Unsatisfied By Average

The Musings of a Stubborn Believer

Category: loneliness

Sleeping Before Gethsemane

In my mind I think that nothing would have persuaded me to sleep that night…
I should think I would have been too afraid. 
They watched Him, walked with Him. He, having just given what He knew to be His last words– His last will and testament. Now He is gripped by a sadness such as they have never seen before. The Healer stumbles and sways into the garden, and more than once they have to hold Him up so He does not topple to the cold ground. 
Can you enter in to just how frightening that must have been?
Cold night; stricken Savior. 
He, who’d never stumbled? Not once?
Perhaps the 8 of them were glad to be left near the gate of the garden. Maybe sleep would erase all memory of this dread they could not understand? 
I don’t know, I wasn’t there.
What I do know is, they slept. 
The three closest ones, they followed Him till He told them to stay. But did anybody look unreservedly into His face? Did anyone dare ask why He was sorrowful unto death? Did no one cling to Him and insist He share the burden that was crushing out His life? Did any say “I’ll watch with you. I’ll go with you. Wherever. Only entreat me not to leave You…”
Or with pounding hearts did they pray, for a few minutes, that it would just go away…
I wasn’t there. 
But these two things I know: they neglected to share (or shrank from sharing) His heart because its burdens were unknown, awkward and fearful. 
And when the moment of truth burst upon them, they scattered.
Might I venture to say that had they stopped and just looked into His face, accepted the dreadful reality written there in bloody sweat, and sought to share its grief, 
they would have read there the truth about the moments to come? 
Or at least, they would not have been shocked by them. 
Jesus knew. 

I wonder: Could not they have known a little too?
In my mind I think that nothing would have persuaded me to sleep that night… 
I should have been too afraid. 
But then, what of His burdens in the overflowing eyes of this people His flesh and blood? His bride?
Don’t I sometimes neglect to share them, or shrink from them because they are fearful, awkward, unknown?
Do I ever pray, rather than that I might share them, that they might just go away?
Oh Jesus… Perhaps I would have slept too? 


PC and post: Nathan Lee Westbrook



A Gift Called “Together”

We heave and breathe and pour sweat, and bump fists.
And we chant audacity (in the form of “oh yes you can!”) and mouth corners upturn under flaming cheeks. And we cut another minute off the mile, add another mile to the course.

We flop down in green grass and laugh.

And I realize that what I once said would never be, is.
What I always said I’d do only for the sake of relentlessness, I do now for the love of the doing…

Together.
That changes everything, you know?

I soak up blue sky and run fingers through grass while we stretch; listen to the student of strides give us the latest science; quip that we need a team dietician.

And running isn’t anything like it used to be.
It used to be heart-pounding, step-sounding solitude where the only one there to believe I could was myself.

But it isn’t the love or the running that strikes me so deep.

It’s that together word.
That’s the gift.

Apart, some are fast, some are slow.
Others never try. Never know what they’re made of.

Oh, and don’t get me wrong. There’s a place for solitude. I was born a loner, after all…

But I’ve been given a gift I hope to spend the rest of my life passing on to people around me who’ve never tried. Or who’ve quit believing.

And I dare you to do the same.
To be the same.

To the lonely soul; To the trembling child; To the one who wants, but is afraid to dare; To the one who would, if one soul would care–

I want to be together.

Because together, everyone gets stronger.

“Don’t Be Ashamed of My Chains…”

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I suddenly hear in his words an agony of earnestness that makes my heart stop. I breathe. Heave breathe; roll onto my side to get the weight off my chest. But it will not leave…

– – –
– – –

An old man, bent and nearly blind* is pressed down the corridor.
The step that once was firm and free is encumbered by shackles, the joints beg for mercy from the damp cold. This man is innocent. One look at his face is all it takes to prove it. But he is going to die.

You are in Rome. And this, is Nero’s dungeon.

Ruthless hands. Ruthless hearts.

The steps of the guards fade into silence and in my mind I am there.
There to see the great man grope about his cell; call out for his companion.
He calls for parchment, but he can’t see to write. Faithful Dr. Luke will write for him, this last will and testament. His hands tremble, his voice trembles, but this heart is strong.
Stronger than the Roman Empire.

It is Nero’s heart that trembles upstairs. (AA chap 48, “Paul Before Nero”)

But his frame is tired. And with the knowledge that he has not long to live, highest priorities becomes only priorities.
He wants to see his boy.

I do not know how the good doctor took the dictation without soaking the parchment with tears.
I couldn’t have.

I read the letter now, this last letter ever written by the Apostle to the Gentiles, this last will to the world, this letter to his boy, and I want to weep.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Tim 4:7)

Indeed you have, sir. Indeed you have.

I hear his chains rattle. And I hear a cry that is half audacious challenge, half daddy’s heart.
I can almost see the hand upraised, silhouette of shackles against cold stone. And my heart stops…

Don’t be ashamed, my boy.
Oh, don’t be ashamed of my chains

And don’t be ashamed of the Gospel. **

Luke writes. I read.

My heart leaps, as Timothy’s must have.
Timothy, who most likely did not make it back to Rome in time…

I hug my pillow. Pray

Oh my Father
let me never be ashamed.

*Many scholars believe the “thorn” of II Cor 12:7 was in fact near blindness…
**See II Timothy 1:8

There’ll Be More Leaves Next Year…

Stepping out into the 7-degree morning reminded me–
Seasons come, and seasons go. 
As I stood there sniffing air so cold it tickled from my nose to my throat, I thought of something…
The change of seasons is really a constant cycle of life, growth, and total surrender. 
I’m reminded of Bigger Dreams.
But this time the focus is a bit different. 
Because before the young tree can hope to grow taller and stronger, and spread more leaves to the sky, it must first let go of everything it has. 
Everything it has worked so hard for. 
The very current of it’s life…
Every leaf must fall, to make way for a brighter tomorrow. 
Those who don’t, might not have a tomorrow.
I’m somewhat a Michigan native, and I remember many times when the snow or ice came before the trees had made their total surrender. Too many of those trees never saw another spring… 
Seasons come, and seasons go. 
In life, and in the weather. 
So while I await the unfolding of the next season of my life, my duty is clear:
Readiness. Willingness. Surrender.
There’ll be more leaves next year.

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.

Whatever it Takes…

Isaiah 17


Thank God for the days when a man’s eyes “look to his Maker”… Even though they be driven there by leanness of flesh and loss of glory, (v.4) and famine, and dearth, and struggle… (v.5-6)
Yes, thank God… If that’s what it takes to keep our eyes on Him, so be it.
I personally can’t grow while living an easy life. I don’t know anyone who can.
That’s why I crave the fire’s embrace…
Not in freedom from trial, but in the midst of it, is Christian character developed… 
It is the triumph of the Christian faith that it enables its followers to suffer and be strong; to submit, and thus to conquer; to be killed all the day long, and yet to live; to bear the cross, and thus to win the crown of glory.
–AA 467, Quoted

Walk in the Light…

Isaiah 2

Most Christians recognize at least some need for separation from the world… But to the point of loneliness?? 
If you’re walking in darkness, evaluate your location and your companions… That’s what I take from Isaiah 2. Which path are you on? The very last verse warns about association with those whose “breath is in [their] nostrils.” In other words, whose strength is in themselves… But why?
Because to walk alone is far better than to walk with sin, and share it’s end…
And you cannot walk in the light, and hold hands with darkness.  
But here’s the really good news–
For those willing to walk alone “in the light of the Lord” (v.5) there’s a promise…
“If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship…”