John 1:1

A new year. A fresh page. Beginnings that can’t blossom until they bud, and can’t bud until a seed breaks open in the dark below. And it’s so hard to keep the trajectory true to the aim if you’ve lost sight of the launch pad. In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God” so simple. Need there be anything else? And yet so many something else things get between me and the Word, and in that fog, I wither. 

Some weeks start hard and just get harder. That was this week. No question. 

School, chores, work. The calendar–all of it necessary and of import–stared me down Sunday night. 

A hit-the-ground-running Monday was followed by a barely-treading-water Tuesday. And folks, by Thursday night I was ready to throw in the towel. Yes. It was that brutal. So here it is, flat-on-my-face Friday and I’m stunned, again, by the beauty of the simple, simply Jesus the Beautiful.

And in all of it the words of John 1:1 have been ringing in my ears.

…was the Word

…Word was with God

…Word was God

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Thank you, ever-honest Ann, for preaching the gospel to yourself and encouraging us to do the same.  In her journal last week Miss Ann wrote these words, the kind that make you stop, pivot. 

How does the church stop being a bunch of Jesus-users? And become a host of Jesus-adorers?

When did Jesus become more about business-like benefits to us instead of The Beautiful who calls us Beloved?

Looking for the beauty of Christ in the everyday isn’t some quaint exercise in poetry. It’s a critical exercise in staying alive. “Your new life, which is your real life, …. is with Christ. He is your life.” [Colossians 3]

And, friends, I am desperate for that Christ, my life, this week. How in all this spinning world am I beloved? How? Because The Beautiful One has unquestionable sight and gazes with grace. Sometimes, that gift is hard to open–the kind of gift that makes me swallow hard over the lump of imperfections that swell to nearly choking in this season of pinterest-perfect pretending. Pressure that doesn’t press me closer to Jesus is poison in my soul.

And I just need Holy Light to shine in this place. 

Beams of sharp winter sun laser through the chinks, lays bare the heart and a life’s down-side-up priorities. But I can bow my head and look up and give thanks because the Word has always been. Always.

Jesus, The Beautiful, the WORD made flesh is with me. Me? Yes! Me! 

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Toddlers make messes. And sometimes they refuse to nap. And usually it’s on a day when Mama most needs him too. 

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Babies make laundry. And sometimes nothing comforts except Mama. And usually it’s on a day when Mama is spread so very thin.

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Big boys have school work. And sometimes there is much frustrated erasing to be done. And usually as the eraser shreds pile up, the tired mama doesn’t so much want an eraser-filled do-over on today as much as she desperately needs a new day.

The ugly is about to come barking out but there’s always room and grace for beginnings full of beauty and so she stops, this frazzled mama frozen in her well-worn ruts. Give these boys Jesus the Beautiful. Give Him to them now. Adore the WORD and let grace guide the words. Right now. 

And it happens. The rush slows. On the horizon the sharp beams of morning sun have grown to a gray that sits heavy,  presses down. 

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All that is has never been without Jesus, “In the beginning was…”. All my beginnings need Jesus. My rising needs Jesus, the Word. My first words ought not be uttered until I’ve heard the Word, His word, and preached the gospel to myself.

In this noggin there are always words, but mine clutter. They linger. They run wild, unruly, raw. And here’s the miracle in my mundane: offer them up and He fills the empty with the full of Him and He gives it in His Word and His words. They are my life. 

So this frazzled mama starts afresh, sets aside the day’s quota of disappointment and irritation and asks for the Word that has always been to sustain in the now. And He does. One. Breath. At a time. He does. 

And later, in the wee hours, the night resting on this home, babe in my arms, I am sustained with words written on a weary heart. 

“In the beginning was the WORD, 

and the WORD was with God, 

and the WORD was God.” John 1:1 

And as always, He is more than enough. 

 

Ashes of Surrender

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Night fell. It had been a long day. I thought I was ready for the still and the quiet.

Ash Wednesday. The plunging into Lent. My community of believers doesn’t observe Lent. I have a newborn, not even three weeks old. My older son needs to be in bed when services begin at a local house of worship. I am tired. Really tired. The soot from the fronds of last year’s palms never found a temporary home on my forehead this year. Perhaps, instead, I’ll learn to drown in grace.

In the late hours of such a blessed Wednesday, lost in the new and old thoughts swirling in my head, clarity broke through. Surrender. Lent is a lesson in letting go.

Isn’t it always, really, about surrender? Shouldn’t it be?

Second son, cradled in my arms, sweetly suckling. First son, across the hall, gently clutching a beloved bear in safe slumber. Mama, sitting in the dark, alone with my prayers. It’s always in the still and quiet that I am most aware of the battles I’m fighting. My constant, always-there enemy?

What I can’t get back.  It is a losing battle.

As is true with the first, so it is also true with the second; time passes too quickly. I can’t confine it with my fences of comfort. Hours old so quickly becomes days old. Days become months. Lumps forming in my throat keep me from willingly acknowledging what months become. In a space where the only sound is of husband and sons breathing, the cries that pierce are borne from my heart. I pinch my eyes against the illuminating truth. Why, when truth strikes like lightning, must I stumble around in a season of blindness? Again I hear it.  Surrender. The harshness of the consonants clang and echo. Surrender. Surrender. Surrender.

Surrender. It hurts. It humbles. It harrows.

Surrender? I don’t want to.

How does any mother do it? How did she do it? She, the one who carried Him–carried advent–within her. She, the one for whom the Lenten season lingered for 33 years. She, the one who watched, from both painfully near and far, as He put on flesh to dwell with us, and die before us, so that the Father would also raise us. She, a mother who surrendered. And so must I.

Lent. Letting go because He never lets go.

My heart, made white by the crimson that stained Calvary, is my flag of surrender. Only Christ can take the filthy rag-heart within me and make it white. I choose to raise it up again in surrender–a pure flag-heart where His Spirit rushes in to unfurl.   How is it that in surrendering my soul soars?

In my brokenness, my failings, my hanging on to what I can’t, I come to this season, drowning in grace.