Posts Tagged ‘hope’

Beginning and Ending in Waiting

December 8, 2018

sunset-pixabay-SarahRicherArtAs we follow the church calendar, we end 28 weeks of Ordinary Time as we end one year and then begin the 4-week Advent season, which starts another year. One season of waiting followed by another. In the church calendar we spend a full 32 of 52 weeks … waiting. This makes sense. From the time the first image-bearers were created, there would be thousands (if not thousands of thousands) of years waiting for the first coming of the Messiah. The first coming lasted only a few years, and now it has been two thousand years of waiting so far for the Messiah’s return. And here we are waiting again.

It’s hard to blame the world for wanting to focus on the celebration. There was the long time of waiting. And now, in America, we start getting ready for the celebration with longer and longer Christmas shopping seasons. Unfortunately, in all the gift-buying it’s easy to lose sight of the best gift which came free – for us anyway. It’s truly a gift that we can’t repay. It’s the gift from the one who from the riches of love in his own heart paid the price for our gift. It’s a gift from the one who desires to be our Father – and brother – and friend. Even though we can accept the gift right now, the complete gift requires waiting for the final fulfilment. We can have the deposit now, but we have to wait until we finally consummate the gift.

Waiting is hard. From the beginning we had trouble waiting. We wanted access to all the wisdom and knowledge without waiting. We just grabbed for it. We’ve been paying the price ever since, but we never learned the lesson and keep on trying to grab things when we want. We can’t wait. The stores can’t wait for profits and we can’t wait to buy things and some day we will probably start wondering when the Christmas gift-buying season will be 52 weeks.

We desperately need the Advent season to keep us from focusing on all the other gifts and forgetting the most important gift and, more importantly, the One who gives it. Even with our little gifts, the most important part is the relationship of the ones giving and receiving. Stuff can’t replace our need for each other and our need for a relationship with the best gift-giver of all. The stuff is just the icing on the cake.

Relationships never blossom in an instant. Relationships take time as we get to know each other and do things with each other. While we wait for the biggest gift, the biggest gift-giver of them all is giving us the time, right now, to start getting to know him and do things with him. We don’t have to wait to receive the relationship or wait to start building it. We can do that right now – while we are waiting.

Not Just a Number

November 29, 2018

birthday-party-pixabay-epollato0

It is a normal process to grow. As children grow older, we often celebrate the passage of another year of a life that was lived – another year of a life where we celebrate milestones in growth. With children, we often note the physical changes of growth as their bodies mature towards adulthood, and then we often celebrate new accomplishments in physical, intellectual or social abilities.

When the physical process of children maturing into adults is a visible process, we usually take the time to also note the more invisible but measurable aspects of maturity: physical growth can be measured in bodily changes, intellectual growth can be measured in academic accomplishments; emotional or social growth can be measured by notable changes in behavior. However, once children legally reach adulthood and the easily visible changes in physical growth stop occurring, the measurable milestones become fewer and so do the celebrations. It is then, that the less easily measurable processes of growth and maturity can become ignored. We may pay attention to some landmarks like graduating, getting married, having kids, or buying a house but they don’t truly signify increasing maturity.

Because we have difficulties in adulthood in trying to measure intellectual, emotional, social or spiritual maturity, it is hard to set goals that will mark our journey into maturity. Because we have not, as a culture, a clearly articulated set of standards or values to mark maturity, our popular culture substitutes other values like sexual freedom or personal autonomy. I would suggest that we have some possible markers of maturity listed here: http://www.emotionallyhealthy.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Session-7-Grow-into-an-Emotionally-Mature-Adult.pdf, http://www.rogerkallen.com/how-to-become-emotionally-mature/, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/artificial-maturity/201211/the-marks-maturity

In the meanwhile, having no culture-wide agreed-upon set of goals for maturity, but having instead a desire to avoid the frailties of “growing old,” we have instead become a culture that celebrates youth.  Becoming old is seen as the loss of functionalities, bodies and minds that don’t perform like they used to, while youth is seen as vigorous and desirable. This is happening even though the large baby-boom population is entering the senior years because our popular culture values youthful vigor over maturity. Wisdom isn’t sexy. Since our popular culture esteems youth over maturity, it sees only the downside of aging. This leads some people to regard age as “just a number,” sometimes ignoring birthday celebrations because there are no goals for maturity lying ahead to be celebrated.

