When You are Wringing your Hands in the Waiting

Outside my kitchen window a thick blanket of land has been stretched out. Last week, students and volunteers joined together to tuck potential just below the surface, planting hundreds of seeds on the 4 acres. We are calling it The Bridge Garden Training Project. It just so happens to be in my backyard. So, every morning, I pour my coffee, and I look at the dirt. I squint my eyes and tell myself I see the green breaking through, ready to catch its first breath of sunlight that day. But, as of today, only a few sprouts have actually stood up high enough for me to see from my window. Mostly, I’m just waiting. I drink my coffee and go through my day and there is this frustratingly quiet voice that keeps pressing into my ears: “Wait. Just wait.” Because it’s not about the garden after all. It’s about the unknowns of the summer ministry plans, and parenting, and the emails I’m waiting on that determine some other decisions. It’s about the phone calls that haven’t come through, and the event that just needs to get behind me, and the meetings that need to happen. It’s about my restless hands that want to make something just happen already. Truth is, I’d love to paw away some of the dirt and confusion and just see for myself how those seeds are doing – the seeds of relationships, decisions, prayers prayed, plans pending. So, I sip my coffee today and I ask God to keep my hands still and my heart quiet. To pry my fingers open and release the seeds...

For the one who needs strength for the everyday

The other morning as I was running, I listened to a broadcast by apologist Ravi Zacharias, in which he quotes G.K. Chesterton: “Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again;’ and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” Isn’t it a wonder to imagine a God who whispers to the sun morning after morning, “Do it again?” And to my pots and pans at the start of yet another meal, “Do it again.” And to my stack of papers to be graded, “Do it again.” And to my child’s homework needing assistance, “Do it again.” It’s a wonder that God’s character and purpose are not reduced or simplified by the eroding nature of everyday living. In fact, He exults in it and, I believe, even more wondrous is that He invites us to do so as well. But Chesterton’s words unsettle me, as they ring true in my heart: “…grown-up...

the truth about the darkness and how to join a holy rebellion for Light

“…When I read those words and saw the pictures of Diwali, my heart nodded in agreement. I wanted to slip into the pictures, stand beside the people, reach my hands out, and start lighting up the night. Maybe partly for my little girl – an act of a mama bear defending her cub who needs to see the truth about darkness: light always wins.

I wanted to join the beautiful uprising, as it seemed, against the powers of darkness that bully her and all of us…”

When we need to make sense of suffering

Sometimes the winds of Heaven reach us. They blow strong on our faces, carried on by accidents, disease, tragedy. And, it takes our breath away. We stand disoriented, wondering at the feel of the breeze, the smell in the air, the sudden change in temperature. Our souls gasp – is it homesickness, maybe something familiar we recognize in the air? Because, in the midst of life, sometimes the reality of eternity sweeps in like that, and we cannot look away. We, a society of distractions. We, a culture of intellectualism. We, a community with an independence running thick in our veins. Yet, when faced with our own humanity, we look up, panting for hope, for understanding, for the assurance that we are not, after all, alone in this. Because, in times like this, our souls cry out for a Father who loves us, a Jesus who accepts us. Not One who tests us with hard times, or simply observes our daily lives with disinterest, or fails to control the random acts of fate. Desperate, we need assurance that our bodies are not just made for this world, and that the Designer of our days has our best in mind. It’s not all over in an accident or a diagnosis, right? Our loved ones are not just flung into blackness, gone forever, right? There is more than all this, right? “Oh yes, there is more,” He whispers over us, the voice of our Maker, our Emmanuel – One who dwells with us and understands. People of God, may we believe that no lives have been cut off prematurely by cruel...

a letter to Miracle Mom

Dear mom of the boy with the loaves and fishes, This probably seems the oddest of letters, but I must write to you. I read about you today. Well, I read about your basket and your son. And, while everyone was marveling over the numbers and the leftovers, my heart reached across the centuries to find you. You, the unsung hero. You, the essence of hope in the midst of routine and dishes and to-do lists. After all, that boy with the loaves and fishes needed someone to pack his lunch, and that fact was not lost on this mama. I guess you probably don’t understand what I mean. After all, it was just a simple lunch, an ordinary day, and such average surroundings, right? Your schedule was probably so filled with countless other chores and responsibilities that you hardly imagined yourself part of a sacred, eternal plan. Not to mention, the baby was likely teething, balanced on your hip, and your nerves were probably jumping from sleepless nights and caffeine jolts. You likely kissed your son goodbye that morning, secretly relieved there would be one less person to serve for a few hours. I get it. I guess that’s why I needed to write you – to thank you for the sense of purpose you brought me today. Because, well, honestly I picture my own kitchen, my own children, and somehow the miraculous remains so far off – in another world completely. It hardly seems a fitting ending to regular food-prep chore. But here, there’s proof of something more lingering in the routine – for the natural collided...

