If God ever fails to do something good, be sure it is for one of two reasons.
One, He is working on something better.
Or two, His arm is being restrained by my failure to intercede.
Let me never be guilty of the latter.
Once again the truth is pressed home hard on my consciousness.
I shuffle. As if through stacks of mental paperwork on the desk of my mind, searching for the keys. Keys apparently hidden somewhere in the fine print ten thousand words long?
No, not there. The key is here.
Here in plain sight. Written in plain english.
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
The road, the destination, and the journey on that road, to that destination.
There you have it.
The key lies in Jesus being everything.
“There are some themes, some messages that stir me to the depths of my soul, and cause me to be gripped with a great quiet… Almost immobilized by the weight of truth; driven to my knees to simply be before God, utterly silent.
There are themes that bring silent tears to my eager eyes, make my soul soar as if on wings of eagles…
There are some themes that call forth an exultation so overpowering my fist shoots up and it is all I can do to get it down again.
And then there are those themes that awaken in me at once a passionate dissatisfaction, and a steel-clad resolve; words that invariably get me out of my seat to pace back and forth like a caged lion in my office. From french doors to bookshelf and back, on my knees, on my feet, on my face…
And I’m just warning you, this is one of those.
You see, I have this thought: (overly simple as it may seem–)
That God has a right to that which belongs to Him.
That after all He has suffered, after all He has lost, He’s worthy of receiving His own with interest.
That His beautiful dreams– (which are all for the happiness of others, by the way) –there is no reason why He should be denied them;
Why the universe should be denied them….
But you know, God is often denied what is due Him.
Perhaps most notably, by those who call themselves His friends…”
“Ok, tell me everything you know about this girl.”
I’m on a quest of discovery. And I’m after everything my friend might know.
“Well, she’s a really pious woman.”
Yeah. My thoughts exactly.
Almost without exception, her contemporaries thought differently.
For after all, she was the girl who’d been robbed of parents before she was ready to stand on her own, and had subsequently turned to find love where it can never be found. She was the one who, whether intentionally or accidentally, had thrown away her innocence, her youth, her purity, her piety in the crime-soaked business of human flesh for sale. And to boot, seven times she’d bowed to the dark side, and become a currier for the worst kind of darkness.
But then, then there was that awful day when she was caught in the act… Dragged from the bed to the street, and thrown in a cowering heap before the Lord of Glory.
And there was that beautiful moment when her broken shame, her stripped-bare necessity, appeared in the shadow of the undiluted Love of Infinite Eternity.
And she got it.
She got it.
Of course the pharisees would always maintain that Jesus regularly ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at a prostitute’s house.
Of course they’d say that what was could never be fully erased.
Of course, we say the same of others. We say the same of ourselves.
You know, that a crippling past must necessarily have a strong effect on one’s usefulness future. That this girl should never know as she might, what it is to trust. Or that, at the very least, it might take a lifetime to learn. And love? Well…
Yes. We often say those things.
And of course, there is an element of truth to them.
But there’s a reason this girl named Mary (which name means “Rebellious,” by the way) is my new favorite Bible character.
Because her story is the story of the power of grace to overcome, and to turn my past into my greatest advantage.
Let me gently remind the world that the home she shared with her big brother and sister was the place Jesus always came to when it was time to rest. That these were, apart from His very own, His best friends on earth. And that after her turning, this girl gained eyes for things everyone else missed.
Because the brokenness of her past was the richest possible backdrop for the truth about Grace, and the power of Love.
Remember that in the midst of the noise of a traditional Jewish party, while everyone was consumed by the festivities, one girl had the presence of mind to anointed her Lord for burial. That when everyone else was consumed with the protocol, this one girl sat at the feet of the Desire of the Ages, and watched Him, all ears, all eyes, all heart.
Remember that on that dark friday, she was there. When they carried Him to the tomb, she was there.
And let me remind you that on resurrection morning, Jesus appeared to one, and only one friend. And that friend was neither Peter, James, nor John.
