Snow Dance

There’s a dance in their madness:
in their scattering I see
a scurrying of tiny paws
A scuffling to be free,

A rush to fall into place
Among their brethren far
To dance or dive or drift
To hurl madly downward.

And then hang, suspended
From an invisible parachute
Suddenly indecisive,
Their incessant whisperings mute.

Before the next caprice of wind
Bends them where it wills –
Their search is neverending
Like the heart is never still.


Faith vs Apathy

Fault lines tremble underneath my glass house

But I put it out of my mind

Long enough to call it courage

To live without a life-line.

I bend the definition of faith to exonerate my blind eye.

“Till the sirens sound, I’m safe.”

~Sleeping at Last, Earth

These lyrics caught in my mind and stuck there, like a rock in the crook of a stream.

Do I do this in my own life?

Do I tell God that I will trust Him and then go on my own way?

Do I think “having faith” means turning my mind off of the problem?

Do I ignore Him until He sounds the sirens that will finally wake me to His leading?

I think that too often, when we say we will trust God we really mean that we will put the problem out of our minds and continue on our own way. We think if we don’t deal with it, the problem will eventually go away or work itself out. That’s trust, right?

No, that’s apathy. As Sleeping at Last sings in the song above, that mindset bends what faith really is into something much more unstable and shallow. An apathetic view tries to ignore the problem, even when it’s something as obvious as a glass house standing on a fault line of an earthquake. An apathetic view believes that everything is fine and will work out somehow – until the sirens sound and it is too late to change.

This kind of mindset can seem only shades different than faith. After all, you’re not holding on to try to control the situation. You’re not focusing on the problem anymore; you’re just “letting God work.” But it is a sinister subtlety.

True faith does not just let go of control and forget about things, true faith focuses on God and sees the problem in His light, which causes you to relinquish control over the situation into God’s hands. It allows you to focus on God instead of your problems, and realize His power and sovereignty in your life. It actually enables you to handle the problems of life instead of pretending they’re not there.

Faith is a life-line, a steadfast gaze on Jesus, a deep root that anchors you no matter what shatters and collapses around you.

Apathy is a pretense that you have a life-line, a blind eye to the chaos around, a castle built on sand that will wash away.

What do you want to base your life on?

“Therefore, everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Matthew 7:24-27 ESV

Thank you for this day…

It’s so easy to start out a prayer with “Dear Lord, thank-you for this day…” and then continue on without much thought about what you’ve just said. Recently I decided to examine that little phrase more closely, and I realized there’s a whole lot of depth there that we routinely miss out on. It can mean so much more than the perfunctory opening it has come to be.

As I was mulling over this one morning, I decided to explore some of the reasons why I would thank God for the day. I decided to turn it around and see what I would not have if God had not given me a new day. Here is what I wrote:

Oh Lord, thank-you for this day, for if you had not given it,

…I would not have had the opportunities that presented themselves for proclaiming you.

…I would not have known the joy of fellowship with You and other believers.

…I would not have had another sunrise to praise You for.

…I would not have another time to soak in Your presence and love for me.

…I would not have been able to open that treasure trove of Your holy Word and glean its riches.

…I would not have to face the challenges of my day – which are really opportunities for Your power to shine forth in my life.

…I would not be able to continue to grow in the talents You’ve given me.

…I would not be able to glorify You.

When I was done, I looked at my list in surprise. Hidden in the depths of a simple praise to God for my day was a wealth of spiritual riches and joys that I could thank God for. Makes me wonder – how much of our existence do we take for granted? Or even are ungrateful about? How much do we acknowledge God’s hand in even giving us a new day? We ought to ponder and pray about such things.

What are you taking for granted?

Thoughts like birds


via pinterest

(Please also listen to the gorgeous music found at the end of this post as you read.)

The birds circle above her. Silent, except for the slight swish as they mass and melt overhead into jagged, flapping pieces. They swirl and sway, circling like the endless tide. Like her endless thoughts.

She looks out over the water, trying to ignore their mesmerizing movement. She came here to get away from her thoughts, not to have them visualized in front of her. Why can’t they just leave instead of repeating their endless what ifs? If these birds can mass up the courage to break pattern, perhaps her own thoughts will have space to escape. Perhaps they too can fly away and never torment her again.