When Glory was offered to outsiders

They were sitting outside the city, watching their sheep. “And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” Luke 2:8 Maybe these shepherds looked over the hills at roof tops and felt the pangs of loneliness. This life, this shepherding of dirty animals, required them to stay on the fringe. And so, they stayed on the outside and watched the town from a distance – day after day, year after year. But, that night, that glorious, world-changing night? The latest news didn’t start in the center of town. It didn’t reach their ears last. It didn’t shy away from their smelly, woolly companions. Glory exploded in angelic proclamation before their eyes, in their midst! Glory came up-close, as close as skin, that night. “And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.  And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.'” Luke 2:9-10 A message for all people – brought to them, mere shepherds? “‘For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he...

When Glory was the hope of the humble

The heavy darkness of oppression had blanketed the Hebrew people for years. They ached for deliverance, for a mighty king to rise up and free them. Then, one ordinary day, an angel stepped in and promised a Messiah to a young, unmarried girl named Mary. And, startling enough, this world-redeeming King would grow within her virgin womb. Unbounded hope and raw delight must have filled Mary – that the Most High had knit her Messiah in her being. The fullness of God had been implanted in her and would grow to save her people! Yet, the Bible doesn’t tell us about exuberant announcements or joyful parties to welcome this prophecy fulfillment. Simply, she and Joseph continued on in faithful living, quietly proceeding with life and customs. In truth, the Bible says remarkably little about the pregnancy, delivery, or even the rearing of this God-child, Jesus. And, I wonder if that isn’t the point. Because, although they found favor in God’s eyes, this story could never, ever be about them. Yet, if there were ever grounds for spiritual hierarchy, it would be now – for who else could claim the status of being chosen by the Almighty Creator of the universe to birth and raise Jesus Christ, the Messiah? Was this couple ever tempted to insert themselves in this divine plan? Did they ever beat down pride, or wonder if being faithful to God’s ways really applied to them – after all, their child was God, prophesied by angels, born of immaculate conception. As far as we can read, their response seems to lack the stench of pride; it’s nearly impossible...

When Glory was expected in the everyday

It was just one step after the other, on that long trip to Bethlehem for Joseph and Mary. “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered…And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.” Luke 2:1, 4-5 Even as they walked, Mary’s womb swelled with the presence of the eternal Almighty, nearly ready to be brought forth into flesh. Some nine months earlier, Glory had bowed low, trading His place at the Father’s right hand to be fitted inside her womb. Yes, with a hush, the heir of Heaven had slipped into her womb and into their routine obligations – a Bethlehem trip included. Maybe they could’ve avoided the trip altogether. Mary was, after all, about to deliver her baby – a child ushered in by angelic visits and prophecy. Maybe they could’ve explained their holy situation and received a variance or a waiver? Appealed to someone? Claimed their rights in this obviously special situation? (A hallowed child or not, no pregnant woman in any century would’ve blamed them for preferring not to travel in her last trimester, on a donkey,when no accommodations were arranged.) Yet, Joseph and Mary lived under the rule of a king. Obedience was next to breathing. And so, they packed their bags and started walking. It was one step after the other. This Bethlehem trip became just one of many...

When Glory was displayed in the disgrace

Once upon a time, a young girl named Mary found favor in the eyes of God. And, on the brink of one of history’s greatest leaps of faith, this girl said simply: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) Mary thus entered into the plan of God with a bowed head, willing to carry within her the presence of God in order to birth His glory into flesh. Yet, in Matthew’s gospel, we get a wider picture of the drama surrounding Mary – when she was found to be pregnant and unmarried. In these words, we start to understand the cost of Mary’s surrender. We begin to see the human heart exposed in the midst of divine work. “And her husband, Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” (Matthew 1:19) Shame. Disgrace. Maybe even a touch of scandal. An unmarried girl, suddenly pregnant. What did people think? Did they jump to conclusions, whisper about her, share their disapproval? And we’re left to wonder – why would a holy, perfectly pure God choose to use this scarlet thread of disgrace while weaving His eternal plan? “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 Prophecy declared it, yes, but certainly God Almighty could have engaged a staggering variety of means, outside of such a publicly disgraceful situation, to accomplish it. Truth is, I think we are all left a bit shaky at this unfolding – broken pieces of moral standards...

When Glory was birthed in a barn

“And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:6-7 There, Salvation was nestled among animal food. And, we wonder over God, this God who stepped off His throne and into human skin, laying Himself into a mere animal trough. Glory Himself was birthed into baby cheeks and tiny hands by a young, scandal-surrounded girl. How is it that we find the King of all in such a place? How is it that the Almighty God, the great I Am, bends Himself into a world of labor pains and dirty animals? And, it’s at times like this that I find myself both awestruck and inexpressibly moved by the story of Jesus’ birth. Of course, it’s a familiar one, and most of us can see the story line from miles away. But what consistently moves my heart? It’s the common. Each year, I find myself analyzing the details, trying to imagine what it must have felt like to witness the great and awesome God stepping into the everydays of some simple folks. Because, it’s natural for us to attach the concepts of splendor and power and mind-blowing radiance to our God. We exalt Him. We praise Him for the attributes we can hardly understand – His sovereign ways, His unsearchable wisdom, His unfailing love. His stands far above us, and we marvel, speechless at His majesty. Therefore, it is not without near bewilderment that we...