When your heart is broken on Valentine’s Day

It’s not that other days with a broken heart aren’t painful.  It’s just that on Valentine’s Day everywhere you look, go or listen pink shiny hearts and candy pour like salt on your wounds.

I’ve waded my way through the gushing pink day with my own busted up heart many times.  This year I do it again.  If Valentine’s day feels like a mockery of your broken heart and a deceitful allure to try and find love in cheap thrills I offer these three rescuers:

1) The Lord whose heart was pierced right through is with you and me.

I don’t know what broke your heart.  Maybe it’s the death of someone you love.  Maybe it’s the betrayal of a dear friend.  Maybe it’s a prodigal child.  Maybe it’s a divorce or a breakup.  Maybe it’s a daily hard keeping of your covenant. Maybe it’s the rejection you’ve endured time and time again.  Whatever pierced you through and is causing your physical body to hurt and reel from the wrongness of what has happened or is happening, Christ has felt it in his body too.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions;he was crushed for our iniquities;upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,and with his wounds we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:5

Blessed are those who turn to our wounded Savior for healing.  For us, he is enough.  We don’t look for healing in chocolates, or wine, or romantic cards, or a dozen perfect thorn-less roses.  Jesus is enough for us.  We hurt, but we know our hurt is not the end of the story.  His brokenness has redeemed ours.  Every weapon formed against us will fail.  Every trap laid, every betrayal, every rejection will only be for our formation into the likeness of the One who saves us.

“no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed,and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment.This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.” -Isaiah 54:17

2) Only the Heart-Maker can be your heart-healer

The only one able to heal our broken hearts is the one whose heart was pierced for our transgressions.  Our hearts may break because death has inflicted a crushing wound or because betrayal has stabbed and turned in the place where we loved, but Christ’s death and his sin-bearing body swallowed the power of sin and death.  Only Christ, the Word made flesh, the Image of the Invisible God, only he can heal what was meant for destruction.  Only he has the power to bind up our wounded hearts and bring real healing.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound…” – Isaiah 61:1


Blessed are those who believe that Christ was not only wounded for our transgressions and has the power and the mission to bind up our broken hearts, but he is also the one who miraculously designed our brokenness that he might bring about our healing and the spreading of his glory in our lives.  He breaks us and heals us to cause us to know him for who he really is- the One who lays down his life for us.  There is a cycle of death and resurrection that spreads life in every way he works with his children.  This is his design.  This is his way.

Come, let us return to the Lord;for he has torn us, that he may heal us;he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.After two days he will revive us;on the third day he will raise us up,that we may live before him.Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;his going out is sure as the dawn;he will come to us as the showers,as the spring rains that water the earth.” – Hosea 6:1-3

3) Your broken heart poured out in love of Jesus is like priceless perfume spreading his aroma everywhere!

Your broken heart is not a waste!  The pain you bear is not for nothing.  Christ has borne our sin in his own body!  He has made us one with him.  He has joined us to God in peace and unbreakable covenant.  When we pour out our bleeding heart on him and see our aching lives as his, for his use, for his purposes, for his glory, for an eternal harvest, our cracked up stories become a broken bottle of priceless perfume spreading the aroma of the worth of Christ to everyone in our lives.  Not everyone will smell him as beautiful, but those who do will be drawn into knowing him too.  As Ann Voskamp says, what some mistake for destruction is really growth.  Our lives become a seed, planted and falling apart in this earth to spring up life-giving life.  And Christ says that is a beautiful thing!

“And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.” – Mark 14:3-6

Blessed are the ones who see their lives in light of God’s great story.  Blessed are those who don’t say, “YOLO!”  you only live once,  and suck as much life for themselves out of this broken place as they can, but rather they say, “YOLF!” you only live forever, and let their redeemed lives be planted in this world that others might live and know the worth of the One who has loved us to death!

