And let us know, let us follow on to know Jehovah: his going forth is sure as the morning; and he will come unto us as the rain, as the latter rain that watereth the earth. -Hosea 6:3 (ASV)
Here it comes: SUMMER!
Yes, the semester is ending, (my) finals are done, and the summer stretches before us. And my thoughts turn to the novel idea: “Hey, what if I start blogging more again now that I have time on my hands?”
And so here I am.
Granted, I don’t have anything specific in mind to write, so prepare for rambling. Granted, I have a summer class that starts May 31, so I really don’t have long to enjoy this “summer off” concept. But perhaps I can try to write a bit more. (I know, I tend to blog like a sputtering car: start, accelerate, sputter, die, repeat.)
It IS a good feeling to have those finals off my chest. I turned in my last one (essentially a six page essay/paper) tonight, after taking one online last night. I love the relief, the release I feel when those things are over. It’s as though suddenly I feel the lightness of something that has gone missing from my life: i.e., the stress of homework. It’s delightful. (As I’ve said, let’s all pretend May 31 and my summer class doesn’t exist.)
Today was also the last day of work for two student workers who have been in our office ever since I arrived at my job. They have become good, dear friends to me, and I’m sad to see them go.
Finally, I am learning to keep my eyes fixed on Christ. I had a rough weekend, but I am learning to focus on the greatness and might of the Lord over the size of my circumstances or struggles. He is my Ebenezer, my stone of help, and through His help I have made it this far. He is good, and I praise Him for His faithfulness in my life.
May you find Him faithful in your life this week in a special way.
I have wondered with a heavy heart how to even address my thoughts on the earthquake and tsunami that have destroyed lives in so much of Japan and other places. My grandmother sent me an e-mail and a poem that I wrote over 5 years ago, after the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Aceh, Indonesia, and so many other places. It seemed fitting enough to post. What I said then, I believe to be true now: in the midst of tragedy and destruction, God is there.
December 29, 2004: I sat tonight watching fresh images of the waters of death that have destroyed lives and cities, and I again grappled to understand. I wrote a post on my blog earlier, trying to give more details of all that had happened in Malaysia, though I wasn’t even there to see it. And tonight, I sat listening to a song by Avalon called “You Were There.” It’s a beautiful song…and I began thinking of all the death and destruction that had occurred, realizing that even in all of that, God had been there. I sat down and wrote…well, something. It’s not exactly a poem, or prose either. But it came from a part of me that was trying to understand all that happened, and a part of me that believes a God stronger than the forces of nature was there during it all. Some would say, “Well if he was there, why didn’t he stop it?” I don’t know; I couldn’t answer that question. But there’s a part of me that feels like just knowing God was there—he saw everything unfold, felt the pain and terror of each person—well, somehow, it helps me just a little. It might not to those who have lost loved ones or everything they owned…but even in all of that, God was there. He is there now. He will be there.
And that brings hope.
Much love, Katy
You Were There
When a force that shook the foundations of the earth began to unleash devastation,
You were there.
When the power of 1 million atomic bombs ripped through the oceans’ depths, You were there.
You saw it begin.
You saw the power and fury of the earth You created let loose.
When water surged and waves rose, You were there.
When a watery wall of death leaped up from the sea, You were there.
You saw the oceans You made begin to flow on their course of destruction.
When these waves began their mission of death, You were there.
You saw them ripple along their way, like ripples in a pond,
But this was not only a pond, and the waves were not only ripples.
When these unleashed forces of the oceans began to crash onto beaches, You were there.
When wave upon wave of water hit shores thousands of miles from where they began,
You were there.
When these waves crashed away everything in their path, You were there.
When the people You loved enough to die for ran for their very lives, You were there.
When houses fell and possessions were swept away, You were there.
You saw as these waves broke buildings, stole lives, left terror and grief in their wake.
Did Your heart break? I don’t have to ask.
I imagine Your tears would put the waters of tsunamis to shame.
In the midst of death and destruction, the God of the Universe was there. You were there.
You saw each life ebb away. You heard the wails of grief. You saw the terror of children.
You were there.
When bodies lay littered along the beaches of nations, You were there.
When widows and orphans looked for the loved ones they would never find, You were there.
When the peoples of the world reeled in shock at the destruction of a few hours, You were there.
When the dead were counted and the number grew to incomprehensible figures,
You were there.
And when people began to reach out and help one another, You were there.
When the world was bonded together by a crisis too terrible to understand, You were there.
When people touched one another in love, holding one another against this nightmare,
You were there.
When relief began to be sent, You were there.
When the world began to sacrifice for its neighbors in the name of humanity, You were there.
In the love and giving of self, to those who are left with nothing, You will be there.
In the months to come, when buildings and lives are rebuilt, You will be there.
When people begin to cope with shock and a life defined by death and loss, You will be there.
We do not understand. Understanding may not come. But we know this:
You were there.
Maybe that’s enough.
In death and destruction, the God of us all was there, closer than a heartbeat.
His power and might are greater than the force that shook the earth.
His love and grace are greater and more all-consuming than the waves that stole away lives.
And that kind of God was there…He will be there.
All is not lost,
For in the aftermath of it all…He is here.
There has been a lot of pain this week. I have seen and heard of people facing cancer, of those who have faced taking loved ones to the emergency room for a variety of reasons. I know of a man who’s father just lost his job, and of another man who is dealing with the ongoing complications from his father’s open heart surgery.
