Category Archives: five minute friday

Holding on to a Generational Deep Hope in our Brokenness

The wounds cut deep; both physically and figuratively.

Fourteen Decembers ago, I fell down the stairs. People sometimes talk about traumatic events as experienced through a surreal slow motion reality at the time. That would perfectly describe how it played out for me.

Having come back late from a church meeting, I longed for rest. Having just snuggled into my cozy layers of protection for my body , I was awakened by the high pitched voice of my toddler from the top of the stairs son beckoning me. Our bedroom was in the basement in the not completely renovated lower level (read that as concrete stairs), I was concerned about his possible fall. In my half asleep state, I climbed up to grab him and bring him down.

However, as I held him in my arms and attempted to take the trek back down, I realized quickly that something went wrong. Fear erupted as I felt my foot hit air when it should have made an immediate connection with cold cement. In what seemed like a few minutes (but was likely  a few seconds), I scrambled to make sense of what was happening and how to resolve it. Fearing that my son would hit the cement floor, I turned my body to soften the hit.

Fortunately, he did not sustain injury. I did.

My  broken shoulder commenced a nine month journey into waiting-for physical and emotional restoration. Truthfully, it was painful at times. Waiting for something for which you long but in which you have little control is hard.

It turns out, I also realized that my spirit was in need of attention. I’m not good at waiting. Trusting in God’s character rather than grabbing toward my tendency to a always be in control challenged me.

As I reflected on my experience that happened during Advent, the connections were not lost on me.

Waiting. Longing. Envisioning.

The Israelites knew a bit about these things. The hope of a Messiah. A King. A Deliverer, A Restorer was held up generations deep. God’s promises were embraced as the prophecies were repeated. Hope dangled in front of them as they witnessed God’s presence reminding them that they were never forgotten; through word and action.

But lifetimes went by. Unexpected twists and turns to the vision they held in their minds threatened to detour them toward discouragement.

When will fulfillment take place?

Waiting for something for which you long but in which you have little control is hard. It reminds us of our humanity; broken in body, mind, and spirit. True restoration can only originate from Heaven.

So we hold on to hope-one that is generational deep.

Waiting. Longing. Envisioning.

My shoulder is not completely healed. I lost cartilage that can never be replaced. The amount of movement is limited. I can’t do a backstroke very well but I can live with that. Jesus meets me in my brokenness yet I know that these moments are blips on the journey. Experiencing the fulfillment promised in Jesus will take a lifetime.  Actually more than that.

“Know this with all your heart, with everything in you, that not one detail has failed of all the good things God, your God, promised you. It has all happened. Nothing’s left undone—not so much as a word.”  Joshua 23:14

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why We Need to Hand Over Our Burdens to Jesus

woman showing her hands

Giving up control is never easy.

One of the most emotionally gut wrenching scenes in the movie, “The Shack” is when Mack is forced to hand over the body of his deceased daughter to Jesus. As one might imagine, the pain and anger surrounding his daughter’s unexpected death at the hands of another man consumed him. Even his wife and other children had yearned for healing and restoration. But Mack’s complicated history had resulted in fearing the consequences of surrender. Control had become a comfortable “garment.”  Despite his earlier interactions with Papa, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the character Wisdom, Mack refused to let go of his burdens.

But holding on keeps us hostage.

Mack came to my mind a few years ago as I found myself in a dark place. An unexpected descent into depression created a heaviness in my soul. In the midst of it, guilt, fear, and anger were evoked as a  video of past events played repeatedly in my mind. I recognized that Jesus was beckoning me to hand the weight of these situations over to him. Initially I imagined myself placing it at his feet. But then I realized that I easily could run back, pick it up, and regain control.

Then Mack came to mind. Just as I saw Mack transfer his daughter’s body to Jesus hands, I pictured myself placing my weights onto his open arms.

Once, he grasps our burdens from us, it’s hard to grab them back.

What are you afraid of relinquishing? Jesus’ arms are outstretched and waiting.

“Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead You have not seen
So let all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less”  Lauren Daigle, “Trust in You”

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How Jesus Speaks into My Repeated Short Term Memory

Why is it so hard to remember?

The disciples entered the boat.  After finding themselves in the midst of the crowds drawn to him,  they finally get Jesus to themselves.

But then it happens. Someone notices something. It’s what’s missing that is recognized. No one brought lunch for the journey.

But the disciples forgot to pack a lunch. Except for a single loaf of bread, there wasn’t a crumb in the boat. 

Meanwhile, the disciples were finding fault with each other because they had forgotten to bring bread. 

And the arguing commences. Someone dropped the ball.  Now what? Hungry stomachs fuel angry spirits.

And then….Jesus.

Jesus overheard and said, “Why are you fussing because you forgot bread? (

Remembering the lunch isn’t the problem.

Remembering who is the Bread of Life is.

Did they forget Jesus was in the boat?

Don’t you see the point of all this? Don’t you get it at all? Remember the five loaves I broke for the five thousand? How many baskets of leftovers did you pick up?”

They said, “Twelve.”

“And the seven loaves for the four thousand—how many bags full of leftovers did you get?”

“Seven.”

 He said, “Do you still not get it?”

I see myself in that boat. How many times does Jesus need to remind me that I have witnessed him multiplying loaves and fishes?

Yet, I forget.

Anne Vos Kamp in “The Broken Way” calls it “soul amnesia.”

Despite, witnessing the divine intersecting earth,  I am back to my human perspective of troubleshooting. One that often involves fear and sometimes blame.

Did I forget Jesus is in my boat?

Thankfully, his patience never ends. Despite my repeated short term memory. Nor does his desire to meet my needs.

Sometimes I need to hear the reminder. “Do you still not get it?”

This post is based on the text from Mark 8:14-21)

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Asking God for Help to Help

group of people walking on the stairs

When you happen on someone who’s in trouble or needs help among your people with whom you live in this land that God, your God, is giving you, don’t look the other way pretending you don’t see him. Don’t keep a tight grip on your purse. No. Look at him, open your purse, lend whatever and as much as he needs. Don’t count the cost. Don’t listen to that selfish voice saying, “It’s almost the seventh year, the year of All-Debts-Are-Canceled,” and turn aside and leave your needy neighbor in the lurch, refusing to help him. He’ll call God’s attention to you and your blatant sin. (Deut. 15:7-9)

But…

“Why should I give money I worked for?”

“He is just lazy.”

“God helps those who help themselves.”

“Why does she have so many kids if she can’t afford them?”

“Not my responsibility.”

“I’m not giving money for drugs.”

“Beggars can’t be choosers.”

“I don’t have time.”

“What will my friends think?”

Yet…..

Scriptural passages about sacrifice don’t seem to address conditional contexts.

Perhaps our Creator knows us a bit too well.  God has a way of seeing into the human heart and speaking into it . The more our fingers clench around our “treasures of earth,” the more God attempts to unlock our grip.

That’s painful.

Giving up control always is.

But if we don’t we miss in the blessing. The peace. The amazement of watching God multiply loaves and fishes-enough to feed all of us. Abundantly.

Our fingers our an extension of the state of the heart. God desires to transform them. As we do our fingers gradually uncurl and have the capability of lying straight out as we flip our palms upward in a posture of surrender.

Are you willing?

 

 

 

 

Living Like the Church in Acts 2: How Praise Defines Us

” All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds[j] to all, as any had need. 46 Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home[k]and ate their food with glad and generous[l] hearts, 47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” (Acts 2: 44-47)

No one ever said it would be easy.

Living in community is no piece of cake. We all have quirks, personality types, opinions, back stories, temptations….Why do we expect the church to be absent of conflict?

Anyone who has spent time in Christian community is aware of the situations that give root to arguments and it isn’t always over what would be expected.

“That’s not how we do it.”

