The Tiring Work of Restoration

Over five years ago the city where we live was taken beyond broken with earthquakes, one especially.

Recently I was driving down a road that is still in need of repair and I felt myself sighing inwardly, anticipating the months of cones and detours and single lanes and 30km p/hr signage. In that moment I said to myself, ‘I wish they’d just leave off the repairs and let us drive on it bumpy.’ Despite the innate joy I get driving down a perfectly smooth and sealed road (and there are some) I just couldn’t hold onto the vision for that end.

All I could see were the difficulties in the process of getting there.

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At that moment I knew this was such a picture of God’s restoration work in my life too. Restoration work isn’t pretty. It’s time consuming, it derails and detours pathways you driven on for a long time. It forces you to negotiate new ways of getting to familiar places.

Restoration involves acknowledging the fact that small surface issues actually point to much deeper problems underneath. The odd pothole that sends me careening off into an angry outburst is evidence of something weak and failing beneath the surface.

Maybe I can drive carefully and avoid exposing the bumps on the road but is that really what I want to be long term? A busted up just functioning, ‘drive carefully around’ person? Even though I long for a perfect road I don’t long for the work to get it done.

I think this work needs time, it needs openness, it needs acknowledging that I might need to rethink how I’m travelling. It will need grace from the people who love me and I will need to trust a great deal in the Master of restoration.

There’s a beautiful quote I often come back to that says, ‘Grace loves us as it finds us, but it doesn’t leave us there.’

2 Corinthians 3 describes it this way,

They suddenly recognise that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognised as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.

Maybe there are back roads, or main roads, or even highways in your life today that need the tiring work of restoration begun on them.

Perhaps there are roads that have been cleared and closed ready for work to begin, but it’s been easier to turn away and drive on different places than deal with the tough and painful process of the work.

Maybe it feels like you’ve been on road cones and detours for ever and you just need to hear the words – not long now, nearly there.

Wherever you are right now may you have courage to bear the pain, strength to persevere, Hope and Trust that the future will be worth the current delays.

May you have all the grace you need today.

 

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Setting Our Hearts

From time to time I read something that immediately undoes me – usually I recognise it is because it has voiced some deep longing in my heart, or some truth I cannot put words to myself.

Today I read again this beautiful quote of Reepicheep (the talking mouse):

“My own plans are made. While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me, I paddle east in my coracle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan’s country, or shot over the edge of the world into some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

 

It made me cry, again!

Sometimes it seems as though are plans aren’t getting us somewhere fast enough. We feel like we don’t know the way. We feel, worse still, that maybe we have missed the way.

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Today maybe it’s time just to reassure your own heart that you will continue with all your heart in the direction your heart desires. And, if your boat sinks you will continue swimming and if all else fails you will sink with your nose to the sunrise.

Hope for you today dear heart.

Hope and courage.

Hope and courage and perseverance.

The story is not yet finished.

x

Masterpiece

I like to have a word for the year. Some sweet thing dropped into my heart that ripples through the year and holds me like an anchor when the tide comes in and the waves begin to crash around my little boat.

The word, my word, for this year is masterpiece.

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I’m not much one for making masterpieces – my hems are seldom straight when I sew, and I never quite measure properly when I bake, and for the love of literacy I ought to conquer the common comma… but I don’t.

Masterpiece seems a little pretentious; self-absorbed, prideful even. It’s not that I think I am capable of creating masterpieces… far from that.

This word has grown in me though, swelled and enlarged, since I read this sentence:

Creation then, is not the aftermath of a battle but the plan of a craftsman. God made the world not as a warrior digs a trench but as an artist makes a masterpiece.

Timothy Keller – Every Good Endeavour.

Too often my world, my ‘work’, my doing and being is treated like a warrior digging a trench.

I feed myself a narrative that is filled with the sighing of the small niggles, the mundane requirements, the hard, the tiring, the small. Yet, here I am encountered by a different invitation.

