I’ll smile and say–
. . . 
Hope is my prison Lord, 
  love is my chain
If I can serve You Lord, 
  my loss is gain
I am a soldier Lord, 
  called by Thy name
Let me walk worthy Lord, 
  worthy of Your name…


Deep sigh. 
Staring at nothingness. 
I leaned back in my desk chair while the reality settled in… 
“…He is pleading His wounds—‘My hands, my hands!’ ‘I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.’”*
And all at once I closed my eyes and I could almost see Him… 
–See Him standing in the throne room, turning for just a moment from the painful sight of yet another failure, to face His Father.
With tears in His eyes, and tears in His voice–
 Abba, My hands…
Look at My hands!”
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  
You and I know those beautiful hands were forever ruined saving us. A friend of mine once noted that they might be more than just perpetually scabbed. What if they are permanently disfigured? 
My hands tremble, and my eyes fill with tears, even as I type. 
But you know what moves me yet more?
It’s the second part. 
“I have graven thee…” 
It’s my name that is carved on His beautiful hands. Carved with a Roman nail.   
My name is a scar on His perfect Person. 
But He is not ashamed of me. 
Indeed not. Rather, He holds me up before His Father, and says “Look at My hands…”
And “swift angels are sent to minister to fallen man, to lift up and to sustain.”*
This is Love. 
Only love can call scars trophies. 

*{RH January 4, 1887, par. 15}

The Glory of Heaven?

Not a trillion        sinless angels.
Not a thousand miles of golden streets.
Not a million crowns under construction.
Not the angelic anthems of peace.
Nor the anthems of war.
Not perfection.
Not light.
None of these things.
“The glory of Heaven is lifting up the fallen…”*
Loving the unlovely.  Making people new.
Thank you, Jesus…
“His glory is His children’s good,
  His joy, His tender Fatherhood…”
*COL 386

More to Give. Much more…

It was a simple little lesson… Brought to me by the most gracious people I have ever met. But it stirs me even now–
He or she who has lost, and yet loved, may indeed have less to lose… 
But also unspeakably more to give. 
I have learned that gentleness, selflessness, real warmth and grace are seldom owned in their depth by those who have not tasted sorrow. 
They are trophies won in the face of pain and loss.  
But they make their possessors the richest, most beautiful people in the world…
So, to my new friends– 
Your love through loss has been the gain of thousands…
Thank you.

Providence at it’s best…

Isaiah 41
I love that word– Providence.
It’s ultimate power giving of itself… And that, provision more than sufficient.
There is no promise that we will never lack… Indeed, if we never lacked, there would be no need for a promise. No need for Power. No need for Grace…
We will lack. We must thirst…
But we need remain thirsty only for a moment. Just long enough to recognize our need… And then, Providence kicks in.
And not with a little glass of water either…
“When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.”
(Isaiah 41:17-18)
Where there is thirst, He creates a river…

So Little Time

Isaiah 40
“So much to do, so little time…”
That phrase, and others like it, must circle the globe 1,000 times a day.
I feel it, especially this morning. But there’s something about looking out the window to my right and seeing planet earth 5 miles down that shifts my perspective on the subject…
Right here it’s just me and my little iPad, and a long to-do list sitting on a plane on the way to Missouri. Out there, I have a very big God.
Aren’t you glad we can rely on a Power outside of ourselves?
“Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:28-31

The Shadow…

Just think:
It’s the most beautiful place in all the world…
A palace without boundaries, a treasury inexhaustible, a fortress impregnable… The place where the both the strongest and tenderest of God’s treasures are perfectly safe.
But this is not like the vaults or bunkers of the world. It is the place where ultimate freedom, and top security become one. Where the most profound protection expresses itself, not with bolts and locks, but with perfect liberty.
This is the sanctuary of the Most High. The shadow of His wings… His pavilion.
And the fear of the Lord is the key to the door.
“Sanctify the LORD of hosts Himself; and let Him be your fear… And He shall be for [you] a sanctuary…” Isaiah 8:13-14

Then, Lord Jesus, teach us to fear… That we might abide under the shadow of Your wings.

