Turning off the screen, we pause,
For we’ve seen far too much obscene for one life to handle
One more event where God’s beloved scramble
Away from danger, crying out and wondering if they’re heard
All while conversations remain in the realm of the absurd
So oft’ distracted by the rights of the many as if they negate the plight
Of those underfoot, under feet planted firmly
Proclaiming solid ground – because it’s easier than hearing the sound
Of our discontent
Of lives spent wondering if there’s room for them at the table
Wondering if they’ll ever be able to face another day
Wondering what they might say to children looking for answers
Because for some cancers there are no cures, only treatment
And mistreatment is all they’ve so far known
A world that’s shown them more shadow than anyone deserves
Throwing curves every time they step up to the plate
Or simply telling them to wait
Wait until it’s your turn
Wait to get what you have earned
Wait until the resources you needed have been burned
to fuel the fires – meeting the desires of those who were heard first
But there is hope for those who thirst
And the heavens burst with the glory of One who has revealed
An existence healed of all that once has bound
A resounding call for Freedom and reconciliation
But to hear, we may need to change the station
Because we’ve been arguing with straw men for far too long
Assuming the strong voices and the ones who offer the choices
spoke with authority, assuming those with seniority
have always done it right, siding with those who win the fight.
But there is a redemption arriving, a New Life thriving
That embraces every color
Protects every student seeking to discover
Embraces every adjective we might uncover
And covers all with “BE LOVED”.
Whether you’ve been shoved, or your arms are extended
The old ways of living have ended, as God has befriended humanity
When we couldn’t be doing worse
Breaking the curse
Offering Life Anew
Not just to wait here in the Pew, forgiven to get out there and do
To proclaim that me and you, we’re New Creation
Salvation in Jesus is not just something that happens in our hearts
It happens between them as well. Not just heaven and hell
But living Word for worlds in pain. For those moments you can’t explain
Where suffering pours like rain on soggy ground
We declare that peace can still abound.
This is not by a cheap grace found in false pretending
Not by sending hallmark sentiments while remaining on our own
Jesus. left. His. throne.
We don’t respond alone, but united in His mission
No more wishing things would change
No more living estranged, but joining Jesus as He goes
Nurturing as He sows for harvests already begun
Laying down guns for gloves and spade
Seeking to bring light where there is shade
In a world of those fighting to win,
While some are waiting for it to be rid of sin
We hear Jesus inviting us to begin
Listen to the hurt, see the unseen,
Suffer with those in pain
Love others beyond learning name
And in all of this – proclaim…
Take a deep breath for a moment, and prepare yourself to read the next few paragraphs slowly. As far as you are able, silence the noises and distractions in your environment. Acknowledge the noises you cannot silence, and set them aside mentally for now. Be sure you’re sitting comfortably in your chair.
Relax your body as far as you are able to, while still being able to read these words. Take another deep breath, but slower this time. Notice the breath entering your lungs, and become aware of the way God has created your brain to respond to increased levels of oxygen in your bloodstream from such a deep breath. It helps you to relax. Slow, deep breathing helps offer you a time and space where you step out of the routine for this moment. You step out of the pace of what needs to be accomplished, and what is depending on you, and allow yourself simply to “be” here and now.
I want you to imagine a leaf, which is easy to do right now because it is Autumn. Imagine all the colors you’ve seen recently, or look out the window for a moment to see what colors are visible there. Remember the warmth of summer, when all was green. Then the trees begin to change slowly, so that some of them are deep brown even now. Maybe you have seen, or can see even now – bright oranges, yellows, deep reds, and all hues and shades in between. Imagine what the trees will look like in the middle of winter – bare, branches blowing in the cold wind. They will be seemingly lifeless, as the flow of life within has slowed in order to survive until the higher temperatures return.
I want you to take another deep breath, and all yourself to examine your response to the question: What is the flow of spiritual life within you these days? Slow down for a moment. You are the only one who can guide yourself forward at a pace that offers this moment to God.
Maybe you feel vibrant and green.
You have experienced the shining of the sun, and the warmth of relationship both with God and others that have contributed to feeling like life is flowing into all the areas of who you are.
But possibly, there are parts of you…and possibly even the whole, that has begun to slow down internally.
The harsh conditions you have experienced in the world have made you feel cold. The flow of life seems to have slowed down. Some of it seems natural, and you can see the beauty in the changes of color as you experience the ebbs and flows of life, experiencing the natural seasons of living in a broken world. But it’s also possible the flow seems to have stopped to the point where it’s hard to find the beauty even in the leaves that remain, because they appear to be dried and falling already.
It happens so slowly, you may not even notice until this moment – taking time to examine the life and Spirit within you.
Even as you assess and allow yourself to be vulnerable to….yourself, the false statements begin to surface. Accusations to make you feel guilty or a sense of shame. “You haven’t done enough.” “You didn’t have such life within you to begin with.” “Such an experience isn’t possible, or is only for others.”
These are lies from the accuser. They have no place here. Imagine unplugging that speaker, or crumpling up the paper such words are written on, and tossing them in the garbage.
Instead, hear these words: (continue to read slowly – your tendency here will be to scan quickly through these words…but read them slowly, as if directly from God for you in this moment, with His intent to bring refreshment & healing to your soul)
“Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.” (Rev. 3:20) “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.“ (Matthew 11:28) “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing…If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:5, 7-11)
Know that metaphors are limited, and you are not a tree. Smile at how silly that sounds, and yet how important it is in this moment. Because it means you do not have to wait until a better external season for life to return. You do not have to wait until conditions are less harsh, to invite the life of the Holy Spirit that is available to you right now, to flow within you – bearing fruit that offers healing.
Not by any special effort, although it may make you want to respond in particular ways. But it begins simply by allowing yourself to be Loved by a God who has reconciled you to Himself already, and forgiven everything that could have separated you previously.
Spend a moment being thankful for such Love.
Come back as often as needed, and especially when you forget such a need exists.