Hope

And now

Between the bread and wine

Sits a word—

Hope.

It is tangible and warm

And comes in the form

Of the resurrected man before me.

 

I sit there

Disbelief and joy clashing

Overwhelmed with the idea

That Jesus truly is

Everything He claimed to be.

 

He meets my gaze

Lingering on my brokenness

And now I understand.

I am weak and inadequate

But He has made me whole.

I am capable of what I detest

But He has made me new.

 

And it bursts,

A song within me—

He is risen

And I am the one

Who has been given life.

 

Between the bread and wine

Sits a word—

Hope—

And it brings forth

A triumphant desire

To tell the world.

“Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating… He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”

Mark 16:14-15

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Betrayal

Between the bread and wine

Sits a word—

Betrayal.

It shudders and trembles

Letting off a low hum

Of shock.

 

I sit there

As it eyes each person daringly;

Each friend, each brother.

It is the invisible knife

Cutting into the question we all have—

Who is it?

 

Betrayal meets my gaze

Lingering on my brokenness

Exposing cold doubt from within.

It whispers the truth

That I have never been good enough.

 

I am my inadequacies

my intolerance

my insecurities

I am a failed transformation.

 

And it bursts,

The final, burning question—

Am I the one?

Am I the betrayer?

For I know

I know

I am capable of what I detest.

 

Between the bread and wine

Sits a word—

Betrayal—

And for a halting eternity

I wonder if it will take the shape

Of me.

 

When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table with the Twelve. While they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.”

Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one, Lord?”

Matthew 26:20-22

Dragon

Courage used to be a fearless and daily slaying of the dragon. A learned thing, perhaps, but always an attainable one; to step out, sword at the ready, a burning confidence in your heart. Courage used to be a battle cry, a song sung out against a thousand voices, a victory won before it ever began.

Courage isn’t like that anymore. These days, when fear claws its way through your window and you wonder if bravery is nothing but a lie, courage is a prayer whispered in the stillness of night. Sometimes, courage is hot and loud and trembling, an explosion of fireworks in a world gone wrong. But other times, when biting winds threaten to steal your breath, courage is cold and sharp, ringing in your ears while you trudge on and on. It’s not a fearless endeavor, but gripping fear with all your strength and saying, “I am so scared, but I will keep going.” Courage is halting and crying and still persisting, persisting, persisting, because courage has nothing to do with how you feel and everything to do with a God you trust.

One day, courage will be strong and victorious, but today it is a quiet and shaking belief in a victorious God. Today, courage is the painful movement of taking one step in front of the other, and somehow that is enough.

The Outcasts

I am continually discovering that, if I was completely honest with myself, Jesus is not a person I would approve of. He turned water into wine. He was called a drunkard. He hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors and the demon-possessed. I agree with his sermons and ideas, and I rejoice at his fulfillment of the covenant, but I hesitate at his choice of acquaintances, his daily life among the ungodly.

The idea that Jesus, if he lived in this era, would associate with alcoholics and sex workers and addicts, the outcasts of our society, forces me to reconsider every notion of religion I have. I am pleased to donate money to widows and orphans; I am warmed by those who love God despite having nothing; I am okay with supporting those who “deserve” my generosity and love. But the call to love those Jesus associated with, the kinds of people that I reject and judge behind the walls of my heart, goes against my natural desire to hold my reputation dear, and this is where it all comes together. I admire my own works more than Christ’s. I choose deeds that impress others, that make me feel good, instead of the denial of self that we are called to. In light of this uncomfortable truth, I can do nothing but assume that Jesus was speaking directly to me when he spoke so harshly to the Pharisees. I am the religious leader who speaks the truth but does not understand it, who proclaims God’s mercy but fails to be merciful in my judgment of others. I am far more self-righteous than I thought possible. I have failed to grasp the very core of Jesus’ message, that we all fall short of his glory despite social standing or sin or secrets.

And having accepted this painful reality, I must now come before Christ in the same manner I mentally preached to others—on my knees before the God of heaven, admitting my continual shortcomings without softening or comparing them, and humbly receiving the mercy I need equally to the alcoholics and sex workers and addicts. I may be religious, and I may preach a doctrine of truth and mercy, but until I can admit my sins, until I confess that I judge and reject the very people Jesus came to save, I cannot move forward.

O, praise the One who sees my hypocrisy and still chooses to love me, just as He loves the ones I reject.

“But to mean it when I say that I want my life to count for His glory is to drive a stake through the heart of self—a painful and determined dying to me that must be a part of every day I live.”

-Louie Giglio

 

Gone

I can see her

From the corner of my eye

She fidgets with her watch

Checking the time

Countless times

She shakes her head in frustration

Scattering her vision around

Like marbles.

.

I want to reach out to her

Save her

But I am strangely, horribly

Fascinated

By the way she taps her finger

Against her nose

To keep the whole world from

Falling apart in her hands.

.