I know of a man whose daughter discovered her child had died in her womb. In addition to losing her baby, during the procedure to remove it, there was a medical mistake that ended up in destroying and removing part of her small intestines. Now she hangs in the balance, fighting for her life. She was able to have the 5% of her small intestines remaining reconnected to the large intestine, but a transplant will probably be necessary in the future. She will have a long and difficult healing ahead of her, emotionally and physically.
I know of the people who fight the inner battles, the ones that don’t take them to a doctor or surgery or the emergency room. They suffer through their own emotional pain, because of a broken relationship, because of hurt in a relationship, because of their own struggle to accept and forgive themselves. These are the people who look into the mirror and despair of ever being who they wish they could be. These are the hopeless, the ones who silently curse and condemn themselves daily, or the ones who cry out long sobs at the end of the day when they are alone in their apartment, kneeling on the floor. These are the ones who fight to live day to day, to live the fullness and wholeness they long for.
I have seen all of these this week. I can identify with some. But most of all I am overwhelmed by the pain of it. We each have a journey; we each face our own private struggle. And I ask what can possibly be done in the face of such trials and wounds.
I heard this song on the radio this week. It doesn’t make everything ok; it doesn’t give answers to the pain. But to me, it offered a reminder of Hope.
May we also remember to help light up the sky for others, that we may make this journey and find strength in walking together.
When I’m feeling all alone
With so far to go
The signs are no where on this road
Guiding me home
When the night is closing in
Is falling on my skin
Oh God will You come close?
Light light light up the sky
You light up the sky to show me You are with me
I I I can’t deny
No I can’t deny that You are right here with me
You’ve opened my eyes
So I can see You all around me
Light light light up the sky
You light up the sky to show me
That You are with me
When stars are hiding in the clouds
I don’t feel them shining
When I can’t see You beyond my doubt
The silver lining
When I’ve almost reached the end
Like a flood You’re rushing in
Your love is rushing in
So I run straight into Your arms
You’re the bright and morning sun
To show Your love there’s nothing You won’t do
That You are with me
Guess what, guess what? It’s CHRISTMAS DAY!
I love Christmas. I love the season, I love the lights, I love putting up the tree, I love the Christmas music, I love the gift-getting and giving, and I love being with family. All in all, it’s a season I love.
It’s also a season about love. Well, really, it’s about the Greatest Love the world has ever known. I’m pretty sure most of you know Christmas is somehow, more or less, about the birth of Jesus. (Or is it Santa? Are the two related?) And most of you know various degrees of the story about Jesus. If you’ll indulge me, I wanna tell my side of that story. This is how I understand it:
A really long time ago, God made the world. He made mankind. And early in creation, we chose our own selfish way over God’s. He was perfect and holy, we chose not to be, and we were separated from him. Guess what? That broke God’s heart. He made us to live in close relationship with him, so he made a plan to bring us back to himself. The plan came as a baby, Jesus Christ, born on Christmas. Jesus was God living as a man. He lived the sinless life we could never live and died the death our sins deserve (and that death was for all of us, because all of us have sinned). And when we trust in Jesus, he makes us right with God again. Which means when we die, it’s not really death–we go on to be with God forever.
I can’t explain that whole story above, because it involves a God I can’t explain. I can’t explain how Jesus was both God and both human, but I believe it. I can’t explain why a perfect and holy God would think we are worth saving, but I believe it. So when I think of Christmas, it’s not just about all those great things I listed above. It’s about a mending of humanity. It’s about God taking a fallen world and offering it hope in this life and, even more importantly, for the life to come. It’s about the greatest gift the world has ever known. It’s about the chance to accept the gift that will change your life.
So when I talk about what Christmas means to me, I’m not just talking about lights and presents. I’m talking about a real baby that showed up one night in the arms of a young mother. I’m talking about the man he became, the death he died, the life he gives now. I’m talking about Jesus, the gift from God that has saved my life and my soul.
If you want to know more about how Jesus has changed my life or how he can change yours, please leave me a comment or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Life hurts. There are just parts of it that really suck. Look at enough people’s lives and you’ll find more pain than can fill twice those many lifetimes. There’s always something to hurt over, to cry over, if you care enough to care. Some people’s lives, especially when they’re young, make me want to ask why they have to go through all this.
Some people look at the pain and suffering in the world and say that this serves as proof that there can be no God, or at least not a loving God they would want to worship. Guess what. I believe in a loving God. And I believe in a painful world. I believe in a God who cries over the injustices and pain with us. I also believe in a God who loved us enough to give us free will, who loved us enough not to rob us of that or change everything we did once we ruined the world he gave us. So if we blow things and create a hard world for ourselves, why do we go blame God? We want all the credit for the good things we manage to squeeze out of life, but when our actions contribute to an overall ruining of society, it’s proof that God doesn’t exist. Have enough guts to acknowledge that God can be God over both the good and the bad. Just because you can’t prove him doesn’t mean he’s not there. Who wants a God who fits into a logical equation anyway? I certainly don’t. But I do believe in a God who cancels the equations by allowing us our free will and still finding a way to cause all the evil to somehow work out for an ultimate good.
If I’d created people who constantly were turning away from me to run after their selfish, petty games, I certainly wouldn’t still be trying to redeem what they’ve done. I wouldn’t be trying to redeem them. But he does. I don’t know about you, but I find that pretty amazing.