old wounds

i thought time had healed me…that the deep chasms of the past had settled into tired scars had settled into a few rough edges in my emotional memory.

but papers in the mail.

but demands of losing even the little i have.

but the glib assumption that this is, of course, just something that needs to happen…a mere formality…a matter of record.

and my saturday morning has darker skies and my coffee has added bitterness and my heart is heavier because there is weight to these opened wounds. there is burden to this sadness. there is mass to this sickness i’ve carried in my gut these past several days.

so i will go and speak for what i still have…for what i won’t let go of…for the hopefulness of future healing.

and i will remember the goodness of a faithful Father, the sweetness of a good woman, and the brightness of restoration as yet unhappened.

and these old wounds will not be my end.

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becoming (easter eve)

listening to old pine as i peel potatoes for tomorrow’s dinner. the soundtrack of your sister’s wedding makes a perfect backdrop for my reflection of how far you and i have come. we are works in progress, you and i. not as we were…not as we will be…but reflecting the beauty of becoming.

every rough spot…every mountain top…every fumbly finger trying to find the shape of us…it is all becoming. it is all progress. and it is all beautiful.

i am stronger because of you in my life. i am bolder because of you in my life. i am more myself because of you in my life. my twoish tendencies find their place with you. my smile finds its curve with you.

we have joked about babies and picked out names, and it – if nothing else – brings me joy to think of having the rest of my life by your side. the backroads and discovered beaches and quiet mornings with coffee and smiles…all laid out in a future spent with you.

and, if we are becoming that…if we are taking the shape of us for the rest of our days…then i can breathe more deeply in the hopefulness of

fresh chances

and sweet blessings

and you.

dwell on these things

This past weekend, I did two different things of which I’m proud: I played percussion on my worship team (for the first time), and I made a killer batch of Guinness beef stew. They are very different endeavors, to be certain, but they have something in common. If you take the time to understand and follow a prescribed set of steps, things will usually turn out pretty well.

I’ve been leading worship since I was about 15 years old. That’s more than thirty years of singing and playing guitar and trying to be as transparent as possible as I encourage a group of people to genuinely express their love and need for Jesus. I’m comfortable doing it. Not in a complacent way, but in that I know I can do a reasonably good job and play the right chords and sing the right notes most of the time. Stepping to the side and playing percussion, however, was a stretching experience for me. It forced me out of my comfort zone and into the unfamiliar.

If I’m being completely honest, I nearly bagged on my percussion gig following our rehearsal last Thursday evening. I felt like a near-complete failure, never quite finding the right groove…never fully becoming the rhythm the rest of the band needed. But, with prayer, practice, and the encouragement of my sweet best friend, I hung in there. I listened to the rest of the music with fresh, engaged ears and I played with all my heart.

And it wasn’t horrible.

The stew, on the other hand, was fantastic. I spent much of Sunday preparing the ingredients, mixing and watching and savoring aromas, and anticipating the full flavor of the finished pot of goodness. There is something very satisfying about taking raw elements, refining them, and making something of substance. I realize I wasn’t building a house or anything…but a pot of delicious stew is still a pretty great finished product.

So, what does all of this have to do with the bigger picture?

This weekend, one of my verses of the day was Philippians 4:8. It is a recipe for a healthy mind and a strong heart. It is a blueprint for how to build thoughts that glorify God and lead to my greater purpose.

When I focus my attention on truth, it strengthens me.

When I concentrate on things that are honorable and righteous, it builds me up.

When I regard things that are pure and lovely and excellent, there is shaped in me a reflection of Christ…and my life has substance and meaning. My rhythm is set right and the aroma of my existence is pleasing.

So, that’s my goal. That’s my desire. I want to understand and follow the path that my Maker has set before me. Whether that looks like doing my best playing percussion on the worship team, or cooking and sharing food with people I love, or looking beyond the troubles of the moment and seeing the pure hope of Christ…that’s what I aim to do.

a future + a hope

This was my verse of the day in the Bible app I use. The reality that this God who breathed everything into existence…who has no beginning and no end…who holds all things together by His inexhaustible power…THIS God knows me.

THIS God loves me.

THIS God speaks into my life and reminds me that I am not alone and that He is at work in me.

And I have no choice but to worship Him.

dirty and left out

Three things stand out in my mind right now…and I feel compelled to write them down.

  1. I am prone to complacency
  2. I am dirtier and more corrupt than I have the courage to admit
  3. Somehow…some glorious, inexplicable how…Jesus loves me.

This morning a friend of mine messaged me a challenge. “Put one hundred miles on your road bike before May 1.” When I told him I accept his challenge and voiced my appreciation (calling him a pushy bastard in the process), he returned, “I have your best interest in mine. And I know that you have an inclination toward complacency.”

I do. And it sickens me.

I try to pass it off as contentment, sometimes, but it’s a lie. I try to rebrand it as being long-suffering and patient, but it’s nowhere close to the truth.

I know what I should do…what I need to do…and I can talk about it for hours, but I just sit here in this space of inaction and indecision, and it accomplishes nothing. This…THIS…is not what I was created for.

Which leads me to the second point. I’ve been listening to a new Spotify playlist the past couple days, and so many songs have hit me in a place of need or vulnerability. This morning, it was Dirty and Left Out by The Almost.

There is a lyric that says:

I’ve been dirtier than you wanna know
I’ve left earlier than you’ll ever know
Why do, you wanna be all listenin’ to me
Why do, you spread your arms and tell me I’m free
Why do, you wanna be in my life
In my life

That’s me in those words. The real me who messes things up so rampantly and screws up opportunities and breaks trust and disobeys and denies and disgraces… That’s me.

Hopelessly lost in my own sin and shortcomings.

Devastatingly inadequate in eternity.

Utterly in need of a Savior.

Last night, I had a beautiful opportunity given to me. One of my oldest friends is a pastor at a local church. He was giving the message for a Good Friday service and he asked me to lead worship. I’ve been leading worship on a regular basis at my church for the past year and a half, and it is a joy. But, taking that vulnerability to a new place with unfamiliar faces is a bit uncomfortable. I haven’t been walking through life and struggle with these people…they don’t know my story and I don’t know theirs.

But, ultimately, we have the same Author. So, we are in a common narrative.

I am so glad…so grateful…that I accepted the offer.

It spoke to my soul.

It reminded me of how unworthy I am, but how merciful Christ is.

And that brings me to my third truth…that somehow…some glorious, inexplicable how…Jesus loves me.

Tomorrow is Easter. The beautiful reminder that death and graves can’t hold back the Love of our Savior. The powerful proof that, as complacent and corrupt as I am prone to be, Jesus never fails in His love for me.

For you.

For us.

And I am so inexpressibly grateful for that.


Dirty and Left Out

The Almost
Songwriter: Aaron Gillespie
Dirty and Left Out lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

sometimes

i wonder

when the long lines of sunset lay across the earth

and the birds begin their common routine of nesting for the night…

i wonder

when the steam from my cup of tea rises slowly

and a delicate course of Oscar Peterson’s piano spills out from the speaker…

i wonder

when the absence of hand in mine

when the silent void beside me

becomes too loud to ignore…

if this heart of mine will ever find its match.