Sea Glass Conversations [a poem]


Along the crook of where ocean meets land
I find myself walking over sea glass;
treasured gems in reverse,
not found in nature and refined by man
   but having been discarded by man
   has been refined by nature

I pick up a piece and ask it a number of questions.

What onslaughts have you withstood
to become so smooth and beautiful?

How many times did you wonder
if all the ocean's tumbling was worth
this beauty you could not have seen
   along the way?

Where did you gather strength
to endure years pitched about
   after being pitched out?

What does the voice of God sound like...

when it bores through self-hatred
and burnishes your broken edges?

How did you stay strong without fracture?
How did you patiently await the vision
   of what you would become?

I slip the gem into my pocket
and I can hear it look me in the heart to say,
"I have al the same questions for you?"

Before and After Restoration

It is important to remind ourselves that the process of restoration is long and slow. It cannot be rushed or it will sacrifice the quality and integrity of the transformation. When we realize that God is making all things new (Rev. 21:5), it is important to realize that is an ongoing present tense, which stretches itself over all of eternity. Our own personal and internal restoration is ongoing over a great matter of time.

But as you restore a piece of furniture over time, it is great to look at the before picture to recognize the progress thus far. While the piece is not yet finished and is still being restored, the progress is worth noting.

Our own hearts and lives are being restored one broken place at a time. The overall restoration project of our broken hearts and lives will not be rushed or it would sacrifice the quality and integrity of the transformation.

Also, though we wish for the final product to arrive within our own broken hearts and lives, we will not experience that complete change and restoration until that final day. There will be more broken places yet to be restored.

But take courage in the progress thus far.

On the Church's faults

"Being inside the church we are probably as well aware of her faults as any person on the outside could possibly be. And we believe in her nevertheless wherever she manifests herself in a world of darkness and unbelief." -A.W. Tozer I have been thinking on the reality I don't really need to have people on the outside tell me about the faults with the church. I go there, ya know? I am on the inside. I know her faults more than you could even imagine.

Here's the difference. I believe in her. I love her, and while I know and am frustrated with her faults, I also see her going into dark and broken places. While each congregation has their ongoing faults to deal with as a community, it is all worth enduring as long as the Body of Christ continues to advance in to dark places of the world.

We need to deal with the weaknesses and the faults along the way, but don't give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing.

Lonely listening

All the things we wrestle with in life are moments when we are truly alone in our hearts and minds. God gets you alone in those moments, and when we are finally alone in those moments, God can meet you and speak to you. I notice this in several of the most stressful and painful moments of my life, when I have no idea what will happen or how anything can happen. In those moments I come to God and hear Him most. Why is this the case?

Because the noisiest parts of our hearts and lives are our stubbornness and pride. Our self-confidence is terribly noisy.

This is why moments of heartbreak, disappointment, sickness, and brokenness are the times we hear God clearest. It is in those times our noisy self-confidence is shut off, and we have no choice but to hear the only One worthy of our confidence.

Intimacy in the Brokenness

Sometimes I strive so hard at living with the most excellent virtue, in absolute piety, in "Christian perfection" of sorts that I become more and more strained, confined and closed in. We can be so dependent upon upholding the rules and expectations we place on ourselves that we forget the relationship we were intended for. I think of the comparison between the prodigal and his brother.  I think of the difference in the levels of intimacy with the father they both resemble.  I find that in his brokenness and humility, the prodigal experiences far greater intimacy with the father than does his sinless, pious and self-righteous brother.

The true site of the Christian disciple is one of a man or woman who is able to praise God for all things, including his own sin, he who is not obsessed with the perfect portrayal of self and spirituality.  She who is not complacent and shackled by a practical life.  He who strives more for the relationship than the rules and understands that he has, is and will fail but can realize that God expects more failure from him than he ever does from himself.  She who realizes we do not have to come groveling to God with a clear presentation of our sins and failures IN ORDER TO BE forgiven, but realizes the prodigal's father did not ask for an explanation, and Jesus did not ask the adulterous woman for an apology or confession.  The disciple realizes that we will not be judged now or in the end for our sins because we have already been judged and found not guilty, but that God desires we show up in his embrace and accept his love.

Old prayer for brokenness

God, Please let me back among the broken, meek, and humble. I don't know how much longer I can handle being among those who know it all, have it all together, and are unwilling to be broken, uncomfortable and bedraggled. Please let me be back in a place where it is okay to be bedraggled, ruffled, confused, and searching. Back in a place where we believe you reach down in our discomfort and humility and embrace us.

My heart aches for brokenness and the freedom to be such.

* I found this prayer in an old journal. Perhaps you are praying a similar prayer today.

Not like Jesus

The best part about artists and non-believers in general is their honesty.  Artists are specifically honest as you listen to their least most of them are.  You listen and hear the honest struggle within each artist.  Those are the sorts of artists I love to listen to; the raw and exposed lyrics of honest writers.  This is a quality lost in most Christian music, which is a main reason I don't like it or listen to much of it.  These secular artists leave their reputations to the wind and write with ceaseless honesty about what goes on inside themselves.

Christians often lack this kind of honesty.  In most cases, our reputation is king.  So because of this, every piece of humanity or struggle that leaks out the holes in the mask are shocking and scandalous mostly because we never saw it coming.

As Derek Webb said in an interview, "We are all wrapped up in trying to look like Jesus instead of people who need Jesus."

We are so fearful that people will see us as we really are.  I want to live a life where I am not afraid of letting people see me as I really am.  Because truth of the matter is I'm NOT like Jesus...I don't look like Jesus...but I DO need him.

Without Jesus, I am absolutely lost and in the dark.  Alone, I am a man prone to being lost.  I have huge potential for being lost, but honestly I would rather people consistently see my potential potential for being alone and broken...I would rather people see all of this instead of a pretty and shiny self-righteousness which I have a whole wardrobe full of to draw upon.  I would rather people see my brokenness and potential for straying because if all I ever show them is my righteous and confident garb they're going to be shocked when they find out I really am a ragamuffin, beat up, broken and bedraggled.

That's who I really am, Daddy's little boy who likes to get into everything (especially dirt), who is a little ragged but still looks to his Daddy with phenomenal awe.  That's who I really am, and I'd rather people just know that.

When I am not weak enough

1 Corinthians 9, verse 22 says: "To the weak I become weak, so that I might win the weak."

One reason I struggle so much to reach out to the hurting, broken, and weak around me is because I have not rightfully understood this passage. In attempts to reach out to the poor and weak, I commonly end up taking the stance: "Let me be strong for you. Let me reach out to you and be strong in your weakness. Let me be put-together where you are broken." This is how I have thought it should be for so long.

The problem with that approach, of course, is putting myself in God's role. God's role is to be strong in my weakness and put-together in my brokenness.

My job is to be weak to the weak and broken to the broken. This is how I am to reach the weak and broken.

It is not my job to be God. It is my job to be weak to the weak and broken to the broken and allow God to be strong where we are weak and put-together where we are broken.

no title [poem]

this is for the broken ones smart enoughto know how foolish they are this for the ones who have tried and found life lacking

This is for those not content to confess that THIS is all there is

this is for burdened ones looking outside themselves for MORE more power more energy more brilliance something more

it is for those who pass up opportunities to pursue anything inferior to themselves