I glance back in the mirror to the concrete bridge, the one I've boldly driven straight across without second thought, and I see truth reflecting back at me: Every time fear freezes and worry writhes, every time I surrender to stress, aren't I advertising the unreliability of God? That I really don't believe? But if I'm grateful to the Bridge Builder for the crossing of a million strong bridges, thankful for a million faithful moments, my life speaks my beliefs and I trust Him again.
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And the earth under your feet, the rain over your face upturned, the stars spinning all around you in the brazen glory: this is for you, you, you. These are for you-gifts-these are for you-grace-these are for you-God, so count the ways He loves, a thousand, more, never stop, that when you wake in the morning you can't help turn humbly to the east, unfold your hand to the heavens, and though you tremble and though you wonder, though the world is ugly, it is beautiful, and you can slow and you can trust and you can receive each moment as grace.
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How my eyes see, perspective, is my key to enter into His gates. I can only do so with thanksgiving. If my inner eye has God seeping up through all things, then can't I give thanks for anything? And if I can give thanks for the good things, the hard things, the absolute everything, I can enter the gates to glory. Living in His presence is fullness of joy- and seeing shows the way in.
if the rent in the canvas of our life backdrop, the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually become places to see. To see through to God. That that which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave.
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So now we pause. Still. Ponder. Hush. Wait. Each day of Advent, He gives you the gift of time, so you have time to be still and wait. Wait for the coming of the God in the manger who makes Himself bread for us near starved. For the Savior in swaddlings who makes Himself the robe of righteousness for us worn out. For Jesus, who makes precisely what none of us can but all of us want: Christmas.
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I receive grace. And through me, grace could flow on. Like a cycle of water in continuous movement, grace is meant to fall, a rain... again, again, again. I could share the grace, multiply the joy, extend the table of the feast, enlarge the paradise of His presence. I am blessed. I can bless.
Eucharisteo means 'to give thanks, ' and give is a verb, something that we do. God calls me to do thanks. to give the thanks away. That thanks-giving might literally become thanks-living. That our lives become the very blessings we have received. I am blessed. I can bless. Imagine! I could let Him make me the gift! I could be the joy!
When service is unto people, the bones can grow weary, the frustration deep. Because, agrees Dorothy Sayers, 'whenever man is made the centre of things, he becomes the storm-centre of trouble. The moment you think of serving people, you begin to have a notion that other people owe you something for your pains... You will begin to bargain for reward, to angle for applause.' When the laundry is for the dozen arms of children or the dozen legs, it's true, I think I'm due some appreciation. So comes a storm of trouble and lightning strikes joy. But when Christ is center, when dishes, laundry, work, is my song of thanks to Him, joy rains. Passionately serving Christ alone makes us the loving servant to all. When the eyes of the heart focus on God, and the hands on always washing the feet of Jesus alone - the bones, they sing joy, and the work returns to it's purest state: eucharisteo. The work becomes worship, a liturgy of thankfulness.
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When it gets dark, it's only because god has tucked me in a cleft of the rock and covered me, protected, with His hand? In the pitch, I feel like I'm falling, sense the bridge giving way, God long absent. In the dark, the bridge and my world shakes, cracking dreams. But maybe this is true reality: It is in the dark that God is passing by. the bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can't see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us, I-beam supporting in earthquake.
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Trauma's storm can mask the Christ and feelings can lie. I draw all the hurting voices close and I tough their scars with a whisper: sometimes we don't fully see that in Christ, because of Christ, through Christ, He does give us all things good - until we have the perspective of years. In time, years, dust settles. In memory, ages, God emerges.
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Who trusts the Bridge Builder when you wake to snow on your blankets and winter blasting through cracked walls and dinner for four is a fifty cent box of Kraft Dinner rationed in half and your dad tells you every single day that he just doesn't know how there is ever going to be enough? How do you count on life when the hopes don't add up? A morning in late November, joy shimmers. The hopes don't have to add up. The blessings do... count blessings and discover who can be counted on.
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I make soup and I back bread and I know my supreme need is joy in God and I know I can't experience deep joy in God until I deep trust in God. I shine sinks and polish through to the realization that trusting God is my most urgent need. If I deep trusted God in all the facets of my life, wouldn't that deep heal my anxiety, my self-condemnation, my soul holes? The fear is suffocating, terrorizing, and I want the remedy, and it is trust. Trust is everything. If fear keeps our lives small, does a life that receives all of God in this moment grow large too?
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It is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can't see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us...
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Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I've ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing... Through all that haste I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away.
If it were up to me... " and then the words pound, desperate and hard, "I'd write this story differently."... "Just that maybe... maybe you don't want to change the story, because you don't know what a different ending holds." The words I choked out that dying, ending day, echo. Pierce. There's a reason I am not writing the story and God is. He knows how it all works out, where it all leads, what it all means. I don't.
He does have surprising, secret purposes. I open a Bible, and His plans, startling, lie there barefaced. It's hard to believe it, when I read it, and I have to come back to it many times, feel long across those words, make sure they are real. His love letter forever silences any doubts: 'His secret purpose framed from the very beginning [is] to bring us to our full glory' (1 Corinthians 2:7 NEB).
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The mind would rather fret about the future or pine over the past - so the mind can cling to its own illusion of control. But the current moment? It cannot be controlled. And what a mind can't control, it tends to discount. Brush past... over. It's the battle plan of the enemy of the soul - to keep us blind to this current moment, the one we can't control, to keep us blind to Him, the One who controls everything.
When service is unto people, the bones can grow weary, the frustration deep. Because, agrees Dorothy Sayers, "whenever man is made the center of things, he becomes the storm-center of trouble. The moment you think of serving people, you begin to have a notion that other people owe you something for your pains... You will begin to bargain for reward, to angle for applause... When the eyes of the heart focus on God, and the hands on always washing the feet of Jesus alone - the bones, they sing joy and the work returns to it's purest state: eucharisteo. The work becomes worship, a liturgy of thankfulness. "The work we do is only our love for Jesus in action" writes Mother Theresa. "If we pray the work... if we do it to Jesus, if we do it for Jesus, if we do it with Jesus... that's what makes us content." Deep joy is always in the touching of Christ - in whatever skin He comes to us in. Page 194
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When the laundry is for the dozen arms of children or the dozen legs, it's true, I think I'm due some appreciation. So comes a storm of trouble and lightning strikes joy. But when Christ is at the center, when dishes, laundry, work, is my song of thanks to Him, joy rains. Passionately serving Christ alone makes us the loving servant to all.
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When bridges seem to give way, we fall into Christ's safe arms, true bridge, and not into hopelessness. It is safe to trust! We can be too weak to go on because His strength is made perfect in utter brokenness and nail-pierced hands help up. It is safe to trust! We can give thanks in everything because there's a good God leading, working all things into good. It is safe to trust! The million bridges behind us may seem flattened to the earthly eye, but all bridges ultimately hold, fastened by nails. It is safe to trust.
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Humbly let go. Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control, let go of my own way, let go of my own fears. Let God blow His wind, His trials, oxygen for joy's fire. Leave the hand open and be. Be at peace. Bend the knee and be small and let God give what God chooses to give because He only gives love and whisper a surprised thanks. This is the fuel for joy's flame. Fullness of joy is discovered only in the emptying of will. And I can empty. I can empty because counting His graces has awakened me to how He cherishes me, holds me, passionately values me. I can empty because I am full of His love. I can trust.
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Eucharisteo, remembering with thanks, this is the bread. We take the moments as bread and give thanks and the thanks itself becomes bread. The thanks itself nourishes. Thanks feeds our trust... Manna with thanks, eat the mystery of the moment with trust, and am nourished another day - or refuse it... and die. Jesus calls us to surrender and there's nothing like releasing fears and falling into peace. This is what I have always wanted and never knew: this utter trust, this enlivening fall of surrender into the safe hands. There is no joy without trust! Page 158
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This. I live in this place, make porridge, scrub toilets, do laundry, and for days, weeks, I am brave and I do get out of bed and I think on this. I study this, the full life, the being fully ready for the end. I start to think that maybe there is a way out of nightmares to dreams? Maybe?
With memories of gravestones, of combing fingers through tangled hair, I wonder too... If the rent in the canvas of our life backdrop, the losses that puncture our world, and our own emptiness, might actually become places to see. To see through to God. That which tears open our souls, those holes which splatter sight, they actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart aching beauty beyond. To him. To the god whom we endlessly crave. But how? How do we choose to allow the holes to become seeing through to collect places? How do I give up resentment for gratitude, anger for spilling joy, so focus for God communion. To fully live to fully live grace enjoy with all that is beauty internal it is possible
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