Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Grace of the Grave

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose, over death He had conquered
Now He's ascended, My Lord every more
Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him
From rising again

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins from away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He's coming - Oh glorious day!

No tomb could contain what love was about to release. -Bob Goff

He took the nails. He took the cross. The shame, pain and suffering were heaped upon His shoulders.

Upon Him was laid the punishment that brings us peace. [Isaiah 53:5]

All of it, willingly.

He chose to take on what I beg to take off. He welcomed what I wail over.

All so we could celebrate together.

Sunday healed what Friday broke and Saturday wept over.

Sunday put the pieces back together, triumphing over the brokenness of Friday and the questions of Saturday.

Sunday redeemed what Friday lost and Saturday couldn't see past.

They placed him in the tomb but on Sunday He stepped out side, leaving death inside, victorious over the only thing they believed could keep him down.

The promise of the empty tomb is that at the end of this life we get an empty tomb. Death is just a one-way ticket to look upon the beauty of His face.

The gruesome grave bought the Truth with lies and roared its victorious head over a supposed 'win' but the grave didn't know that the Truth inside would turn the grave to grace and for all time, death would be defeated by love.

When love invades even the grave becomes grace.

If you peer into the empty tomb you have no choice but to replace the V with C and see that the Savior has risen and all really is grace.

Hell is defeated. Death has lost it's sting. Christ is risen and on high. When faith was lost and all seemed hopeless we find that we can trust our God because He knows what He is doing. Greater is He than any in the world.

Greater is He living in us so church arise! We the lost have been found, we the dead in our tombs of pride and destruction have been raised with Christ. When love invaded the grave became grace.

Tombs are sealed shut but arms were opened wide; the gates of Hell could not prevail - the power of the risen God has torn the veil and we are welcomed in.

His love never fails, is never too far gone to save and redeem.

The grave could not hold Him. It could not contain Him.

The grave only holds grace.

Nothing is impossible
Every chain is breakable
With You we are victorious
You are stronger than our hearts
You are greater than the dark
With You we are victorious

Related: When You Can't Feel Jesus
Related: When Friday Isn't "Good"
Related: Sunday Joy

Saturday, April 19, 2014

When You Can't Feel Jesus

Sunday healed what Friday broke but Saturday finds us holding our breath, stuck in the middle.

Heaven waits patient and ready and I wait for redemption, reconciliation, restoration.

I see the body broken and the Body broken and I weep and wail at the foot of the cross on Sundays and the foot of my bed on Mondays and all I see is pain and all I hear is "wait" and all around this world is empty and bleeding.

When your world is one long Saturday, when the only way you're sure you're still living is the beating of your bleeding heart, when the one word to escape your lips is a running stream of "why,"joy feels like a gift someone forgot to give you.

What happens when you don't feel Jesus anymore?

Because Friday happens and the world - your world- cracks and opens and swallows you up whole and when dawn finally breaks and the dark clouds roll back, when you wake certain it's over and was really just one long, cruel joke...

...and you find yourself sitting in empty Saturday...

What do you do when you can't find Jesus? When He's all but left and no matter where you look He's gone, died, left you alone and splitting at the sides with grief?

What then?

You can run run all the way to where you last saw Him but even there, He's disappeared without a note or a goodbye.

Our seasons of Saturdays aren't too different from a Saturday long past when the world was dark and the tears flowed and mixed with the blood poured.

We pray for Him to come through, to come with us, to simply come and be with us.

We pray hard and harder and claim the promises from His lips and His Word. We hold our breath in anticipation but the earth shakes and then He's gone.

While we beg for a do-over, three words to un-say, two mistakes to un-make, one moment passed without following through, Heaven is busy counting their own three, two, one...

When the Word made flesh took His final breath we think the book is closing and we're reading The End but a page simply turns as the world turns and a great change happens in the heavenlies.

The waiting room of earth was filled with worry as the door to the re-birthing of souls opened wide.

When you're stuck in the hurt and you've prayed for years for one thing, just one thing, and you think the word "wait" is all that's left to hold onto, you have Him too.

You can have confidence in Him even when we don't feel Him because He is not a feeling.

The feelings of doubt and grief and brokenness are real but feelings come and go, they fade and wane with time, but He is a constant even when we don't feel Him.

Run fast to the grave, to the place where your dreams have gone to die and you just can't find Him anymore, and see with your eyes that He is there in the questions you're asking.

"Woman, why are you weeping?"

He is there in the hurt. He didn't leave you alone in it, but with eyes glazed with tears we see a gardener in the place of our risen Lord.

We can get so stuck in Saturday that we almost miss the coming of Sunday.

We can sit in the feelings so long that we no longer feel Him, but He hasn't moved an inch.

He will not leave you.

Friday had a countdown, a 3-2-1 ticking clock and so what if just maybe your hurt has one, too?

Heaven holds the truest of joys and the fullest redemption but what if your broken spaces in the daily moments have a countdown of their own?

What is He's whispering four more days, months, years, my love... four more and there it will be. Hold on, I'm here just hold onto me. You can make it. I hear the cry and the countdown is on. Don't give up in the Saturday. Just a little bit further, I have more to show you and love you through.

He loved you in the Friday of yesterday, He holds you in the emptiness of Saturday, and He is coming for you on Sunday.

Wait for tomorrow.

"Oh my God, He will not delay, my refugee and strength always. I will not fear, His promise is true. My God will come through always." Kristian Stanfill, "Always"

Related: When Friday Isn't "Good"
Related: Living In A Season of Saturday
Related: Sunday Is Coming

Friday, April 18, 2014

When Friday Isn't "Good" [Three Syllables, Three Days]

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

The earth groaned.
Darkness cried.
Heaven held it's breath in holy anticipation.