Dear Beloved Brokenheart, you walk the path of ever lasting life.  You walk hand in hand with the author of such a life.  Let every expression of love you see today be a reminder to you that your life is not your own, you are Christ’s, and He is yours, and because of him all your pain is for the spreading of the priceless aroma of the God who so loved the world that he gave his only Son.

You Will Not Abandon Me

It’s Saturday. Two thousand plus years ago on a day like today You were dead to us. Hidden behind a stone. You came to us full of grace and truth and we thought You’d make our circumstance right, right away.  But now it’s Saturday and you seemed to lay defeated by our wrongs.  You were the only good Man and we killed you. And you didn’t use your superpowers to save yourself from us.

If I was there, and I didn’t have the Book and I couldn’t read Psalm 16 or know the end of the story is glory and resurrection life, I would be as unbelieving as Thomas and the disillusioned followers you met on the road to Emmaus… and to my own shame, even though I do have the Book and I’ve heard the story and I’ve believed, so often I’m an unbelieving believer like Thomas and the slow of heart to believe on the road to Emmaus.

But I do have the Book.  Oh thank you for preserving your Word!  I can read, and I’ve heard that old, old story about a Savior came from glory.  How we didn’t just kill him, but he willingly gave his life on calvary to save a wretch like me.  I heard about his groaning.  He didn’t use his superpowers to save himself from me, rather His miraculous power was in His precious blood’s atoning.

As I read Psalm 16 this morning, I thought about how You communed these words with the Father.  I wonder if there in the garden as the weight of the cup the Father gave you overwhelmed you and you cried out for another way, I wonder if then Psalm 16 was fleshed out in you as you said, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. – Psalm 16:10

Even though the cup was more terrible than anything I could ever imagine, You knew the Father would not abandon you to corruption.  You knew, though you would have to suffer the forsakenness I had coming from the Father, though you would have suffer the totality of physical, emotional and spiritual death wrought by the sin of every fallen soul who ever has or will live, and though you would have to descend into hell and be dead to us for 3 days, you knew that the Father was good and that you would rise and bring many to life.

So now it’s Saturday.  To me it seems since that day that I heard about your precious blood’s atoning, at-one-ing me with You; since that day when I looked at You hanging on a pole- a curse because of me, all my sin in you hanging there, being put to death, paying the debt I owe- since that day life feels like Saturday to me.  I know one day You will come again.  I know one day I will rise.  I know because You’ve preserved your Word and I’ve heard Your story and by your grace I believe it.

And I wait, because Sunday came for You and it will come for me too!

I heard an old, old story,
How a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning,
Of His precious blood’s atoning,
Then I repented of my sins;
And won the victory.

O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him,
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood.

I heard about His healing,
Of His cleansing power revealing.
How He made the lame to walk again
And caused the blind to see;
And then I cried, “Dear Jesus,
Come and heal my broken spirit,”
And somehow Jesus came and brought
To me the victory.

I heard about a mansion
He has built for me in glory.
And I heard about the streets of gold
Beyond the crystal sea;
About the angels singing,
And the old redemption story,
And some sweet day I’ll sing up there
The song of victory. 

– Victory in Jesus by Eugene Monroe Bartlett 1939

 Quieted,
Sheila

The purpose of Christmas

The tree is lit, ornaments hanging, gifts piled, the homemade nativity scene crowded out by fancy wrapped boxes.  Everyone is waiting. The kids are waiting for about 24 hours from now when they’ll wake up and rip that pretty paper off those boxes and smile at the surprises inside.  My Jesse tree advent readings have us anticipating the birth of the Long-Promised One.

Tomorrow’s the big day, but really the big day already came.  And went.

Mary’s big day came and went to.  She swelled with the Promised One and delivered Him.  She was born a mom that day, but even more, she was born a Christ-bearer.  Christ was born through her.

Like me, she pondered that miracle and just who this Child was.  And we get some hints at what she maybe thought He was.

