Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Basis of Hope

She told me.  Right to my face.  She suspected that cheerful, hopeful people couldn't possibly be very intelligent.  Really smart people comprehend the full ramifications of the dire straight that is the state of our universe.  And it's impossible to be very hopeful or cheerful when you're so fully informed.

I laughed.  I really did.  I couldn't help it!  Maybe I didn't try, I don't know.  It's just that this joy is irrepressible.  Which probably confirmed her point.

It really is foolishness to believe that the impossible could be possible.  To have hope when there's no hope of our circumstances changing.  When the prognosis is bleak.  When the relationship has been fragmented for years.  When we've failed repeatedly to change.

It's utterly foolish to believe that a crushed lifeless body, devoid of heartbeat for three days, could live again.  Yet it happened.  It's been historically validated and it's power is still evident in our lives.  Even death is impotent in the presence of the Spirit of the Almighty God!

We have this hope that is an anchor for our souls...

Oh, this hope we have!  It's so much more than a lackadaisical, Pollyannic good cheer.  Much more substantial than the vapor that is the power of my own positive thinking which burns away quickly in the heat of the marathon.  This hope we have is based in the resurrection.  Every promise we've been given is backed by the same power that raised Jesus from the dead!  This same power lives inside you who are called by His name.
Hebrews 6:19

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Bride Price

What on earth does Good Friday have to do with a wedding feast?  How on earth could a bloody, gruesome death be connected to the finest of all occasions?

Yet, it is.

I can't quite bear to look straight at all that it meant for Christ, the perfect sinless Son of God, to be pierced and mangled and cast into hell on my behalf.  Him, tormented in hell, instead of me.  A glimpse is all it takes to send me to my's hard to breathe when I think of what He's spared me.

How much more the crushing despair of the disciples?  That ragtag lot who'd abandoned everything and placed their hope in this Messiah.  They saw Him with their own eyes.  Crushed and lifeless.  Their sky turned black. They felt the earth heave beneath their feet.  Terror and grief.  Utter hopelessness.

We have the privilege of knowing what those grieving disciples couldn't even imagine.  It might be Friday, but Sunday is coming.  We know the rest of the story...there's a resurrection.

Not only is there a resurrection, but we're invited to a feast that trumps all feasts, not just as honored guests, but as the Bride herself!

To we who have fallen in repentant grief at the foot of the cross, the risen Savior has come and lifted our faces to meet His eyes. His Spirit has called us to be prepared for a Wedding Feast.  This unfathomable groom doesn't just call us to the feast, but also provides the dowry and makes us His Bride.

Good Friday is the invitation to the wedding. The invitation is open to everyone.  Respond and receive the gift of freedom from the deadly cost of your sin.  He paid the price willingly, even eagerly, so great is His longing for you.

"Come!" say the Spirit and the Bride.
Whoever hears, echo, "Come!"
Is anyone thirsty?  Come!
All who will, come and drink,
Drink freely of the Water of Life!
Revelation 22:17

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Do Ya Dare?

Hope is risky business.

That sense of eager expectation.  Anticipation.

It involves vulnerability.

Only those who hope can be disappointed.

Through all these months of medical ups and downs this purveyor of hope has been challenged.  One disappointment and delay after another.  There have been times when it felt like too much work, too much risk, too much potential dare hope again.

Cynicism is such excellent armour against disappointment.  Funny and witty!  Sophisticated, even.  But in the alone times it's a soul desert devoid of real joy.

Between the proverbial rock and the hard place.  To live without hope is to suffocate, but to hope again might be...will be, at times...costly.

There really is nothing new under the sun and 3,500 years ago there was a group of people who had endured slavery for many years, enough generations to have hope bred right out of them.  Along came Moses who told them that God says he's going to set you free!  Yeah, right.  They refused to listen.  "They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery."  Who can blame them?

The good news?  The state of their emotions didn't change the nature of the One who promised or the power of the promise.

Actually, things got worse before they got better for those ancient people.  It's often that way.  Still the power of the promise was not lessened.  Its fulfillment only nearer.

The only difference between those who dared to hope and those who didn't was the joy they had in the waiting.

Selah.  Pause and think on that.

Two weeks post surgery and I'm definitely feeling better. Dare I hope?  I don't have the pathology report yet.  What if...?

What if, indeed.  I have a Papa who knows the contents of that report before it is even written.  Not one iota of it will be a surprise to Him.  And He is faithful.  He will never leave me or forsake me.  He delights in every detail of my life.  His plans for me are good.

Pondering all of that goodness fuels hope.

Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, 

fill you up with peace, 

so that your believing lives, 

filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, 

will brim over with hope!

Romans 15:13 MSG

Monday, March 4, 2013

Perfect Weakness

"My grace is strength is made perfect in weakness."

I feel like I've known these words my whole life.  In fact, I think my mother may have muttered them a lot.  Moms need a lot of grace.

They're beautiful words.  Poetic.

Yesterday, as I laid on a hospital bed for hours, these words ran insistently through my heart, on repeat.   I was hungry for understanding.  Needed that strength.

Weakness.  It's not something I like.  It might even be something I despise in myself.  Okay, it is.

Energy!  Competence!  Efficiency!  Helpful!  Those are my kind of words.

And I am all too aware of their absence in my life.  Recent weakness has been devoid of any loveliness, much less perfection.  It's humbling me.  It's costing others.

Seeking and hungering for more, I found what I needed.  Not in the morphine (though it was really lovely), but in the Greek dictionary on my smart phone.  The deeper layers of meaning in the beautiful words.

These words that were from the heart of God to Paul regarding physical weakness:

My grace...

...the merciful kindness by which God keeps, strengthens, increases faith, knowledge and affection... sufficient for thee. be strong, to be enough, to defend and ward off, as though raising a barrier.

For my strength...

...the inherent power of God which resides in him by virtue of his nature, a miraculous power... made perfect... carry though completely, to add what is yet wanting in order to render a thing full... weakness.

...want of strength of the body (feebleness of health or sickness) 
or of the soul (want of strength and required capacity).

In other words,

"Michelle (add your name), 
I--your Heavenly Papa--
 gladly extend my merciful kindness to strengthen your faith 
and your knowledge of My affection for you.  
All that is in my nature I extend to you 
to carry you through completely.  
All that is in Me I extend to you
 to fill up what is lacking 
in the strength of your body 
and the capacity of your soul."

It really is enough.

It's for you too...whether its health in your body, mind, relationships...wherever the need.  He will add to what is yet wanting in order to render a thing full.

It's not you.  It's Him.  He will carry you through completely and make up all that you lack.

2 Corinthians 12:9