Thursday, September 19, 2013

Shunning Beauty

Walking routinely from academic hall to student center, pathway lined with magenta colored beauties waving at me as they play with the breeze, and I gaze upon them with a little smile in private thanks to their Maker. Then heart is struck by how creation is telling me what God wants me to know, and life stops for a moment to realize.

Would I deny the brilliance bursting from these rose buds that accompany me on this walk?
Would I say no to the new life they fragrantly omit?
Would I voluntarily turn the other way, shunning the vivid beauty, the birthing of a fragile, unmatched treat for my eyes?

How silly would it be if I dared not look at these flowers because of their most pleasing natural beauty?

In the same way, don't I turn from the most stunning, loveliest thing?: grace

Do I turn from grace to gaze at the death and the pain and the suffering that awaits anywhere but in that grace?
 Do I squirm and recede, flee from the delectable love, the always-filling love, the endlessly quenching love, to settle for the ice cold nothingness manifested in death's empty, poisonous lies?

This too seems silly, but it occurs more than I'd like. 

The legalism binding me to the carcass of my sin, the eating disorder that offers to become my obsession and make me loveable (though I am unimaginably loved).
 It lives in the grip I refuse to loosen while a Savior says Shackles are broken!

Shackles are broken,
but still I adorn them like jewelry.
Freedom is granted overwhelmingly,
yet I still make my home in the prison cell.

It is finished, and He didn't mean me, but in so many ways He did.

It is finished, and in those three words He declared the masterpiece of grace, the revelation, the phenomenon, the excellence that is grace, it is ready and ours for the taking.

Do I shun the beauty, or do I wholly, utterly, not reserving, thinking, considering, but just gazing at the natural beauty that is grace?!

Take it, and don't let anything fool you into taking it with half a heart, but take it all and live.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Proclaiming God's Goodness, Tissue in Hand

A woman stands before thousands speaking life, clutching a tissue in her hand.

This has been her life for over a year-- fearlessly sharing the only hope we have, tissue in hand that's been soaked up by tears, by grief, by fear.

Yet she stands before me and the thousands like me at my university, and smiles.

This woman is Naghmeh Abedini.

This woman is the wife of Pastor Saeed, held in one of the worst Iranian prisons because he won't renounce Jesus Christ. This woman's husband has been tortured. This woman's husband is choosing Jesus Christ over everything, and it moves me that she glows, overjoyed.

Digging deep into her trial, broken, she hits the wellspring of ultimate joy. 

She dares to be more joyful in this great distress because she can draw all the more closer to a Savior.

She boldly owns the passion despite a prime opportunity for hopelessness because in more despair she is given more joy, more peace, than before.

Her challenge that morning is large, but my eyes draw to that tissue.
Her challenge is for people real and raw, broken, yet unafraid.
For people who do let tears trickle at times, yet have the guts to smile because they know God's goodness.

And they can proclaim it.

Yes, proclaim it!

I realize sitting there that I don't have to be perfect either;
I don't have to be put together, to be a happy-go-lucky cheerful bouncing Christian every waking moment to proclaim God's goodness.
Christ met me in my uncouth, in my strange, in my homely, in my corruption, and so I can meet Him, barrier undone by His love, grand proclamations overflowing from a heart that knows a Savior.

And then the bad test grade comes. And the reminder of that endless stream of To-Do's.
Yet His grace still provides goodness to proclaim!

In all things, the most precious treasure must shine through.
Through the pain, through the despair, through the circumstances.

Because really, these enemies of praise are blinded, burned, and belittled to mere scum by the Greatest Joy, without fail, every time.

And that is worth unending proclamation!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Recklessly Guarding the Treasure

How often I turn my faithful God into quicksand tumbling through my fingers.

How often I corrode the Sure Foundation,
how often I erode the Mighty Rock till it crumbles,
how often I blow out the lasting flame of the one who always has been and always will be.

Except I don't.
Except all these things are impossible.

Yet with each footstep into valleys of doubt,
each tiny sampling of fear I dip my finger in and taste it's convincing bitterness,
with each anxiety I pump up like a blimp-sized balloon swelling far bigger than it actually is,

with all these things it sure seems like my God becomes small;
the impossible belittling of the Mighty One seems so real.

It seems so genuine when I slip,
when eyes gaze at calorie numbers and carbs turn into pointed spears and all of a sudden the body is not as beautiful as it once was,
 and I know it's all lies but I listen anyways,

and then suddenly grace is not the most dear treasure cradled in the heart.

Yes, that's just it.

When grace is not the greatest treasure,
when grace is not the gem I examine with each step, knowing it's stunning intricacy,
when I do not recklessly guard this gift,
when I make it cheap, giving it away for some other worthless imitation, a glass shard when the invaluable diamond of grace that I never deserved is offered, is given to be mine

it makes the grubby lies seem bigger than the Most Powerful God.

Clinging to this jewel of grace, holding this fortune of Christ that I have to it's highest value and not settling for any convincing liars and false promisers and seductive imitators, not giving up the greatest possession I never deserved, I will treasure grace, gripping it with all my life: