An explosion of praise reading Job


Job’s story always gets me.  I feel so much of the sense that, “This just isn’t right!  This guy didn’t deserve this!”  And at the same time the sense that, “This is how God works.  He is working something eternal and wonderful in us through suffering.”

I don’t claim to know even a fraction of the suffering Job knew. I’ve never had a debilitating illness or disease.  I’ve never grieved the death of a child.  I’ve never lost all my possessions.  But I’ve walked through my own fiery trials and in each of them, mostly daily life stuff, I’ve known the presence of God there with me, assuring me, he is doing something much greater than I can see.

In Jobe 23, Job says basically, “I don’t see where God is, or what he is doing, but he sees me.  He knows what I’m going through.”

“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” – Job 23:10

I may not see what God is doing in my struggles in my marriage and in the hard days as a mom of teenage sons, but the One who created me sees me.  He knows the way I take. He knows and He is working all things together for my good to make me like the New Man- Christ!

This is the great joy and aim of every Christian. Greater than our pain is our desire to be made like Jesus!  Greater than our trials is our joy in intimately knowing and being known by the Creator of the Universe who bore our sins in his bludgeoned body.

This is the peace beyond understanding that we have.  This is the joy unspeakable and full of glory that we experience.  This foretaste of knowing that one day, like Job, we will see our Redeemer in our flesh, with our eyes and all wrong will be made right and we’ll dive into the eternity of pleasures forevermore that dwell at God’s right hand.

This is not some ethereal dream.  This is not a wish upon a star.  This is the promise of the God-Man Christ Jesus who walked on this earth, knows what it’s like to be tempted and tried as I am, died bearing my guilt and shame, rose from the dead emerging as the beginning of a New Creation, a New Man… eternal life for me and everyone who loves him!  And he’s put in me his own Spirit, guaranteeing that He will not quite! He will not give up doing this good work he started in me.  He will try me, and test me and all so that in the end, I will come out as pure gold.  I’ll be just who He’s making me to be.

Oh the riches and the wonder of the ways of our God!

How beautiful

How stunning

How beyond explaining

I’ll just look up tonight before I go to bed and recall, with unspeakable thanks, that I will see you One day Lord Jesus!  And you will not destroy, you will embrace me.  Oh what hope! What joy.  What a Saviour!

Advent day 1: Believing God’s Promises

It’s almost midnight.

Everyone’s asleep.

The tree is up.  The front porch has lights.  And 3 out of 4 Advent candles are on the table.

Advent has meant more and more to me over the years.  It really is a gift from God that I treasure.

It started when Ryland was born.  10 years ago (almost 11).  Having a Christmas baby during a very stressful and sad time in my life was like a behind the scenes peak for me at the wonder of the Incarnation of Christ.   God used it like that anyway.  He really gave me eyes to see what a wonder it is that Christ was born as a baby through Mary.

When your circumstance seem impossibly hard and you can’t see how this could possibly line up with God’s plans and purposes and He breaks through with a gift of unexpected joy, the circumstances- painful as they are- fade in the light of hope.

Today’s reading in the Jesse Tree Advent devotional was from Genesis.  About how God promised Abraham decedents that outnumbered the stars and he looked at his elderly wife and felt the aches in his 100 year old knees and chose to believe God.  And when the time came, God did what he said he would do.  He always does.

The question is, do I believe God’s promises?  There are a lot of them.  How about this one:

So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. – 1 Corinthians 3:21-23.  

ALL!  All things are yours?!  The world? Life? Death?  

This is why I don’t have to have this or that.  I don’t have to have the perfect church or the perfect marriage or the perfect kids or house or job or circumstance.  All things are mine!  I belong to Christ. Believing that promise will carry me through the impossibilities I face.  Just like it carried Abraham through the impossibilities he faced.

God does what he says he will do.  Always.

A meditation on saving my life

“See it as a chance to die.”

