The God Who Stays

You are...
the God Who Stays,
light that remains when every.other.candle
lies extinguished.

Deep...
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.

How fierce...
this love that burns within, and without us
but does not consume
save the dross.

You are...
the God Who Stays.

You are...
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
few, many
unseen, longing?

You are the God Who Stays.

jfig      5/2022

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

daring prayer

Father of Holiness,

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.

jfig 4/2022 #ps-almighty

Prayer of Return: Leaning

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
babes hunger—
they are multiplying cells so fast

I am just beginning
to see
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.

This post is dedicated to my friends at https://thedihedral.com/ who are a consistent source of encouragement to me.

While They Were Tending: Simeon

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*

Read Luke 2:22-35 “Luke 2 (NLT) – Then it was time for.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 6 Jan, 2022. https://www.blueletterbible.org/nlt/luk/2/22-35/s_975022.

Let Down
Yes,
Simeon's answer is, yes.
All of eternity is altered
by this child's first breath.
The next breath...peace
is yours.

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.
Every day.

Where shall we find Him?
Simeon...
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
Listen...
Nurture His Presence
He is here.

jfig     1/2022

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 could see 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.

While They Were Tending: An Advent Reflection – Intro

Have you noticed? All the main characters in the Nativity story were simply tending to their ordinary lives, when suddenly… They step into their roles from the horizontal plane of everyday life. Spotlights find them in the mundane, sometimes painful, laborious and anticipatory; all of them waiting. With all of Israel they wait for Messiah, but each waits also in the angst of their individual postures in the world: Mary, for a wedding. Joseph, for his bride. Zechariah, for his appointment. Not unlike any of us.

In observing these characters through scripture, there are comments that pop; aspects of character that slip into Luke’s narrative. Perhaps it is these traits that allow each to respond a certain way in the critical moment? It is this question, that captures my attention.

Read Luke 1: 1-45 “Luke 1 (ESV) – Inasmuch as many have undertaken.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 10 Dec, 2021. https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/luk/1/1/s_974001.

Have you noticed? Waiting is not passive— but tends the fire of belief. Sometimes, it consumes an inordinate amount of energy, either anticipatory or fearful.  Year 2021, waiting in the slow line raises questions: Text, text, text…what matters? Tap, tap, tap…what am I worth? Diverse others behind and before me… What is her reality? His need? What…do I really believe about what is right and good? What do I really believe, period?

Year 2021—waiting. Have you noticed? Some of us are not adept.  Others, far too much so—practiced?

from Luke 1:3b,4 “I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”

What do I really believe? This is a good question. Personally, if I am not careful to continue laying the fuel of hope, based on God’s undeniable faithfulness to me; the flame of my belief flickers, distorting what I see in the midnight sky. Fires(yours, too?) smolder lower and lower, hungry for oxygen. This waiting is one story of Advent.

Waiting
Waiting is not passive...
but tends the fire of belief.
Subconscious yearnings curl skyward
for fiery coal
held in God's hand alone
to touch one's lips
feet, fingers: propel these bones
that carry any purpose at all
into the kingdom of light.

Carry me...

Burst my heart, God
upon the dream of your making.
My fingers pick
at the timeworn threads
of dreams my way—
like lint upon a tattered garment.
Your hand massages the oft-furled script,
patient
as my feet find the rocky path.

The path...
straight by definition,
far from so, in experience.
Come, come to the manger
come with me—
to see the why
and the wherefore;
all the reason
belief has form.

jfig     2021

Reflection Questions:  For what are you waiting? What fuel lies banked in your heart? What will you do, as God breathes his living presence into the everyday drama of your life this Advent season?

THANK YOU for joining me. As we continue, I hope we will ponder together, pray together, worship and rejoice together. In his goodness, j

Prayers of returning: Longing

Longing; a meditation from Psalm 84

My soul longs
for the courts of the Lord
where you are extolled
and i, am not.

Set instead
to carrying—
one small ration
called hope...a flame.

Your breath—
alight in me
sets hope to dancing
on the walls of the world.

jfig     8/2021

In her book, Dear White Peacemakers, Osheta Moore includes in her description of white supremacy, the unwitting agony for one white, of striving to live up to a certain standard of excellence derived from skin color alone. And that without knowing that one is carrying this weight about on her back. Conversely, for one of darker-hued skin, there is constant pressure to prove that one’s humanness is more than painfully perpetuated untruths about color. Either way, we are all left striving to prove our worth.

In the courts of the Lord, all this striving falls away – eyes glued to our Creator, Provider, Healer, Messiah. Corporate activity is just that, pointed toward one end. Meditating upon Psalm 84, imagining the atmosphere of the ‘Courts of the Lord,’ the activity that is ordered there, has provided immense relief to me as I continue to wrestle with questions of racism, human worth, and how we live together on the planet.

My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. ESV

My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. NIV

“Psalm 84 (NIV) – My soul yearns, even faints,.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 22 Aug, 2021. https://www.blueletterbible.org/niv/psa/84/2/s_562002.

“Psalm 84 (NIV) – My soul yearns, even faints,.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 22 Aug, 2021. https://www.blueletterbible.org/niv/psa/84/2/s_562002.

Prayers of returning: meditations on Psalm 84. Peaceful

Peaceful - Psalm 84:5

i enter your courts
peaceful today
buoyed by rest
encountered here,
and my small ration of hope.

Vital...
'Zion' is worth the trek.
Though the valley be dark
it is, in fact
shadow.

Today's offering...
Sometimes i am blinded by your light
unwittingly linger; choose the dark— 
even Moses benefitted from
the cleft in the rock.

i enter your courts...quietly
bathe in Your
Light—
choosing...
Peaceful.

jfig     8/21

Dear Reader, Choosing to follow Jesus on pilgrimage is a big deal. There are so many uNeXpecTeD places he wants to take us – adoption, service, submission, risk. Think about it – He shares his inheritance…! I am convinced that one of the greatest challenges the Messiah ever faced during his time on earth, was to preserve our freedom to choose—whether to follow him, or not. An alternative would have been so much easier. In the whole broad realm of mental and emotional health, the ability to choose ‘peace’ remains, at times, relative to one’s circumstances and well being. This poem is not intended as admonition – rather invitation, and admission: some moments are easier than others, to choose the goodness of Presence that God offers. Blessings…j

Prayers of returning: day 3

rejoicing day 3

i come to you rejoicing, Lord
having breathed the delight of 

your goodness falls like rain
sometimes near
oft on some distant plain

cataracted eyes must peer
through cloud, smoke,
beyond
the staggering lightning of loss
to confirm that you are here.

i come to you rejoicing, Lord
having breathed the delight of your goodness

where i have been?
I lay it down—
unlikely gift, this surrender,
to take up the dance of rejoicing.
Your Goodness—
one dwelling where greed
is not a shame.

jfig     8/2021


Scriptural context: Psalm 84 - the courts of the Lord. I've been hanging out here for months:
"How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord." <a href="http://"Psalm 84 (ESV) - To the choirmaster: according to." Blue Letter Bible. Web. 1 Aug, 2021. http://"Psalm 84 (ESV) - To the choirmaster: according to." Blue Letter Bible. Web. 1 Aug, 2021. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/psa/84/1/s_562001>.

Capitalization is intentional to reflect something of one's journey toward confidence, it's resolution, and where it ultimately lies.
'Rejoice' by Monica Stewart is one of my favorite paintings. Due to copyright - I can only nudge/NUDGE you to visit her gallery to see her full rendition.  Rejoice! | (monicastewart.com)

Finally, I should note that the broad expanse of my life has been filled with blessing - thanks be to God.

