Monday, January 20, 2014

Lord, I need you.

Weary. That one word soaks through my bones sometimes. In those moments, it's as if I am a spectator, watching others live the life I want to live. I want to help people, to travel, to have a career, to have a family of my own. It's especially hard to be trapped by limitations which vary so much from day to day, even from minute to minute. The unreliability, the dependence, the weakness - it can wear on a soul that desperately wants to jump up and act.

I felt encouraged in my weakness last night as I read about David's exhausted men in 1 Samuel 30. David and 600 of his men had found their homes torched and their families and possessions stolen. When they rode off to catch the people who did it, 200 of the men were too exhausted after over 60 total miles and terrible grief to go on fighting. They stayed with the baggage while the other 400 men went with David to reclaim their people and goods.

It was when David returned, victorious and spent, that some of the men with him didn't want to share their spoil with those who'd needed to rest. David, a man after God's own heart, made clear that those who aligned themselves with him were just as deserving of the rewards as those who were stronger and capable of fighting. It was their heart attitude and their willingness to go as far as they could that mattered to David.

I think it's that way with God. When we are willing to go as far as our weariness will allow, even resting on the sidelines is a noble job. Let's not look down on those who sit and rest while the strong and healthy go out to do the more visible tasks. Just think of how abundant our reward in heaven will be, given by the same generous hand that provided for all of David's men - by the one whose power is made perfect in weakness.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Hope in the Darkness

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone." Isaiah 9:2

This Christmas I spent a lot of time thinking about this painting called "Twilight in the Wilderness" by Frederic Edwin Church. It reminds me of a journey taken through uncharted land - grueling, demanding, exhausting. But then, upon reaching a precipice at just the right time, there is the most breathtaking beauty that breaks through the daunting monotony. The constant struggles with underbrush and sleepless nights fade in that moment, awash with glory.

Jesus came for us who are hurting, for us caught in the far-reaching effects of sin, addiction, and sadness.

He came first to the shepherds. They were, as Pope Francis said, "among the last, the outcast...who were awake, keeping watch in the night, guarding their flocks." God chose them specifically for this extraordinary moment on the precipice, to witness his glory breaking through into our painful struggles. He came first not to kings but to those humble workers who day after day kept watch in the lonely places. Jesus came to seek those who want light more than the darkness they feel they can't escape.

If you, like the shepherds, are awake in the late night alone seeking relief, if because of pain or fear or illness or trauma or caregiving or grief you feel that the light of a Savior is a far-off, flickering flame - remember there is hope in the manger. He is the Light of the World promised to save us, and our future glorious deliverance is sure when we trust him.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:5