March 27, 2014

My Lighthouse -- A symbol of faithfulness

I decided to try another song-related blog post. For those of you who didn't know, that's where "Off With Your Sandals" all got started. Just little me getting real about what Jesus means to me and reflecting on songs that have pointed me towards some great truths. 

I am getting married in 24 days. Unreal. Truly, the joys and blessings leading up to this celebration have certainly made for the most beautiful, exciting season of my life so far (by far).


And yet, to be honest, leading up to our wedding has been a bit of a disorienting time for me because of the life-altering changes which are imminent in a time like this. Don't get me wrong-- I could not be more thrilled and truly blessed that the man I am marrying is 'in it' for the long haul with me. But, really, what will that look like? How much does that change other relationships? What ugly thing will it bring out in me that will be exposed to someone whose opinion matters so much to me? Well, that's the beauty of it, we're promising to be there throughout it all, no matter what comes our way, together. 


More truth? We don't really know how to do that yet. Y'know, the 'being in it no matter what' thing. I know I'll be bad at it sometimes. Other times maybe it will feel like it comes (super)naturally. Mostly, I think we'll just look at each other in life's different seasons and be like "What is going on here?!" and be thankful to have a teammate to go through it with. 


All that said, this song came at a really cool season in my life ('My Lighthouse' - Rend Collective). The lyric that pushed me to write this is: "Fire before us, You're the brightest. You will lead us through the storms." Thank God! 


We're super-fresh newborn babies in this whole realm/idea of the commitment of marriage, but what we do know is that it's not going to work if we're banking on each other to be the other's anchor or guide or lifeline or compass when we're in the same boat. God's promises, His Word, and gentle leading have gotta handle those roles for us. The good news is, my experiences show me He's got it covered! 


FIRE BEFORE US


I like this title for God. We just we reminded at Knox (our church) through The Lord's Prayer (Psalm 23) that it is important to address God by His names. Helps to arrange ourselves in an appropriate posture when addressing El Shaddai -- Commander of Angel Armies, for example. I love when God is called "a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29). It's not a flickering flame. That fire is raging and jealous -- in a powerful, not weak-jealous way. 


Also, probably not surprisingly, it wasn't a huge stretch to take this image to the "Fire By Night" and think about the practical measure of God's presence, faithfulness and provision for Israel when they were escaping from captivity in Egypt. 


Exodus 13:21 (NLT) -- The LORD went ahead of them. He guided them in the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night.


The fire is provided for the purpose of providing light and being a guide. The cloud is a poignant image throughout the Bible of God's holy presence being with His people. I also love how His provision made it possible to travel continuously. It's like God saying "I've got this, just keep moving, keep trusting me as I go ahead of you". 


YOU'RE THE BRIGHTEST


When things get crazy, and you're disoriented on the ugly waves of grief, fear, suffering, and a myriad of other troubles... light is a way out. "WHAT SIDE IS UP!?" gets tricky to answer if you can't see anything. 

John 8:12 (NLT) -- Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life."


There can be other things that provide light, but they don't always lead to life. A focus for me has to be that I rely on God's truth, His Word, to guide my steps. This true light, in our world, is a beacon for others, too, so that when God's presence is found in us (because we just get out of the way), then they can also be encouraged and find solace. 


YOU WILL LEAD US THROUGH THE STORMS


Referring to the same first passage about fire, 1 Corinthians 10:1 talks about not forgetting what God did, that He was able to protect God's people and lead them through... the sea! The Israelites had no way to go -- a body of water stood between the land of slavery, which was all they had known, and a new land of freedom and where they could be make a new life. 


If he's leading, we've gotta follow. A tall order? Yup! 


Matthew 16:24 -- Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.


As a team, we will need to always be listening/watching for His leading. Also, may I just say, from what I know of myself already and what I've heard about marriage -- probably, if I could "deny myself" at all, I will be able to better be lead to care for another more than I care to look out for myself!

Dear Jesus -- thank you for being our guide, for being the truest Light and the truest Love we can depend on to lead us through all the seasons of our lives. 
========================================================================

-- M Y ... L I G H T H O U S E --

(Rend Collective)

In my wrestling and in my doubts
In my failures You won't walk out
Your great love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea
You are the peace in my troubled sea

In the silence, You won't let go
In my questions, Your truth will hold
Your great love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea
You are the peace in my troubled sea

My Lighthouse, my lighthouse
Shining in the darkness, I will follow You
My Lighthouse, my Lighthouse
I will trust the promise, 
You will carry me safe to shore (Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh)
Safe to shore (Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh)
Safe to shore (Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh)
Safe to shore

I won't fear what tomorrow brings
With each morning I'll rise and sing
My God's love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea
You are the peace in my troubled sea

Fire before us, You're the brightest
You will lead us through the storms

March 26, 2014

old men gone, young man taken

some old men grow old
and great stories get told
of when they were young
and life's fun had begun
and how they lived well
with jokes ready to tell
and gave it their all
how they were good at 'ball
and what they would say here and now
we say rest in peace
and can have a calm ease
to know that their love was received
and though he is gone
his voice somehow goes on

but then sometimes instead
a young man is found dead
and his story was not set to end
tears come and grief flares
of the truth hard to bear
a lost brother, son, and friend
we consider our ties
and break down the lies
that we could have done something more
the loss here is great 
and feeling its weight
a wonder of what else is in store:
when again will we be this shaken?
who else will be taken?
you know if you've felt it before.





[an odd ramble]

watch out
you could lose it
just cool it
relax
be mindful
be simple
be careful
stick to facts

forget it
it's nothing
and wonder
instead

you're trying 
and wishing
you're being
your best

it can't be
it is, but
won't always
be
what is it
it's rare 
and life-giving
and free

a friend 
an ally
a truth
a light

it's worth it
it's giving 
a reason
to fight

watch for the whispers
listen for the signs
give up your hopes for
the truth you can find