They Caught Glimpses

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“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.

“‘In those days and at that time
    I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
    he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved
    and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it will be called:
    The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’”

~ As dictated by the Holy Spirit to the prophet Jeremiah, some 600+ years before Jesus’ birth

 

I’ve been reading the “-Iahs” lately. You know, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Obadiah… those famous prophets of old whose works crowd the oldest part of the oldest best-seller of all time. Realizing they only had snatches of the book of books we enjoy today, only the Torah, and nothing of the Jesus we are so familiar with — has me intrigued. These prophets knew very little, all things considered, of God’s promised Savior. But they were given missions from God himself, messages for their contemporaries and those who would later read their works. They were conduits of the Holy Spirit’s urgent press to scribe what they couldn’t help but write. Thru them God told His people of the Promised One to come. The One they would never see on this Earth.

Now Jesus always existed as the Son, present with the Father from before time began. He knew before the foundations of the Earth were set the full extent of His suffering and the joy it would bring His heart (and, one day, ours). He knew. He was there. And He couldn’t help Himself. He came to Earth in His pre-Incarnation, appearing as the Angel of the Lord, as recorded throughout the Old Testament, carrying messages and encouragement. He frequently interacted with Earth’s inhabitants, though not as one of them… yet.

But those He visited? They crouched in terror, and with increasing wonder watched His word made into events that shaped them and their descendants. Shaped us who read of them in His Word thousands of years later. We read of these looking back, seeing with eyes greater than our own, with Holy Spirit-energized understanding. We see the prophecies of the coming Messiah and wonder at their precise fulfillment.

But those who were writing all of this down? What of the men experiencing the pain and joys of citizenship in this broken nation? This stripling of a country whose men, women and children, through the centuries, have been hunted down, persecuted, killed in the millions, these citizens of a barely preserved Israel? They caught glimpses. They studied, digging deep as the Holy Spirit came on them, to understand more of the blurred images handed them.

They faithfully wrote all they could, knowing they would likely never see any of its fulfillment in their lifetime. They wrestled with the anguish of apostasy in their brethren, marveling at God’s persevering mercy and grace. The Israelis would be broken down to almost extinction. They would be punished severely for rejecting their own God. But they would be restored as they turned from their wickedness,  tear-soaked faces, eyes barely able to gaze  into the eyes of a forgiving Dad. And to them Messiah would come — as one of them.

They would someday, as their Messiah did, as we do now — call Him Abba, Daddy. This shocking familiarity would rock the world around them, the audacity of running into a holy God’s throne room, leaping into His open arms, cuddling in His lap. They would flock to Him, reject Him, slowly trickle back to Him in deep humility. The end-times will see the nation of Israel recognize their Messiah at last.

But those to whom the prophecy was given? All those “-Iahs”? They peered into the mists, writing feverishly, anticipating what they would never see on Earth.

But several hundred years after they died, those faithful soothsayers would follow the risen Christ out of Paradise, the singing and dancing spoils of war won on the cross, a shouting train of captives, following His shining form into Heaven itself. They are the good and faithful servants of old, who gave us the promise of the Promised One to come.

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I can’t help but think how ungrateful I often am of the treasure I hold in the Word of God. This book of 66 books, each one carefully crafted, Holy-Spirit breathed: I have more at my fingertips than any of the writers of this book. For I have all, from Genesis to Revelation, beginning and end. I have this gift to savor, a book many are killed for possessing — all over the world — right now. Oh God, forgive me for taking this invaluable book for granted, for pushing it away for temporary pleasures. Teach me to love it, to live in its ageless truths.

And let me never forget those who scribed it. They stand in your presence, basking in Your pleasure and approval. They who only caught glimpses now see fully what we will also someday share. And we, together with them,  have all eternity to grasp what we can only catch now as bright, beautiful glimpses.

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A Quick Poem, As Tech Week has Stolen my Brain

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I am in a play this week, which has swallowed up my life and my mind. As this was written before the advent of Tech Week, I am fairly confident it will be coherent. Here’s hoping…

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Thee I freely give…
(Ah, that dear old hymn, how apropos!)

Surrender like this:
Trust
Give in
Release
Drop
Fall…

Down, down
Free fall!
Scooped up, pulled close
Your chin on my head,
Your breath ruffles my
hair, surrounds me…

I gulp You in
Weep
Weary
Love force presses out
All fear
“How can I doubt wh
Your love is surrounding me?”
(Ah, that dear old Matthew Ward song!)

I giggle, amazed — stunned
Joyful —
Because all fear is gone, somehow
Absorbed by You, dissipated in
Lion of Judah’s gentle growl
Purring pure
Strength and
Leoa inhales, exhales
Rising in humble,
Holy power.

 

Take Back the Day Part 2: I’m Struggling Today

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Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.
~ Psalm 42:11

Today’s blog, coupled with Monday’s, should at least lend credence to my bi-polar diagnosis. Let’s be real, shall we? I’m not going to sugar-coat this day. My experience of this day is that it’s creating negative atmospheric pressure. In the common vernacular — it sucks. Today I am struggling with a variety of things, and no solution is presenting itself yet. I think you understand.

