Status Reckless

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Romans 5:5 (NIV) 

It gets me every time.

I am always taken by surprise.

Six months later and I do not see the trend ending any time soon.

What do I do?

I hold hands and cups of coffee.

I run between healthcare staff and family and sit in the waiting room with children who are too young to witness the adults in their lives fall apart emotionally.

I speak prayers and I sit silently, tears being the only expression close to, though not quite, capable of communicating the storm of grief taking hold.

I witness the strength and heart of the staff with awe and their tears with reverence for what they voluntarily experience out of their love for the person, for each beautiful and individual life.

And I hope.

I know the expectations, I know the probable outcome, I understand that if I have been called in, whatever chance there may be is small, and not promised.

And I expect the unexpected.

It’s not a half hope. It is not a “but God could” hope. It is not a last ditch hope.

It is complete, all in, God can hope. It is reckless hope.

And I am always taken by surprise. Because that kind of hope, against every odd, never considers the other outcome, until it arrives.

My heart always stutters in shock, surprise crashing down like a tidal wave. As I reach up for protection, He is reaching out in assurance. And I can stand and be still on the inside while walking through it on the outside.

I can get tissues and chairs. I can speak with family and safeguard sacred moments. I can remain out of the way (at least attempt to) and be readily available. I can give hugs and provide space. I can listen to stories and honor a need for silence.

I can make it home after helping family and friends head to homes that are somehow emptier in a world that makes a little, or a lot, less sense.

And then the wave comes. It has to you know. I’m not in it alone. But it still has to come down.

And I let it all wash out. Every shard of hope on trial.

Of course the defense is prepared and truth reigns.

He heard my prayers. He began answering them immediately. And yes, He was victorious.

In His way and in His time. His ways and His thoughts both higher than mine. His love incomprehensibly complete.

No matter how it feels, His truth reigns.

Not that He is unfeeling. He understands, He knows and He’s holding on. He hasn’t let go- and He’s not going to.

I knew He could do it, I know He can still do it- whatever the situation may be. I believed and believe. I hoped and I hope.

And when the tears come and the hope feels it has turned into shards of broken glass that still small voice whispers,

Child, you are not wrong. 

as He wipes the tears away.

Because there is nothing impossible for our God. Nothing too hard. Nothing too big. Nothing too much. Or too little.

In a fallen world, horrible things happen that were not apart of God’s original plan. And with all of my schooling and study I cannot say for certain why God chooses to move and to stay His hand.

I hope in and I trust a Sovereign, Holy, Loving and Just God who did not create us to destroy us, but to give us a hope and a future, an eternal home.

A last thought.

I was wondering one evening, if this reckless hope would one day dissipate all together? I mean you hear stories of burnout. Of the last straw.

What would the consequences be of recklessly putting all of your heart in, all of the time?

Certainly, there was pain. I wondered, worried, if that chipping was slowly picking away at my hope filled heart. That one day a puncture would go too deep, that my hope would become less than “complete.”

Ironically, I worried that one day I would be less “taken by surprise.”

I had been in that black pit once, I have no desire or intention of going back. Not even the tiniest bit. I could sit down and rest, but there would be no back tracking. That, my heart couldn’t take.

My personal reflection was clearly not getting me anywhere so I took a minute and passed it on to the One whose thoughts are higher than my own. And I got a picture (further proof He understands me- and my appreciation for visual learning aids!)

I pictured my heart, the way I had been “imagining” it before- a chipping from the outside. But then it changed.

Duh. The chipping was not on the outside. It was on the inside.

The chipping may hurt, but growth usually does. Long story short, it was making my heart deeper- not smaller. Capable of holding more, not less.

Child, you are not wrong. 

His picture of immediate victory may vary from mine- but my hope has never been misplaced. He is working, and He is winning. Actually, He has already won.

I cannot see the big picture from down here. But I trust Him. Meanwhile, I pray friends that you will not fear recklessly hoping, always. Because you are not wrong.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 15:13 (NIV)

(In)Dependence

The Lord is good, A strength and stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows [He recognizes, cares for, and understands fully] those who take refuge and trust in Him. 