The wind catches her hair and teases it into a curl in front of her face. Her breath stops. He used to do that. She can feel the slight edge of his fingernail catch on the wrinkles in her forehead as her eyes flutter closed. She tilts her face up subconsciously, waiting for him to draw his finger down her cheek. Even his tiniest touch sends a delicious shiver down her spine.

The wind slaps her hair across her face. A sting of salt in her mouth, sharp intake of breath, and he is gone. He never was hers in the first place.

The other day I heard this piece of music: “Spiegel Im Spiegel” (which means “mirror in mirror,” or a never-ending reflection), and it really touched me. I wanted to show you my imaginings as I listened to this piece of beauty. What do you see in your mind as you listen?

Listening to this music feels like being suspended in cool, clear water, observing the almost imperceptible ebbing of its current. The music flows around you, moving just enough to keep you afloat.

Or the effortless flying that only happens in movie screens or your dreams. A gentle push, and your head peeks above a filmy cloud. Air is your cradle, the sky your haven.

Or the long, deep draw of breath after you have cried right down to your soul. Your chest heaves and falls, but the sadness no longer strangles your lungs. Your eyes open and you realize the morning light is tinting your hands peach.

I feel the rustle of Beauty lifting the curtain to blow her sweet breath on me. Oh to live in this sound-world forever!

How to be a true encourager

I often find myself in a role of encourager. A friend calls me up with a problem, a family member is distraught or discouraged over something, or even an acquaintance seems down about their day. And before I know it, I’m trying to help them and give them all the answers they need. I think encouraging others is a very good thing to do, but often I don’t feel like I’m truly encouraging. I come to the end of myself and there’s nothing more to give.

In my devotions the other day I stumbled across this verse in 1 Samuel: “Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.” (1 Samuel 23:16) The NASB says encouraged him in God.

This struck me as being a biblical way to help those who need encouragement. Instead of wracking my brain for the right words for a pep talk, I can point my friends to the only One who has enough strength to help them get through their difficulty. My job is not to provide strength to others, but to help them find strength in God.

Think about it – if we think we’re supposed to provide strength for our friends, that actually enables them to continue to be weak. They’ll come to us when they need support, instead of going to God. And while that may seem great to people like myself who love to support and nurture others, it actually hinders both their spiritual walk and ours. It places myself in God’s place for both my life and my friend’s – and that is never a wise thing to do.

So does this mean that we should never encourage another person for fear of taking God’s place? Of course not! God says specifically in His word that people are made for community. Oftentimes He works through those around us to show us His love and care. The key is this: our role is to come alongside others in order to help them find their strength (or joy, contentment, love…) in Christ, not in ourselves.

My CU Graduation '14 269

So, how can we be true encouragers to those around us? Here’s three suggestions:

You can pray with them. Don’t just tell them you’ll pray for them and then begin spouting out your own wisdom – use the time to talk to the One who knows everything about that person and their situation. And when you do this in the presence of your friend, it will bless them more than anything else. It communicates to them that you care enough to take time and pray right then, that you understand enough of their pain to want to cry out to God on their behalf, that God is sovereign over their situation, and that He cares and really is listening to both of you.

You can also bring the conversation around to God and His word. This is something I had to learn when I was a teenager and had a friend who would always call me up and be so distraught over everything. I was a shy person who still was trying to figure out how to talk about God without sounding… well… cheesy. But I realized that if I tried to reason with my friend we would keep going around in circles. But if I asked her Have you prayed about this? or You know, God says this about your problem in His Word, then we would have a much more fruitful conversation. Of course this doesn’t mean that you have to be spouting verses left and right. Simply when you know God has spoken about this issue in His word, direct your friend towards that instead of giving them a general answer like “it will all work out.” Listen to the Holy Spirit, and He will bring the right words and verses to your mind.

And lastly, don’t try to answer all of your friend’s questions. You can’t. Point then to the God who can. Even if their question is about or against Him, He still has the answer for it. Recognize that you are finite and cannot completely fix the “problem” or smooth out all of their doubts.

And you know what? All of this hard work has a reward in it for you too. Your faith will be strengthened as you see your prayers for that person answered, as they begin to stand on their own spiritual feet and go to God first rather than you. And you may even find that the person you thought needed so much help will turn around and encourage you in the same way.