Today (Tuesday) began meteorologically the same as yesterday, though the temperature is climbing a bit. Same rain, rain, rain, same dullness to the day. Same, yet so different.

Today I awoke already exhausted. My mood stabilizer medication, the stuff I take at bedtime, sometimes has the unfortunate side effect of making me… restless. I’m asleep but I’m struggling with all manner of situations, some real, most an exaggerated version of whatever I was thinking about as I went to sleep. Last night I was thinking of a dance I need to learn for the play I’m in, which opens next week. So all night long I’m thinking: I need to rehearse, I need to get it down… which morphed into trying to teach a whole group of people a dance I didn’t even know myself. Added to this the irrational feature of a cast member hitting on me, which I know wouldn’t happen in real life. But as I dream in Technicolor 4-D imagery, it was certainly real to me.

I began to awaken before dawn, awake enough to realize the fight was on to solve the multi-dimensional dream problem while simultaneously fighting to set it aside and slide into a satisfying, restful sleep. I finally gave up and dragged out of bed, awake enough to pour a cup of coffee, but not enough to carry on a polite conversation with my Mom (or anyone else — please, please, go away, I can’t adult yet!). Awake enough to taste in my coffee that the half-gallon of half-and-half I bought yesterday was already a bit off (seriously? the expiration date is DECEMBER 11th). Sheesh.

Pondering all of this and the fact that my truck’s dashboard was beginning to sparkle,  warning lights one-by-one popping up as I drove home from play practice last night. And the fact that arriving home I rolled to a stop, a dead battery shutting off those lights in one fatal blink.

Thus began today. On top of that, while nursing my off-coffee, I peered inside to see my emotions: a dark, roiling mess. Now this isn’t unusual for me. I have bi-polar disorder, so my insides often don’t know which way to go on a given morning. I often have to spend the first part of every day sorting them into piles and dealing with them on a bit-by-bit basis. Today, though, it felt like too much. Added to that, a dear friend pointed out that my many vehicle frustrations likely stem from unresolved relationship issues with my husband. And I need to shake the sand off my ostrich head and face them. And there’s more, so many unresolved, amorphous issues pressed down by busyness, popping up like submerged beach balls.

So what did I do with this lovely mash-up? Yep, I grabbed my mug, trudged back upstairs, plopped on the bed, pressed my little owl plushie to my chest and cried. I curled up in Daddy God’s lap and just turned on the tear faucet full-blast, ugly crying, emptying out.

And I decided to (wo)man my laptop, following up my happy Monday Pollyanna-ish blog with this very real, raw, sucky day blog. Because some days are like that. Today I just want to scream, all the possible negatives sticking to me like the black blobs on Mr. Incredible.

mr incredible black blobs

I don’t want to face any of the stuff of this day. I want to curl up in a blanket fort, but I don’t want to bother building it. I want to hide in a Netflix binge-fest. I want to self-medicate and push it all away.  I wish I could push it all away forever. To somehow live as a perpetually carefree four year-old, nothing on my mind but my dolls and my funny made-up stories, my toys and yummy snacks.

But I know that even with a necessary break I’ll have to face all the stuff. All of it. What can I do to face it in a healthy way? Jesus, how did you face all your crap-hitting-the-fan days?

All at once I see You in a darkened grove, just You alone among the olive trees, just You crying out your heart with our Daddy. I see You shaking Your fist at the destroyed, toxic chaos Adam and Eve unleashed on Your perfect world, the horror and futility of it all. I see you raw and real, crying out, saying, ” Father if You don’t do something about this, if You don’t help, if You don’t go back out into that mess with me, I will fall apart! I can’t do this — I just can’t!”

And I see gentle hands stretch from the clouds, light beams spiking through, illuminating dark spaces. I see our Dad reach down and scoop You up. Scoop me up. I see Him, face intent, his eyes knowing it all, empathy a cloud around us — such tender love! I hear deep, soothing tones, “My child, I know. I see you, I see your pain. I see your slumped shoulders, your eyes misty, forlorn. I see discouragement radiate from you. Ah, my child You know something? I never meant for you to do any of this alone. It IS too much for you to face. Lean into me, let go, drop into Me. You are enough for all of this because of one thing:

I am enough, little one. I AM enough. And I live in you. You never go anywhere, face anything, without Me.”

And I feel hope trickle in. I don’t have to have all the answers right now.  But I know His record. I remember sitting hopeless  four and a half years ago in a prison cell, my charges screaming death, hopelessness, futility to me. I remember light spears spiking all around me, showing me what I could only see with eyes bigger than mine. Showing me that somehow I had to hang on, that if it would get better it had to be God’s intervention. Nothing more, nothing less. In a moment I see the ribbon of my life, spots caught in flashes of Him coming through for me, again and again.

I still feel trembly confusion today, tears so close to the surface, unnamed, as-yet unknown pain turbulent in my belly. But I turn my chin up, look into my sweet Father’s face, Lion of Judah arrayed in light and love, all-sufficient, all-love. I know beyond knowledge He really is enough. And I take the next breath, do the next thing. It will work out. I know deep below all the chaos, the Truth, my Jesus, holds me close. He is my shield, my wisdom, my It’s gonna be ok.

