Tuesday, November 08, 2016


(from the archives)

This life stirs deep, doesn’t it?

And there is no way for that stirring to swing easy.

It agitates.

We are affected.

It takes courage to let something be what it is.

We can tend to busy-up around an issue. 

We beautify.
And organize.
And store.
And straighten.
We fix.

We almost cannot get our values away from this.

We, the fixers, have problems with the unruly stuff like:


Those things that will not be contained and stored. 
Or hidden away.

Those things that will not be stifled.

In this moment.

It quietly whispers…

What is making you afraid?


Jesus is already there. 

Already in it. 
Already making a way.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
 Heb 11:1

“By faith Moses…left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” 
Heb 11:24&27

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
 2Cor 4:18

Sometimes we only need to have our eyes opened.

Especially when any antagonizing force stands persistently against us.

When our enemy has us surrounded and we feel like they (any ‘they’) have won.

Elisha has been teaching me this over the last weeks. 

Kneading hope into my days. 

A story amidst all the Kings.

“Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel…”
 2 Kings 6:8

And Elisha, the Man of God, repeatedly warned the king of Israel of the Arameans plans with accuracy and miraculous foresight so that the Aramean strategies were completely thwarted. 

“Go find out where [Elisha] is,” the king [of Aram] ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back, “He is in Dothan.”
 Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there.
 They went by night and surrounded the city. 

When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city.
 “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. 

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.”
 Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
2 Kings 6:13-17

The story stays amazing.

The enemy advances and Elisha prays for the enemy army to be struck blind. 

Elisha then leads the whole blind army straight into the hands and land of the Israel king, who inquires of Elisha, “What now? Do we kill them?”

Elisha says, “Feed them. Then send them home.”

Feed them?

The whole entire army of enemies armed to destroy?

Israel obeys. 

They feed the army and then send them away.

The story ends with this:

“So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.” 
2 Kings 6:23


My takeaway…

*What happens in this great big world is never outside God’s awareness.
*His support and activity may require spiritual eyes to see.
*Faith and belief and relationship with Him clarify our vision.
*Those that are with us are MORE than those that are with them, whether I recognize it or not.

One very important clarification…
‘Us’ and ‘them’ are words that awaken wise caution in such a polarizing world.
So let’s lean into that caution for a bit.

In this particular passage I read ‘us’ as God’s chosen ones (Elisha and his servant specifically) and ‘them’ as God’s not-chosen nation (Aram). This us /them terminology is woven all throughout the stories we find in Old Testament history.
The nation of Israel (God’s chosen) was set apart in many dramatic ways.

And while I learn so much from Old Testament stories I also rejoice that we don’t live in the times of 2 Kings anymore. 

Because, Jesus.
Our definitive Word (John 1).

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
1 Peter2:9-10

This choosing, this Nation that we are in Christ was established while we were all still really messed up.
Really vile.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 
Romans 5:6-8

Some kind of weird Nation, isn’t it?

While we were still outrageously wicked—Christ died for us.

All of us.

We are ALL chosen now. 

Blundering mistake-makers most graciously included into the ‘us’ of God through Jesus as fulfillment (not abolishment) of the Old Testament way. (Matt 5:17)


Whatever enemy surrounds you and stirs.

Stay loved. 
(remembering gingerly, with grace, that because of Jesus every ‘they’ is loved so much too)

We just have to remember it.

Anchor to it. 

To Him. 

No one is forgotten.

God is near.
He hears.
He is acting on behalf of His Beloved.
(before we even know that we are so loved!)

He delights in us. 

He is good.

Open our eyes, LORD!
Let us see how you are with us!

Let us advance into the day ahead—

Adored and Unafraid.

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”
Psalm 18:16-19

Monday, November 07, 2016

How Can I Know?

(reposted from the archives)

“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.’
 ‘I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’ 
So Abram left, as the Lord had told him;” 
Genesis 12: 1-4

“But Abram said, ‘O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless… You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”

“Then the word of the Lord came to him… ‘Look up at the heavens and count the stars---if indeed you can count them… So shall your offspring be.”

“Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”

“But Abram said, ‘O Sovereign Lord, how can I know…”
Genesis 15:2-6;8

I was sitting in an empty space when these words trumpeted, echoing into my fears. 

My expectations were not being met and in the vacancy of disappointment I heard Abram’s cry in my own:

“O Sovereign Lord, how can I know…”

Abram received a calling buoyed by big promises. He followed with obedience and belief. 

The results were years of hollow silence and endless waiting.

In the stillness of my own unanswered hopes, I hear Abram and Sarai chuckle into my ear…

“Obedience can look and feel barren.” 

Called away from their home community and promised God’s faithfulness, with absolutely nothing to show for it for many, many bloody months, Sarai and Abram walked to the consistent cadence of “no,” and “not yet.”  They lived with a barrenness that was regular and routine. A barrenness that constantly whispered the threat of ‘never’, leaving residue of abandonment and loss. 

Obedience and grief so often go hand in hand. 

Reading this truth in the hallowed story of Abraham relieves me (I'm not weird!). 

And it frustrates me (I want obedience and ABUNDANCE to walk right beside each other!). 

“Oh Sovereign Lord, how can I know…”

It is easy to celebrate success and accumulation. Accumulation of material goods, or esteem or degrees or dollars…this we can feel blessing in and see with our eyes. 

The picture of what we have can be posted into the world around us as proof of our value. As proof that God is involved.

Abraham and Sarah’s story teaches that God is involved in other scenarios too.

Scenarios that hurt. 

In scenarios that appear empty.

When desolate circumstances linger, it can be tempting to meddle and stew toward my own solutions. 

To look for a Hagar to solve the problem.

“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; so she said to Abram, ‘The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.” 
Genesis 16:1-2

Sarai (with Abram’s willing participation) jumps ahead of God's perfectly designed plan. They usher Hagar into an equation where she wasn't supposed to be. Consequence does follow, much of it negative and hurtful, but God stayed in all of it. 

And He revealed Himself (The God Who Sees) in a whole new way. 

There is a VERY wide zone in the story of Abraham and his family. There is trust and belief, yes, (especially on the part of Abraham). But there is also disbelief, and mockery, and doubt and lack of patience. Good decisions, bad decisions. Good behavior, bad behavior. God saw it all. He stayed with it all. He promised. He purposed. He blessed. And He never strayed from the plan He had chosen already. 

Into the messy entanglements they brought on themselves, God continued to love. 

Into the pounding ache of prolonged frustration, God continued to love. 

He made himself known. 

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed…” 
Romans 4:18a

In betrayals and heartbreaks. In the waiting seasons we writhe underneath, I can hear our very consistent God say:

I am not surprised or confused by your current circumstance.
“He is before all things and in him all things hold together.”
Colossians 1:17

And the barren days you endure, are not what they seem.
“…the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.”
Romans 4:17b

They are Me alongside you, in such a way that nobody can miss it.
Presence is my Promise.
I have always and I will continue to be With.
“…be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Hebrews 13:5

Know me. Acknowledge me by Name.
“Because he loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.”
Psalm 91:14

El Roi.
“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me…” 
Genesis 16:13

Yahweh Shammah. 
‘The Lord is There.’
“In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them…”
Isaiah 63:9a

“...which means, ‘God with us.”
Matt 1:23b

When silence echoes around me and my eyes grow tired of the strain of watchful waiting; when my heart feels burdened with the weight of emptiness, the laughter of an aging and wrinkled mother fills my soul. 

“Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised.” 
Genesis 21:1

“In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them…”
Isaiah 63:9b