Unsatisfied By Average

The Musings of a Stubborn Believer

Category: war

Why Love Always Wins


In that place between wakefulness and dreams I wrestle with the risk of liberty. I ponder the rules of war. I wonder how it is that Love succeeds even when it seems to fail… And then I see it.

.  .  .  .

Upon the slopes of Sinai stand I, eyes on a drama unfolding below. Two great armies fill the plain; meet in the midst in a perfect line. Their commanders sit upon regal horses, men both of great stature and commanding presence. At the first glance, and from my distance, the sides appear indistinguishable.

Motionless stand they, and grave. For I perceived that though the one side cares nothing for the rules of engagement, they dare not disobey them when confronted by this host.

I wonder for what intent they have assembled here. I have not long to wait.

Suddenly a disturbance in the ranks on the left, and the whole force is in motion. With a calm and assurance that breathes of victory already, the great host rightward makes their advance. The clash is tremendous. I assure you, you have never seen a fight until you have watched angels in conflict.

But I see the wonder: there has comes from one mouth on the left a cry I could not hear. Not for my distance, nor for the noise of the battle. But Someone heard it. And suddenly the one Commander stands up in His stirrups; raises a glittering Sword high above His head. And there is a great and terrible silence. It seems as though the entire host on the left is suddenly paralyzed. As though they had every one of them suddenly lost the duel with his antagonist, and now stand at sword-point, desperate, but dumb.

Dumb, except for their commander. Who stands up also in his stirrups and roars unthinkable blasphemies.

And then I see him. The one who’d cried out. Two great warriors cross the battle line, weave through the throng, take his hands and lead him to the other side. Theirs, the only motion in the whole of the plain

A prisoner? think I.

Nay, for behold, he is straightaway given a sword.

I turn to a silent watcher beside me. What means this?

This is a battle for a soul. One soul.

These armies, indistinguishable to the untrained eye–
They are made up of mighty angels, and common people.

And one thing most notable sets them apart. (Besides the character of their commanders.)

The one has gained its every recruit by impressment, imprisonment, deception, and coercion.
The other accepts only volunteers.

The rules of war are in our favor.
When in the midst of battle one of ours defects, he is allowed to go, though chains await him. 
When one of theirs believes, we go in and get him.
That’s fair.

And we have the Sword. 
And we have the Lord Glorious. 

They are all slaves. 
We’re all loving servants.

Of course Love has the advantage.

Love With Your Eyes [Glorious Fast – Part VII]

“…and that thou bring the poor that are [afflicted] to thy house?
When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him, 
and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?”


There are times, many times, when answers are not enough.
When the most eloquently chosen words are still a mockery…

Because what are words when I am dying of leprosy, and you are not?
What are words when I am naked, and you are warmly clothed?
What are words when we could have been siblings, when our fates could have been reversed, but you turn away because you’d rather not see my open sores?

I’ll tell you exactly what words are then. Even, at times, the well meaning ones…

Shame. Shame and mockery…

Ok, whatever. So I won’t talk.
Oh, but what is silence!?

–  –  –  –  –

Many feel as though they don’t have the words anyway.
I’m here to go on record saying that that is no limitation.
You can still “bring,” you can still “cover…”

You can still open your arms and wrap them around the neck of a dying, reeking, sick child the Highest, and hold them to your heart, unguarded.
You can look steady and strong into the eyes of the naked and afraid, and prove to them that love can see past their lack.

Oh, and you might get the stench of death all over you.
But you might also release a soul from the grip of shame.

Dirty work? You might call it that. I don’t.
You know Jesus touched the leprous skin to make it whole.

Oh, love with your hands, your arms, your eyes…
And if your hands get covered in grime, no matter.

Have you ever, have you ever watched darkened eyes light up?



If You Have a Crumb [Glorious Fast – Part VI]

“…Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry…”

– – – –


Arms open wide, I try to embrace them all.
Canis Major, Aries, Lepus, Orion, Columba…
All in their undimmed glory against the blackness.
And Venus and Jupiter, brightest of all.

Head tipped back, I spin; take it in.
Try to grip infinity while the earth grips me, twirls me through the universe like a daddy does his child.

And it’s just me. Me and my dog.
On a 36 degree morning. At 8,000 feet.

I break into a smile.

And I whisper to myself; to Him–

No sooner has a child of the Highest yielded to transforming grace, than he is made an ambassador among men.*

No sooner!

– – – –


“But I have nothing.”

If you have a crumb of bread, you have enough.

It doesn’t say you must be a wholesale broker of baked goods.
Nor does it say that those goods must be the finest pastries.
Nor does it say that you’ll need a flawless record of lifelong fidelity to be trusted with the job…

Because no sooner has a child of the Highest yielded to transforming grace, than he is made an ambassador among men.

What it does say, is that this bread, this simple fare passed down to sustain life–

It’s not just bread you picked up somewhere for general distribution.
This was yours.
Your next meal.

“…Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry…”

Beautiful is this truth. A terrible beautiful.

If you have a crumb of bread to eat, (and most people do) you have enough to give away.
And if you would see men free, and full, and overflowing,
you must.

– – – –

At hill’s top I turn, greet the dawn.
Embrace the empty expanse with my whole heart.
This is fullness.


*See page 2.1 of Mount of Blessings…

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?


Chained by Fear [Glorious Fast – Part IV]

…and to let the oppressed to free…

There is nothing in the world to fear, but fear itself.
–words to a trusted friend those.

Fear substantiates the false claims of every captor.

Because when I fail, this jail I find myself in is horrible…
But even more horrible is the fear.