It’s what I heard walking in the back door after kicking my shoes off with the scattered shoes from every other person in my family. I saw all those shoes, not even in simple pile, and thought of all the times I’ve bent over to pick up shoes and put them in their right place, or called the shoes’ rightful owner to come pick them up and put them in their right place, and I thought, “Why do I even try? I clean up after people all the time, trying to keep some semblance of order in this house but it’s a loosing battle. I mind as well just get rid of the laundry baskets, cause everyone just throws their dirty clothes on the floor. And I mind as well get rid of the shoe box on the patio cause people in this house don’t even seem to care if two shoes are in close proximity to one another!”

As I walked into the kitchen throwing my mental pity party, taking note of all the misplaced coats, hats, blankets, toys, gaming controls, mail, dishes, pens, pencils, papers, and clothing, I heard Elizabeth Elliot say, “See it as a chance to die!”

I really love E. Elliot.  She’s one of my spiritual “older women”.  She’s a no-nonsense, Five Solae exalting woman.  You can’t listen to her and not be clear about the gospel of Christ or His amazing love or our sinfulness.  One of Elliot’s inspirations was Amy Charmichael.  It was Amy who originally said, “Missionary life is simply as a chance to die!” inspiring Elliot to apply that truth to her everyday life.

Christians are called to a most peculiar calling: to die daily.  We don’t die in the 6 foot under sense daily, but we die to our own “rights” and plans and powers.

Usually when I hear those words from Christ in Luke, “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.“, I think of big sacrifices.

Missionaries like Amy Carmichael and Elizabeth Elliot surely did take up their crosses and follow Jesus in their work as missionaries, but loosing one’s life for Christ sake is not lived out only by missionaries and pastors and those in “full-time ministry”.

Every shoe picked up with a heart of forgiveness, every gentle call to a child to come clean up after themselves, every patient ignoring of a pile of laundry to look into the eyes of world-weary man who’s inviting you to just come sit with him for awhile… all this is a daily dying.  And every irritation I run into in a day is another chance for me to die.  Again.

But there’s more.  Notice the goal of what Christ said , “… but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”  

I don’t really want to die.  Neither in the six foot under sense, nor in the daily stuff sense.  I want to live!  And if you look at the goal of what Christ is saying here, dying isn’t the ultimate goal either!  Living is!

The difference between what I believe and what the health and wealth, get-your-best-life-now folks believe is time.  I believe what Christ said: if we loose our lives now for his sake, we will actually be saving it.  In this life we don’t strive to get our best life and the best stuff and the fountain of youth.  In this life we lay all that down to love others in Christ’s name… with his character.  But in the resurrection we will have no death, no disease, no lack, no pain… pleasures forevermore in the presence of our Savior!

So yes, I choose to see those shoes and the daily messes as a chance to die, but beyond that dying I see my best life coming.

Oh Lord, give me eyes to look past the messes and irritations and daily dyings to the beyond-words life I’ve tasted of in the Spirit now, but will one day fully experience!

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 

– Colossians 3:2-4


Sunday morning longing

But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you.  May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “God is great!” But as for me, I am poor and needy; please hurry to my aide, O God.  You are my helper and my savior; O LORD, do not delay.  Psalm 70:4-5 

This is a deep ache in me.   It’s a whiff of something wonderful my spiritual nose has smelled. I want my life to make God’s beauty and goodness be clearly seen. Not that I try to doll God up and make Him beautiful, but that my life will act like a magnifying glass, bringing into greatness and clear focus that which may seem far off or hard to understand to those around me. I want my God to see an Imago Dei one again in me.

Once I was broken and I distorted the truth about my good God. And He looked twisted and convoluted and crooked and wrong to people. But then Christ came. Christ, THE Image of the invisible God.  He did not distort the truth about God at all.  Perfectly clear.  Perfectly accurate.  God in the flesh.  He took all my brokenness to the grave and rose so he could work in me 2000 years later to make me a new creation, conformed to the image of the Son.

Do I want others to see the truth about God in me?  Then I’ll let the Potter mold me to be like His Son.  Because the Son is how God wants to be seen.  The Son is the truth about His goodness and the exactness of His beauty.

Oh let the Son be seen in me!  Oh that people would see Christ in me and see a glimpse of the truth of how beautiful You are and how over-the-top is Your love for us, that you would not discard us but give us a Way to be made new.

