Death is scurrying down its oily street where the demons of the wretched lurk…no goodness can be found…death steals access to your inner self and distorts all clarity. Death cares nothing for the future. Death is all decaying and old. Death is a cruel fabric when handled carelessly wreaks hideous selvages unraveling, snagging, and ruining the Tapestry of Hope.
It is Friday…Jesus is dead…all his followers are scattered…the earth is dark…fear prevails…death is at the door for us all…it is finished…Jesus is dead…it is Friday…but Sunday is coming.
I have been “leaning into” the book called The Gospel According to Job lately…the subject of suffering is a hot bed of emotions in the human realm. The one million light bulbs that go off in my head like some crazy paparazzi event when I contemplate truly suffering usually sends me into an endorphin crisis. Some have said to me “well, if you had more faith…blah blah blah…” ( God is the one who gives faith and I Love that. He will measure out to me the Faith and Grace and Mercy I need from his very own hand he gives it to me).
I am seeing more clearly what is the heart of Job. He has become a friend to me. He is what is called a “type” of Jesus (foretold in the Ancient Testament). Job had unmerited suffering put upon him. It was allowed by God. (This right here will upset many of you but I believe God can allow whatever he sees best to befall anyone. I believe this because I know that God is more Good and more wild and transcendent and more terrifyingly wonderful than I have ever even begun to know!!!) Job was a man who pleased God yet lost all his family and home. All of his children in one day…cannot even go there!
Anyway I am saying all of that to say the story of Job is not about suffering in the way I always use to think, even though suffering is well displayed in its pages. The story of Job is that for him the worst thing that could ever happen was that he might lose his Peace with God…think about that.
More than children, health, wealth, reputation, marriage, friends…more than any of those glorious wonderful things what Job feared and cried and anguished over was losing his relationship with his creator. He knew that no matter what things appear to be that God is good and that God is Peace…hmmmm a lot for this woman to ponder…just saying… #keeplearning
As I reflect on the beginning of my sixty- second year on earth I find my self thinking abstract thoughts. One in particular keeps surfacing…I am a loyal person. If I have become a friend, mentor, or professional colleague the odds are that I am loyal to that role. I am loyal to the name my Dad and Mom gave me, Shauna Jill Autrey. I am proud to carry the name of my father and his father before me. I am loyal to the name my husband Bob gave me, Dorman. With that name I was bestowed upon the honorable name Wife and Mother and now grandmother…Dodi. I am loyal to the name sister as well. Only two men in the whole world can call me sister.
In these names I find my role, my purpose, my dignity as well as my failures, successes, joys, grief, and even disappointment because after all, the One common denominator is me. My self and my human destiny. This loyalty to these names have produced a great story. Not one as noble as I wished perhaps but nevertheless it is my story. I am loyal to that story…I remain and will remain loyal to the good times and difficulties of childhood. The good certainly far outweighs the bad…college was a little rough though and my loyalty to my self slipped a bit. Overall, it’s the simple story of Redemption…the reality that I am part of The Fall…finding that all my loyalty to a name, a family, a faith in God could not give me the merit and absolution that lies between my creator and myself. In other words I was in darkness and separated from God…well the rest of the story is long but is turning out well…I have Jesus to thank for it all. I am to be given a new name in due time. I not know what it is yet…it is a name given to me by the One who is called Faithful and True! Now THAT is a name I can be loyal to and real with…so I continue on and head gladly into my sixth decade. I loyally carry my earthly names and give them without fear or regret to The Holy One and with incredible longing I look forward to the new name that Jesus himself has promised me on that Day…
“I will also give them a white stone, and on the stone a New name is inscribed that no one knows except the one who receives it…”
Every relationship Jesus enters, every attack he encounters, every question asked him
all serve to affirm and reaffirm his absolute authority over the world of man. He doesn’t just have authority, He IS authority.
Jesus defied all boundaries and shatters perceptions about the true nature of God and of devotion to God. Prior to Grace the call of the devout is clear: Learn the system and keep it faithfully but no one could or can! However, Jesus knew no system and was not part of a system. Jesus weaved unafraid in and out of established religious customs abiding by some of the customs while exposing others to the “farce” they were (are).
So many of my distortions have been reworked within me and some even on the “outside” of me…accepting The truth of the fact that Jesus knows how to bring distortions and formulas out into the open so that we can see them in the light of Himself!
The instant Jesus touches you Hope brings reality. Jesus’ power is not something he possesses it is who He is. Redemption, healing, creating…these are the fibers of Jesus’ being. Jesus chose to accept the limitations that came with his existence as a human being but never negates the fact that this person Jesus is Creator and God.
Peter walked on water. Jesus did not condemn Peter or the other disciples for their fear or doubt he only asked them to consider their lack of faith. Why to you doubt, fear, or have little faith? My answer is because I take my eyes off THE ONE, Jesus and instead focus on where I am coming from or going to. I dwell on the storm not really seeing and knowing THE ONE who is standing beside me, living with me, interceding for me.
When we allow our fear or wounds or failures to define us this is a red flag that we are not seeing our Lord correctly! What is the correct view of Jesus? That he is the only source of hope, security, healing and peace in this world or any world regardless of what awaits us . I know this for sure, religious or spiritual pride is the lie that says we are somehow elevated above others. That we have somehow DONE something or achieved a “skill” or “formula” in the ways of God…no we (I) have not.
I am so thankful for Grace, is the only way I qualify to be called a daughter of The King. Let it be done unto me as you have spoken Lord God.
