When I was training for a marathon, I would fill my pockets with orange slices in Ziploc bags. As weariness snuck up, one or two slices popped in my mouth would push it back and give me strength to press on another few kilometers. God's words and His encouragement sometimes come in bite-sized slices -impressions, experiences, encounters - and are just enough to push weariness back and keep us pressing on a little further...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hope, Unfettered...

“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” –John 10:9-10

Nearly gone.  Lungs weary and trembling.  Pulse thready, barely there.  But there.  If she were conscious enough to know it she would have cursed.  A pulse meant she had failed.

Fifteen and already fed up with the story life had written her.  She had spent months - years even - drowning in a suffocating sea of being misunderstood.  She felt unloved, unappreciated, unknown.  Her arms were delicately ribboned with scars, the tops of her thighs, too, deeper-than-skin tracks of a desperate journey towards feeling.  Something.  Anything.  Anything but the emptiness she woke and fell asleep to every twenty-four hour turn of the earth.

Hope.  It was an empty word, one she only associated with eternal nothingness.  Maybe death would silence the condemning voices she heard alone in her room, whispering words of disapproval wherever she walked, humming pain in the pauses of every conversation.  Silence was the only thing she hoped for - life had become too loud.

There are things that are true whether we know them or not.  Protons, neutrons and electrons whiz around the atoms building us up whether we understand their frenzied dance or not.  Stars are born in intricate nurseries out past Orion’s Nebula whether we witness their hazy burning birth or not.  And the Creator of it all loves humans, deeper-than-skin wounds and all, whether we realize it – whether we feel it - or not.

Our souls were birthed with a purpose; they were made to be known.  They were created to be understood, designed to breathe deep the air of love, peace, and hope.  Our souls are programmed with a longing to find pasture, to run free in safe places and gloriously be our unfettered selves. 

But, we have been robbed of our spiritual birthright.  Sin condemns and isolates, whispering words of disapproval and humming pain in the pauses of every conversation.  Our sins, coupled with the sins of others, twist into a deadly noose that chokes the hope right out of us.  It steals, kills, and destroys.  Feeling unloved, unappreciated, and unknown, we get fed up with the story life is writing us.  Sometimes, we get fed up enough to quit.  

That’s where He found her.  Though her life was weary, thready, and barely there, there was a beauty in her still – He knows because He placed it there, Himself.  He can’t forget.  Jesus loves her – loved her when she carved out the delicate tracks of her journey towards feeling.  Loved her when she held tight to things that robbed her, loved her when she would rather love the thief of her soul.  He loved her when she couldn’t hold on – He loved her when she let go.  What else could He do?  He, the source of all love, peace and hope, came to bring her life –more of it, not less.  He came to lead her soul to safer pastures, came to call her to a life of being her gloriously unfettered self.

It’s what He offers every human soul. No matter where He finds us.  No matter what state we’re in, no matter how dead we nearly are. Bringing dead things back to life is what He does and He has a lot of experience.  He's been there before.             

Some things are true whether we know them or not – but knowing them makes a difference.  Praise God He sometimes lets us fail because she knows, now.  Knows that she was made for life. Knows that she is worth loving not because of what she does, but because of who He is.  She is discovering the beauty He placed inside of her. The scars will remain, for a time, but her pain?  It’s nearly gone….

(Hope.  It was an empty word, but now it’s overflowing with eternal promise… and life.)

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