“__________ministry (fill in the blank) is the most important”

“I only like _______________ music.”

“The money should be used for ___________________”

“______________talked too long”

“Will everyone eat that?”

So, if Christian community involves conflict, why would anyone want to join it?

They witnessed perseverance and praise.

The believers continued to meet together. Acknowledging disagreements. Acknowledging the  cultural, age and gender mix. Acknowledging varied maturity in understanding of discipleship.

Who does that?

People that acknowledge that relationship in community can only happen because of who infuses it.

Heaven intersects Earth.

That’s worthy of praise. And participation.

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Living Like the Church in Acts 2: What is Required of Us to Share?

People will take notice. 

All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds[j] to all, as any had need. 46 Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home[k]and ate their food with glad and generous[l] hearts, 47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. (Acts 2:44-46)

Even to a culture familiar with communal living, the early church appeared to turn the status quo upside down. Humanity thrives in a pecking order. It feeds our desire for power. It’s no surprise the disciples argued over who would sit at the right hand of Jesus. Sharing does not come naturally. In fact, it demands a cost to self: time, energy finances.

In our culture of independence and a “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps,” mentality, the early church lived radically. Questions begin to surface:

Did everyone contribute their fair share?

What about those who may have taken advantage of the community and then left?

Yet, scripture doesn’t bother with those nuances.  Something big took place. Something that witnessed to transformation. Something rooted outside of this earth.

People took notice.

Oh, I’m sure it wasn’t perfect. It couldn’t be because we aren’t.

But the Holy Spirit is bigger than our idiosyncrasies. We can be generous to each other because God is generous to us.

Does God call all of us to live like them? Community can appear in different forms.

Indeed there are communities around the world which resemble the one found in Acts 2. One of them, the JPUSA community (http://jpusa.org/) is one of my favorite groups with whom I engage.

What does it look like to live Acts 2 while we live scattered among our neighborhoods?

*watching someone’s children for free so they can have respite or work to get back on their feet

*lending use of your appliances to others whose appliances broke down

*starting a neighborhood “little pantry” (http://www.littlefreepantry.org/)

*spending time listening to someone with whom you don’t normally engage

*offering your skills and resources to help someone in need

Living counter culturally involves risk. But Jesus’ call to follow him does not hide that. The benefits outweigh the cons.

And people will take notice.

And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47)

*photocredit: Priscilla Du=Preez @unsplash.com

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Sitting With the Uncomfortable Truth of God’s Mercies

Life doesn’t always make sense. At least on this side of Heaven.

In the last few months, heartbreaking stories of unexpected deaths, devastating illness, and lives hanging in limbo have drawn my attention.  In my human state, I crave an answer. Because if there isn’t one, that means that there are no earthly guarantees for me either.

Sitting with that truth is uncomfortable.

I have wrestled with it before; both personally and theoretically. My body shows the visible sign of the imperfect state of my residency through the scar on my shoulder. If you could see in my soul, I’m sure grooves would appear from the constant churning of my thoughts about God’s character.

And yet, I still don’t have the answers I desire. I probably never will.

So again, I ponder on God’s character and what is revealed through the stories that reveal it in scripture and how I’ve seen it infused in lives today. I am reminded of the hope that sustains in the midst of disappointment and disillusionment.  Life on earth doesn’t have to make sense.

This isn’t all there is.  There’s something bigger at work.  Divinity. For that, I can sit in the uncomfortable.

“This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.” Matt  5:45-47

It becomes all to tempting to assign lives into categories of who deserves God’s favor. But we are all made in the image of God. Our Creator knows the number of hairs on all our heads. All of us were knit together in our respective mother’s womb. We are all known. We are all loved. Jesus died for all of us.

Thankfully, God’s actions don’t depend on our temperament of the season. We may not understand why God moves. Senselessness appears around us daily. But in the midst, I am challenged to embrace a God who grants mercies and redeems unconditionally.

Because it does not originate this side of Heaven.

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Is he safe?