In the meantime, I would suggest that we broaden our viewpoint on aging and open our imaginations. It is normal for living things on this “old earth” to grow. What do you suppose that means for us when this world “passes away” and we find ourselves living on the new earth? If living means growing, how shall we then grow? What does it mean for us, whether on the old or the new earth, to become more like Christ? Won’t that be an eternal goal, to grow in maturity, becoming more like the one in whose image we are made?

I have to admit, that I sometimes wonder if another year older means another year wiser. Each year I seem to increasingly find that I rather need to hold my supposed wisdom lightly. And yet, I think that our birthdays as adults can become more than a marker of time passed. Maybe we should be more diligent about finding ways to discover in what ways our maturity has increased. In the meantime, let us celebrate, whether young or old, another year of becoming more like Him in whose image we are made. For indeed, in the end, by His grace the Lord will fulfill his purpose for us (Psalm 57:2).

 

Grief in the midst of hope

February 11, 2016

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.” A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death they are like the new grass of the morning: In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered. We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan. Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endure; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow Psalm 90:1-10

graves

We are foreigners in a fallen, broken world. It is with faith and hope that we look forward to the time that we go home and are fully healed and unencumbered by our bodies of sin and free of the need of daily penitence. But it is a great privilege we have in this world to not only be a witness of the love and the work of God but to be able to participate with Him in bringing His kingdom into this one. This privilege comes with a burden, though. The great love we receive from our Heavenly Father overflows in our lives as we share that love with all those around us – and that love experiences the pain of loss as our loved ones suffer the inevitable death that awaits all of us. Even though that death is a necessary precursor to our eventual healing and restoration to the God who loves us, it still hurts. It should hurt. It hurts in the same way that God was hurt by our rejection of Him beginning from the time of Adam and Eve and by the rejection experienced when the Son suffered and died and was separated for a time from the Father.

This is the pain we feel when we are separated from our loved ones, whether they leave prematurely or after a long life in this world. And though we look forward to the time when we can be reunited once again, in this world we experience the real loss and the real pain of separation. Even in the midst of hope there is grief. As we wait – we grieve and hope all at the same time.

Sometimes it’s a friend who leaves before us

On Glory’s shore

One more day of wondering of what the day will bring
Will it be a day with crying, some laughter or a song

Will it be a day with grief or sorrow, or overflowing joy
But we cannot worry for there’s never a way to know

And then maybe some tomorrow, I’ll wake on Glory’s shore
With no more tears of sorrow and no more cries of pain

And then one day in Glory, with joy I’ll shake your hand
For precious are the memories of the journeys that we shared

No more beers of sorrow will pour across our lips
No more furrows of worry will crease across our brow

No more silent worries, no more burdens we can’t bear
No more secret heartaches, no more fears we cannot share

For the one who’s shared our journey, shared our sorrows, laughs and joys
Is the one who’s shared His life with us and the one who’s brought us here

Sometimes our children are taken, sometimes very young, sometimes before they are born.

This Child of Ours

This child of ours we give to you
This little one we surrender
This tiny child we offer you
This helpless one so tender
This helpless one so tender

For ours is not to give and take
But merely hold awhile
It’s from your hand that we bring forth
Then return into your hands
Then return into your hands

What we conceive we dearly love
With bitter tears we grieve and lose
But we remember you also grieved
When from your Son you turned away
When from your Son you turned away

And it was yours to give and take
But you let go awhile
And from your Son you turned away
Then returned him to your hands
Then returned him to your hands

And we await the final day
When we shall finally see
The ones we lost beside you
And we shall cease our sorrowing
And we shall cease our sorrowing

It’s only for a little while
That we must bear our pain
The hands that brought us all forth
Shall restore us then in peace
Shall restore us then in peace

Sometimes our spouses are taken from us.

All in eternity

We wait for troubled waters to be finally stilled
We wait for dreams and wishes to be finally filled
We wait for some tomorrow when we shall finally be
All together, all is better in eternity

We had some fun and good times, with laughter as we’d fall
We had some small and big plans, our life was very full
We had our precious moments and memories so warm
Life together is life better, life in eternity

Side by side we labored, shouldered all we could bear
Side by side we wrestled, rested only in our prayer
Side by side encouraging each other as we’d go
Worked together, walked together towards eternity

I’ll miss your lilting smile that brightened up my day
I’ll miss your calming touches that kept me from going astray
I’ll miss your warm embraces, the joy you raised in me
Love together, love is better, love in eternity

Until I go to meet you on that eternal shore
Until I lay my burdens and my labors are no more
Until I greet you once again, my heart will ache for you
All together, all is better, all in eternity

