Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Hope Coming

 


“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor, a lifetime. Weeping may stay overnight, but there is joy in the morning.”
Psalms 30:5 CSB

Sorrow is a guest; joy is a roommate. However great our present anguish, for the Christian it will be overwhelmed by the approaching joy.

Grieve the losses, beloved. Weep, mourn, lament. Pour out your heart like water before the Lord.

And also this: shield the flame of hope in God’s promises and kindle that fire through remembrance of His past mercies.

All shall be well. Tout va bien aller.

“God hath made many fair flowers, but the fairest of them all is heaven, and the flower of all flowers is Christ. When we shall come home and enter to the possession of our Brother’s fair kingdom, and when our heads shall find the weight of the eternal crown of glory, and when we shall look back to pains and sufferings; then shall we see life and sorrow to be less than one step or stride from a prison to glory; and that our little inch of time – suffering is not worthy of our first night’s welcome home to heaven.”
~Samuel Rutherford, The Loveliness of Christ

Don’t give up. Your life matters. Hope will be fulfilled. Courage, dear hearts.


Monday, January 23, 2023

Hope Deferred (Or Not)

Green flower bud showing a few reddish streaks above a brown bulb in a glass vase
Amaryllis bud rising



“Be strong, and let your heart be courageous,

all you who put your hope in the Lord.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭31‬:‭24‬ ‭CSB‬‬

“Now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in you.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭39‬:‭7‬ ‭CSB‬‬


After the splendor of the apple-blossom amaryllis at the beginning of 2021, the opportunity somehow escaped me to purchase an amaryllis to watch indoors in the winter of 2021-2022. I missed it.

Consequently, after this past Thanksgiving I made certain to obtain one for the current winter. After some characteristic dithering, I decided on another apple-blossom bulb . Amore plants them in the garden after their indoor blooms are spent,. This way the other one will have a companion.

One challenge we have had with our amaryllis blooms is that they become top-heavy and unstable. Some specially designed stakes helped, but this year I decided to try a glass bulb planter with a bulbous lower cavity one fills with water. The elongated top, I reasoned, might provide more support for the long stem.

Never having planted anything without soil or some sort of potting medium, I read the directions several times and paid oh-so-close attention to getting the water level just right.

I waited perhaps a fortnight and checked it. No change. Not even a hint of roots.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Hope Is {Looking Ahead}

"I wait for the Lord; I wait and put my hope in his word. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning — more than watchmen for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the Lord. For there is faithful love with the Lord, and with him is redemption in abundance. And he will redeem Israel from all its iniquities."
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭130‬:‭5‬-‭8‬ ‭CSB‬‬





Hope is the gleaming jewel of promised redemption
at the bottom of the box of curses
When Pandora's foremother ate the forbidden fruit
(And her husband with her ate)
And brought upon our race death,
Labor pains, sweat-stained labor for bread,
Thorns and thistles choking fruitfulness,
Death of spirit and body.
Hope is the first good news after the first bad news:
A serpent-crusher coming, the woman's seed
(Poetic justice),
His heel bruised,
Our sympathetic, suffering Savior.

Hope is empty hands outstretched
In confident expectation
Of a promise coming
But still too far to see.
Hope is Joseph,
Urging his children to the third and fourth generation
To carry up his bones
When the Lord carried them out
Of Egypt into
The land and blessing promised
to Abraham's seed.
Hope is David,
Forbidden to build the house for the Lord,
Stockpiling the spoils of his victories,
Organizing the Levites,
Beginning the hymnal,
For the son of shalom
To complete what the father could only see in visions.
Hope is David writing
The Psalm we know as 30,
"For the dedication of the House,"
The House of the Lord
He would not live to see.

Hope is the anchor of God's 
Unlying, unchangeable faithfulness
To His promises,
Dropped securely by Jesus our forerunner,
Tethering His children to the Holy Place
By a chain of His great mercies,
His promises made, kept, coming,
Giving us strong encouragement
To hold fast to the assurance of His blessing,
That all shall be well
(Empty hands and all),
And all shall be well
(So well the tears will be swallowed up by joy),
And all manner of things shall be well.
(Sorrow and sighing having fled,
We shall always be with the Lord.)

#hope #oneword2023

Saturday, December 31, 2022

The Year of Joy {Looking Back}

 



In this my year of joy, I have relearned that the Lord Himself is the only sure and certain joy; that joy must be fought for by seeking His face in the Scriptures and prayer, in Christian friendships and in Creation. He has kindly sent me tokens of joy and providence in some of the hardest moments of 2022, and there were many. (Books, birds, and butterflies provided some of them, as you may expect.)





Below are some of the best quotes I’ve collected on joy or which felt adjacent to it. (It has been my habit for some years to watch for and gather up occurrences of my year’s focal word in my reading.) As you will see, Christian joy is often discovered in the midst of sorrow and through sorrow (not in opposition to it).

Monday, December 26, 2022

Christmas Lovelight

Tricolor dog with black face and brown eyes stares at the camera. He lies on a cream crocheted blanket. Red, chewed-up tissue paper is next to him.

Lord of light,

Lord of love,

Who rested not content in darkless, unblemished, eternal glory

Without the people You created:

People who traded Your bright fellowship for the darkling bondage of iniquity.

In Christmastide we remember and celebrate

The mystery of infinite, omniscient, omnipotent Deity

Weaving Himself into double helix,

Pouring Himself into a single human cell

In the confines of a virgin's womb.

While no less God,

You took upon Yourself the finitude of human form,

The patience of gestation,

The trauma of birth in blood and water.

Your voice--which shatters cedars and shakes wilderness,

stripping forests bare in power and splendor--

Cried out, hungrily inhaling the oxygen You spoke into being.

You, Savior, submitted to swaddling;

In humility, You gave Yourself to be diapered, held, rocked.

You who hold up the world by the Word of Your power

Condescended to months unable to hold up Your own head,

Immortal clothed in epidermis of mortality.


And why?

For love of Your enemies,

Sinners, rebels, reprobates,

Who deserve only wrath.

You entered our world,

Into every aspect of humanity but sin,

Lived the righteous life we could not,

Died the criminal's death we deserved,

Atoned for sin,

Conquered death,

Begat us to a living hope

Through Your resurrection from the dead.


Being fully human, You were a suitable substitute for scoundrel sinners

Such as I.

Being fully God, You were a sufficient substitute for all sinners

Who call on You in faith

(Such as I),

Trusting in Your name,

Jesus,

Savior,

Anointed One.


You took up our tears that we might find joy.

You took up our mourning that we might dance.

You took up our sickness that we might be whole.

You took up our hunger that we might be satiated.

You took up our sins that we might wear the garb of Your righteousness.

You took our judgment that we might receive grace.

You laid aside the glory of Sonship that children of wrath might be adopted sons of the Most High.

You enfleshed the Old Covenant and inaugurated the New,

Implanting new hearts that beat the rhythm of Your law.


Christ, our Passover, You gave Yourself for us

As priest and sacrifice.

Grant us grace to walk in forgiven freedom

Under the bright shelter of Your love and mercy,

Peace and grace,

Loving You who first loved us

And loved us to the end.


All praise to You, King Jesus,

For coming to shatter our darkness with Your sunrise from on high.

Come soon, Lord Jesus.

Amen.