A baby born, a kingdom come, a manger scene.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

This man, the Word, come to life, walking dusty streets and wearing worn garments. The Word wore flesh and the Word ran with blood in His veins for thirty-three years until the blood stopped running.

You can let the Word dwell among you without ever letting it dwell in you.

Crowded streets and a crowded life and some days I wave the branches and cry "Hosannah!" and others I'm too busy, too worn down and worn out to even lift my head.

The babe came and the man walked the streets and rode the donkey and I, I can't pause to praise thanks?

I can't stop long enough to whisper hosannah to the unmoving, unchanging, unfailing Word made flesh?

I can't lift my eyes from the busy to cry praise to the Word, made into flesh, come to redeem?

You can let the Word dwell among you without ever letting it dwell in you.

It's a sing-song word, hosannah.

The tongue rolls it right off and the three syllables of the thousands turned into the three days of sacrifice for the billions and I am left hopelessly broken on a day deemed Good Friday.

This Hebrew hoshi' ah-na, this sing-song greeting and shout of praise, it doesn't belong here.

The Word made flesh, torn to pieces with His battered, bleeding heart.

And the thousands had just sung a song of hosannah and the Word dwelling among them heard the cries behind the praise.

This hoshi' ah-na, it means Save! Help!

We sing praise as we cry save and even in the unknowing, our knowing soul within cries save! help! and the Word dwelling among comes to save and rescue.

The Word bled out so that love could run in.

The earth groaned.
Darkness cried.
Heaven held it's breath in holy anticipation.

A man pieced, a body broken, a tomb stone rolled into place.

Where the singing ends the wailing begins and still one word: hoshi' ah-na

Three syllables.

Three days.

Where is the Word to dwell when pierced through and heart broken?

You can let the Word dwell among you without ever letting it dwell in you.

We are empty as the tomb until the broken Word comes to dwell inside.

Empty and full and scared and brave and weak and strong, we all join the chorus of singing praise as we cry out save and the Word stays behind the stone for three days.

When you can barely look up to give hosannah thanks your heart cries out hosanna save; but soon the stone will roll and the Word shall dwell inside more than just a tomb and so Friday is deemed Good and we breathe out thanks in the sighing hosannah.

On Good Friday we pause to remember, to reflect, to praise in the tears and the crying, to thank Him for dying and saving, for coming to redeem. Related: More on hoshi' ah-na

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Glue

The longer I let it sit the more antsy and uncomfortable I become.

It's simmering under the lid I've kept on tight and it's threatening to bubble over.

These writers and friends and strangers, too, they up and left for Haiti. The first pictures to hit Instagram found me crying in bed when I should have been getting ready for class, ready for the day ahead.

All I could do was close my eyes and go back. The purples of my eyelids become the brown dirt roads and hills barren of trees. The bright white smiles against dark skin shine bright and when I open my eyes I'm back in a place where it's comfortable to be comfortable and yet I'm right in this middle ground, caught between the two.

If you spill glue on your hand as you paint or create, it smears white every which way.

But when it hardens, the glue is easier to peel off.

I've been letting it sit and soak and cover like a callus and it's time to rip off the bandaid and rip off the glue.

The glue that seems to be holding me together is really holding the stories deep inside.

I'm ripping and tearing and my heart is splitting, but what the glue held together it also held back.

It comes spilling and seeping and pouring out and the words catch the page and my fingertips catch the tears and Jesus catches me in a downward spiral of pieces and pieces of stories and sights and sounds and smells.

I don't know when, but Haiti lodged herself into my heart and she hasn't let go.

It's been four weeks since I began the journey, three weeks since arriving back in the states.

I miss it every day. I'm overcome with it. But.

It's time. It's time to remember. It's time to speak. It's time to share.

It's time to let the Body be the glue that holds us together.

It's time to let in and let out and let shine what only He can sign His name to.

Tonight we're writing on GLUE over at Lisa Jo Baker's. Just five minutes of writing, no editing allowed, and then we get brave and click publish.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Paint

It's not going to be perfect and it may not seem beautiful from a distance but look close, closer still. Get right up against it and breathe deep. You'll smell the fumes but it will be an aroma of grace.

Notice the details and the carefully chosen words that hold a welcome. Admire the simple beauty and the honest portrayal of the mess.

Sit so close you can see the brushstrokes one by one and pay attention to how they seem insignificant, but now take a step back and look at the big picture, the masterpiece of it all.

Isn't it beautiful, the beauty of the telling, the laughter in the voice, the honesty in the words, the grace in the mess, the courage in the struggle and the joy in the pain?

original image // here

In all those broken off pieces and the jagged scars in the hurting places, the grace that washes in and washes over as He heals and mends, it changes us and cleanses deep.

But the scars remain.

They tell the story.

They speak of what has happened.

They wear the story of hurt and hard and maybe some ugly, too.

The scars remain and you hear the refrain again and again that hurt people, hurt people and yes it's true - but free people, free people and so you must play the music and pick up the brush.

You've got to roll up your sleeves and open your mouth and sing. And paint. And write. And tell. And love.

Yeah. You've got scars. You've walked hard roads. But your scars tell the story of battles won and fears conquered, dreams chased and mighty healing.

Oh, those scars tell a story. But what story will they tell? It's up to you and up to me.

Paint grace.

Speak comfort.

Listen long.

Love much.

It's in the telling, in the releasing of your words and your story into this big messy world, that He receives glory and we find freedom.

Tonight I'm joining the community over at Lisa-Jo's for story-telling and painting wide and vivid and brave.