In The Margins {A Mystery of Grace}

woman umbrella

How are you, friends?   I’ve been slowly working my way through summer reading goals only because there’s a select group of books worth the extra time.  I’m not great at recall, so note taking is my best friend and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it!

If you’re anything like me, you find encouragement in the lives and stories of people who, even as they weather life’s storms, can say without duplicity: “You’re a good, good Father”.   These are the  Jobs of the world, seeking shelter in the never-changing faithfulness of God, knowing we don’t just set our sights on a desired outcome but rather on the promise that He is working everything for our good and for His glory (Romans 8:28).  Being convinced He uses all things, testing and blessing, as the mold by which we are “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29), these men and women are confident that through thick and thin, He will be faithful to complete His good work in them as they abide in Him.  (Phil. 1:6).  More than platitudes, this is the rock solid hope for every child of God.  Each of us is meant to follow in the footsteps of Job, unfaltering in trust and even worshipful in suffering (Job 1:21).

But, let’s be honest — it’s not always easy to embrace this upside-down thinking, especially when it’s so very different from what we’re told “living our best life” should look like.  It is a mystery of grace.

“We take comfort,

however, that mystery

is not a synonym

 for contradiction.”

{R.C. Sproul}

Turns out, these ordinary people show us with extraordinary example what it genuinely means to live, regardless of everything implied by comparison in those little squares on IG!  This beautiful life, showered in goodness and often visited by hard stuff, is far too layered and abstruse to ever really fit on our itty-bitty screens .

instagram logo

And so, meet William Cowper. But before you start reading and decide mid-way to stop because his story seems heavy, I want to say the purpose of this post is ultimately to introduce you (or re-introduce as may be the case) to poetic truth at its best!  So, keep reading — I think you’ll be glad you did.

Continue reading

In Quotes

st francis of

Peace Prayer

{Francis of Assisi}

Lord, make me an instrument of  Your peace:

where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.

In The Margins {A Place of Rest}

woman in field of flowers

/Part II/

In my last post, we looked at a one-sentence prayer from John Owen, chock-full of encouragement and guidance.  It’s the kind of food for thought we’re drawn to here at Readplenish.   To find a permanent place of rest has been the longing of every human heart since we were driven from the garden (Genesis 3:24)  This desire for and promise of rest is a theme whose thread runs unbroken through Scripture, stitching its way along exile and covenant, flood and new beginnings, captivity and exodus, brokenness and restoration, waiting and fulfillment.  Sounds like a familiar pattern?  You may recognize it as our story too.  The cry of of His people throughout millennia has been “Come, Thou long expected Jesus!”  We’ve always known He is “the very Sabbath of our souls” (1).

Continue reading

In Quotes

child with heart balloon

“Be revealed to me as the

only fitting and suitable place of rest

where my soul is truly satisfied.”

{John Owen}


/ Part I /

Good morning friends!  I can’t think of a more illuminating way to begin a new day than to soak up this prayer from the pen of John Owen and make it our own.  What Marie Kondo is to all the unnecessary stuff that clutters our closets and drawers, Owen is to words on a page.  His are carefully edited thoughts, leaving us with only the truly important.  Here is depth and beauty packed into a single sentence, waiting to be opened up and applied.  Let’s dive in!

“Be revealed to me …”

A prevalent blind spot as Christ followers in the twenty-first century is that we often possess a less than humble, teachable heart.   We’ve heard so much, read so much, debated so much, and concluded so much that the notion of quietly listening and allowing His word to instruct us can be challenging at times.  Acknowledging our childlike dependence on Him to make known and disclose who He is is the best place to start.  After all, our lives are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2)  This also encompasses an experiential knowledge of God’s mercy, love, faithfulness, sovereignty, goodness, trustworthiness, kindness, holiness —  all His wonderful attributes — cultivated in times of both blessing and testing.

Continue reading

In The Margins {A Place of Holy Abundance}

parched ground green plants

Ever wonder about the purpose of God’s power?  Whether looking out on a world where daily headlines are not for the faint of heart or on a personal level regarding all the broken things in our day to day lives, I suppose most of us have.  Christian theology teaches that God isn’t just powerful, but that He is omnipotent — all powerful.   He is unlimited in power — He can do anything and all things.  But to what end?  And to what end in my life?

Continue reading

In Quotes

pencil sketch sea gull

“Affliction may be lasting,

but it is not everlasting;

a sting, but with a wing;

sorrow shall soon fly away.”

{Thomas Watson}

Hi, friends.  I’ve been thinking about this laconic reminder, written for those who wonder if the storm you’re weathering is ever going to relent.  From the pen of Thomas Watson (1652), it has captured my imagination — to know the Father’s providence established that any testing in the lives of His children will be bounded by time.  Now and again, hearing truth we believe expressed in a fresh new way animates our hearts to trust Him through the waiting.

Continue reading

In Quotes

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” 

{George Satayana}

Four Seasons. Group of Trees. Vector Illustration.If you’ve joined previous conversations here at Readplenish, an underlying theme soon becomes apparent — our need to take the long view of life,  especially while walking and working through the hard stuff.  On a personal note, this truth has been transformative.   Not only is it biblical and therefore good on every level, all along the way it has proven grounding, “… a hope, as an anchor for the soul.” (Heb. 6:19)  And while a broad brush stroke is rarely an accurate way to paint anything, this long view can be a very pragmatic lens, effectually filtering out both cynicism and sentimentality.

That being said, the other side of the coin is also worth exploring.  For lack of a better way to say this, I’ve adopted a common phrase from the world of horticulture —  living seasonally.  Fully inhabiting the present.  Allowing the hope of spring, the abundance of summer, and the harvest of autumn to sustain us through the long cold nights of winter.  The ancient poetry of Ecclesiastes can hardly be improved upon:  “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—a time to cry, a time to laugh; a time to grieve, a time to dance” (Ecc. 3:1,4).   However, regardless of the season in life, we can know with absolute certainty: “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”(Lamentations 3:22-23)  Continue reading