Mine Eyes Have Seen…

Isaiah 6
“Mine eyes have seen the King…”
Dreadful, exultant, awesome phrase. 
But the young prince is afraid. It is after all, a dreadful, exultant, and awesome scene that has opened before him. 
Pictures this: (seriously, try.)
The Almighty God seated high on His throne; the Seraphs (literally: “Burning things”) hovering over Him while they shield their own faces; the entire temple, the massive, glorious palace of the Infinite God, trembling to its foundations at the voice of His announcer; the whole glorious place filled with white smoke because the very air must praise Him… And the entire scene wrapped, and filled, and bursting with a soundtrack like you’ve never heard…
But Isaiah didn’t die. Even though he thought he would…
Because those who submit to the work of grace in their lives have another option. 

That’s the one I want…

One Little Digression

Pardon me if digress from my normative tenor momentarily…
There are plenty of blogs that serve as little more than a landing pad for 100 perfectly unrelated YouTube videos, and this is not one of them.
But the EMT in me wants to assert itself just this once to make one simple plea: 
Please wear your seatbelt. I’m serious… 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Frightened? I would have been too.
Wouldn’t you have been, if you had been in the vehicle when the tires started whining on dry pavement like a bottle rocket? Imagine looking out the window when it launched off of the bank sideways. Split seconds must have seemed like minutes…and the cycle of light and dark must have well reflected the fight between hopes and fears as the vehicle silently rolled in midair. 
Or maybe your eyes would have been closed…
And maybe his eyes were still closed when the tree trunk started them spinning (still in midair) on 2 axes, not one. Maybe when all was still again the blood and broken glass convinced him to keep them that way. 
Yes, I think I would have been frightened. Especially if I hadn’t yet seen my sixth birthday.   
It took me a few minutes to get to him, (being outnumbered by victims at a scene by a factor of 2 is not ideal) but by the time the rest of our colleagues got there with the ambulances, he had taught me something beautiful about service, and about life… 
It was in his face. Wide eyes told me the story. He was terribly afraid. And even in the bystander’s car with the heat all the way up, he was shaking like a little leaf.
“Hi buddy, my name is Sean. I work on the ambulance. Can I help you?”
“What’s your name? Does this hurt? Ok, hold really still for me. Good boy… I’m just going to hold your head like this… Is this your brother?”
“Yeah… We were, we were just going to the lake…”
But he wouldn’t stop shaking. Even after 5 minutes. 
“Is my mommy still in that car?” 
Oh, I get it…
“Yes. But she should be out soon. They’re working on it right now.”
“But is it going to explode?”
I wish you could have seen his little face. Scratched and swollen as it was, to me it was the ultimate theater of Grace for one beautiful moment. The moment when I said “Oh no, definitely not. They’re taking care of her.” 
His neck relaxed.
Ohhh… good.”
That’s when I decided few privileges compare to healing hurts, and calming fears…
Thanks, my little friend.
I’m so glad you all made it home…


I have a question.
This one thanks to a dear friend who challenged me to fall asleep last night thinking about Jesus, and miracles…

Jesus spared Himself no pains while He was here, to relieve the sufferings of humanity. And He spares no pains today to relieve the sufferings of sinners. To me, miracles are one of the ways He says “I love you” most profoundly. They are proof of His power, proof of His authority, proof of His fidelity and infinity… 
Gifts of Grace. 

But have you ever stopped to ask yourself if miracles cost Him anything?
–If the gift of life He gave back to Jairus’ daughter, or the widow’s son, was in fact a measure of His own?
Eternal and Creative as He is after all, it seems like He could give without losing. But is that giving?
Maybe He always filled others by pouring out Himself. 
And maybe… He still does. 

You think?
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