31 May 2006

I'm continuing to pray and listen, last night and today. And God is continuing to speak to me through the words of His Old Testament prophet Habakkuk.


1 [OH, I know, I have been rash to talk out plainly this way to God!] I will [in my thinking] stand upon my post of observation and station myself on the tower or fortress, and will watch to see what He will say within me and what answer I will make [as His mouthpiece] to the perplexities of my complaint against Him.
2 And the Lord answered me and said, "Write the vision and engrave it so plainly upon tablets that everyone who passes may [be able to] read [it easily and quickly] as he hastens by.
3 "For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint. Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behind hand on its appointed day.
4 "Look at the proud; his soul is not straight or right within him, but the [rigidly] just and the [uncompromisingly] righteous man shall live by his faith and in his faithfulness."


God, thank You for being the God who not only listens to the prayers of His children, and is attentive to their lives … but who actually answers them! You are not distant or ticked off, even when You seem to be. You are not silent or disengaged, even when You appear to be. You are not an "impostor", but there is a sense of mystical illusion to trusting You. I cannot see You, but I am called to trust You.

It seems unfair at the least, and downright impossible at the best. And yet this is the recipe of faith. At different times in my life the ingredients in this recipe have left me frustrated. But during this current chapter it is simple stirring up in me a nearly insatiable desire to see You more clearly, to love You more dearly, to follow You more nearly, day by day. For if marble is the essence of Michelangelo's David, then trust is the essence of love.

Thank You for being the God who answers. Sometimes slowly. Sometimes quickly. Sometimes elaborately. Sometimes simply. Sometimes loudly. Sometimes in whispered syllables. Sometimes in ways hoped for. Sometimes in ways filled with surprise. But You answer. You always answer.

"Wait my child. You must wait a bit more." "Take up your mat and walk! Yes, right now. Come on, get with the program!" "Go up the mountain and sacrifice your 'beloved' (whatever dream, person, desire or hope your 'beloved' might be)". And the gift of Your answer is precious in that much of the time it is not just about me having a greater understanding of Who You are and what You are up to, but it also bring greater clarity about how You want to use me in this world. And in understanding and embracing these answers from You, my destiny is uncovered and I am humbly equipped to live into it.

Thank You that while Your vision for me is straightforward, but it isn't just busy-work. There is a sharpness, a strength, a depth, and a purpose in a vision marked by God-pointed-conciseness. This is the kind of vision You are pouring into my heart. One free from frills, intentionally lacking unneeded ornamentation. But as clear and sharp as a tack.

When a little boy waits for his daddy to come home after work, he dreams of being scooped up in His father's arms, and smothered in love and hugs. Sometimes the door seems to never open. Sometimes God's lingering is mistaken for disinterest. But not today LORD. Today You have walked through the door in ways obvious and undeniable.

I feel Your arms around me LORD. I smell the scent of heaven on Your collar. And like a new mother's love for the child in her arms eclipses the pain of having given birth, my focus in this moment is on the great joy I know at being held tightly by You, and not on the nearly unexplainable route You have taken me on in order to give birth to this moment. Blessed be the arms and the answers of the LORD. Godspeed.



30 May 2006

Here are the verses that have been rattling around in my soul all day. I woke up thinking about them. God's gift to me today I think. I journaled about the first verse ... and those thoughts are below as well.


1 I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, And how I may reply when I am reproved.
2 Then the LORD answered me and said, "Record the vision and inscribe (it) on tablets, That the one who reads it may run.
3 "For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.
4 "Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith."


God, I've been standing at my "guard post" and remaining as attentive as I can be -- out on the "rampart" for a long time. And yes, I do know what "rampart" is. I looked it up in a dictionary. It means "a defensive wall of a castle or walled city, having a broad top with a walkway and typically a stone parapet." And a "parapet" is "a low, protective wall along the edge of a roof, bridge, or balcony."

