Bright Hope for Tomorrow

When all the worst stuff happens, and we are reminded that the rains do fall on all, we stand at a cross-road of decision.

Do we grieve without Hope or do we grieve as those whose Hope is sure?

Because we do grieve, we must grieve. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we live immune to the sorrows and sadnesses of the world. It shouldn’t mean that a platitude will clear away our grief. Our faith must sit with despair as much as it sits with rejoicing.

Jesus was described as someone familiar with suffering and sorrow. He stood at the tomb of a dear friend and wept.

As we acknowledge pain and disappointment, when prayers slip into a chasm of silence, we also have the opportunity to lean into Hope. To lean into the promise we are not alone and to remember again and again the promise that tells us we are never alone.

hope for tomorrow

I’ve been playing these old words over and over in my heart of late:

strength for today and bright Hope for tomorrow

Wherever you find yourself today may you have the strength of being able to do all things (big, small, mundane, magnificent, noticed and overlooked) through Christ. The One who strengthens you, the One who loves you and who even now lives to intercede for you.

May you have the ability today to rest in the love of the One who hovers over you, who never despises a broken heart.

May you find in today strength, and bright Hope for tomorrow. Beloved ones you are noticed, you are cared for, you are held and you are accompanied in your grief.

Be blessed, be held, be Hopeful.

In a desert land he found him,
    in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
    he guarded him as the apple of his eye,
like an eagle that stirs up its nest
    and hovers over its young,
that spreads its wings to catch them
    and carries them aloft.

Deuteronomy 23:10-11

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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

Peace

I think perhaps Peace is the hardest of the all the Christmas promises to experience. Maybe it’s cultural…perhaps we have bought into a Christmas season that is all about doing everything, being everywhere and meeting demands for everything and everyone.

 

I’ve been thinking about hurricanes and storms lately. It doesn’t take much looking around the world, our community or even our lives to be confronted with the noise, fear and carnage of storms.

How’s a person to have peace in such a beat up, stressed out, broken down place?

Peace I give you; peace I leave with you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

Today as I’ve sat to write the words whispering in my heart are the eye of the hurricane.

In a terrible storm, in the centre closest to the worst of winds and damage there is an eye – an eye that opens all the way to the top and beyond. While the storm can be so all-encompassing there is no way to view through it, there is an opening that widens as it ascends.

In that eye there are blue skies, low wind, peaceful conditions.

It’s danced like a song in my heart today – a promise of peace in the midst of the storm.

A place of safety where the blue of heaven touches the dust of earth.

A place that widens and opens out as it ascends.

And in the song are the words that sustain and give life to peace.

This is no fleeting peace – it is a life-giving, anchoring peace, peace that quiets my heart and settles around my shoulders like a korowai (cloak), a mantle of peace that I can shelter inside when the storms rage.

I am sitting with these words – like the heavens entered earth via the eye of the storm. Because the world has never been free from storms, from noise, from violence.

But….into the storm came the Prince of Peace. 

He dwelt with us in the storm. He remains with us in the storm and he will be our Peace.

Today my Advent word for myself is PEACE.

Peace that cannot be measured,

peace that passes human understanding,

peace that abides,

peace that will come again,

peace that will reign.

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Today, as you anticipate Advent may you have Peace.

Peace that dwells in your heart.

Peace that surrounds like a cloak.

Peace that sustains.

Peace to you today, dear beloved one.

On Getting Up After the First Hurdle

So… I love this idea of Advent so much I wrote a book. I thought about Advent so much, the season of it, the stepping outside the race. Determining to dwell in the season.

Then suddenly it was Advent – 3 days in and I realise I’m a hot mess.

My heart is resentful not rested.

My mind is scattered not settled.

I am tangled up in a sea of lights with a to-do list that is growing by the minute.

It’s like I’ve stood at the start line, in all the right gear, all trained, all shiny, all good to go and then as the starting gun has gone off I’ve run straight into the first hurdle and landed all skinned up and shamed while the others have sped on.

So I’ve stopped and been furious with myself. I’ve felt cross at others, I’ve entertained resentment. I’ve even made it a cup of tea and really got comfortable with it. I have tumbled down and stayed there.