Nothing is more beautiful than to be made like the Son!  Nothing is more wonderful!  Oh for the day when You are clearly seen as good.  No more lies about You.  No more creating entire systems and theories and lifestyles just to avoid You.  No more hiding from You.  No more denying You.  No more being uncomfortable at the mention of Your name.  No more feeling like you are some stuffy, religious old-man in the sky.  No more feeling like you are a nameless, faceless, force of destruction.  No more imagining you to be a great magic genie.  No more abuse in your name.  No more!  Oh for the day when You make all things new.  Even now, come, and make me new.  This side of the reckoning make me a reflector of Your goodness, of Your glory!

But help me Lord!  I want all this from the safety of my living room and laptop.  But out there I fear man’s looks too easily.  Out there I suddenly don’t know what to say.  Out there I get to easily caught up with the day to day stuff and forget I’m YOURS!    I am poor and needy!  Please hurry to my aid, O God!  You are my helper and my savior!  Don’t delay O Lord! 

These revived me this week.

Watch how Gianna says, “… but I know in the age we live in, it is not at all politically correct to say the name of Jesus Christ in places like this; to bring him into these sorts of meetings because his name can make people so terribly uncomfortable. {Purposeful pause}  Well I didn’t survive so I could make everyone comfortable. I survived so I could stir things up a bit.”  

I want that kind of humble, happy, confident boldness.

 Listen to the words. These grab me:  Mighty God how I fear You and how I long to be near You


So basically you are your dad with female parts. – An un-named spouse

I had a dentist appointment yesterday that ended in scheduling two crowns at the cost of $1000! Four of my teeth have old fillings from 1980 something which now have deep fissures.  Two of them have been causing me quite a bit of pain.

I had the first eye exam of my life today.  Got tired of having a hard time reading without having to extend my arm after about 10 minutes.  The unsurprising verdict: I need reading glasses, but my distance vision is good.

Tomorrow I have an appointment for what I think is a torn meniscus in my knee, bursitis in my left hip and a “slipped disc” in my lower back.  I think the knee injury I’ve been living with for the past year has caused un-neccessary wear and tear on my hip, causing the bursitis.  And the pain in my hip and knee have caused me to stop squatting and start bending over which has caused the week spot that I always seem to put out on my back to go out again this week.

I don’t like going to doctors.  I don’t like having to try to explain myself and then have them order a battery of tests which show everything is normal.  I’d rather just accept the wear and tear on my body, but unfortunately the knee and hip and back are not in agreement.  They are not accepting it!  I about passed out in the store with the kids the other day when I leaned forward the wrong way apparently and the pain in my back caused me to go to my knees.  As I was standing up everything went black.  That’s when I decided I’d better not just keep ignoring the problem.

My dad has all these maladies.  I guess we’re alike that way.  That and Eeyore.  You know the donkey from Winnie the Pooh?  My dad and I can be known for our somewhat gloomy and anhedonic mannerisms amongst family and close friends.  I think my dad is worse… I think I’m a “healthy” (if that isn’t an ironic word) mix of my dad’s downright depressing tone and my mom’s slightly manic one.  Lately I’ve been feeling “Ohh-kayyy”(in my best Eeyore voice).  But tonight Sarah gave me a smile.

Tonight’s Jesse Tree reading was Sarah’s laughter and naming of Isaac, her very unlikely yet promised-by-God son.  I’ve been feeling a little down in the dumps, but tonight when I read Sarah’s line, “God has made me laugh, and all who hear will also laugh with me,” (Gen.21:6) I did.  I chuckled.  I felt a little joy dance in me like a quickening of new life.  Despite the discouragement and bitterness and disappointment this fallen world handed Sarah… and me, God has kept His promise.  The most unlikely of all:  God in the flesh.   And He will keep His promise to make me new.  One day I will laugh with joy like Sarah at the scandalous grace that has made me a son of God.  Now I laugh a little.  But then I will belly roll I think… after I’ve gotten up from being on my face for at least a thousand years. 

I might be a little Eeyoreish now, but then I will be a Tigger! And even now, a little bounce rises up in me as I think about what He has done and what He has yet to do.  With God, nothing will be impossible!