Her name was Mary.
And she was a former prostitute.
I can’t help but wonder, might it be because she understood something about Love that everybody else missed?
And might that be because God makes “all things work together for good…”?
“Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”
“Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Ro. 5:20
Shoes kiss the pavement over and over. Rhythm of breathing and stride. We push miles behind us one at a time, while the truth is soaked in silence.
And I? I’m so taken.
“So, you see why this story, this girl . . .”. . .
What if I told you that every time I’ve ever found myself spinning my mental wheels in spiritual mud;
every time I’ve found myself wondering where my happiness disappeared to;
every time I’ve flown in my dreams only to wake up in the morning and find myself once again mercilessly tied to reality;
every time I’ve found myself confused;
every time I’ve been afraid to try, because I knew I’d fail;
every time I’ve gone ahead and tried, and, sure enough, failed;
and every time my confidence has been replaced with questions…
It’s always been for the same, simple reason.
What if I told you that?
Would you believe me?
And what if I followed that sweeping statement up with this one:
One, single, highly uncomplicated little word has always brought me back to joy.
Would you, could you believe?
I’m more than a bit ashamed to tell you this. But it’s the truth, and I’m going to tell you because every time dreams come true and I fly again (even while I’m awake) I find myself gripped with this desire to pass the gift of free flight to you. And this is the only way I know how…
I stop my pacing, straighten up to my full 5 feet 6, look steady at the open sky and with a twinge of fierceness born of resolution re-born, and answer:
And I feel myself take flight again…
This is not rocket science. There is no mystery.
I spent the latter half of my prayer walk plotting against my enemies.
Namely, the three that are one, that make my dreams impossible. That limit my reach to that which is earthly. That confuse, confound, and cause to fear and to fail…
They are simply, Conditional Yes, Deferred Yes, & Incomplete Yes.
And all three of them are just fancy names for no.
I have learned that to negotiate, (that is, to plead for a compromise or conditions) to hesitate, (that is, to wait even three seconds before actuating obedience) or just plain letting the discussion trail off, robs me of life and joy.
It robs me of communion, and confidence.
It robs me of my wings.
And failing to answer yes to the seemingly insignificant blinds me to the realities of the significant…
And vice versa.
One word. Would you believe? It always takes me back to joy; makes God’s dreams come true.
The burning. The passionate love of Infinity, at once warming and burning, comforting and causing a terrible trembling…
And coals are kindled by it.
Every bit of warmth we possess, every bit of light, we owe to that wonderful, terrible fire.
Every ounce of usefulness, every drop of passion, any love for souls, any hatred for chains, any power to do anything about them… We owe it all to the burning.
And to be a coal– To glow red, rolled in ashes, this is a high honor.
The harder the wind blows, the hotter we glow.
Till we’re utterly consumed.
Can any other life compare?
I know what it is to be hungry.
My phone rings and it’s my friend with the ever-cheerful chuckle.
(Even at 11:00 pm.)
The onions are all out drying on the lawn up at Grandma’s house… And the thunderstorm is at the county line.
The thousands of onions.
Might I lend a hand?
But of course. I peep through the blinds. The clouds west blink like they’re being hotly pursued by an army of strobes.
I jump in the waiting truck. And we race. Pallets, and crates, and two hay wagons full of onions. And just as we run the last of them into the shed, the wind slams into us in all its Oklahoman glory. And the showers of blessings begin to fall. And we jump into cars to keep our pajamas dry…
I’m suddenly seized by the urge to watch the light show.
So I duck into the house just long enough to grab 5D and tripod, and return to the hilltop alone…
It doesn’t take long. I’ve sat for 10 minute waiting to get the shot before. I only dare stay for 10 minutes this time.
But the light is so captivating…
I suddenly understand why Jesus said “Let your light so shine… that they may see… and glorify your Father.”
Because light in the darkness rarely goes unnoticed.
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