lift up your head. . .

medium_3985490626Sometimes I don’t know what to write, just like sometimes I don’t know what to say. Somethings are too deep and too hard to voice.

I’ve been in those places many times. I don’t know why, but I know that life is messy and confusing and painful.

Christ is the only constant. He doesn’t shift and sway with the wind. He is faithful. True. Trustworthy. Even when we are broken, He mends. He holds us close to himself. His character is the character of God. He was and ever has been. It’s important for me to remember that when I’m looking at the Psalms—when I’m looking at the poems of King David—I want to be cognizant of the truth: God/Jesus/Holy Spirit. From the beginning they were in this together.

Psalm 34. A beautiful psalm by King David. A psalm for pain and fear and confusion and uncertainty. 

I’ve marked up that psalm—I have dates etched into the pages representing times I prayed using that particular verse. Sometimes I read God’s Word and I feel His Spirit talking to me, urging me onward, deeper.

 A truth: when you or someone you love is suffering— suffering as in 1 Peter 4:12: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” In the original Greek it means “burning ordeal.”— suffering as in a “burning ordeal” that seemingly has no answer and you or your loved one has absolutely no control over the event, words seem trivial and inadequate. 

Lift up your head. Help is on the way. And He won’t pass you by. . .

Psalm 34 again. These words sung to the Lord by King David after facing possible death, show the character of God. Of Jesus. Here is a link: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2034&version=NIV  *Please note that in the link, the “poem” or psalm is described as an acrostic poem using the letters of the Hebrew alphabet! Cool.

Here’s what I do when I really need to see God’s/Jesus’s character: I dissect the verses and find the descriptions. It’s easy because of the way the Psalms are written. When I  dissected these verses in Psalms 34, I found this:

God answers 

God delivers (3x’s)

God hears (2x’s)

God saves

God surrounds

God is good

He hears 

He is close

He sees

He protects

He redeems.

I wrote that list in the pages of my journal to meditate upon and grapple with. When He seems far,  His Word says He is close. When I feel overwhelmed and frightened, He surrounds. When I cry out “Why?”, He hears. There is comfort. There is peace. There is rest.

 Lift up your head. 

For my sister and her family. May God’s closeness surround and embrace you. 

Amen. Please watch and listen to Audrey Assad sing, “Breaking Me”–worship.

 

 

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…IN WHICH I CONCLUDE THAT THERE IS NO SAFETY NET

Image
Forget the Disney image–E.H. Shepard’s capture A.A. Milne’s story so much better. Timeless.

To quote my philosopher of choice, Winnie the Pooh: “I’m not lost for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” 

 To quote my spiritual mentor of choice, C.S. Lewis: “Aren’t all these notes the senseless writings of a man who won’t accept the fact that there is nothing we can do with suffering except to suffer it?”

 To quote the source that guides my life, the Bible: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12

 Another one from the Bible–this time from James (one of Jesus’ younger brothers…same mama; different papa): “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.” James 1:2 (The Message)

The writing…

Ahh, you say to yourself. She’s going to go all whiney-butt on us and then talk about how suffering is a good thing…and… you’d be wrong. Suffering is an ever-present part of life. Few of us escape it. Some have more than their share.

I live close to a hospital. There is a brand new children’s hospital connected to it and a Ronald McDonald House near by. They act as reminders to pray–reminders that there is suffering far greater than I can fathom.

A personal pet peeve that I believe Jesus would agree with me on: The brand of Christianity that denies suffering and instead insists that healing is available for the asking. The one that says, “Follow Jesus and life will be easy and you’ll get rich because he wants you to prosper and you’ll never be sick because he wants to heal you!” (Take my word for it: these are out of context!!)

Case in point…or cases in point: The disciples. None were rich and drove the most pimped out camel in Asia Minor. None wore a lot of bling or anything made by a Jewish Versace. They lived dependent on the kindness of strangers who were also believers. They made their way (like Paul) practicing a trade. They spent lots of time in prison under the oppressive and really nasty Roman Empire. And most were martyred–except for John who was exiled to the island of Patmos.

ImageConclusion: Why am I surprised by what I am going through? Even though there is no “safety net” of protection, there is this assurance: “Abide (remain) in me, and I will abide (remain) in you…as the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now ABIDE in my love.” Jesus, John 15

For the third time this week, I’ve written the word “abide” on the inside of my left wrist as a reminder.

A MUCH NEEDED CHANGE OF SUBJECT:

Sounds I love:

  • The gentle creaking of 60-year-old hardwood floors when I prowl through the house at midnight.
  • The cooing of mourning doves.
  • Children’s voices playing outside.
  • Lawnmowers on Saturday afternoon
  • The scratch of a new pen hitting a new journal.
  • Typewriter keys (Apple should create a typewriter sound option for my Mac keyboard)
  • And my favorite…the deep, rolling belly laugh of my 9 month old grandson, Sawyer.

A BOOK I AM ENJOYING: 

Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Skinner — I read her first one, Girl Meets God, and was Imagehooked. Skinner grew up “at a synagogue in a small college town in Virginia.” She goes to college in NYC and converts to Christianity. Her books are clever, witty, but loaded with mature observations about faith and its practices in the United States.

This is a tiny, precious book that I got from the library and have now ordered (used copy, of course!) for my personal library. My fingers are itching to annotate!

Grace and peace to you, Cindy

What are your favorite sounds? Books? Winnie-the-Pooh quotes? C.S. Lewis quotes? Verses to sustain you?