Deeper

The shadows in the valley are deeper
The light of life
Who walked by my side
Is gone

I long for the arms that once held me
That made me feel warm
That comforted me
At night

The pain of my journey o’erwhelms me
Away and at home
I’m feeling alone
Right now

But the one who called you home
One day will call for me
And we’ll all meet beyond the vale
And we’ll walk on the mountain of joy

The death of my beloved goes deeper
It rips through my soul
It causes my heart
To weep

I long to hear the voice that once called me
That made me feel home
That filled my heart
With peace

I’m missing your love and your friendship
The joy of my life
That anchored me through
The storms

But the one who called you home
Will one day call for me
And we’ll all meet beyond the vale
And we’ll walk on the mountain of joy

The light in my life goes deeper
Through pain and death
I shall find my rest
And peace

I look to the day I will hold you
Forever again
Life with you again
In heaven

There’ll be joy to displace all the sadness
The pain and the hurt
The loneliness will
Be gone

But the one who called you home
Will one day call for me
And we’ll all meet beyond the vale
And we’ll walk on the mountain of joy

As our loved ones are at the brink of passing from this life to the next, what do they experience as they draw near to heaven?

The Sweetness of Death

The sweetness of death all around me
The sweet taste of death in the air
Is the sweet breath of Jesus who’s taking me home
And the pain that surrounds me is the pain he will bear

Through the pain of the sorrows around me
The incense of heaven comes near
And reminds me of home and that I’m not alone
And the soft hand of Jesus is drying my tears

As the shadows of heaven enfold me
And the mercy of Jesus draws near
The pains and cares of this world start to fade
While the comfort of heaven overwhelms all my tears

In our room full of shadows we see dark and light
Some things that pain us and some things delight
But as we pass through the portal and out of the night
We’ll see shadows of heaven transform into light

All the people I regarded so lightly
And the friends I have clung to so tightly
I must let them all go but I’ll pray that they’ll know
The God of all Comfort who calls through the night

What would our loved ones say, now that they in the unrestricted presence of Glory.

My Eyes Have Seen the Morning Star

I ran as to win the race of life
I ran to win those who were lost
I ran with patience to the Lord of Lords, the King
I ran, but now I rest my weary bones

My eyes have seen the Morning Star
My ears have heard the Living Word
My hands have touched the nail pierced palms
My soul’s found rest within His arms

The treasure that was in the earthen jar
Is now released from chains of grief and pain
My soul has found Jesus at the journey’s final end
I wait for you to join me with my Friend

My eyes have seen the Morning Star
My ears have heard the Living Word
My hands have touched the nail pierced palms
My soul’s found rest within His arms

The life we shared together did not end
But in a while more we’ll meet my friend
And while you wait gain wisdom and you’ll shine like heaven above
So run, until you rest your weary bones

My eyes have seen the Morning Star
My ears have heard the Living Word
My hands have touched the nail pierced palms
My soul’s found rest within His arms

In the meantime, in this broken, foreign land, let us keep focused on Him who sustains us.

The Flame

When the fortunes and the heartaches that befall us
Burn away and the Lord shall reappear
The real work of our lives will rise triumphant
And the work of the Lord will be complete

When the Flame has burned all things around us
And the fortunes and the heartaches disappear
When the testing of our lives has been completed
Will our flames still be burning bright and clear

As the seasons of this life fly by our window
And the toils of our lives seem but a waste
When discouragement mounts high outside our doorway
We still can have the Hope that gives us peace

When the Flame has burned all things around us
And the fortunes and the heartaches disappear
When the testing of our lives has been completed
Will our flames still be burning bright and clear

When our lives are filled with wealth that falls around us
And the things in our lives are working well
When the blessings in this world come to our doorstep
Let us hold onto the peace that can endure.

When the Flame has burned all things around us
And the fortunes and the heartaches disappear
When the testing of our lives has been completed
Will our flames still be burning bright and clear

The Unborn Cries

January 26, 2009

I’ll never hold my mother
I’ll never have the chance
I’ll never live to see the light of day

Why did you end my journey?
Why did you take my life?
Why did you choose to end my chance to love?

Only by God’s forgiveness
Only by God’s grace
Only by God’s power we’ll be healed

We’ll wait to meet in heaven
We’ll wait for our first hug
We’ll wait to share our stories and our lives

God will cover painful choices
God will heal the painful wounds
God will bind our hearts in overflowing love


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