Category: Scripture

Lines of Purpose

One of my favourite verses in Scripture these days comes from Colossians 1 in the Message:

The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in Heaven, kept taut by hope.”

This single sentence has captured me since I first read it a few weeks ago, and I’ve been coming back to it over and over again, daring to dream that these words might one day be true of me!

I so often catch myself overwhelmed and drifting, or frantic and kept taut by stress, but this verse has been a touchstone for me to find a middle place. I’ve been trying to listen for the hope that whispers purpose into the mundane or the simple. Instead of resigning myself to life as a tangled heap of marionette limbs being pulled in all directions, I’ve been reflecting on what my lines of purpose are really tied to.

The truth is that a lot of what I do revolves around meeting expectations from others and myself – nothing to do with my future in Heaven, and they certainly don’t move me toward hope!

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What am I waiting for?

Psalm 39:7 – And now, O LORD, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.

I love looking forward – to the weekend, to plans with a friend, to payday, to Summer weather 🙂 I try to stay in the moment, but if I’m honest I’m often planning ahead and thinking about what comes next.

In Psalm 39, David is reflecting on how quickly life passes – verse 6 says We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing – but his response is not despair, it is turning to God in that moment.

As I look forward in time, I imagine that walking with God will get easier, that barriers will pass away – I’d love to work part time and be free to volunteer more. As Torre gets older and more independent, I’m able to go to conferences again to be encouraged and challenged. If we lived closer to family and friends I love the idea of sharing life and meals more often, having playdates and praying together. It’s easy to get caught up in imagining how different circumstances could make life just wonderful, but then what do we have to show for it?

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Because We Eat the Bread

We just had communion Sunday at our church, and after church were on a family drive when Torre piped up in the back, “Daddy, you know that Jesus died for us?”

Matt told him yes, he knew that, and I turned around to ask Torre if he knew why Jesus died for us. Torre nodded solemnly. “Because we eat the bread.”2016-03-24 20.30.54

It was a classic adorable kid moment, and I’ve been turning it over in my mind. I’m not in a panic because Torre doesn’t understand what death means yet, so he won’t comprehend the miracle of the resurrection, and he doesn’t need to grasp the burden of sin before he is able to also grasp its solution. But it reminded me how much I don’t want my kid to get messed up spiritually by growing up in church (nobody wants that, right?). I realize it’s an ongoing process and not something I can just teach once or put some safeguards and pat myself on the back, but parenting is one of the most challenging forms of discipleship I’ve experienced, and it forces me to evaluate my own perspective all the time. How can I teach my three year old truth that can grow up with him, not baby him or stifle him?

We were given a Jesus Storybook Bible when Torre was baptised, and we have just recently started reading it together. This Bible frames all its different stories in terms of God’s great rescue and points toward Jesus, and it incorporates a lot of interpretation to make sense of the stories themselves. In the story of the Fall, this Bible says that Adam andEve’s disobedience caused a terrible lie to come into the world that whispered in the hearts of everyone “God doesn’t love me.”The-Terrible-Lie-2-525x302

This is such a sturdier building block for me to talk about sin and forgiveness from than “disobeying God means we are bad, and Jesus had to die to make us good.” So in the car Sunday afternoon I said to Torre,

“Remember when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and that terrible lie came into the world that God doesn’t love us? Jesus died for us so that we will always know God loves us. Even when we do the wrong thing, God still loves us, and he wants to help us do the right thing. In church we eat that bread to help us remember about Jesus.”

It’s scary teaching kids about God! I don’t want to say anything Satan could ever use as a foothold to accuse or shame my son or any other little ones who I get to teach. I hope that these moments will be instructive for me as well – that as I think through the implications of my explanations I find shards of untruth to pick out like splinters from my own soul.

I’ve been reflecting on this portrayal of sin as the lie God doesn’t love us, and I see how much of the pain we see and feel and cause is rooted in a worldview where God doesn’t see or care for us. It is much easier to be loving and generous and forgiving and hopeful when our identity is drenched in God’s acceptance and love. It is easier to show grace when we view other’s sin as growing out of that lie that God doesn’t love them.

Of course sin is not just a lie we believe; it is an action or attitude with repercussions that ripple outward and corrupt and infect and destroy. The wages of sin are death, and Jesus’s death was not just a declaration of love for us, but also a ransom payment, the purchase of redemption so that we can live for him instead of dying.

I know I will not teach Torre perfectly about God – how could I? I can only teach him what I know, and that is far from perfect. But I do hope that through the words I say (about God and about others) and in the way I live that God will be gracious enough to plant a seed that can take deep roots in Torre’s heart, from which the rest of his faith can grow, and that seed will be “I am always, deeply, loved by God.”

Poetry: Steadfast Love

When I came to verses 22 and 23 of Lamentations 3, they stopped me in my tracks with their goodness – an oasis of hope after two and a half chapters of despair. I spent the day humming “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end” and along came this poem as a prayer for God’s truth to seep into all the cracks of my soul and become my truth as well.

Beach

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases

But my patience dries up like grass

Turning brittle and sharp

In the heat of late nights and clingy days

Erupting teeth and toys underfoot

I find you at the end of myself.

Like the beach where island meets ocean

Where jagged rocks are worn smooth by endless current

Where the shards of my feelings, broken like bottles

Are disarmed and made safe

And grains of sand remind me of your promise,

The legacy of one soul devoted to you,

The offspring of a thousand generations that you bless

Beyond counting, the weight of Earth

Does not tire you,

As one heavy soul tires me.

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Good Friday Reflections

Now at the feast [Pilate] used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was  a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. And he answered them, saying “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. (Mark 15:6-15)

Today as this passage was read at our Good Friday service, I was haunted by the contrast between Jesus and the crowd. My own attitude and response to circumstances are so much closer to the fickle crowd, stirred up and impatient for results. Jesus was the Messiah they didn’t want, proclaiming a kingdom that is like the grain of a mustard seed, the smallest of all the seeds on the earth (Mark 4:31). The Jews were tired of living off crumbs, under the thumb of violent oppressors, and the people were not interested in a leader who was beaten and spit upon without offering any retaliation. It doesn’t seem that anyone was under the impression Barabbas was the Messiah, but at least he was a man of action, someone who was willing to shed blood for the cause of his people.

Jesus had taught his disciples, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3), but the crowd had lived through Herod’s slaughter of the innocents when every baby boy under 2 was killed in Bethlehem and the whole region. Who in their right mind would become like a child to pursue God’s kingdom? No, there must be some other way, and the people’s rejection of Jesus could buy them time, helping them appear loyal to the Roman empire while they waited for God to send someone to actually deliver them. The high priest advised the people that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people. (John 18:14)

So today I was slapped in the face because my response is the same as the crowds: I choose to believe God if I think it will work.

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