Then, I’ve really stopped and waited and listened with more than my ears. I’ve been reminded that Advent isn’t about me creating something perfect – it’s about me receiving something perfect.

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That first arrival is not some grand display of power and might. It is a cosmic display of humility, of emptying, of being small – so small that God, the Word can fit inside skin.

Today I’m holding tight to the fact that Adventing well is not about what I can achieve in 24 days, doing it well is about letting Hope grow in my heart. Letting the inner part of me expand to prepare to host the Word.

I’m closing my eyes to the lists.

I’m quieting the resentments that try to tell a tale that I am put upon, that I am put out, that others are getting in the way of me doing well.

I am taking myself to the unholy smell and mess of the manger to realise what Hope was laid to rest there. To receive Hope.

To realise that the answer lies not in the doing but the dwelling.

Sometimes the best of all achievements is the letting go. The laying down the burden of perfection and the disappointment that minimises the everyday joys.

My word for today is receive.

Today I’m letting go of every expectation of me. I am turning my face to the Light. I am saying – here is an open door. I need you. I needed you to come. I need you to come again.

Right now I need you in this messy sacred moment.

I am taking seriously the invitation to receive Him.

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

John 1

I come to receive. I want the best gift of all. I want you Jesus.

 

 

dear overwhelmed heart

It takes a great deal of grit to keep going in the face of things that feel like a fast closing tsunami on a flat plain with no higher ground in sight.

It takes courage to look past the comparison of your real life when you’re constantly thinking other people’s ‘show reels’ are their real life.

It take determination to face another day of the same challenges, the same demands, the same brokenness.

I’m thinking of you today and praying a safe space for you to lower your guard, to lay down this load of perfection, to come out from behind the screen and allow yourself to be really seen.

100 percent

The internet has its wonderful graces but it has helped us all to live under the sin of covetousness and comparison.

It’s made us look at our ‘neighbour’s’ (aren’t we all neighbours now?) parenting skills, slim thighs, attractive partner, exotic holiday locations, pin worthy bedroom makeover and let our hearts be dismayed.

Covetousness is a robber. God knew when we went down that path – the path that makes us focus on our flaws, our lack, our disappointments – we were never going to return healthier, more motivated, more gracious to ourselves, quicker to forgive the less than perfect people we share our lives with.

To a people just delivered from slavery we see God establishing a set of safeguards to keep them again from self-inflicted slavery.

Because, dear heart, when you start to focus on how everyone else is getting it right, how their load is easier, how their grass is greener you have entangled yourself again in slavery. You have become a slave to an ideal that not only is impossible to meet, but an ideal that isn’t true.

Your imagination is making more of the greener grass than reality would suggest.

Jesus says, come to me you who are burdened and I will give you rest.

He invites us to unburden ourselves and be clothed in something that doesn’t require us to get it right. It requires us to admit we can’t.

When we start living free we release others to do the same. When we lower our guard and admit friend to friend, heart to heart, face to face that we are struggling we will either find that we have freed someone else to admit the same, or, we will find a safe place to be loved despite it all. Surely either of those are a better offer than the struggle of trying so hard to be all we cannot be.

Today instead of looking at someone’s perfect life online how about taking time to connect with someone offline?

How about we all ask to be delivered from the trap of covetousness and instead see ourselves for what we are – the radically loved, forgiven, cherished children of the Most High. Because that is what we are.

belonging

See how safe you are to be imperfect? We are all imperfect and any who present as less than are probably drowning in a terrible tide of overwhelming pressure to continue the facade.

Let’s use our determination, our grit, our courage to hold onto our freedom in Christ and certainly not let ourselves be burdened with a yoke of slavery that demands perfection.

Instead, we rest in the Grace of the One who knows us as imperfect and loves us all the same.

Be loved beautiful ones.

Father let us rest today in your care, unburdened and free from comparison, covetousness, and perfectionism. Let us be found secure in you, becoming whole and fully rescued. Give us strength to face the battles in our lives knowing we are not alone, nor will we ever be. You have promised to be with us always, and you always deliver on your promises.