rests upon the threshold...waiting
soft gleam of redemption’s warmth beckoning—
just across the sill.
It is good to tarry,
afore measured steps across
this unlikely beam.
Just landing here
One might tarry yet,
catch breath from the climb,
Then, whether you leap, or dive...
The Father’s net will catch you,
as if you had simply walked.
But you will experience the dive.
Surrender…is an unlikely word, or practice. There is nothing in our current social milieu that advocates for such. It is beyond high risk, whether you are an adrenalin junkie, or not. Surrender, leaves everything behind. As a follower of Jesus, it is sometimes good practice to return to the deep edge, and once again make the leap.
Fairest Lord Jesus, this feels a bit like 'double dare.' You surrendered everything. Whose turn is it now? The precipice is high; the fall terrifying. It will take all of you: Father, Son, Spirit to catch me this time. But trust runs deep... I’m leaping. J
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
is about sinking into the depths of redemption,
and allowing all
our carefully crafted idols
disappear beneath the waves
of God's goodness and mercy.
the sea gate held open.
Perhaps this is the way we get to our knees--
by accepting the buckling weight
of so great a love as this--
that One Holy would lay down his life
awash in shame
for my pitiable state--
and hold the gate
The darkest night
waits for morning…
even when it feels no
collapses in exhale
leaving room for
ribbons of air…
serpentine currents when felt in
met us here—in the cave.
Allow the dawn,
its light to creep
into the place one’s soul wanders,
Is there a God,
God of goodness who
made the light?
If you must hold your breath—
hold it with
the wild possibility
that hope—tightly balled into
may find The Child
and yet survive.
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. he chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created."
"James 1 (NIV) - Every good and perfect gift." Blue Letter Bible. Web. 21 Dec, 2022. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/niv/jas/1/17/s_1147017>.
If I wrote this poem for no one else, Lord, I would write it for my friend, who wanders in the dark, knowing that you are God. We all wander, and wonder. And wait…for your faithfulness, which finds us again, and again, and again. You find us, because you are here, waiting as well, breathless with the expectation that we will look up. Thank you…from the humblest of hearts, that you would creep low; tarry that we might bump into you often enough to become familiar…old friends for the journey; and company us safely home. Amen
30 years ago, I
plz, plz, plz, take me
in your wondrous, matchless work—
set people free.
20 years ago, hands full
of laundry and littles, I
came away limping.
"Absorb," He said
"Who I Am."
10 years ago, I
you give me a spacious place (to fold laundry and care for not-so-littles)
I will keep working on that.
was unimpressed by my terms.
He did set me in a spacious place.
And then began to set me free.
Sometimes it is meaningful to look back; to see what God was doing...when. Compelled by Isaiah 61, so much angst I experienced, in trying to make a difference, with what felt like limited internal resources for a global moment. All the while, God kept pouring in, filling the reservoir bit by bit with what (I did not know) I needed. Father, Son, Spirit—present and alive—abundant, full, overflowing in goodness. These verses: Isaiah 61; Luke 4:18-19; Psalm 18:1-3 are especially meaningful to me in the context of life purpose.
the God Who Stays,
light that remains when every.other.candle
in the hollows of the earth
you carved a shelter,
holding space for resurrection.
We needed to know...
life can be born, and re-borne
in the sanctuary of
Your fire-breathing Presence.
this love that burns within, and without us
but does not consume
save the dross.
the God Who Stays.
the God Who Stays
long enough to shred two sides -
the opaque curtain called 'belonging.'
We needed to know...
that Father stayed, too: waiting, watching
for vision's redemption—holiness unleashed
a billion twinkling stars, set free.
Which one of you first breathed
"It is finished,"
or was that merely cue—
Holy Spirit to join you
in the ripe, hungry
fields of men, women
You are the God Who Stays.
Dear Reading Friend, this is the first in a 3-part ‘observation’ regarding the desperate, reverberating cry, ‘Abandoned!?…?!’; I believe there is a God who hears and tends to this cry. These are not easy words to hear, “I have been abandoned…” Nor is this easy truth to absorb. It seems one has to wrestle a bit. Perhaps a lot. The wrestling feels important: there is no other cry so crashing our airwaves right now. The following verses might be of interest: Philippians 3:20-21; Luke 23:44-46; John 19:30
I have chosen the attached photo because it speaks to me of both what we think we know, and of perspective. I have been wrestling with this topic for a while; years, in fact. When it comes to ‘knowing’, I have as much access to scripture as anyone; and more than many. I have much less Biblical scholarship. My perspective on abandonment is a narrow window; but a thoughtful one. I have tried to look a long way off. Toward that end, your constructive thoughts are welcome. j
We long to see you—the pillars of fire by which you lead us lighting up the night sky—as you lead the way out of darkness into eternal light.
Help us to understand the gap between you and us that can only be bridged by the sacrificial love of Christ. May we dare to cross—toes engage the threshold—day after day following you into newness of life. May we willingly carry stones (while you carry us) that your good purpose will lay to extend the bridge, into spaces our eyes have yet to see.
We want to dance with you, in your company of holiness; stripped of sin and willfulness. We want to see your stars.
Prayer of return: leaning
My soul might faint (faint it does)
but still must get up
and feed babies...
mine, and perhaps some others as well.
Even midst the valley of tears
they are multiplying cells so fast
I am just beginning
that you have not equipped me to keep up
But to lean—
lean heavily, in fact
on the God of infinite supply.
jfig winter 21/22
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
the words of Jesus from Matthew 5:3.
