Friday, April 17, 2015

Just One More

It was Christmas Day and all the activity was behind us. Presents opened, feast devoured, pictures taken and Skype calls complete.

We were putting away the last of the leftovers together when she said it.

“I had really been dreading Christmas this year, Mama.”

“Dreading?” I replied with surprise.

“Yes,” she paused considering if she even wanted to continue and put all the words out there between us. With a deep breath she revealed into the sanctity of our very usual motions what her heart was turning over and around and feeling loudly.

“I only have one more Christmas at home before college. Only one more furlough. Only one more year at home. Just one more year where everything will be the same.”

I quietly took in her words choosing to still my own reaction and simply hear her heart.

But I felt crumbling begin from the depths of my soul as she verbally contemplated all the changes edging into our world.

Just one more?

She spoke at length about college and her dreams and all the excited, happy expectations she allows to flourish too, but my mind was lost already.

Lost in every precious memory.

That first heartbeat. Then my malaria. Then that precious heartbeat again.

Her first laborious breath.

Her first smiles. Her first laugh. Her first step.

How she loves the Bible. How she loved every brother God brought to her.

How instantaneously she stole her Daddy’s heart.

How easily she has embraced others.

How her joy and beauty have filled our home.

Just one more?

How can this be?

How can I ever endure the most agonizing beauty of this specific flavor of release?

But here we are.

On this side of it all.

Tumbling through the sippy cups and sleepless nights and weary days and stomach flues  and teething. Through the messy floors and sticky tables and snotty cuddles. It felt never ending. 

But it was ending. It is ending.

If I keep saying it, will it start to feel real?

I cried a long time on Christmas night. It won’t be the last time, I am sure.

But we have entered that season of ‘Just One More’.

And at the end of it all, no matter how bad it hurts, I am stunned by the glorious honor of participating in even this. Treasuring every ‘just one more’ to the edges of it’s occurrence.

Because these exquisite creations are of me in a way no one else ever will be.

Pieces of me splaying outward from here in a gorgeous light spiraling splendor.

Merciful Father, you are Giving even this.

Holding on. Letting go. Eyes wide open. Heart beseeching.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Thursday, April 02, 2015


There is a shattering moment when a deception unveils.

Lies don’t appear all of a sudden and they never walk alone. They most always walk in community with resembling counterparts.

They need companionship to thrive. 

And when a thundering horde arrives greeting us in the native tongue of our enemy  (John 8:44), the resulting shards can stab from the inside out. 

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
 Heb 4:13

A sense of invisibility can be wrapped inseparably with betrayal. 

An obscured and hidden injuring that can settle deeply indiscernible. 

A traumatic casting off that muses forgotten over time. 

Betrayal can be so surprising, searing deeply for a long season; leaving one staggered and stunned, reeling to disorientation. Harboring in a wounded curl, pleading with inward groans for help from somewhere. 

Last night, in the sanctity of trusting conversation with my closest friend I uncovered this wound. This still oozing soreness that I can barely stand to have seen or touched. 

This certain ache that I am so embarrassed to still have with me.

But there it is. 

Bleeding out. 

Why, in all my analysis and awareness and understanding and praying, does this wound still bleed?

(why am I still surprised?)

Betrayal and Grief are counterparts. Deeply gouged into one experience. 

And grief will not be stilled. It works through a soul establishing a permanent place. Forever changing a life. 

Grieving expressions can grow wearisome for witnesses and those who still need to say it all can find closed doors and blank stares where they seek listening eyes and sympathetic holds. 

Where we lose the most and hurt the deepest we can feel the most alone. 

But, Jesus.

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are---yet was without sin.” 
Hebrews 4:14-15

We have a great High Priest. 

The One, who is like us. 


(yet without sin)

Easter approaches and His story recalls and repeats in many venues. 

Mark 14 tells a part of it this way: 

“Peter declared, ‘Even if all fall away, I will not.’

‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘today---yes, tonight---before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.’

But Peter insisted emphatically, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ 
And all the others said the same.

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples,
 ‘Sit here while I pray.’ 
He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.  
‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ he said to them, ‘Stay here and keep watch.’  
Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him…. 
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping….
Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 
When he came back, he again found them sleeping because their eyes were heavy. Returning a third time he said to them,
 ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come… Here comes my betrayer!’

Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared.
With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders.
Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.’
Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Rabbi!’ and kissed him.
The men seized Jesus and arrested him….
Then everyone deserted him and fled.”

This Holy Week, the lonely garden moments profoundly echo and sustain. 

In the most intense crisis we have recorded of Jesus life, in a moment of crushing betrayal, Jesus finds the people He has invested in the deepest asleep, bored, afraid and abandoning. 

They had just celebrated together. Loved. Discussed all the expected victory. 

Declared their undying devotion and loyalty.

And within hours, everything changes. 

Wrapped in the heaviest darkness, all the false and all the jealous and all the self righteous indignation justified and marched. 

The holiest leaders, dedicated to zealous religious piety, reign down indictment with blind eyes and heavy hands through the kiss of one friend who really wasn’t and the crowd he gathered around himself.  

Distance generates from the humiliation of judgment. 

In his sorrowing pain, struggle He felt every implication of, Jesus friends could not see the way through. Even though they loved him. 

Such agony. 

“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him…” 
Hebrews 5:7-9

Jesus knows even this.  His cries were heard but he had to learn obedience through suffering. 

“…. It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.”
Hebrews 2:9-10

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death---that is, the devil---
For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 
Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
Hebrews 2:14-18

He sympathizes in every weakness. 

In every place where I want the pain to stop.

He knows.

All is laid bare. 

Nursing my own bleeding wound, I begin to recognize again, that the outpouring is His. 

“In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
 Hebrews 9:22

It’s His blood that seeps through my own gash.

When my own blood pours it depletes. My own blood pouring must be stopped with pressure. It makes me weak. 

His blood is salient, pervasive, regenerative. 


It’s Sunday blood. 

A blood that fills up again despite all the pouring out. 

A blood that restores. 

From every garden abandonment and collapsing submission, we can strain for that looming third day. 

We can cling ahead to Sunday. 

We get to know.

With the wounds.

 Beyond the wounds.  

Because of the wounds.

He is Lord.

 “…Though the doors were locked Jesus came and stood among them and said, 
“Peace be with you!’
Then he said to Thomas, 
‘Put your finger here; 
see my hands. 
Reach out your hand and put it into my side. 
Stop doubting and believe.’ 
Thomas said to him, “my Lord and my God!” 
John 20:26-28

Invisibility denied. 

“Everything is uncovered and laid bare…”

Every wound accounted for.

We are His because He became like us. 

In every single broken, abandoned, defeated way. 

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
 2 Corinthians 5:21

This story will never dim. 

The longer we hurt in this world the longer we need to remember. 

He is coming back. 

All will be made right. 

“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am…” 
John 14:2-3

Face to face with Jesus, the resemblance resounds.

His wounds still look exactly like mine.

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
Isaiah 53:4-6

“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” 
1 Peter 2: 23-24

 “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Hebrews 4:16

With all our hearts,
Thank you, Jesus.
You win!