waiting for the rest of the story to unfold

So one of the many things I have been doing of late, particularly on the weekends, instead of blogging, is working my way through the entire series of Christy on DVD. I found it a few weeks ago for a good price, and I remembered loving it when it first came out years ago. It was a good purchase, and a good use of time, I think - I've been so inspired by the stories of these episodes, based on the book by Catherine Marshall. (and for those of you who have not seen the series yet and want to - this sentence is your official spoiler alert.) :)

I watched the last episode today, and I have to say I am really annoyed right now. They ended the series without telling you who she ends up with! How can they DO that?!?! It's so unfair. You know she should marry the preacher - she should - but you want her to marry the atheist doctor, in spite of the fact that he's still married to someone else - who is dying, incidentally. The ethics of the situation are terrible, but you still find yourself hoping that it will all work out somehow... but the series ends with Christy holding the preacher's ring and looking back and forth between the two men, and her voiceover saying something about how the choice she was about to make would change her life, and the lives of those she loved, forever. No kidding.... but what did you DO, Christy?!?!


What is it in us that needs to know the ending of the story? And why are we so impatient with the not knowing? As you've probably guessed, that question is about far more than a mere television series. I can go look at end of the book to find out who she married in the long run. But what about life? What about all the zillions of questions we have about how it will all turn out?

I don't have any answers to those questions. I do have a Book, and it says that it all ends well... for those who are in Christ. So I am confident of that. But what about all the chapters between now and then? I want to know what happens, dang it!

Sorry. This is a bit of a rant. Brought on by a long day of dusty cleaning and mental to-do lists, and an antsy restlessness that sets in periodically. I think I'll go take a walk. Hopefully it'll clear my head. If nothing else, it will quiet my soul, to wander with Him for awhile.

encountering Judas

It was the last thing I expected when I curled up in bed with a cup of tea and a good book, for my monthly "morning with Jesus." I call them Geneva days (because my first few were at a camp by that name), and I love them. They are mornings I set aside (actually written in on the calendar) to meet with the Lord with no agenda of my own. Sometimes that's hard - there are things I want to talk about, and oftentimes I find myself discussing those with Him anyway - but I do my best to let Him set the agenda for the day. Last Saturday I pulled out Having A Mary Heart in A Martha World, and finally (9 months later) finished it - it seemed like the thing to do that morning, and Joanna Weaver's discussion of one of the Mary stories hit me in a way I hadn't expected.

Mary, shortly before Jesus was crucified, came to him with one of the most valuable things she had - an alabaster jar of pure nard - and poured it over his feet, which she then wiped with her hair. It was an act of pure devotion and worship - and it drove Judas crazy. That perfume was worth more than a year's wages, and it seemed like such a waste to him, to "throw away" something so valuable in such a ridiculous fashion. He claimed it could have been sold and the money used to feed the poor. I won't question his motivation. But he had an agenda, and a world-view so contrary to Mary's - that he couldn't even begin to understand what would possess her to do such a thing.

You know, if you'd asked me before which character in the story I most identified with, I might have said Mary. Extravagant worship of that sort is something I want to offer the Lord. But as Weaver drew the contrasts between the heart attitudes of Judas and Mary, I began to notice something a little disturbing - I have, at times, as much potential to go his way as I do hers.


God, forbid that I should ever get so caught up in my own ideas about how things are supposed to go that I miss Your plan entirely. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Amen.

the three things meme

Cathy tagged me in a meme a few days ago (summer must be over if we all have time for this sort of thing again...lol) and I am finally getting to it. It's been a week of beautiful end-of-the-summer weather and I've been out walking or on a lake most evenings, and ...well, I don't know what happened to the rest of the week, but there's a floor that needs mopping, so here I am, meme-ing. :)

3 Joys:
long walks with a good friend
Reeses' Peanut Butter cups
hiking in the Michigan woods in the fall

3 Fears:

3 Goals:
to someday get a Masters degree in something
to fast three entire days on nothing but water
to write at least one new song before the end of the year

3 Current Obsessions:
getting rid of those boxes of junk mail that have been kicking around for 2 years now
going to IKEA for some odds and ends
saving for a Macbook Pro

3 Random/Surprising Facts:
i have a thing about bare feet (please keep them off me)
i very rarely hit what i'm aiming at when i throw something
there's about a 50/50 chance that if i go up or down a flight of stairs for something specific, i will forget for what

hm. whom to tag....

tell you what. if you want it, it's yours. :) but i think Chris, Sara, and Tara should go for it. if anyone else wants it, tho, just link back in the comments section so we can read it. :)

an unexpected gift

I was given a gift last night that I suspect I may treasure always. It isn't the kind of gift you can put on a shelf, or in your pocket. It was simply something that happened.

A couple of years ago I wrote a song for someone. It's actually a worship song, but it was inspired by his story, and it was one of those songs that sort of wrote itself, and has served as a kind of a standing stone to remind him (and our community in general) of what God has done. We've been singing it off and on for awhile, and a lot of people in our community now don't even know the story, and some of them don't even know I wrote it, which is actually kind of fun, because it means the song has taken on a life of its own - but up until now, I'm the only one who has ever led it. And up until last night, (and I know this will sound strange, but it's true) I had no idea if it even really meant anything to my friend. He never said. And I never asked.

But last night, someone else was leading worship, and my song was part of the set, and I had the immense privilege of standing in the back of the room and hearing an entire roomful of people sing my song. It was one of the most humbling and exhilarating moments I have ever experienced. But it gets even better. About halfway through the song, I looked over, and my friend that I wrote it for was standing in the back by the doors, and he had the biggest grin on his face. It was one of those smiles that you can't really give words to - but it expressed joy, and intimacy with the Father - and just knowing his story, I knew he was remembering. It was one sweet moment.

greater things are yet to come

I'm quite sure I'll have more to say when I have more time to write, but in the meantime, I would really like to direct all of you to a post that was mentioned in the comments section of my last post. Jon over at something else has written on a very similar topic, and it's sparked a great conversation. Honestly, I've probably written two posts worth of stuff over there. :)

We introduced a song at Torch last week that is so applicable to this whole conversation, too. I hope you like it as much as I do. Here's the acoustic version from Chris Tomlin:

...but... do we *believe* it?

I've been thinking a lot about what Jesus said in John 14-17; I spent a couple of days just reading and re-reading those chapters, and really searching my heart to know if I really believe all that He says. I'm embarrassed to admit that there are times when I really don't seem to, and so I find myself crying out with the man in Mark 9:24, "Lord, I do believe! Help me overcome my unbelief." It isn't that I don't believe it - mentally, I do - it's in God's Word, it's true, therefore... but to put my faith behind it, and act on it? That's where I stumble over my own lack of faith.

Consider these verses:

John 14: 12-14 - I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

John 15: 7-16 - (v. 7, 8,16:) If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples....You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

John 16: 22-27 -(v. 23, 24, 26,27:) In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.... In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

Eugene Peterson paraphrases some of it this way in The Message:

From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I'll do it. That's how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I'll do. (John 14:7-8) This is what I want you to do: Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I've revealed to you. Ask in my name, according to my will, and he'll most certainly give it to you. Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks!....I won't continue making requests of the Father on your behalf. I won't need to. Because you've gone out on a limb, committed yourselves to love and trust in me, believing I came directly from the Father, the Father loves you directly. (John 16:23-24, 26-27)

So if I'm understanding all of this correctly, the idea here is that because Jesus chose us to be his disciples, to be the people who model and teach the way of life that He lived, we're to do the things He did. (I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.) Have you read about those things?! Lame people walking, sick people healed, blind people given sight, the deaf hearing, dead men rising... Oh. my. That's incredible.... but... do we believe it? Do we believe that when we pray, God hears us, and His answer will be yes?

I know, there's immediately a zillion complicated questions - what about "unanswered" prayer? what about when God says no? what about when people you've prayed for to be well do not get well? what about...

Those are all valid questions. Questions I've asked myself. Questions I have used to justify my unbelief... But what if I did believe it? What if I were actually walking close enough with God that I knew His heart in specific situations? What if I prayed, not just things I want or think would be good ideas, but what if I prayed, as Peterson phrases it, things that along the lines of who (God is) and what (He is) doing, things that in keeping with the things (He's) revealed to (me)? It seems to me that (because He said it, and because it just makes sense) if we pray for the things that God wants, His answer will be yes...

And no, the "yes" won't always come right away. There are times when, as author Joanna Weaver puts it, "God's love tarries." When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick (John 11:1-44), He could have just said the word, and his friend would have been well - He'd done that before for someone else. But He didn't. He waited two days, and then He went to His friends. Their sorrow touched Him deeply; tarrying was not something He did lightly. But oh, the miracle we would all have missed if He hadn't! And who am I to say that because God's "yes" is not yet apparent to me that I have either failed in my praying or that He is not going to say "yes"? (If I am praying in His will - I'm not talking about times when I'm not - and those do exist, because I'm human, and I get it wrong a lot.)

I think this is all kicking around in my head so much because over the past couple of weeks I have been praying for something I really want for someone I love. And I believe with all my heart that it's something God would really like to say "yes" to. It's in keeping with who He is, and what He does. It would bring Him so much glory. It would be an absolute, honest-to-goodness miracle. And as I've been praying for this one thing, God has led me to pray for any number of other related things - and I've seen them happen. And I have been amazed at the accuracy of my prayers for things I was "guessing" at, and the speed with which God has said "yes" to them... and then I read these verses, and felt challenged to question myself: "Do I really believe that God will say yes to what I'm asking him for?" I've gone into it trying to be realistic about the fact that God might continue to say "not yet." Trying not to get my hopes up, trying not to set myself up for disappointment. Trying not to expect too much... but is anything too much for God?

No. No, it isn't.

And the truth is, I felt led to this season of prayer. I felt led to ask for this one thing. I read the parable of the persistent widow awhile ago, and felt the Lord inviting me to take Him up on it, to come and pound down His door for this. "How badly do you want this, Hap? Show me."

I believe He has already said yes, and I have reason to believe it. It is "not yet" at the moment, but I don't know... I don't understand how it all works, but I believe that for whatever reason God has given me the privilege of participating in this part of His plan, and that somehow what I pray, and the persistence with which I pray, is moving something on a level where I cannot yet see it. "You don't have because you don't ask." (James 4:2) So I am asking, and trying to put my faith behind my prayers. I will believe that He is able to do more than all I ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21). And I will wait on the Lord (Psalm 27:14) for the day He says yes. And praying that it will be soon.

Amen. (which means, "let it be so.")