Unsatisfied By Average

The Musings of a Stubborn Believer

Category: miracles (page 1 of 3)

Sympathy with Humanity

I wasn’t complaining. Though it sounds a bit like it now…
On a peninsula of rock jutting like a castle between a gorge and a vale I stood, breathless from the scramble. Hands in my pockets and with eager step, if heavy heart.

Perhaps a few will understand when I say I carry on my heart at any given time a thousand reasons to laugh, and a thousand reasons to weep. Most all of them with first and last names.
Such is the cost of loving humanity, I suppose.

Anyway, this post isn’t about me.

I’d just gained the crest, just finished a brief review comparing the power at my disposal with my far-too-often dismal performance, just realized afresh how deep mercy reaches, and

It’s not fair, You know? I deserve the lot of the criminal, but here I stand in converse with The Infinite, while people I love slowly die in the clutches of fear….

Can you see why happiness means nothing to me when it’s mine alone?

…So, it’s all or nothing.

Either I am to be completely at Your disposal to help the weak, comfort the wounded, and actually lift, and heal, and effect a lasting change, or…

Or, I want out right. now. 

Because it hurts too much to be in sympathy with humanity.

Ever have you been in that place or time when suddenly every tree in the wood seemed to drop its jaw and gape? and you wonder:

what did I do. What did I just say?

The only answer is this electric silence.

I glance one way and the other. Wait.

He never says. But suddenly it’s as if every snowflake has recovered from shock and found a voice.

He would know.

He would know just exactly how much it hurts to be in sympathy with humanity. And He chose it, over the alternative, not because there was no alternative. For Him, there’s no “out.”

For Him, there’s no wanting out.

“For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.”  Hebrews 4:15 

Believing is Everything?

Minnows flee the froth while they tumble out of the boats and splash ashore, this exuberant rabble.
They’ve been looking for the miracle worker that baked 25,000 barley loaves (not including what wife and kids ate) without an oven yesterday, and they’ve just found Him.

He doesn’t answer their first question at all, rather gently reminds them what alone is really worth pursuing.

“Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you.”
(John 6:27 KJV)

Whether or not they actually understand what He’s saying, they are plainly intrigued. So they ask another question. The answer to which has me positively intrigued…

“Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe…”
(John 6:28-29 KJV emphasis added)

Belief changes everything.

Because if Christ really came, then God is really good, and self-love is really a lie, and sin is really a destroyer, and who wants to die anyway?

I have some news for you.
Christ came. (Matchless condescension.)
And He comes again, every time a dark heart opens its door. (Again, matchless condescension.)
What more proof do we need of His benevolence?

And if He is benevolent, then where’s the controversy?

Believing is everything.

We only ever hesitate to serve a God whose character we question.

Her Name Was Mary

“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.”
                                                “Or… wait.”

–  –  –

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.
She was.

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 . . .”. . .

Bound to the Altar

See how his hand trembles, this giant of a man. 

See how it fumbles with soft leather strap, almost inept.
Hear broken sobs, from the given heart.
Watch him blink away tears so he can see what he’s doing–
See to bind his son. His promised son.

By some reflex my head turns in real life, eyes squinted shut. As if to say “I don’t want to watch this happen.”

Amazing love.
But you know what I find almost more amazing?
See how his hand takes those straps, steady and strong.
See how he binds himself, soothes the broken, himself blinking away tears.
This strong son. The promised one.

Amazing love.

–  –  –  –  –

I pull out a second card. Because sometimes on sister’s birthday one card won’t say it all.

Four words– This morning I pondered with tears what it must take to stand like a rock, on a breaker out in the tide while the waves crash over. Like lighthouses do… 

Because you, I, we… We’re out there, and the sandy shore from whence we’ve come is washing out, getting ever more distant. Carried away by churning foam while the water around gets deeper. 

I mean, there’s the clinging, the scratching, the white-kunckled hold. But anemones and starfish have many more hands than we do. And none of them are permanent fixtures. 

So it must be, that to stand rock-like, we need nothing less than to be bound to that rock by a power outside of our own. Greater than our own. Bound so firmly that neither fear nor fatigue can ever make us ask for release of reprieve.  

Because it’s in the midst of the worst storms that the world most needs lighthouses…
Prisoner on the rock. to the Rock. 

Bind yourself there. 

               Love you forever.

Because He is, was, does. [Glorious Fast – Part VIII]

“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning,
and thine health shall spring forth speedily:
and thy righteousness shall go before thee;
and the glory of the LORD shall [go behind thee]
Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer;
thou shalt cry and He shall say
‘Here I am!’

Then shall thy light rise in obscurity
and thy darkness be as the noon day:



And the LORD shall guide thee continually,
and satisfy thy soul in drought.