And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide,” as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.’ Genesis 22:13,14
The year 2022 is full of things that need fixing and rescuing. But there is One who came to be our rescue. Prophets foretold it. Simeon saw it. Dare we believe it? Believe that He came not only to ‘rescue’ us from sin as individuals, but to invite us into the abundance of God’s goodness. Into belonging. Into H-O-P-E written overtop the anxieties that grab me when I read the news.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Thank you for the feast-
invitation to go
deep into the roots of
All the way
into the recesses
Both a question,
and a fledgling
climb into the expansive limbs of
Who You are.
But I hear your heartbeat echo
when I am down here midst the roots.
Thank You for the feast
to rich, brown
Dust and living water.
A bit about prayers of return: My soul friend asked me, “Where are you returning from?” Good question. Places of doubt, skewed theology, giant looming questions. Places like dinosaur exhibits – things that look like they shouldn’t be real but are. On my worst days – willful disobedience. Busyness – days when it is sheer delight to step into the safe Presence of Yahweh and remember, this is home. Always, the welcome is the same. This is home.
Psalms 27, 32 and 84 talk about making God one’s refuge, a home with Him. You can access those readings easily here:
Let down. Covid, and cancellations, and a Savior has come into the world. But…has anything really changed after all? Winter storms, and wintrier loss and unexpected winds of change altering one’s landscape – for better?
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation…” Luke 2:29,30*
Simeon's answer is, yes.
All of eternity is altered
by this child's first breath.
The next breath...peace
Like Mary's milk
let down to nurture the Christ child
(let down poignantly
a slight bit painful...tiny bit sweet),
we must lay down singular expectation
to nurture His Presence in the world.
The One who
will not let us down.
He is here
breathing hope and human dust
into everyday miracles.
Where shall we find Him?
welcomed him from the arms of a stranger
(young girl at that)
from persistent whispers of Spirit Holy winds,
amid the long-sounding echoes of his own cautious journey.
Look—look for Him
Nurture His Presence
He is here.
Simeon practiced expectation. He tended the fire of belief by expecting God to be and do as He had said. For one who would follow Jesus, this practice is critical as breathing. Not because Simeon couldsee the circumstances of rescue, but because he could now embrace the Christ Child. For one who would follow Jesus, this letting-go of other notions, in order to fully gather in the wonder of the Infant King, is life-altering. Simeon allowed the Advent of the Messiah to frame his outlook toward what came next, as one of peace.
Holy God, I’d like to be like Simeon, embracing your Presence in a way that alters my own expectations; that allows you to fill me with wonder at who you are. Would you settle me into your peace, in such a way that I not only welcome what comes next, but my renewed expectations inform others that YOU ARE HERE. Help me to tend the fire of belief in a way that brightens the darkness of circumstance and softens the faces of those with whom I conflict. Peace. May I be one who can confidently say, I have seen your rescue. Every day. Amen
*Luke 2:29,30 The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Matthew 1:19-21 ESV And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Joseph...was a carpenter?
Joseph was a good man, a just man... one as he ought to be. *
unwilling...to cast Mary to public shame
though he might have.
Joseph...was a carpenter
Did he feel dismay,
pound his fist, spittle spray
at events going out of square?
navigating by Spirit dreams (this is paradox);
holiness swirling about and within him.
Pattern abandoned...Joseph crafted
climbed a scaffold of discernment?
What form did decisive urgency take
as Joseph waited,
with the rest of the world
for salvation to drop
from the womb
of a girl?
As they fled through the night
'protect' pumping through his veins
Joseph guards the salvation of his people.
Joseph didn’t wait for salvation from the womb of any girl, but his girl. The sense of responsibility must have been crushing. Yet there is no indication in scripture, that Joseph operated with anything but merciful kindness, patience, and the will to act decisively. Upon Holy Spirit dreams. Hesed. Prophecy after prophecy to be fulfilled.
What strikes me at this moment in the history of the world, is Joseph navigating a delicate, but weighty interpersonal situation, while balancing the weight of prophecy and the world’s salvation. Did his actions qualify as basic kingdom carpentry? What about now, as Jesus-followers try to do the same…good and just actions, as we ought to be? The good news is, there is a Navigator. This poem ends in questions, because I do not have the answers (would have dropped the crossbeam at saving face). Joseph…was a carpenter. Who are you…and I?
Some extra thoughts if you are interested:
In a sermon series this fall, about one’s acting purpose under God, author and speaker Gary Thomas asked the question, “What’s in your hand?” What would God have you do with that ? Joseph… was a carpenter.
Isaiah 5 enunciates the woes of the Israelite people – attitudes and actions that interfere with their delivery of God’s justice and righteousness to the world. One of those woes (vs. 8) alludes to pushing people out and away from receiving God’s promised inheritance. Joseph…did not do this. He protected God’s salvation for the world. Because he was a just man, a good man…one as he ought to be. This serves as a POWERFUL example to me. His tools? The literacy of his everyday craft, humility, kindness and seeming moment by moment reliance upon the Spirit of God. He did it by being who he was—a carpenter, a man, one reliant upon the Spirit of God.
Reflection Questions: Is there some arena in which you, like Joseph, are being asked to ‘not fear’ and trust both the work and the leading of the Holy Spirit?
What does it take, to move you from casting shame, to sheltering another?
Is there a way in which God is asking you to protect the delivery of his salvation to others in the world?
What tools do you use, to define who will be Jesus’s people?
These are questions I am asking myself, over and again, searching the night sky, for clues to navigation. Godspeed to you, in your journey of ‘bearing salvation.’ j
*This elaboration of the Greek word used for Joseph’s character comes from Strong’s concordance. You can access details via the Blue Letter Bible link above.
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.