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And in my tears I find I’m smiling, if only a little. On days like this, when the best case scenario is slogging through, I remember I have strong hip boots, I have sunlight on my face, a light-pierced cloud above my head, while the cold rain still pours all around.

It’s gonna be all right. It really is. Deep down I know it’s true. And it’s okay if my emotions take a while to get there.

 

Take Back the Day

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It’s raining again. Steady, penetrating, cold, continuous. A beautiful day! Wait, what?

Back when my girls were little, before the Boy entered our lives… no matter what the weather was like I’d do the same thing. Every morning, I’d walk into their room, push open their pink and pastel hearts curtains and say a variation of It’s a beautiful day!

It’s a beautiful sunny day!
It’s a beautiful cloudy morning!
Look — snow!!!
It’s a beautiful — rainyful — day!

I’d especially get excited about the most miserable mornings, a kind of reverse psychology I hoped would work on all of us. Because I used to be so jerked about by weather conditions…

Atmospheric pressure = sinus headache = irritability.
Cloudy = where’s the sun? = annoyance.
Sunny = glaring light = pull the shades.
Cold and rainy = the worst = pull the covers over my head, let me sleep some more. Except I couldn’t because two little girls and a baby don’t allow for such extravagances.

One morning, while it was still dark (when I could have time with the Lord, uninterrupted by the cacophony of tiny female voices, their insatiable activity) I reflected a bit on my brief stint as a temp in the work world. Every week was the same:  Monday we’d slog in. Misery reigned as the general consensus seemed to be “just get me to Friday.” Tuesday was filled with “tomorrow’s Hump Day.” Wednesday was — well — Hump Day itself, but small talk often featured “two days to go.” Thursday was  “tomorrow’s Friday.” Friday featured a countdown of hours till Happy Hour. And other planned and unplanned weekend extravagances.

Sipping tea and thinking of this, I remembered what those weekends were like for me, a 20-something English major working full-time during the summers, part-time the rest of the year, putting myself through college. Weekends were wonderful, for the most part — except for catching up on all the laundry and other cleaning shunted to the side during the week. And yes, Sunday evening had me frowning over the coming week’s landscape… Another week of drudgery slated for temps: making endless copies, helping someone or other reconfigure her workspace (actually that was kind of fun, but I digress), and — eventually — my daily heap of credit disputes to enter into the system.

And I saw that I had, at least in part, succumbed to the temptation to only live for what, two days out of seven? Realizing this with the proverbial slap in the face one day at work was a wake-up call. On my crawling commute home through Wilmington rush-hour traffic that afternoon I asked the Lord to change me. Thus began a complete mindset shift. I would (with the Lord’s help) find delight in each day. I would (God helping me) enjoy every day as much as humanly possible.

I initially found myself a bit of an enthusiastic, upbeat oddity in the office. But over the next month or so (before I went back to college), I discovered some comrades, a few who found plenty to laugh at and ways to inject delight into the usual tedium of working in a credit company cubicle farm. I marveled as I rode the elevator alone on my last day — I was actually sad to leave.

Sipping the dregs of my tea as that mom of three little sweeties, I decided that dark morning to impart a love of every day — regardless of its proximity to the weekend or lack of sunny skies — to my three little treasures. And, eventually, to my sweet son. It’s been an ongoing project for almost 16 years now. And I’m still amazed at the delight I feel, a steady gratitude for every day. And their (mostly) unflagging optimism going into their own days. A hard-won, God-given gift.

Every day a delight. Even this cold, rainy one. Especially this one. Thanks, Daddy God. From the bottom of my astounded, joyful heart.

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The Reveal

 

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Hungry for who You really
are — beyond understanding,
beyond my dreams, bigger than
The universe, yet infinitely
Gentle…
You know me so well!
I don’t trust my own mind or
My gut to perceive You, for
I am flawed, my knowledge inside
And out — so small!
I don’t even know myself
Unless You remove the layers:
of denial
self-protection
of I think this, I believe this,
I am right.
And when I see tiny me beside
You, so helpless, so frail!
I jump into Your arms, for this
World is too big for me.
And You — who are you, really?
Some amorphous Being, floating
All-powerful Amoeba?
On the day You spoke,
“Let us make man in our image,”
The being You formed in Your hands,
Into whom You breathed life — had
arms and legs
a body, a face,
eyes;
Adam saw You first, before gazing
around agog — a face like his, for
You look like us, an Image
so pure, to look on glorious
Heavenly You would kill us —
So You wore flesh and became
A man who’d get lost in
the crowd except for
those eyes
that smile,
this love.
I gaze agog, eyes unmasked,
Knowing beyond knowledge
Who You are —
In the reveal, where
You laughed
You healed,
You taught,
You died and rose again
Among us.
I’m accepted, adopted!
Big Brother pulls me into
Trinity’s endless embrace,
Emerge from behind the curtain —
To amazed applause.