Of course, all of this is a metaphor … a word picture to describe that for the past fourteen months I've invited You to be my defense – both in the things I have left behind, and in the new things I have reached out toward as potential new beginnings.

Along the way I've invited You to be the "spacious place" where I have found my breath and my bearings, and where You have serendipitously been my vision … pruning and refocusing me in just the right ways and t just the right times. And You have also been the "broad space" under my feet so that my ankles have not turned (PSALM 18:19; 36).

And from this position of safety and loved-ness, You are teaching me to see what You are up to with the eyes of an eagle ... and to hear what You are saying with the ears of an owl. I'll admit that not everything I have seen You do (in me and through me), and not everything I have heard You say (directly, through Your WORD and through the words of others) has been easy to accept.

Solomon said over and over again in his book of riddles and rhythms, that "a fool rejects instruction." And so out of a desire to not be a "fool" but also wanting to see the "meaning behind my experiences" You've taken me through, I have sought to remain teachable.

And so for granting me the joy of accepting Your will for my life, and for all that You have done and are doing for me, and in me, I am today, above all else, a man whose heart is grateful. I will BLOG on the other three verses of this passage in the next few days. Godspeed.



26 May 2006

I've been engaged in a series of emails with an old friend. He is moving into a new chapter of life and ministry and I have been challenging him to learn from some of the lessons God has been schooling me in these past fourteen months -- lessons which have often centered around the need to see "honesty about our lives" as a priceless virtue that must be uncompromisingly pursued at any cost. Here's a few lines from our last correspondence ...

I will pray with you and your bride ... that you will soon feel clear and united about this new position that seems to have opened up for you. But I exhort you my brother ... do not walk through a door that you alone have opened.

Charm, a snappy resume, a slam-dunk interview, tailor-made references ... these are far too easily more related to "marketing" than to "God's direction". So always double-check your motives. Not to create self-doubt or fear. But to cultivate both a sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and a willingness to recognize and steer away from something just because it's the BBD (the Bigger-Better-Deal).

I also hope that you've been ruthlessly honest with this future employer about the ups and downs in your life and ministry these past years. Because when we merchandise our successes while airbrushing our failures we set ourselves up to become what Brennan Manning rightly calls "the impostor" and we'll eventually and inevitably sink to new heights of shallowness, both in our character and in our ministry endeavors.

Living this way with God, with ourselves, with our families, with our colleagues, and through the application/interview processes of our lives, will most surely hold us back, train our hearts to believe that secrets are okay, and subtly deceive us into believing the lie that the unhealthy or ungodly patterns of our lives aren't real if they can be consistently covered up or ignored.

And of course, nothing could be further from the truth. As Frederick Buechner wrote in his book Telling Secrets, "Each of us not only has our secrets, we are our secrets."

God's best to you as you begin this hew chapter of life and ministry. I'll also let you know where I land. Good night and Godspeed.



11 May 2006

My life, intertwined with God and the ones I love, is all that is truly in focus now. Dreams of vocation are nothing compared to dreams of them. Hopes of any success in life are dull in comparison to the vibrancy I see in them -- even though they remain at a distance. Goals mapped out clearly in bullet-form pale when written next to words describing the blessings I know to be mine for having loved and been loved.

I am like a man both dying and being reborn ... both held back and set free ... both breathing and breathless. The great turning inside out is taking place ahead of eternity's beginning as what is seen, known and understood from within creates and shapes the reality of my life today -- and that which is seen, known, and understood from without plays second fiddle. The "joy of the LORD" IS my strength in ways I've never known; His presence my fear relieves.

Today, in lands around the world, people will die for their faith in Jesus Christ. God, today, may my thoughts, my words and my actions show me worthy to be called a follower of Your Son, and my Savior, Jesus Christ. And may the life of faith I am choosing to walk, be a life lived out in faithfulness and much cheer. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done. On earth, as it is in heaven. Amen.

Thank you for your blessed partnership in love, faith, worship, ministry and in the daily shenanigans of living. Godspeed.