When Disappointment Seems to be Winning…

{For several friends who know their share of this and who deal with it far more gracefully than I. Your ongoing witness to His goodness, faithful ones, has bolstered me today.Thank you!}

It came sneaking up on me. Again. You’d think I’d have learned by now. Disappointment plays dirty. Not a one of us escapes it.

I told myself I wouldn’t get my hopes up (And who hasn’t engaged in this futility?). And where else does hope go but up until the moment when it might come crashing down? And up they went. Those hopes. My hopes. And the more determined I was to not hope, hope rose all the more. Until the dough was punched down.

The tears that come with it lay bare where the eyes of a heart were focused– the gaze set, a hope rising. More than anything, disappointment is a truth-teller, a gut-check. Stinging salt says, “This is what you really hoped for”.  And it’s anything but gentile. Disappointment  never makes amends. It pads in, claws all agleam, and it pounces–rips a hoping heart wide open, leaves gashes where the bits and pieces of a dream spill out. And the stench of the ache lingers. Quick in the attack, it leaves the heart to mend and the mending is so very slow.

 

IMG_5279Shaking my head as tears fall in my lap I sit and rock, hands clenched. Balled up. Clinging tightly to what I think I want. What will not be. What isn’t in the plan. I’m angry about the plans I can’t see.  (I don’t want to be humbled and broken right now! I would rather throw a rock than hide in the cleft of the rock. I don’t want to learn the lessons. I want what I want.)

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (NIV)

And in the quiet and the light that breaks between the rain storms that have marked the late-June day, the question that rattles my core whispers in my soul. Would you rather be coddled or cared for? Caring is noble. Caring is a hallmark of commitment. Caring sees beyond the hurts of now and into the forever of a glorious when that will surely come.  It’s hard to uncurl my fingers and open my hands in submission. But I can’t cast with knotted hands. Because if I’m learning anything at all, the posture of the cross means my hands must be open. Who submits with a tight grip? Who receives a gift with closed hands? Who serves with fingers wrapped and palms hidden? 

In my ugly sin I’m immeasurably more willing to let my gaze fall on the disappointing details than let it rise to rest on the far-surpassing blessings that bring bowed and hallowed adoration. This is the place my heart doesn’t want to go. The hard eucharisteo always comes. Today it came when the Hoped In who holds my heart reminds me that what he gave on a cross trumps my earthly hoped fors. Every time.

And this doesn’t make what was hoped for mean less. Doesn’t make it insignificant. Doesn’t cheapen it. (Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.) It’s alright to have hopes, knowing full-well that only Hope in Him saves and the fulfillment of temporal hope is His to give. Or not.

The silence swells until my pride ruptures and my heart slowly forms the words.

Thank you.

For what you’re doing and I can’t see, thank you.

For caring and not coddling, thank you.

For having a plan better than mine, thank you.

For grace unending, thank you. 

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{IN} Radical Christianity

Tight cramped hands could hardly open to hold my husband’s hand. Old and familiar pain was paying a searing visit through my neck, shoulders, back, and aimed to set up camp near my hip and I bristled. There’s just so much that must be done today. Our morning routine beckoned and I sank. Claws at the end of my arms. Sigh. Lord, please open my hands. Please. Cancer is pressing in on people I love. There is yarn to work. There’s a little boy’s car to paint. Bread to bake. Clothes to fold. Errands to run. Calls to answer. There’s just so much to do.

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ImageChoking on the waves that hit and feel insurmountable. Sinking. Isn’t that what happens to us all when “just keep swimming” is simply trite, far from enough, and life and flesh and this-isn’t-Eden overwhelms?

Friend of grace and beauty, a “notice-er”, saw this morning and came ALONGSIDE {a beautiful word!} as we made our way to worship with our children in their school. Her gift of time and knowledge pierced me through in the best of ways.

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus…” (Romans 1:1). Words, that I’m trying to write on my soul. His words given me. Me, worried about how the clothes I struggled into this morning were worn and looked as tired as I feel. My friend? She WORE the words of servitude–servant to Christ, servant to His work, servant to his kingdom, servant to me?

No. That doesn’t seem right. Not me. But there it is, Word made real again, “And YOU (me?) also are among those called to belong to Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 1:6)

Belonging that brings me down to kneel. Kneel in gratitude. And I count the gracious gift of an old thing seen new. Ache. In the old ache of my flesh there is the wonder and promise of new. Imagine! We are IN HIM. Christ Jesus.

The eternity of our newness begins in the here and now. The YES! RIGHT NOW.

It takes shape in us each time our heart chooses “Servant of He” instead of “Master of Me”.

The new is palpable in the presence of His Spirit moving in His people.

Join with me and let go of the too busy too much to do. Oh, Lord, make me too broken not to do. Make me too broken not to notice and act. Work in me, Master and Lord. Lord, open my hands. Open my eyes, my heart, my hands. Make me a Servant of He.

And you know what? He did open my hands today. He will if we ask. He didn’t open them so I could conquer “the list”. He opened them so I could slow down, take Him in, and give His love away.

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His world, His way.

I know next to nothing.  Glaciers move faster than I learn.

Late winter morning light begins to warm and soften the edges of the room. I named my biggest enemy  a few days ago as my crawling through Lent began. What I can’t get back. The battle plan is surrender. Unbeknownst to me, this battle is being rendered nanosecond by nanosecond. I had to will my hand to catch up with the calendar this morning.

Familiar refrain spilled into my thinking from down the hallway. First Son voicing the only line he can remember and humming where words fail. And after those five  girding words what other words are needed? This is my Father’s World. He sing-hums over and again as he comes into the kitchen because this is how the One who breathed life into me reminds me–in the voice of a child given to me.

And in the voice from the One who was a child given for all:

“Let these children alone.  Don’t get between them and me.  These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy.  Mark this; Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Luke 18:16-17 MSG

God’s kingdom. This is my Father’s World.  Simply stated. There it is. Accept in simplicity. Surrender the complications I create. Stop sabotaging the battle plan. Shalom is found in the simple surrendering to a world not mine. Thankfully, a world not mine. “This is my Father’s world, I rest me in the thought…” Rest because He doesn’t.

Innocent anticipation of the wonders of the everyday that appear every day comes as easily as breath for First Son. A Spirit gift is before me– a do-over on my attitude about my calendar turning this morning. My feet find the way to his room and my hands deliver his calendar to the table. Delight and sweetness are the fragrance of his countenance as he sees only the looking forward of faith. The looking back is the stone where I stumble. This is where I gladly drown in grace for the harrowing that happens at the table with a child.

And precisely because I did not want to sing-hum them, the refrain now spills from me.

This is my Father’s world

why should my heart be sad? 

The Lord is King; let the heavens ring! 

God reigns; let the earth be glad!

In the nanoseconds of today I will try to see what First Son sees. He tells me this afternoon that he wants me to take a picture of the sky because he sees God’s two hands in the clouds.

Oh, Jesus, open my eyes. Teach me to see.

My ashes, my earthen soul, be glad!

Knowing next to nothing has never felt so grand.