And thou shalt be like a watered garden
and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places…
and thou shalt be called
‘The repairer of the breach'”

Enough said. 
Light, and strength, and holiness. 
A front runner and a rear guard. 
A new name out of nowhere. 
A confident step. A satisfied soul.
An unfailing spring.
A rebuilder of dreams? 
God’s dreams?
How can that even be?

Surely there must be more. 
More than brokenness. More than choosing to go hungry.
More than gut wrenching chain-cutting.
More than mercy with power to undo.
More than following Him back to finish off my tormentors.
More than giving away my only slice of bread.
More than opening my arms to hold what’s dying,
         to see it raised up, or love it till it’s gone.
I mean, that’s a lot. But that can’t be all.
No, it isn’t all. There’s one more thing.
To realize that after all this, I’m still nothing, will always be nothing.
And I’m saved, and I get to help save, 
because He is, was, does, all this.
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen?”

Yes. 
And I choose it too.

To Finish the Job [Glorious Fast – Part V]

“… and that ye break every yoke?…”

This is no halfway freedom we’re talking about.

This is undeniably the most audacious face of the conflict–
It’s grace, returning to finish the job.

Because “if the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

So it is that the trembling (but oh, so happy) child of God (only recently in chains) awakens one morning to a flurry of activity, and while yet rubbing sleep from the eyes an angel brushes by and says the Commander is waiting…

“For what– 
        For me??”

Yes. Because just getting clear of the door of that prison is’t enough for this General.
Today they’re going back to crush the fortress to a thousand pieces.

And He wants to take me with Him.

So we set out. Me with my little coil of rope, and Him, strong as ten thousand times ten thousand bulldozers. And I look up in awe while we trek– still thinking this is a dream. The One, the Invincible Soldier. The other, the admiring little boy, still in his pajamas…
And He looks down and smiles.

He doesn’t need me.

But He glories in making the weak, strong.
            –in setting them over their enemies.

And after all, don’t I know where the pillars in that place rest, better than most?


Ruthless Transformation

“This the power of the Cross-
Christ became sin for us…”
I rub the creases in my forehead, my eyes all squinted shut. 
Three days I’ve tussled with those words– 
Arms folded in the morning sun by french doors; watching sunrise through the ambulance windshield; on my feet, at the kitchen sink; on my back, late and early; in my seat at breakfast, in my seat in the office, in my seat in the car… On my knees.
And I don’t understand
I don’t understand how that Jesus could suddenly be that which was completely opposed to His nature. How He could be so thoroughly, so ruthlessly… What? Transformed? No… yes.
I don’t understand, other than what the verse says…

“For He hath made Him to be sin for us, 
Who knew no sin; 
that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
II Corinthians 5:21

That is to say, the Father made His Son to be sin for us, though (even while!) it was completely foreign to His beautiful heart, 
that I might find freedom, which is totally foreign to mine.
I don’t understand. 
But I hear this little question, ringing through the halls of my mind:
If Light was willing to be made dark to accomplish God’s purposes in freeing a race,
should not smiles be willing to be made tears?
should not fullness be willing to be made hunger?
should not rest be willing to be made sleeplessness?
Should not I be willing to be made anything? 
Anything Providence desires?
Even if it is entirely contrary to my nature?
Even if it is a ruthless transformation…

Supernatural Secret

“The expression of Christian character is not good doing, but God-likeness. 

If the Spirit of God has transformed you within,

you will exhibit Divine characteristics in your life, not good human characteristics.

God’s life in us expresses itself as God’s life,

not as a human life trying to be godly. 

The secret of a Christian is that the supernatural is made natural in him by the grace of God…”



–My Utmost for His Highest
Photos: ©Joshua Nebblett

Taste of the Tour

Words fail of conveying sufficient depth and gravity.
Clichés like: “I’ll never be the same” apply, but still don’t tell it like it is…

I throb thankfulness while I grope for expressions worthy, and finally conclude-

Our best statements are understatements.

Because once again, our God has outdone Himself, blessing when we went to bless.
How I needed the quiet. How I needed to see the rocks that cried red. How I needed the battle to refocus. How I needed to be broken and healed, raised up out of weakness, charged to fight…
Reminded that I am nothing.
Reminded that “All things work together for good…”

All things.

Thank You Jesus.
Thank you, beautiful friends from all over the continent…

We love you…


Taste of the Tour from Sean Nebblett on Vimeo.

Worthy?

Twelve words throb strong in my heart this morning.

What? How is that possible– now? Ever…?
Forever?
I tear myself away from my Bible to proceed with my day, only to have my to-do list constantly interrupted by staring-off-into-space moments…
So I’m back.
To tell you.
The promise for tomorrow, and for today
“…And they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy.”
Revelation 3:4  
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