When those scraggly shepherds came telling her and Joseph what they’d heard from angels she was amazed and pondered what they said in her heart.
And this homemaker at the end of 2012, ponders the Word that has been spoken to me concerning the Christ.
But when an old man waiting to see the Messiah before he died caused Mary and Joseph to marvel when he spoke of this Son’s purpose, he turned to Mary and spoke something to her none of us want to hear about our Christmas gift:
“Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” 
A sign that is opposed.
A sword will pierce through your own soul.
Thoughts from many hearts… revealed.
Is that what I’m anticipating this Christmas?
Is Christ who is born in me, Christ my hope of glory… is He going to be opposed?  Is He going to pierce my own soul?  Is He going to reveal the thoughts of my heart?

Yes lights from the Father of lights. Yes gifts from the Giver of all good gifts who is Himself the Gift.  Yes treats from Him who has given us all things to enjoy.  Yes smiles and laughter and songs from the One in whose right hand are pleasures forevermore.  But first.  But first opposition.  Piercing.  Thoughts revealed.

Yes the joy of the Christ come born as a baby in a cave, in the cold, to a teenage girl and her noble fiance… Love come down to save us.

Yes the laughter and the presents and the goodies.  These are just some the crumbs of the goodness that fall from the feast of His good grace.  These are some effects of Love come down, of God made into flesh.  These are some of the effects of Christmas.  But these aren’t the purpose of Christmas.  The purpose of His coming was first to absorb the poison of our snake-bitten sin and the righteous wrath against it.

Sometimes I think we forget this, not just at Christmas, but everyday.  Christ came.  He died for our sins.  And by just as much a miracle as was done in Mary, He is in me.  Christ in me, the hope of glory.  Yes glory.  But first thoughts revealed, opposition and piercing.  Yes glory is coming, and even now has begun.  Yes everyday can be received as a gift of His goodness and grace with thanksgiving… even the piercing, even the hard to own-up-to thoughts revealed, even the opposition that will come.  Because first His purpose is to conform me to the image of His Son.

Mary thought maybe first His purpose was to set her reputation straight… make more wine.  I’ve thought maybe first His purpose was to ____________________.  You fill in the blank.  Make my marriage happy.  Make my husband understand me.  Make my children appreciate me.  Make more good life.  Make things nice and right and the way they should be. 

Sometimes I read things like, “How long O Lord?  How long?”  And I think of my blank.  All those good things I want.  All those pretty wrapped presents.  But that’s not what He came for the first time.  My, “How long?” gets turned into “As long as it takes Lord!” when I consider that His purpose is to use all things- hard marriages, difficult kids, deaths, illnesses, weakness, poverty, things not right, evil seeming to run rampant, mental illness taking its toll on relationships, hard things- to make me Christ-like.  Then glory.

Christ in me.  The hope of glory.

Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory? – Luke 24:26

When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. – Colossians 3:4

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. – 1 Peter 5:10

Oh piercing Christmas I want you to just be happy 
Jolly
Bells
Fudge
Good smells
But You come first revealing
Oh opposed Christmas I want you to just be accepted
Tinsel
Evergreens
Lights
Caroling
But You come first dying
Oh miraculous Christmas I want you to just take over
Peace
Justice
Goodwill
God among Us
But You come first propitiating

Glory is coming
You gave us a glimpse
A New Man raised
Reconciliation commenced

Quieted,

Sheila

An Easter Allegory


My first attempt at an Easter Allegory. A story about the foolishness of not dying to yourself to follow the Savior of the World in light of His death and resurrection.


There once was a barn full of seeds. The seeds were piled up high waiting to be planted.

One group of seeds didn’t want to be planted. They managed to work together to hide behind a stack of hay so that when the farmer came they would be left behind.

As the bags of seed were taken for planting, the bag of seed which had hidden themselves began bragging and laughing about how smart they were to break away and make it on their own.

One day a loose seed, which had fallen out of one of the bags that had been taken for planting, was swept along by a large gust of wind and landed beside the hiding bag of seed.

The lonely seed said, “Oh no! The farmer has left a bag of seed here!” But the bag full of seeds cried out, “No! The farmer didn’t leave us. We are hiding! We don’t want to be planted. We don’t want to fall apart in the dirt. We want to enjoy being seeds and stay right here.”