Nahum 1:7 (AMP)

Wrong… Wrong… Wrong… again- WRONG.

Have you ever felt caught in a continuous existence of wrong- you were wrong, you did wrong, you thought wrong…

You’re trying desperately to find solid ground. But the waves are getting higher, the wind is becoming more fierce and you might as well be stranded on an island by yourself- Because that is how it feels.

Abandoned.

Alone.

And rightfully so, because you are wrong.

There’s no where to turn, no one to turn to. The mist is blinding you, the storm has drowned out every call for help and you’re sinking.

The enemy’s lies charge the door and your barricade shakes. You start questioning your motives, your goals, your past and present decisions and your plans. Every mistake you’ve ever made invades and eventually your own thoughts are driving you mad- your heart begins to falter and your trust begins to fail.

No, no I’m wrong. I got this wrong. How could God… No, no I messed up again, God I am trying I just can’t seem to…

You’re screaming for the peace and rest you cannot find.

Meanwhile the enemy continuously assaults you with doubt, fear, frustration and revelation that-

Your life is a compilation of debts you cannot repay.

And if you are inclined to an “independent” disposition or mindset, that will drive you mad.

Because you may “trust” Jesus… except you’ve got to get to this spot, or do this one thing… before you’re free. Jesus has set you free but…

I need to pay this off…

I need to right this mistake…

I need to…

So my question for you is, what jail have you built for yourself? Trust me I’ve built several of my own.

Prisons God has slowly been bringing to light.

Because I know from Galatians 5:1 that Christ has set us free,

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (NIV)  

Personally, freedom to me, entails the word independence. Which in many ways may be correct- however this past week I found that it is a concept in God’s Word which requires further investigation…

I submit to you 1 Peter 2:16;

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.” (NIV) 

I’ve heard this verse before, and I am sure most of you have too.

However, I confess that I have a tendency to skip over the last bit and mentally I have read it in the past that “I am free and should use my freedom for good…”

You know, like if I had super powers, a sort of Wonder Woman mentality, where “I’m free and could curse you but I will bless you instead because…” (Insert gratitude from thankful citizens).

What we often skip over though is the “because.” We get the action down- use freedom for good. But we miss the “why”-

Jesus. God. Our Lord. Savior. King.

We are free – but we are not independent.

In fact we are wholly dependent- on Christ who bought our freedom.

And we find freedom difficult when trying to handle it independently. We are human, this life hurts and things go wrong-

Oftentimes they go wrong without us intending them to.

We do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, think the wrong thing… (the famous saying “wrong place, wrong time” ring a bell?)

And we are dependent on the grace extended to us by our King.

We are called to trust and endure. Trust our stronghold will help us endure as we run our race.

I was reading a devotional and it spoke of this tribe who did not have a word for trust. So as the missionary sought to find a way to convey this concept to them, he asked what he was doing when leaning back on two legs of a chair.

Their response, “leaning your whole weight on.”

And that definition hit my heart in a moment of clarity.

Do I sincerely trust my Heavenly Father? Do I trust Jesus?

Truly trusting Him entails that I must be actively leaning my whole weight on him, being fully dependent on Him, while having the courage to act on my belief in Him.

*Note whole weight (as in ALL)

Independently dependent.

Nothing has ever been so humbling and uplifting at the same time.

It doesn’t depend on me, it never did. That’s why I need Jesus, whose yoke is easy and burden is light.

Your life is a compilation of debts you cannot repay. And that is the whole point.

Luckily our Savior is no rookie at tearing those prison walls down and in Him- your debt is covered.

We may forget His presence, but He never forgets us as He stands in the gap- between us and the storm. He calms the waves and lifts us atop the water.

Our stronghold in trouble. Being dependent on Christ, we know that we will never have to endure alone. And there is no “wrong” he cannot right in His time, according to His purpose.

Also, we are fully known by Him, He’s not surprised at the cost. He gets it. He gets us. He saw it coming. He paid it in advance.