If you have lived any part of your life without receiving the love of Christ then you have known the dark places that lie at the heart of what may or may not appear to be light. Like many Christians before me I am compelled and pushed toward this light driven somewhat to the point of desire for perfect love, which cast out all fear. In the book of first John he states, “this is the message, in Him there is no darkness AT ALL.” I hope in these words daily. What an astounding profound statement and fact. I want this person, Jesus, who is the Light. I want to bathe in it, live in it, and roam the halls of eternity in His warming light.
An author, Dan Allender writes, “if you really want to know God and his love you will know madness.” This marvelous, scandalous love of the God/man intrigues me so.
Although love has the component of something sweet that makes me “feel” good most of that time it is only a fraction of the Wholeness in Him.
REAL LOVE it dawns on me is dangerous, not safe. Love is risky. It will get hold of you from the inside out and its grip is so tight that if we could stand the squeeze we find ourselves willing to do anything for its sake. In the words of the warrior-child Lucy in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicle of Narnia I am reminded over and over of the fact that God is absolutely GOOD but He is not safe.
He is the one who says, “I’ll risk myself and come down to you because I choose you and so you may find me and be amazed at my pure light of love and glory. It will do you Good for Good is who I am.”
…I could see a long white road coming from the gatehouse in the East. A long bailey stretched out both to the east and west, enclosed by a strong stone wall. A rose-gold sun was setting as the last of day was dying but all I could feel pumping in my veins was a pulsating voice that sang, “Life, life, life!”
The closer I approached the higher the walls beyond the gate appeared to be. I knew there would be no chance of my acceptance in such a grand place. It took all my nerve to continue walking. In a lifetime before this moment, which now seemed merely a few days total I had been crushed by the pain and joy of life yet something inside my heart kept me on the journey…as I stood trembling unable to proceed a man I thought to be a beggar on the road spoke to me, “Why do you linger daughter?” His tabard, though of fine wool, was tattered and worn and soiled. Upon it was a coat of arms that I knew not what it meant. The coat, I could see, had once been a rich majestic purple in color but now was faded I supposed by sun, rain, and travel. Upon the coat of arms in fine gold embroidery stood twelve golden crowns upon the head of a magnificent lion standing on its hind…
I fell to my knees and begin to weep. I did not know why. The tears were a mixture of relief, grief, joy, and blood with the salty taste of the human mixed within. They were my tears…they were peaceful, restful, relieving tears.
This man must surely be noble I thought as my tears subsided yet my mind raced. He did not look handsome like I always thought a royal would look nor was he tall in statue. This must not be a princely man I thought, perhaps he stole the tabard. I began to panic a little but as the beggar prince approached me I felt more and more peace within and I simply whispered are you He? A scarred and rough worn hand reached toward me and lifted my face up and the man gently said, “I, AM.”
By way of Christ’s suffering God became real to me. His human-ness, his longing for life and his longing to help and love others draws me to him. I think sometimes it is easy to shrug off, so to speak, Christ’s God-ness. It is a given right? His Divine nature, the Alpha and Omega in all his glory seems somehow more familiar to one who grew up in a Christian home. It is hard to wrap my head around is this man who is able to sympathize with my weakness, my so very fragile attempts to be good for him. He, as a human being sees my offerings that fall so short compared to what He offers and gives so freely.
One tradition of Lent encourages us to “give up” something for forty days. I was not raised with this tradition so it interests me to hear people say they will give up candy, soda, or a certain food or activity for the Lenten season. This action has caused me to ponder the suffering of Jesus. I have concluded, not for others, but for myself that any offering I make seems so small in comparison to Jesus, who gave up his God-ness and put on human flesh only to have his Father God turn his face away while he bore all the sin for the entire world. Somehow giving up candy or something else seems absurd but I understand why people want to do it. I understand that because they love Jesus they want to honor him in some way even if it seems silly or small. I certainly am not belittling this tradition or the act of giving up something for Lent.
The Lenten season is about honoring the sacrifice Jesus made for me. It is a time to reflect upon whom Jesus is and what he has done for us as well as contemplate our own Christian character or lack of it. Lent should not be a legalistic or showy event. What you give up or don’t give up is between you and God because we who are believers already know there is NOTHING we can give up or do that is worthy of the sacrifice Jesus made for us.
So for me this Lenten season, I continue to reflect on that fact that “once I was blind but now I see” and I am going to reflect and adore the ONE who took my sin and death and gave me life.
I am a daughter of the Gulf Coast
its deep inside me like the Holy Ghost
from Texas oil to Pensacola Isle
calling me softly to come and sit a while…
Have you ever been in the Gulf of Mexico at night? Ever tipped back your head and felt your body rise and sway with the motion of the sea? Looking up into a star filled black sky ions above you. In between that vastness of The Milky Way and all the water below there is a connection. There is the sweet melodious song of God, the Creator that astounds you into an unspeakable romance with Him. You feel you are in a dimension of awareness between antiquity and eternity. There is no fear. There is no dread of this power that you know can take your life in an instant…There is just the sea, the sky, and the smell of brine, and God singing over you…
The surf faithfully sweeps toward the sand dunes that line the shore. You cannot see them in the night but you are sure they are there holding the island together and budding with beautiful golden oats. There is a rhythm to the beach where the days and the nights of your life seem easy and make sense. At least for me it does. There is a canopy of fluid above and below. A heady cup of wine and that cup indeed runneth over…