Her eyes have seen far more

Than reality

They dive into an ocean

With depths of terror and nightmares

And when they surface

There is a little less light

In them.

.

Her ears listen to things

No one else hears

Her feet take her to

Places she doesn’t want to go

Her hands can’t stop moving

Or else everything will go wrong

And no one

No one

Understands.

.

I can see her

From the corner of my eye

But when I turn around

To save her

The mirror moves

And she is gone.

Lost and Found

The early wisps of twilight

Sneak through the screen door

As I stand on the patio

Breathing in the silent air.

.

I face my best friend

And notice the space

Between here and there

Between lost and found

Between now and never—

And I know the words

That will come next,

The words rehearsed in my head

When I know they should come easy.

.

I don’t know why

But the words feel unnatural

Tripping from my lips

Hovering over the stairs

Sandwiched between us—

.

“Will you pray for me?”

.

The atmosphere paints a word for me—

Freedom—

And I realize there has never been anything

As freeing and beautiful

As that question

.

I have never said those words

With such conviction

Such significance.

.

There’s a thin coat of awkward

Still around us

But she breaks through

And delivers her answer.

.

“Of course.” A pause.

“Will you pray for me?”

.

As I watch the moment from afar

I realize I am found

In a friendship I have longed for

All these years.

.

I turn to witness

The growing twilight

This touch of heaven coming down

I want to pause time

Capture this moment in a bottle.

.

But more than any friendship

More than any moment

I am awed by the God of the Cosmos

I am lost to a Being

Who hears my prayers

And welcomes a girl

Who thinks too much

And speaks too little.

.

I am lost and found

In this ever-growing universe

In this newly-found friendship

In this glorious God.

.

My prayers are already in motion

He has already started

Awakening me

Transforming me

Renewing me.

.

I am lost

I am found

I am His.

The Switch

It should’ve been me.

              Those are the haunting words etched into your skull when destinies alter and someone else’s life is cut short. They were sitting in your seat when the bullet was fired. They leapt in the icy waters and pulled you out. They saw the exchange of deaths, they didn’t see—either way, long after the event occurs, the idea lingers. It should’ve been me.

              Or maybe it never happened. You sat in your seat and the trigger was never pulled. The ice never broke through. You go through the motions and see no alternate destiny, so your life leaves no haunting trail of an idea.

Except their was a switching of destinies, wasn’t there? Certainly it was planned from the beginning, but even so, it should’ve, could’ve, and would’ve been you had there not been a most glorious switch between you and the most glorious One. Maybe you’ve known this for years, maybe you haven’t, but it bears the question—does that fact haunt you? Do you go through your day with the words It should’ve been me in the corner of your eye, outlined by thankfulness and joy?

It should’ve been you, but He took your fate and placed it on Himself. He took your punishment—the one you deserved—and died in your place. And suddenly your destiny is full of a future and a hope. Suddenly there is joy beyond the grave, the knowledge of eternal life, all because of the switch of destinies between you and the One who paid it all.

Stardust

I’ve always enjoyed the crisp silence of night. Time is frozen and endless, with a dark coolness settling like fog over the earth, like a shiver of dreams and wonders floating through the air.

Tonight, matching my steps to his, I could feel life’s answers in my skin. I could feel the earth spinning– spinning round and round, a million miles a second– and I could feel the blood pumping to my heart, and all the impossibilities of life became chaotic aspirations. The night was watching, holding its breath, waiting for something to happen.

So I held his hand, not able to tell if the sky was on fire or if it was my heart, and not even caring. When I slipped my hand into his, I thought– thinking over and over about emotions and the universe and this strange idea of love– I thought the stars, burning bright against the contrast of the night, must be hand-crafted specifically for this moment.

In the Alleyway

There was a smell of loneliness in the air tonight. She frowned and turned the idea in her mind. There was a thought. What did loneliness smell like? Like ocean water spraying into her nose. And if you wondered what loneliness sounded like, it sounded like the chatter of a million people when she’s trapped inside a locked, empty room, or screaming at a soundproof wall, or the ringing in her ears after a concert. And going further, what did loneliness look like? It looked like a poem written with invisible ink, or the raw shade of red after a good, long cry. That was how loneliness smelled and looked and sounded. And tonight–she brushed her hand against the dark alley wall–tonight she could almost touch loneliness.

Spirituality on a Different Level

How refreshing it is to sit down with someone and dig into spirituality on a different level. How unexpectedly peaceful, genuine, to see past the surface, to dial into their headspace, to connect among the chaos.

And how much more fulfilling when contrasted with the normality of the setting! No compelling music, tear-stained faces, surrounding emotions—this is purely the Spirit settling in me, only God convicting me. Only God.

I love the music and community and emotion. I love God sweeping through the filled room. But I am fascinated by the normality of the classroom. I am intrigued by the idea that God can work in the regular chatter around us.

I am amazed that God alone can transform me, even though I have been told that since day one.