It was early once again. As the sun filled up the sky on a brand new day, people began to spill into the temple court. Jesus was there! (John 8:2 NASB) Hungry to hear what He had to say, His very presence attracted a crowd as certainly as the pull of tides on the ocean. Like “deep calls to deep” (Psalm 42), here were profound needs drawn to the unfathomable greatness of God incarnate.
Rather than seek an advantageous place to speak above and apart from them, He sat down among them and began to teach (8:2).
You see, it was more than just our thinking
He came to challenge;
it’s ever always been our hearts
He came to change.
And so, sitting with them, conversation flowed easily. He looked them in the eye. He knew them each by name. I can’t help but wonder who the fortunate ones were to have negotiated a spot close to Him, the circle growing with every passing moment, neighbors and strangers from all walks of life pressing up close to make room for one more. Peppered with questions and knowing their individual stories were as diverse as the sea of faces surrounding Him, Jesus was once again found in His Father’s house (Luke 2:41-52), only this time He wasn’t a young boy full of queries; He was the teacher. Here in His presence, hope had dawned with the sun on this beautiful morning!
But, it was a calm before the storm. They soon would learn their teacher is Lord of all as He laid bare the hidden motives and intentions of the heart and, in mercy and love, invited one who had been marked by others as worthless to walk in newness of life!
This is a re-post from 2017
I’ts something we all must embrace in varying degrees at different times through life. But why do we find it so hard to do? Is there a way to view in a new and edifying light this most prosaic of disciplines? What am I talking about?
Yep. Waiting. Here’s a picture of what that feels like sometimes, right? Looking down, staring at your firmly planted feet; not gazing too far on the horizon for fear that to hope might disappoint.
I came across this little quote scribbled in my notes the other day — unfortunately I don’t know who said it. Apparently not my best note-taking moment. 🙂
“Waiting faith is strong faith”.
I’m typing this as I sit on the sofa with my knee packed in ice … for the 6th day in a row. Pretty sure I have a slightly torn meniscus, an injury notoriously slow to heal. Hubby’s been out of town for the entire week and so, with lots of time on my hands, I’ve been propped up here, tending my knee while reading and writing and doing a lot of thinking … thinking about this quote.
Truth is, there has been an awful amount of waiting to be done these last four years. Not the short-term kind of waiting, as with a knee injury, but the type that has a way of moving in and overstaying its welcome. When life gets turned upside down and nothing fits into place like it used to, waiting seems to be the name of the game.
Can you relate? Waiting … to see where things will land … to know if life will level out long enough to begin making plans for the future … to find answers to a laundry list of big and seemingly unanswerable questions … for the Hand of God to move and direct and order all that we care so deeply about.
Tell me, does the following sound at all familiar? (Please say “yes” ’cause I’d hate to be the only one who feels this way!)
/ WHERE I ASPIRE TO BE: / “Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise!”
/ WHERE I OFTEN FIND MYSELF: / Moments and days that all but blur into one long “To Do List” of sorts.
Let’s face it — life is sometimes packed to the brim with demands, making it impossible to add a single item to the list. We ran out of lines and white space long ago and even our margins are so full of scribbles we can’t decipher the important stuff anymore! It can seem like a mountain waiting to be scaled, while for some there may only be one, yet equally daunting box to check today — simply to get out of bed. Usually, it’s a literal list of tasks we must tackle, but often it comes instead in the form of a toll life would exact and demand of our hearts as we walk through the hard stuff. Acknowledging we all must deal on some level with this part of our humanity without allowing ourselves to settle into the well-worn rut of “woe is me”, let’s agree not to end the conversation there. So, how do we adopt a fresh perspective?
Set the list aside for a moment.
There’s something else,
something restorative to attend to first.
If you already feel spent and exhausted before beginning the climb, start by giving thanks.
If counting our blessings and naming them one by one seems like an impossible choice (you may be saying “what blessings??”), let’s give thanks for who He is, for all we know to be true about Him, and for the promises He has made to us.
“Hold on a minute”, you say — with all those “To Do’s” in mind, perhaps you’re thinking that “…in everything, give thanks…” (I Thessalonians 5:18) just became one more task to complete! I’ve been there too. But this isn’t just an arbitrary command, rather an invitation to rest for a moment in a place not shaped by all the stuff filling our lists and heavy hearts. It’s easy to forget He always has our good in mind.
Here in Virginia, it’s a beautiful sunny December morning! Light is streaming in the windows and the air is cold and crisp. It’s a *second-cup-of-coffee-by-the-Christmas tree* kind of day and I’m finally stuffing stockings and planning menus while my favorite holiday playlist is on repeat. It really is all about the little things. Simple goodness.
Of all the invitations we might send or receive, there’s one that can’t be beat. Four little words strung together like beautiful pearls — “Come as you are”. And just like pearls formed around something as seemingly unremarkable as a grain of sand, He always invites us to come as we are, but never leaves us the way we are. At the heart of it all is the miracle of transformation and restoration. Yes, this is for you and me; with our questions and doubts, rough edges and brokenness, but made in His image, created for so much more. Full of grace, these simple words let us know there’s a special place with our name at the table. We are welcome here.
On a sweltering summer day twenty-some years ago, my husband was on our back porch just outside the kitchen door struggling to repair an old, worn out lawnmower which had stopped working mid-way through what was already his least favorite task. Feeling equally worn out, dripping with sweat, and clearly frustrated by his failed attempts to fix it, his face and body language told the story. I was busy cleaning and noticed our three-year-old daughter standing inside the door, intently watching him and saying something in a soft voice under her breath. Curious, I walked up close enough to catch her words — “Good job, daddy; good job“. Everything in me melted. Unmoved, she quietly repeated her encouragement till a while later he was able to get the mower started again. He looked up to notice her face pressed against the glass, and with a quick smile and a thumbs up, went back to work, completely unaware of the love and pint-sized empathy extended to him from the other side of the pane. As she stood there, I realized her heart was ten sizes too big for her tiny frame.
Hello, friends — how have you been? As summer wanes here in my little corner of the world, it’s nice to check-in with each other if only to be reminded through all the seasons of life, we’re not alone; particularly when experiencing the kind of testing everyone’s journey takes them through at some point in time. If there’s something I can come along side with you to pray for, please drop me an email. You’ve heard me say this before but I think it’s worth repeating: one of the most beautiful things about this commonality?
It doesn’t matter how similar
or vastly different our stories
may be in their particulars,
we share the same
fundamentally human need —
to know God is both present
and passionate about everything
that touches our lives.
Especially in times of adversity.