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The Belly of the Beast

Everybody ends up
in the belly of the beast.
There are few exceptions
from the greatest to the least.
You stumble into quicksand.
You’re weary of the world.
Lies wreck your reputation.
Insults, viciously, are hurled.
Addiction lies in dormancy
then rears it’s ugly head.
Depression sinks in slowly,
Like the whispers of the dead.
A chronic, stubborn stronghold
infiltrates your weakened mind
Confidants betray you.
Sometimes, friends are hard to find.
Childless in your 40’s.
“Will I ever be a mother?”
Inside an unfamiliar place
Near no sister or no brother.
You’re in the doctor’s office
And hear devastating news.
You lose your hair to chemo.
Indeed, no one gets to choose.
Your marriage ends abruptly.
He left you with no choice.
And for others, it’s the silence.
Separated from His Voice.
Adversity just happens
and no one gets a pass.
But this- your devastation,
is God’s Holy Master Class
Yes, this strong Professor
is bolder than the rest,
His challenges are brutal
and He’s silent in the test.
He’s far above all reason
––mysterious is He.
His text book is His Word.
His school–– adversity.
But in each fearful crisis,
we’re cradled by the light
There’s joy within the suffering,
There’s peace amidst the fight
Within our devastation
––the bleak, forbidding war
God shakes us in our deadness,
with His fearsome roar
What we assumed would end us,
And our melancholy tales
speaks only of His grandeur,
His timing never fails.
And in our silent terror,
He’s not worried in the least
Despite how darkness lingers
in the belly of the beast.

Sorrow: Day 13 of 39 Days

Man of sorrows what a name

for the Son of God, who came.

Phillip Bliss

I may not know you, but I know something about you. You’ve learned so much more about life through failure, suffering and pain than you have through pleasure and success. Your sorrow is intimacy and the people all around you, with smiles and small talk, add nothing to the transcendence of life. Sorrow is the gift no one prays to receive. And yet when sorrow comes it brings clarity, intimacy and a desire to change.

You’re not the only one that grieves the evanescence of our time on this blue marble. Jesus grieved, wept, and lamented as well. He wept at the tomb of a friend. He mourned a city lost in the crippling legalism of alien liturgy and legalistic isolation.

When I look at my life, I, too, grieve. I grieve the obsessions I embraced that foolishly looked like safety and humility, when in fact they only gave birth to deeper dangers and pride.

Like you, Jesus loved someone with no reciprocation.

Like you, Jesus saw promises and covenants dispatched in a moment.

Like you, Jesus felt the shame of false accusation.

He showed us how to rise above the arrow-paths of a thousand earthly sorrows.

“Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling the secret of who you are, but more often than not of the mystery of where you have come from and are summoning you to where you should go next.”  
Frederick Buechner

Reflect

Take a moment to identify the things for which you mourn.

Understanding Sorrow

When we grieve over the right things we find a fairer day ahead. The trick is to be able to bury the dead things that must be buried and call upon God to do what only He can do with the rest. We mourn but we do not sorrow as those who have no hope.

Lord, save me from the kind of sorrow that leads to despair and draw me to the sorrow that leads to forgiveness and dancing.

To Be Known

There is so much more to You
The ways of mystery and hiddenness
The pain of testing like the threshing of the wheat.
The crowning of each day with the setting sun
The movement of the wind
The waves of sea
And yet the greatest joy of my life
Worthless as I so often am
is this:
You know me
Every part of me
The emptiness in heart of me.
And I am face down in wonder
Put together
Torn asunder
Even when I lose my own identity
You find me, the one I’m meant to be
This is all I ever hope to be
O to be known by Thee!

Barabbas

Can you believe it? I’m free! After months of chains, the stench of the prison, the hopelessness of my existence—I’m free!

I waited for the guards to call my name and to lead me to the Place of the Skull. They arrested me, chained me, and sentenced me to die. I heard the crowds scream out my name. My heart pounded. I knew that this was the day. The day I would experience the torture I deserved. This was the day that I would gasp my final breath.

The punishment would soon follow. I heard them screaming, “Barabbas! Barabbas!” Their voices echoed all the way down into the depths of that dark cell where I had been chained. Then silence. I heard the voice of Pilate shouting to the people, but not loud enough for me to understand. Then I heard the mob scream out, “Crucify Him!”

And then within a few minutes I heard the guards walking down into that musty cell where I was. They opened the doors and broke the chains.

“You are free” They said. “Free? What do you mean?” I asked.

“You have been set free. Someone has taken your place.”

What is His name? The one who takes my place. What is His name? Why? Someone took my place on that cross. I must know His name. Do you know Him? This man who is dying on the hill for me, do you know His name?

I Wrestle NOT

I have a confession to make. Love really hurts these days. It all began when my 14 year old got MMA lessons for his birthday. Often I come through the door of the house and somewhere lurking in the shadows is a 140 pound guy with the body fat of a coat hanger who will bring me into submission.  This was fun when he didn’t know Brazilian Jujitsu.  Continue reading “I Wrestle NOT”

Mary’s Boy

Jesus
creator
King of every king
and yet this was Mary’s boy.
blood spilled grace on me
and still Mary’s boy
piercing your heart Mary
to save me
forsaking you
and his kingdom
for me.
What a terrible loss
you suffered
to watch this one you feed, changed, embraced
carried, protected, and nourished
now condemned to bear nails and thones
whips and shame
so that we could all come to the table.
and face the Gethsemane of every broken generation
he cried for his Daddy as the sunset brought shadows
on the edge of town.
You had others
but that night He was your only Boy.