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Of death and the hope I have

I am ready to die.

Wait. Before you panic and call the suicide watch on me, let me clarify: I am NOT going to kill myself. I am not suicidal. I am not planning on this to be my last blog post before the end. I promise. Relax.

This isn’t the unrelenting hopelessness of depression for which death seems to be the only relief. I’ve been there,  but not this time. This time, for however long it lasts, I can actually laugh and mean it. When I wake up in the morning, it doesn’t seem like the saddest thing on earth to still be here. There’s a cautious optimism in my thoughts. People with bipolar disorder are familiar with what these are: the good days. Or rather, the bittersweet days, because I know it won’t always be like this.

There’s also the kind of being ready to die that has to do with fulfillment. I’m not there yet, not by a long shot. There are little dreams and big dreams still unfulfilled. I haven’t seen a sunrise from a mountain top yet, or watched my little brother grow up to be a good man, or found the right person to love. I still want to be a youth counselor, and plant the garden of my dreams, and slow dance on the beach. I am only twenty-four years old — what do I know of life? Not very much, and there is still so much to discover. Yet I mean it when I say that I am ready to die.

I am ready to die because I know that no matter what I can find here on earth — the pain, the bitterness, the joy, the thrill, and all the possibilities — there is something better. So much better. This is just a prelude, a taste, of what could be. Of what will be. I am ready to let go of whatever the world has to offer, because it cannot possibly compete with what has been promised to me, that I will someday see the One who loves me most face to face. My Jesus, my rescuer and joy-giver. The one who will hold me close in His arms and heal every hurt and make my heart whole in His presence. What earthly sight or pleasure can be more wonderful than that?

So death doesn’t scare me, because I know it for what it is. A doorway. Someday, I don’t know when, I will walk through that door and step into the truest kind of life of which this one is only a pale imitation. And the amazing thing is that this is made possible not by the way I lived on earth, but by the way Someone died on Calvary hundreds of lifetimes before my own. If dying means getting to meet that Someone, then I am ready to die. Or, more accurately, I am ready to live.

 

Home for Christmas

Christmas, to me, means coming home. My life has lead me away from the place where I truly belong, but every Christmas, I find my way back. I’m welcomed by warm smiles and eager arms, by hearts that have loved me from afar and will now love me as I nestle close enough to hear the beats. I will bask in that love and let it erase the months of distance, the months of missing, the months of longing, and simply rest. There’s no way I’m staying away.

On a deeper level, Christmas means I can always come home from wherever I’ve been spiritually. My mistakes may lead me away from the place where my soul truly belongs, but because a Child was born that first Christmas, there is always a way back. I will never be turned away, I will be welcomed by a Father’s joy and a Father’s arms, by a Father whose heart never gave up on me. The past would cease to matter the moment I walk through that open door, and after all the regrets, after all the guilt, after all the tears, I can simply rest. I don’t have to stay away.

I’ll be home this Christmas, and because of Christmas, not only in my dreams.

The Thief’s Story

It came to him unbidden, his father’s memory. Here, in his slow execution, it wasn’t his crimes that haunted Ishmael but Abba’s unwavering faith during his severed life. Stoned to death on false accusations, Abba had been innocent, a pawn in games of power.

As was the man dying excruciatingly beside him. Ishmael knew it as surely as he knew of his own guilt — the teacher was blameless. He could also be something more, someone Abba would have recognized. His corrupted heart, humbled at last, could not reject it. Offering what faith he had, he pleaded, “Remember me in Paradise.”

(This is a response to the 100 words challenge in Velvet Verbosity. The word for the week was “unbidden”. I chose this subject because I’ve always wondered about that thief who acknowledged Jesus as he was crucified. What sort of man was he, that he recognized the Messiah in that horrible moment of death when others, even his fellow condemned criminal, did not? This story is just my way of making up an answer to that question. I thought it would be as good a reason to write as any. :-))

 

Day 6 — A Stranger

Never let another steal your magnificence. ~ Alison Stormwolf


Hey, stranger.

Yes, you. The one reading this right now. I don’t know who you are, but I do know something about you that’s true whether you can believe it or not:

You are important. You matter. You may have heard the opposite all your life, heard that you are worthless, weak, ugly, stupid, a waste of space, an embarrassment. That nothing you do is right and that you will never amount to anything. All of those things aren’t true. This is true: You are not a mistake. Do you believe that?

Whether you have faith in him or not, it was God who planned you. You are his pride, his masterpiece. He delights in who you are! Oh, if you can, even for one moment,  just see exactly how captivating you are in his eyes. You will never again believe that you are ordinary. Inside  you, there is something unique and precious that he placed, and only he can reveal, if you’d let him. He longs for you to let him. Will you?

It doesn’t matter that you messed up. It doesn’t matter that you failed, or that you’re shattered. If there’s anyone who can put you back together again, it’s him. He wants you whole. He wants you healed. He wants you hopeful. When was the last time you felt like that?

I know this isn’t always easy to believe. You might want to, but it just seems so out of sync with the reality of your life. I’ve been there. Even now, there are days when I find myself thinking there is no way anyone can look at me and find me beautiful.

But it isn’t true. There is beauty in us, in you and me both, and God wants to bring it out for all the world to see.

Only if we believe it. Only if we let him.

I hope you will.

Love,

Someone like you

Captivating

(This song was composed for a Fine Arts 51 project. I wrote the lyrics, and my friend Kim Arvin Chan came up with the melody. It was inspired and is dedicated to the one who is taking my breath away with the greatest romance of my life. You are who You are – how can I be anything less than captivated?)


One by one
My masks fall away
And all that I am
Is exposed to your gaze
Your tenderness moves me
And I start to believe
That after all this time
I can somehow be healed

Captivating – that’s who you are
Can’t believe the way you’re winning my heart
Take me away, take me your way
I wanna be real; I wanna be free

You look at me
And I know for sure
I’ve never been loved
This completely before
How can I not surrender?
My walls are all down
You’ve changed me completely
My confusion is gone

Captivating – that’s who you are
Can’t believe the way you’re winning my heart
Take me away, take me your way
I wanna be real; I wanna be free
(repeat)

Deeper and deeper I fall into you
Until I’m safe in your arms

Captivating – that’s who you are
Can’t believe the way you’re winning my heart
Take me away, take me your way
I wanna be real; I wanna be free

Take me away, take me your way
I wanna be real; I wanna be free

Captivating – that’s who you are….

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You’ve won my heart

I’m here with you at last. I’m here, just standing still and letting you love me. And as the wind flows over the grass on the mountains and the hair on my shoulders, I hear you whisper:  “I know you.” And for once, it doesn’t terrify me to be known. Instead, there’s a surge of relief and intense joy, and though I am wet, muddy, and cold, I feel fresh, free, and alive. The soft rain on my skin feels like an embrace so tender it melts me, and it seems like the most romantic thing in the world to be up here on the hills, on this morning of wind and clouds, discovering how much you delight in me. I want to shout and to soar, to tell you that you are amazing and beautiful and glorious, and that you have captured my heart at last. The pursuit is over – I’m done with running away. I am yours.

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Psalm 139

by Rebecca St. James

You search me
You know me
You see my every move
There’s nothing I could ever do
To hide myself from You
You know my thoughts
My fears and hurts
My weaknesses and pride
You know what I am going through
And how I feel inside

But even though You know
You will always love me
Even though You know
You’ll never let me go
I don’t deserve Your love
But you give it freely
You will always love me
Even though You know

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