thoughts on the sunrise. a poem.

formless and afraid in the navy

night i found my shape once

again as the sun rose and pressed

the darkness from beneath

my skin and the outline of all

things became clear

*****

job

*****

When hard is a place you find yourself.

Hard.

It’s not just an adjective anymore.

Hard is a place.

Maybe you know it…icy stone walls shadowed by unsought shame, the front door locked by defeat, windows draped by misunderstanding and hopelessness.

Too many strain in the hard unaware that even a crack of the window lets in light, air, a current of hope. We long for someone to burst through the front door for us, a sword-wielding Savior to cut back the vines and overgrowth surrounding our foundations, a friend who’ll sit with us until the electricity comes on again and the furnace of truth warms our toes.

Hard is a place, yes.

But hard is also a season.

Like winter, we’re forced to hunker down in the silence and be still while the snow falls white and gentle around us.

And soon, like the Morning Sun, a Savior will come.

But He will knock first.

And spring and the loose, cool earth will be fertile once again.

*****

crushed

*****

Excerpts from 2 Corinthians 4

“Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods … We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this … For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” … And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

A word for 2015: obedience

Life centers around time.

Always has, I suppose.

After all, the rise and set of the sun is the one sure constant in our allotted existence on this spinning ball of dirt.

And so we come again to the eve of the eve of another new year.

Some folks make resolutions. Some start diets. Some create goals. Some do nothing.

Usually, I do nothing. If I’m lucky enough to be home on New Year’s Eve, I fall into a contended sleep well before midnight to the sounds of my out-of-this-world teenagers laughing and playing as a network TV show broadcasts the NYC ball drop in the background.

But this year, I felt a nudge.

The nudge to claim…or perhaps proclaim…a word for the year over my life.

I’ve done this twice before, in 2012 and in 2013.

Truthfully, I really hadn’t thought one way or the other about choosing a word for 2015. But that nudge kept at me.

And so I turned.

And listened.

The word I heard is

obedience.

Not an easy word. In fact, I can think of a whole lot of other words I’d rather linger over…joy, for example. Grace. Hope. Peace. NAP. Cook. Get the teenagers to school on time. Dust the baseboards. Dogs (’cause we have three in case you didn’t know).

Did I mention NAP?

But obedience?

Really, God?

Besides a challenge, the word causes a lot of ruckus in some circles. Husbands and wives. Egalitarians and complementarians. Teachers and students. Preachers and flocks. Parents and children. And on and on and on. We’re all supposed to be equal nowadays, right? Pull-ourselves-up-by-the-bootstraps, do-it-our-selfers. Obedient to our selves. The word reminds me of a wedding I attended in the early 1990’s in which the bride chose to keep the phrase about “obey” in the vows. Several friends in attendance threw a fit…after all, why should a bride cow-tow to a husband? The idea of submission and authority, authority and submission, those ideas are

SOOOOOOOOoooooooooOOOOOoooo

eye-rolling-ly last millennium…right?

I don’t know about all that. And frankly,

I don’t care.

The Gospel doesn’t need defending or deciphering as much as it needs believing. And besides that, my Lord has called me to obedience.

Obedience.

Responding to His whisper when the call of the world threatens to burst my ears.

Going forward when common sense says to go back.

Speaking out when others say to be silent.

Seeking silence when others say to speak out.

Worshipping when others justify cursing.

Forging on straight when left or right seems easier.

Trusting when I’m wallowing in doubt.

Hiding in Him when I’m attacked.

Ministering when I’d rather be ministered to.

Following Him instead of my own understanding.

When faced with these and more, I will try my best to choose

obedience.

Like dumb oxen straining against dusty,rock-hard plains, a thousand ways of our own seem easier until we slip the harness of His gentle yoke around our burdened necks and are reminded again that in

obedience

lies the blessing.

Since Jacob, we’ve all wrestled with God and in His infinite mercy, and He has always entertained our weak-limbed attempts at independence. He even watches with grief and allows us to choose to wander far, far away. But still He lingers, the Good Shepherd, waiting to take us back, always.

Obedience.

What a word.

What a calling.

Not just for me, but for all of us.

What a year I hope to submit to Him.

*****

What about you?

What’s your word for the year?

Or, what is one of your resolutions for 2015?

*****

obey