The lonely seed answered with great concern, “But don’t you realize that you are all going to rot here over the winter and die anyway?

Haven’t you heard about the King of Seeds?

We all came from Him. He laid down His life and was planted in our ground and rose up into life-giving wheat! If you don’t let yourself get planted in the ground just as He did, you will never get to live as grain and be made into bread to feed people. You’ll die alone! But if you go out into the field and die in the ground you will sprout up into a totally new thing. You’ll become a beautiful plant. And then you’ll become many more seeds and more plants and more bread. You’ll never really die. But if you stay here and hide, the winter will come and you will rot and then be burned.”

Most of the seeds in the bag began to boo and scream, “Go away! We’re happy just as we are!” But a few seeds cried out, “Can you help us! We don’t want to stay here and rot! We want to be planted by the farmer so we can be raised up into wheat and made into bread and more seeds!”

So the seeds who longed to become wheat managed to rub a hole through the bag and spill out. A gust of wind blew the seeds far from the proud bag and were scooped up by the farmer’s son. The son then carried the seeds excitedly to his dad, the farmer, asking if he could plant them.

So the son of the farmer planted the seeds. He watched and waited and watered them while the hiding bag of seed lay undiscovered behind the hay in the barn.

After weeks had past and harvest time came the lonely seed and his eager friends were growing tall and beautiful in the field. Each were cut down. Some of their grains were taken to be ground into flour. Some were taken to be planted again. All of them were happy to be living as a new thing and giving life to others. But the selfish, hiding bag of seed lay abandoned in the barn and when winter came, they all rotted.

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.” -John 12:25

Paul explained, “But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have.

A different plant grows from each kind of seed. Similarly there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies. The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory.

It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit.

What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later.

Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven.

Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man.

What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever. But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed!

It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.

For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:35-57

Happy Easter!

Sheila

Will the Seed grow?

So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby. -John 19:42 NKJV

It’s Saturday. Yesterday and Thursday my heart was meditative upon the Cross of my Lord. This morning I’m reading through the Preparation day accounts in the gospels and thinking about waiting for new life to spring up.

THE Seed had been placed in the ground. And now they waited. But they waited in grief, not knowing the Seed would rise anew and in us multiply His life.

In a very small way I understand what they felt. When I planted seeds in my garden I truly had doubts that they’d grow. I put the seed in the dirt and… that’s it. I watered it. I waited. Nothing.

What if it didn’t rise through the dirt? My effort (small as it was) would be wasted, and my hope for fruit and veggies to be eaten would be lost.

And in a bigger way I understand that making your own human life as a seed, planted in the dust of humanity is even riskier.

But I know the end of the story concerning the Seed of all seeds. He rose through the stone. The soil wasn’t even good where they planted Him. It would seem impossible that He would rise. But He did.

I wait through this Saturday reflecting on how it feels to anticipate new life when it seems impossible, yet I know that if Jesus is in it, not even a stone can keep resurrected life from sprouting forth.

So I receive the implanted Word into my heart meekly and trust that even through the stone of my heart Jesus will rise in me.

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. -James 1:21 NKJV

I take up my cross of speaking the truth in love, confessing, repenting, obeying God, and bearing the offenses of others in mercy and intercession, willingly denying myself all the way to death; pouring out my life (the new life I have as Christ dwells in me), planting my life in others, trusting the Word is able to rise past the dirt, stone and opposition and produce resurrection life. Eternal life.

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. – John 12:24-26 NKJV

I wait in confidence that a day is coming when Resurrection life won’t just live in the midst of perishing flesh, but will be all there is.

But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain–perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. -1Corinthians 15:35-44 NKJV

And I’ll even plant my canteloupe seeds, trusting in the power of God to raise to new life a seed, dead in the dirt, which for me to live (by the eating of it’s fruit) requires its death.

Isaiah 51:3