Fear keeps thousands in prison, when the door is wide open.
Because worse than jail itself is fearing “how God will treat me” when I get out

But to say that God is anything like fear describes is as wrong as calling the devil a savior.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The truth is, God loves.
only. loves.

But the fearing can scarcely be blamed for disbelieving that at times…

We’ve taught them to.

Yes. You and me.
We teach the weak to fear.
By our actions. When we’re supposed to be representing Jesus Himself…

And that keeps them in prison even when the doors are open.

“…and to let the oppressed to free…”

Not just by getting the door open.
By helping them believe they’ll always find open arms on the other side of the threshold.

Always.


Trophies of His Mercy [Glorious Fast – Part III]

“…to undo the heavy burdens…”

Undo.
I love that word.

I love that word.

Schoolmaster holds up a bony finger and rants of paradises lost. Of opportunities wasted. Of moments, talents, thrown to the wind. Or worse.
Of the train of mistakes so long it takes an army of engines to pull them.
And that army of engines is me.
(And so, we get nowhere.)

Of the crushing weight of another failure.
Another moment I regret the second it is gone.
Of the shame that no one can understand because they know nothing of its source…

Schoolmaster’s voice shrieks this madness,
this madness that is real,
and I cover. cower. cry.

And then in the midst of this shower of burning brimstone a hand is raised.
And teacher’s tirade ceases on a goldfish-gulp of air, for sheer shock that someone might want to speak…
And the voice is quiet, but it is as solid as a rock.

“Is there no way to undo?”

“Un-DO?!”

–  –  –  –  –

Grace.
I love that word too…

And it does undo.
The Hebrew word means more than just to untie one’s shoelaces.

It means to utterly confound, baffle, unravel…

I know.
I know, in the present-progressive.
Because I pace too, lion-like. Fists doubled up. Star-studded blackness outside french doors to bookshelf, and back.
And I dry my eyes, drop exhausted. Only to cry some more.
And I whisper–

“He restoreth my soul… He restoreth my soul…”

I have heard it said that “There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.”*

I believe it.
Yes, there is a way to undo.

Oh, but schoolmaster shrieks again that the scars will always remain.

Yes. And even scars are trophies of His mercy–
A scar is infinitely better than an eternally open wound.

Thank you Jesus.

–  –  –  –  –

And so the soldier gets up from his face forgiven. Again.
Pure. again.

But only as he remembers what he himself has learned on his face will he be qualified to help undo burdens himself.

This is why we must never forget…

Be thou merciful. 

*Richard Sibbes

The Blind Cannot Lead The Blind [Glorious Fast – Part II]

“…to loose the bands of wickedness…”

If hacking chains is exhilarating work, it is also gut-wrenching. Tear jerking.
Soul taxing–

And full-filling.

It is neither for the faint-hearted, nor for the half-committed…

But it is brilliantly, brilliantly rewarding.

Little wonder then that many an eager recruit has taken to the field with clumsy grip and misfit armor to seek fame in such brave exploits. Only, without first counting (or even knowing) the cost.

These first six words betray one of the best-kept secrets of the dark side.

As regards [im]morality*:

License is bondage.

Lust is an iron chain.
And many, many beautiful people are wearing such fetters.

But these, my friends,
These are the first chains to go.

Only, they will never fall helpless before the faith (or the fervent fuming) of the faint-hearted,
or the half-committed.

From these same six words rings out to every soldier sharpening his sword for such a battle, this thundered imperative- a charge commanding every anguished drop of a soldier’s undying commitment:

Be. thou. pure.

Be thou pure.

Because only purity is stronger than vice.


*Strongs: [“wickedness” from 7561; a wrong (especially moral)…]

Chosen Hunger [Glorious Fast – Part I]

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen?”

I know what it is to be hungry.

A little bit.
You know, where every sensation is heightened, (stub your toe and see.) and you carry with you an ache that won’t. go. away…
Hunger is both a gift, and a tragedy.
And normally, we go to great lengths to avoid it…
But to choose to be hungry… 
We call that fasting. 
To choose to carry the ache everywhere
To embrace the heightened sensitivity to seemingly unrelated woe,
Could this be what it means to have fellowship with Christ in His sufferings?
And could it be that personal vulnerability, and brokenness, and weakness born of raw hunger are prerequisite to being a channel for life and liberty?
Could it be?

Is This Not the Life I Have Chosen?

I watch the scurry from my seat behind the wheel, past noses of three cars poised to launch. 

We’ve gotten pretty good at our “preflight.”
These engines idle; these craft of steel and fiberglass wait in precise formation, just barely holding short of the drive. We’ll leave almost simultaneously. Five of us. Still pre-dawn. To three destinations 100, 200 miles apart. But we’ll be back in a few hours.
I sigh, close my eyes. Rest head to head rest.
Then I look again.
Looks like a carrier deck.
How fitting…

–  –  –  –  –  –  –
This is war. 
I’m most cognizant of it when the sun sets and the moon rises. But sleep won’t come. 
By day, we work. 
-changing carpets in our rental, working the relentless wedding list, building, cleaning, weeding, planting, designing, then dropping everything to operate an ambulance… (and did I mention my laundry?)
By night, we watch, we war…
-pacing, pleading, juggling strategies. praying. reading. writing. leading… hand holding.
And then we repeat the oft-quoted words of a valiant friend: “I can rest in Heaven”
 
Is this not the life I have chosen?

I’m going back to Isaiah 58. 
verse 6, verse 7, verses 8 and 9…
Because this is the life I’ve chosen.
And I’m going to pull it apart piece by piece… Every agonizing, thrilling little detail. 
Because I can’t be satisfied until I watch “light break forth as morning”
in the darkest soul I know.

You can come with, if you’d like…
starting tomorrow.