Wednesday, February 25, 2009

beauty for ashes

Blown away by the wind.

Destroyed by the water.

Burned in the sun.

My hands are gray, full of ashes.

What I thought was worthy... what I thought was precious...

In my hands, powder and dust.

Cupped hands, ashes sift through my fingers.

Because what is worthy

What is precious

are the calluses.

the fine lines from laughter.

the deep wrinkles from the sun.

the blisters on my feet.

muscle's fatigue.


If God is in the world...

And we are here...

then God is among us.

We are constantly in the presence of God.

And we come in contact with His gifts every day.


Yet here we are.

Stockpiling the gold.

Worshipping plastic.

Unaware of how lavishly we have been adorned by His love.

How richly we've been clothed by His grace.


So we offer to You, all we think we are worth.


But You have stooped low,

to wash our gray, sooty hands.

Making us clean.


You bind the wounds inflicted by this world.

Put salve on the blisters we've worn on our skin...

On our heads You have placed a crown.


And for our ashes, you have given us beauty.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Wall

I hit the wall last night.

We all knew it was coming.

It happens to me like clockwork every semester. My heart feels full... I feel like I'm on the right track. Life still doesn't make sense, but the challenges I'm faced with are manageable.

This time, I had found my tangible calling.

As a child of God, I am called to love people.

I had found a way to incorporate taking care of people with my career.

And I was elated.

But I hit it last night...

face first.

Like running into a corner in the dark.

I didn't see it coming.

The wall.


I sat there in my desk.

She hadn't said anything new at all.

No new information that caused me to reconsider.

Nothing fresh and overwhelming.

But in my weakness, in my fatigue, in my loneliness...

my mind started playing tricks.

It was as if I were sprinting,

And ran headlong into a brick wall.


I had pushed "fast forward" on the tape of my life.

And was confused by all the blurriness.

I had tried to guess the mystery.

To figure out the plot.

And my finite mind only saw obstacles.

Only saw impossibilities.


I folded in on myself there in the classroom.

Mentally staring up at a wall that towered into the sky.

Menacing. Taunting. Logical.

I left class with an extensive take-home test in my hand.

And for the first time, wondered if I could make it.

Doubted I had the courage. That I had what it takes to do... whatever it is I was trying to do.

I thought about quitting.

See what a wuss I am?

What a coward I can be?

I wondered, almost immediately, if there was an easier route.


Aren't we all always looking for the easy way out?

Do we ever find it?

There are easy detours. But they are temporary and eventually lead to hard roads again.

Because life is not about getting by without scrapes and sore muscles.

Life is not about who can come out on the other side the cleanest.


And I forget this.

Standing in the face of the wall.

I lift my face and my mind projects far, far past my control.

Far, far past my ability.

My knowledge.

My wisdom.


I am such a hypocrite.


I tell you I believe in a divine plan.

In soul mates.

I believe He has a plan.

He knows the way I take.


Why in the world do I worry?


I worry that I don't have what it takes because, well, right now I don't.

Today I do not have what is required to be a social worker.

But I dont have to be a social worker today.

If I so passionately believe in a plan, then I must also believe that part of that plan is to equip me.

To prepare me.


The only thing that is required of me right now

is to keep going.


Because I can't stumble onto His plan, if I've planted my feet firmly in defeat.

If I give up.


So all I have to worry about today is getting over that wall.


2 Samuel 22:30 (Msg)

"Suddenly, God, your light floods my path, God drives out the darkness ... I vault the high fences. What a God! His road stretches straight and smooth. Every God-direction is road-tested. Everyone who runs toward him makes it."

The NKJ says "and by my God, I can leap over a wall".


I decided to get it under control tonight.

The things that are in my control, that is.

So I got a few numbers for my service project hours.

I applied for the appropriate programs.

Knocked out my stupid poli sci homework in an hour.

I washed my bedsheets. And I washed the dishes.

I made dinner.

I made coffee.


I'm still standing in the face of the wall.

But it doesn't look so tall anymore.

It doesn't stretch so far into the sky...

I've begun to climb.


And I will climb until I get over it.

And I will run again.

Headlong into His grace.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I hit "E" today.

I had been flirting with the red line for days, weeks.

Exhaustion. Confusion. Decisions. New schedules. All drained me... used up all my energy, my fuel.

I didn't realize how dangerously close I was to empty, until today.

When I finally got there.

When I finally reached the end of myself.

It happened in the middle of the gym.

Not physical exhaustion.

Because I ran my heart out.

No, it was mental exhaustion. Emotional exhaustion. Psychological.


Tonight was the first Wednesday of the month.

That meant that a very large family was gathering across the Jessamine Co. line.

And they were calling my name.

Somehow, I have always known I can run there when I need to feel safe.

When I have tears that need to be shed, this is where I go.

It is my safe place, my haven.

My God is everywhere in this world. In every nook and cranny.

But I feel Him there. I always have.


So I drove. I couldn't get there fast enough.

And I walked in, sat down, and felt myself sink.

The tension left my muscles.

I felt the tears well up in my eyes.

I had sought Him.

And found Him.

Not because I was in a church building. But because I had deliberately pursued Him, with intention.


They opened with the song Desert by Hillsong:

"This is my prayer in the desert
And all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in the hunger in me
My God is a God who provides...."


There came the tears.

God had beckoned me there, to comfort and hold me.

And He didn't waste any time letting me know.


When things go awry, when our world turns to chaos, we must teach ourselves to return to the heart of worship. To remind ourselves that He has offered all of Himself to us. And it is more than enough. His cup is bigger than ours.... and if we accept the gift, we will overflow.

We must come to Him with an empty cup.

Lift it up high.

"Fill us up, Father".


The song ends this way:

"I know I'm filled to be emptied again
The seed I've recieved I will sow"


However, we do not fill up to remain forever full.

If we did not know what emptiness felt like, we would not know the joy of being full. The satisfaction of being satisfied.

So we are filled up.

We are called to go pour out into the world.

And return again.

With empty cups raised high.