Prayers of returning…day 2

The past 7 months have been filled with anguish – like I have been floundering in some raging socio-emotional current, washing up in tatters from time-to-time on unfamiliar and desolate shores. Depleted. This week, God has mercifully filled my cup anew, like the long-awaited rain that is at this very moment beginning to patter. I extend this prayer to you, not because “I am back,” but to share my small ration of hope in the waiting. jfig

Prayer of returning...day 2
Cupped

Jesus, i return
to you, this morning
small gift of hope, cupped
carefully
in upturned palms
like a bird, ready
to fly.

For you...i offer
it back—this infant gift
so precious
to scatter like seed;
it lies safe in your benevolent hands.
My heart rests—abandoned
to you...dawning revelation of all creation.

Reveal...
I wait peacefully
for you.

jfig     8/2021
If you'd like a scriptural context, Isaiah 8:20-22 speaks of anguish. And Isaiah 9, the revelation of dawn.



On Our Knees

On Our Knees

We were not meant to know this evil.

We are on our knees
trying to stem the tide
of that which we were not
meant to know.
hands inept—ravaged and torn.

We were not meant
to bear in tender flesh
such intimate knowledge:
evil's searing pain,
prolonged stench of indelible ash.

This knowledge would betray us.

We grabbed the limbs of self-deception
eager to climb her rungs
shaking loose like pollen
clouds of arrogance, brutality
convoluted delusions of entitlement.

Voracious we climb. Why???

Still we are on our knees
intention desperate
flood held— just shy of our consumption
by unhidden promise
stretched out before Noah

And kept.

We have been meant, always
to wear the knowledge of God's Presence—garden green
but sadly trade  for sheep's clothing
choosing, still.
We are the wolves.

Set down thy thirst and fisted fork!
BEHOLD the deeds of the Lord
see the work of his hands—
they, too, are naked and torn.
We are on our knees...

jfig    4/2021

For months, with so many of you, I have listened to cries of distress across our nation and asked, What is wrong with our humanity? Probed the more puzzling question,  How did we get here, still? And wrestled with the disturbing, How am I complicit? I find myself begging for hope that will reach beyond my own boundaries and capacity. The title “On Our Knees” comes from this hint of desperation.  Our collective answers to these questions appear to fall far short of understanding; and the days appear to grow darker… My thoughts return again and again to these passages: Genesis 2 and Isaiah 5. Genesis 2 which describes Eve reaching for what she thinks is an edible fruit, but missing the end of the sentence…  She misses it again in Genesis 3, when Satan clearly states,  ” Your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil(emphasis mine).”  Oh, how we want to be like God; in control and power and knowing. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate…“1  And Isaiah 5  – a detailed litany of our continuing misguided appetites. I like Isaiah 5 because it does not tell me that I am all wrong. It tells me, because you do this, you still hunger and thirst. It gives me a list from which to choose; and I only have to absorb in my skin, the woe over which I trip. From its core, Isaiah 5 is also actionable. These passages have provided space from which to begin to understand what I see, feel, hear. Slowly, this reflection is beginning to shed light on where I act entitled, in my interactions with neighbors and friends, in the check-out line and with my spouse… I have friends who are convinced they play no part in systemic racism. I understand—it is frightening to consider the ramifications.

Self deception has no respect for color. We have poured in buckets of every hue imaginable. I believe it is important to ask ourselves the disturbing questions. Midst much chaos, it has helped to have some sense of where to begin.  I hope you find these passages helpful as well.

Bravely, jfig

1) Genesis 3:16,17. The Holy Bible, ESV 2001 by Crossway, Wheaton, IL. (www.esvbible.org)

Genesis 2:9,16-17; 2:25; Genesis 3:5-6

Isaiah 5, particularly 8-24

Genesis 2:16-17  But the LORD God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

“Genesis 2 (NLT) – So the creation of the.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 24 Apr, 2021. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/nlt/gen/2/1/p1/s_2001&gt;.

Isaiah 5:12b “but they do not regard the deeds of the Lord, or see the work of his hands.”

“Isaiah 5 (ESV) – They have lyre and harp.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 24 Apr, 2021. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/isa/5/12/p1/s_684012&gt;.