The invitation to work, live, endeavour, strive as an artist who is working on a masterpiece.

I have but one opportunity to pass through this year. One chance at today – at its mundane and its extraordinary – and I can treat them as a trench to dig or a masterpiece to create.

This is my word.

This is my invitation – to partner with the one who makes a masterpiece from dust and words. Who gives honour and beauty to the small and to the great.

This is my challenge – to shift the way I think about the everyday, the painful, the boring.

When I look at the masterpiece makers of the world I am sure that the creation of those masterpieces required a great deal of boring, a great deal of perseverance, a great deal of belief that the masterpiece would come from the application, discipline and doing of the daily work.

Masterpiece is my word for the year. May it skip like a skimmed rock across the waters of my life and ripple out and out and out until I see, and realise, and commit, to being an artist not a trench digger.

Do you have a word for this year? Do you see yourself as an artist in the day-to-day? Do you glory in your ‘work’ as an opportunity to make beauty?

May we all be artists, and may the work and living of 2016 be truly a masterpiece in your life and the life of others. xxx

On Spending It All

 

Maybe I’m a natural spend-thrift, or maybe I’m a borderline hoarder. Maybe it’s cultural, maybe it’s part of the brokenness of the human condition.

Whatever it is, I hold on.

I always have some extra stored away. I don’t want to open the pantry and see only what is needed for the week, I don’t want to open my sewing cupboard and see only the fabric for my current project, I want to always keep some kind of safety net.

Maybe it’s wisdom to have some extra food in the pantry – like when you are hit with earthquakes, and power outages, and water you can’t drink.

But a life of holding on, keeping extra, making sure I have enough for myself isn’t a good metaphor for this life I’m called to live. The true calling of the Christian life must surely be to spend it all. 

 

To recklessly use every skill, gifting, resource at our disposal to God’s glory, for his people and that all may know and come and be welcomed.

The calling is to spend every cent and arrive giddy with the rush of squeezing value into every single part of it. Like the reverse of a ten-minute grocery grab – flying through life on a crazy dash spilling out Grace, and Love, and Hope and Joy wherever we go.

Knocking over the carefully piled stands of indifference, crashing headlong into image, and toppling self-centred, selfishness.

Around us people are handed terminal diagnosis every day. It feels unjust, it cripples and whispers fear into our hearts, into my heart at what sentence might be handed down at any moment.

But we are all terminal. 

Each of us has an unknown appointment with the end of our time in this present condition, this time of walking in this body in its un-resurrected state.

It seems to me when people are given a stark timeline it shifts how they see time, it transforms the way they spend time and it gives their lives new clarity. No longer prepared to do status quo life becomes something to treasure and to spend.

One of my most favourite stories in the bible is as David comes into the city with the ark and he strips down to his undies and dances with all his might. This leads to some marital discord but David replies –“It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honour.”

I love that image of David who didn’t hold back and limit himself to ‘appropriate kingly worship’. Because the truth is when we censor the way we worship, live for God, share our lives… we aren’t worshipping God we are worshipping people – because we have changed our posture to suit what won’t offend them.

How often do I, do we, change the way we worship because of the way we think others (in the church) expect us to behave. Do we censor ourselves under misguided fears and pride or do we do our worship with all we have?

Right now I am challenged. Challenged to spend it all with reckless abandon for the great audience of One to whom my whole life is a gift, for whom my talents are all available and from whose lips I long to hear ‘well done good and faithful.

God would you teach me, would you teach us all how to spend our lives, how to leave it all on the track having expended everything you gave us. Forgive me for the selfishness that limits my generosity. Turn my heart to wanting to give it all to you, and for you, and let me know how to worship like David. Thank you Jesus that you are my great example of living in the joy of giving it all.  

Let us all arrive at our face to face meeting with empty pockets and full, full hearts.  May we all be able to say – as Paul said – 

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering,and the time for my departure is near.

I have fought the good fight,

I have finished the race, 

I have kept the faith.