So, live fully, freely and dependently friends. Let demolition day begin as Jesus tears down prison walls. Lean your whole weight on Him. (Song “Lean on Me” come to anyone else’s mind?) Take His love to heart and breathe. He is making a way, trust and endure. My prayers and thoughts are with you all, always.

Nothing great was ever done without much enduring

-St. Catherine of Siena

“…if we are willing to be utterly dependent on God, he will enable you to do all he has called you to do.”

-Christine Caine

Even This Far

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

2 Timothy 4:7

We love a good “Cinderella” story. At least I do. One where the main character faces impossible odds and it gets to that pivotal moment where all is lost and then… they rise. They make the impossible choice to do the impossible thing that has no guaranteed outcome, no guaranteed success and really through the world’s eyes is completely hopeless. But they do it anyway, they go that far.

Our love for these stories can’t be denied. Looking at recent movies and books which have been released with great success, we all in some way are encouraged by those moments. Moments where they fight the good fight, finish the race and in the face of complete defeat keep the faith.

But living it out… that’s more difficult. I would be willing to bet that everyone reading this has had those in the dust moments, the ones before the epic comeback. The point in the story where everything seems broken, obliterated and all that is left is the debris of what used to be. I know I have been there more than once, and God knows there were moments when I wasn’t sure if I could keep the faith. I wasn’t sure I could be the hero in the story who rose. I wasn’t sure I could go that far.

I would say at some point all of us have hit our knees in defeat. And God, it hurts. We cry out wondering how it got this far. How or why did God let it go this far?

He should have been here by now.

He should have righted the wrongs by now.

He should have….

But He hasn’t. And we find ourselves faced with the decision, are we willing to go that far? Will our faith carry us that far?

The truth is we know that He knows it hurts. We know that He hears our cries. We know that He is good and that He is all-knowing. We know that we can trust in His plan and in His will above our own. Even this far.

This is where clinging to the truth, to what we know God has said over what we see, is essential. And God knows it’s hard. That is why He has given us the stories of others who rose despite the impossible circumstances. Stories of those who were probably wondering how it had gotten this far, and yet didn’t falter in their faith.

Can you picture it? Daniel being led to the lion’s den, praying to God. Believing God was there beside him and yet when they arrive, he is still thrown in. And as he gets up and realizes he is actually in the lion’s den, the king wishes him luck and then seals the door. Literally, a stone was rolled in front of it and was sealed with the king’s signet ring and of the other nobles, so “that Daniel’s situation may not be changed”. Daniel 6:17, word for word.

And in my head I wonder why that far? Why did God let it go that far?

And it’s not a one time occurrence. Moses in the wilderness, the four men in the furnace, Job in the rubble of all he had, David on the run, Jesus on Calvary. Time and time again we read stories in the Bible letting it go that far, not only in the Old Testament but in the New Testament as well.

I am sure Mary and Martha wondered why Jesus had let it go that far.

Lord, if you had been here this wouldn’t have happened.

I am here, always, it is apart of the plan, have faith. There is a greater purpose, even this far.

We could list stories all day long of those who were faced with choosing to accept defeat and lose hope or choosing to go that far. Stories which bring with them a revelation. Going that far has always been apart of the plan. Maybe not our plan, but His plan.

God’s not surprised. He didn’t momentarily forget and then turn around and go “my bad I never meant it to go that far”. God’s plans always serve a purpose. One of those purposes, growing and solidifying our faith.

A faith that won’t flee at the sight of the seemingly impossible. A faith that not only knows but fully believes that what is impossible for man is possible with God. A faith that will carry you that far. A faith that says even this far.

So many times have I cried out, demanding to know why God has let it go this far, pleading with Him to move His hand. And as my pain pours out, His peace pours in. And I know that He is moving His hand. That is has gone this far for a far greater purpose. I need only to trust and to keep the faith, to know that when I cannot run He will carry me. When the den is sealed and the tomb is closed, God’s still working. So keep the faith, because in those darkest moments, He’s about to call you out.

Even now, even this far.

Special thanks for the featured photo Bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash