Tuesday, November 19, 2013

God is here. {part 2}

"Your eyes will behold the King in his beauty." - Isaiah 33:17

"The more you know about Christ, the less you will be satisfied with superficial views of Him; and the more deeply you study His transactions in the eternal covenant, His engagements on your behalf as the eternal Security, and the fullness of His grace that shines in all His offices, the more truly will you see the King in His beauty. Learn to look at Him this way. Long increasingly to see Jesus. Meditation and contemplation are often like windows of gold and gates of silver through which we behold the Redeemer. Meditation puts the telescope to the eye and enables us to see Jesus in a better fashion than we could have seen Him if we had lived in the days of His earthly sojourn. Our conversation ought to be more in heaven, and we should be more taken up with the person, the work, the beauty of our incarnate Lord. More meditation, and the beauty of the King would flash upon us with more splendor. Beloved, it is very probable that we will have such a sight of our glorious King as we never had before when we come to die. Many saints in dying have looked up from amidst the stormy waters and have seen Jesus walking on the waves of the sea and heard Him say, "It is I - do not be afraid." Yes, when the building begins to shake, and the mortar falls away, we will see Christ through the studs, and between the rafters the sunlight of heaven will come streaming in. But if we want to see the King face to face in all His beauty, we must go to heaven for the sight or the King must come here in person. If only He would come on the wings of the wind! He is our Husband, and we are widowed by His absence; He is our fair and faithful Brother, and we are lonely without Him. Thick veils and clouds hang between our souls and their true life: When will the day break and the shadows run away? Let the long-expected day begin!"

Charles Spurgeon, Morning & Evening


I truly wish I were a better, more articulate writer. I wish I could have captured, somehow, all that my eyes have seen in the last few weeks. All the wisdom and sweet words {and even atrocities} that my ears have heard others speak and teach and expose me to. At the end of the day there really isn't a way to put simple words to the intricacies of the heart. The fragile wavering between hope and despair. The way a heart swells to nearly bursting, without any indication to the rest of the world but the steady stream of leaky tears. That sweetness that washes over you when you realize you are smack in the middle of a moment that God has come near and revealed Himself, and you stand in unexpected awe. When a lightbulb goes on and it all starts to make sense as pieces fall into place. I've had what feels like 100 of these moments this month.

The thing about this life in Christ, of walking with God and following where He leads, is that even when it's hard it's beautiful. Even when there is evidence of death and destruction and sheer evil, we know Truth and Mercy and Grace have already overcome, and will ultimately overcome in the end when Jesus returns and brings resurrection and life to everything that death tried to steal. We have hope. I've never been more thankful for the hope I have in Christ, in His beautiful gospel, than I have been in the last week. Without Jesus' saving work on the cross and His victory over death at His resurrection, there really would be no hope. For any of us.

The gospel He has given to us - His story that we tell over and over - it's so beautiful that I can hardly breathe some days. I'm learning to preach the gospel to myself over and over, to allow God to speak it to my heart repeatedly without tiring of it's familiar but arresting message, to consume it every day and absorb it to the point that it seeps out of my pores. That every time I'm pressed or crushed, it's the gospel that comes pouring out of me. It's the life that flows through me - His blood in my blood.

If the King of Kings is this majestic, this beautiful to me now... how much  more so when I see Him face to face!? How will I ever pick myself up off the floor in holy worship... how does a mouth form any words or sound at all. What is there but "Thank you... I love you... I worship you..." to be spoken?

Something else that I'm realizing is that the farther I walk down the road of ministry to others {namely, currently, to refugees}, and the more poverty, brokenness, abuse, and sin I see in this world that is being opened up wider to me, the more I see God's beauty. The more I am able to rest in His sovereignty and power and wisdom. Sometimes our instinct or gut level reaction to something awful is to try and fix the situation, to get to work changing it all. To start tending to the walking wounded and burying the lifeless and gathering those who are left to safety. And while there is a time and a place for all of those things, I find myself more and more responding with a new kind of stillness. Allowing the Peace of Christ to rule in my heart first, reminding myself of His Truth and His character and His promises, and what He says about this life. And only then stepping forward into the fray.

It helps me to remove myself from the equation. It helps me set my doubts and fears aside, and it silences the questions I don't have answers to. My gaze is on His beauty, and I can take a step forward when He is in my line of sight. Because the truth about all of it is that this life, this ministry, it's all dependent on Him. Every word spoken is able to be spoken because He has loosened the tongue. Any mind that can take Him in and absorb His Truth is ready to receive because the Holy Spirit has enabled it. Any heart that turns to Him has been prepared over time, tendered by His pursuit and relentlessness. Any means of escape - escape of any kind - has been ordained by Him. It's not up to me. It's all dependent upon His plan, His grace, His power, His wisdom, His loving kindness and His ability.

Do you know how much peace that leaves us with? His grace is ENOUGH. Enough to cover me when I make mistakes, when I have good intentions but am misdirected. When I think about how awful life on earth really is for some, and when I think about what I can do in the face of that... one very small, limited person.

I'm not meant to be the hero. I'm meant to be the ambassador, the conduit for His grace and mercy. The empty vessel that is willing to be picked up and used in any small way. The one who looks at Him and then looks out and says, "what do you see? what are you doing? how can I be a small part? how can you use me? what needs to happen?"

The beauty I've seen in the month of November is staggering. The way God comes to us and offers us everything our hearts have ever wanted and needed. The way He says that we are HIS BODY, and then moves us to actually understand this concept and participate in such a holy, spiritual activity as coming together to love and serve others. The life He brings through relationships, the awareness of our condition that brings new dependence on Him, the forgiveness that He never ever withholds, the patience He demonstrates as we are slow to learn and trust and really see... All of it. It makes for staggering beauty that would make any heart burst.

It's true that perfect love casts out fear. I'm running into that love, sitting quietly in it every day. Fear melts away and love boldly takes its place. Thank you, Lord.

Only Jesus Can
Vertical Church Band

Can he breathe into the dust?
Can he make sons out of us?
Life is in his mighty hands
Our life is in almighty hands

He can do it, yes, he can
He will prove it, our God can
No one else can save us, redeem us
Create a new life in us
Only Jesus can

Can he love His enemies?
Can he make them family?
Life is in His mighty hands
Life is in almighty hands

Can He heal the leper's limb?
Can He cleanse us from within?
Can we drink from living streams?
Can we ever be redeemed?
He has healed the leper's limb
He has cleansed us from within
We have drunk from living streams
Surely, we have been redeemed.

1 comment:

kacey said...

sometimes i feel like something in my heart is missing yet being stirred, and then i realize i'm just thinking about you. thank you for sharing this gift. thank you for living with your heart as out there as it gets. thank you for your passion and all the intricate details that work together in your mind and heart to make you such a force to be reckoned with. God smiles when you are at bat and i'm so thankful to be sitting in the stands watching you, learning from you, and talking with you. keep going, keep sharing, keep focusing on Him. praying & rooting for you in London.