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The Musings of a Stubborn Believer

Category: sacrifice (page 1 of 2)

Even if it Leaves a Scar

“It is broken hearts that long for Home, 
and change the world.”

That’s why.
That’s why though I have thousands of beautiful photos of beautiful friends, my phone shows me this one every time I swipe to unlock it.

Image: ©New York Times

You reel. You should.

– – – – –

“That would make me sick every time I saw it.”
Words of a trusted friend, those.

“It does make me sick.”
That’s why it’s there.

. . .

“I don’t understand…
Why her and not me?
Why am I not a starving child in Africa?
Why was I born into my family here in the US?”

“I know… I don’t know. 
That’s why it breaks me.”

There are two kinds of people in the world:
Those who have been given the gift of suffering,*
And those gifted with the responsibility to do something about it.

I’m asking God to burn the needs of His children on my heart… 
Even if it leaves a scar. 
His hands are scarred, after all.

*Suffering: the gift of being able to 
uniquely identify with a heart-broken God.

Privileged: Part 2

I’m reminded…

In death, there is life. 

 Though pain, and toil, and sacrifice are the lot of the soldier, 

And though it may appear that for this time he gets no pay,

Remember that God has not asked anyone to serve Him here
without promising him an inheritance hereafter

There has never been a night
that was not followed by the morning…

“With the sovereignty of God is bound up the well-being of man. The glory of God is the joy and the blessing of all created beings. When we seek to promote His glory we are seeking for ourselves the highest good which it is possible for us to receive. . . . God calls for the consecration to His service of every faculty, of every gift you have received from Him. He wants you to say, with David: ‘All things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee.'” 

God’s Amazing Grace, Feb 22
Photo: Joshua Nebblett

Privileged: The Real Gospel

“The principle of the gospel is this: 
The gospel always brings life to the receiver,
and death to the giver.

If the gospel brought death to Jesus Christ, why would we think that in preaching the gospel it would be any less for us?…

So the mixture of our message is life and death,
And laughter and tears…

And this is voluntary.
This is not a sentence at all…
We’re not sentenced to death.
We’re just privileged to answer His call…”

–Jackie Pullinger
lifelong missionary to Hong Kong


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}

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.

Almost Home

Isaiah 66

Victory! At long last…

A fitting finish for the “Old Testament Gospel.” 
The last page closes on a people that shall remain as long as God’s name does… Because His name is written on their hearts and in their foreheads. There is no more death, no more war, no more anguish… 
“For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream… As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”
But before you throw down your sword, let me gently remind you that our final chapter has not yet come. We are almost home, but as yet our work is still war and anguish. Our duty is still the laying down of our lives. 
There can be no victory where there is no fight…
Eternal Weight of Glory, 
                           make us strong.

Bigger Dreams

Isaiah 35-38
I wonder if you ever stuffed your pockets with acorns as a child. My guess is, you did. 
I have fond memories of scrambling around under the old oak trees in the park, searching and hoarding the biggest and best ones until my pockets bulged… Or more recently, sitting serenely under a grove of
oaks one stunning Sabbath afternoon in Germany while a half dozen young German and Austrian friends did the scrambling for me, enthusiastically delivering a pile of acorns to my lap… 
I don’t know, there’s just something about it. 
And maybe when you too had your pockets full of perfect ones, your mother saw you hobbling towards the car and asked “What are you going to do with those?” 
“Oh, I don’t know… something special. I’m– I’m going to make something…”
If you were anything like me, you had no idea what you were going to make. It probably ended up being an absurd construction paper/acorn collage that rivaled modern art for abstraction, but which your mother still treasures to this day. 
Whatever the case, you had dreams for those acorns…
Hezekiah had dreams too… Dreams for his life, and for his reign that sickness suddenly threatened. All at once we find the king weeping pitifully, longing for a little more time… And who wouldn’t? 
And then we hear God in His eternal pity give him a promise, fully knowing what it would cost future generations…
God will lay aside His dreams, if we insist on ours. 
His dream for every acorn is much bigger than an absurd collage. And don’t get me wrong, there’s beauty in that childish art. It just doesn’t remotely approximate to the glory of the oak tree… 
Our problem is that instead of letting our own dreams go in favor of His, we pursue His glory the best way we know how– stuffing our pockets with the best in the hopes that we can make something worthy of them. 
But dreams must die, before they can grow. 
The acorn must die… First, it must be deemed unfit by even the hungriest of squirrels, then it must be forgotten… Often it gets buried deep beneath layers of rubbish, seemingly lost in a tangle of old leaves and dirt, much like our tangled and mangled hopes and dreams. It must give itself up. Totally. Permanently. 

Then it grows. 
God has a thousand other dreams too… Like turning enemies into dead men (Isa. 37:36) and and turning deserts into rose gardens. (Isa. 35:1)

What He needs is children that will cling more tenaciously to their Father’s dreams than to their own. Children that are willing to surrender to Him not just that in them which is evil, but more painfully that which is rightfully theirs, and perfectly good, if He asks for it. 
Anything less will be less than His best…    


Isaiah 12
Praise is peace, and joy, and freedom. And one of the ultimate defenses against temptation.
And it’s the least we can do…
Even if it is a “sacrifice of praise”… After all, His was the sacrifice of suffering.
I personally don’t think that a life of perpetual gratitude is too high a price to pay.
“Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth.” Isaiah 12:5

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…”
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