When desolate means beauty is on its way

He’s met me in dark places; places that were unplanned, but necessary. His hand reached out to comfort, bring hope. And breathe life through His grip. I’ve had dark places in life – my early 20’s when I didn’t know what path to take, but my emotions ruled me. After heartache, when everything felt unbearable. Upon great change in life when newness was everywhere, and my emotions felt raw. And as a new mamma, desolate places can be as simple (and as deceiving) as the distraction of the things we feel we must do to keep up, portray an image, but no one has actually asked us to do. No matter how hard I try, I am desolate without Jesus. I am not enough. I am not perfect. But. He is.

I’ll be honest, I have this tick-tock dilemma where I want to make everything have a purpose. At our mom’s group at church last week we were talking about personalities. Our table laughed so hard I nearly peed my pants, no joke. I went home with sore cheeks and a full soul! (TMI, but I just don’t care!) I went online after the fact to try this quiz, and lo-and-behold, I’m the rarest personality, 1% of the population. Funny enough, that didn’t surprise my husband. 😉  And in this frame of a personality, I want everything to be romantic and have a purpose, and sometimes, well, that’s just exhausting. And I try so hard to keep up, to a lot of expectations I set up, that at the end of the day I wonder sometimes what I really accomplished that had eternal value.

As we approach Easter, I felt the pressure to add my voice to the myriad of blogs and worthy posts by fellow writers of how much we love Jesus. I wanted to write something New York Times worthy. I want so desperately to tell you how Jesus has changed my life, and continues to redeem me. But this week, I just can’t find the words. I laid on myself the expectation to have something beautifully written… and I’m speechless. Sometimes, even making a difference can become an idol.

I read this morning in some prayers of Jesus where the word “desolate” was a common theme. Desolate means barren or laid waste, deprived or destitute of inhabitants, solitary, lonely. Sounds awful! But Jesus pursued those places.

Mark 1:35 and Luke 5:16 are two of the verses, among many, where it says that Jesus went or withdrew to a desolate place. He seemed to do that a lot. Go to places where no one else would go, and He would change them. Bring life. Have you ever noticed that He never left a place, or person, the same after meeting them? Whether He taught them a truth, healed them, restored sight or brought children back to life – people were changed after Jesus met them in desolation.

So in this self-induced dance of expectations and trying to make everything purposeful, I choose to let the King I love meet me in that place, that desolate place of expectations, disappointment, exhaustion of perfection… and bring His life. I choose to let His life be enough, and know that I don’t have to prove anything here, but share my heart, and hope that it rings true for someone else. That is my desire.

As we celebrate Jesus this weekend, I hope that you let Him pursue you in your desolate place, whatever it may look like. That you quiet your heart, and mind, long enough to hear Him running to You, full of life and newness. Whatever that looks like for you, in what season you are in. Throw open the door of your desolation, and let Him pursue it.

And wait and see what He does. Because in my mind, desolate places also mean something is about to happen. They are quietly waiting for beauty to be restored.

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Monday Minute: Simplicity of beholding

880849bcac2b0c07a789de64ce404868Do you ever wish we could go back to what it was like before the Internet. Or perhaps, remember some of the simpler lifestyle we had before, and adopt it now. I know that ‘www’ has caused growth in gargantuan measures in every industry. I know that without Internet, there’d be no blogs (yikes!), no social media (oh no!), no websites for our companies (that would be bad) … but sometimes I miss the simplicity of being unreachable. Of savouring the moment rather than capturing it. Just, beholding what is, right now, right here.

I grew up on a farm, and so often our neighbours and family had the sweet audacity just to show up for a cup of coffee. No calendar date in Outlook. No pop up alert on the phone that they were coming in 15 minutes. Just unannounced. Sigh, how beautiful. I have many memories of my parents throwing the coffee perk on and sitting for two hours with unexpected guests while my sister and I listened around the corner, giggling at the handsome neighbour boy. Ah, childhood shenanigans.

When I was 23, and moving away again for school, I was dead set against getting a cell phone. No one really needs to get a hold of me at all times! Then a friend, who was working at a cell phone shop at the time, gave me his old one. He insisted. I’ll admit, it came in handy on the side of the road when my pink Ford Taurus broke down. Nowadays, I know where my phone is at all times and unless it’s dead and charging, I’m pretty much always reachable. My, how times have changed in such a short time. Sometimes I’d like to hide the device for the day. Or seven.

Rewind to a few years back, when I was slowly meandering through the Vatican museums in Rome. I could hardly believe the brisk pace of other tourists as they walked the halls, clicking their cameras upward. Do they even SEE what they’re capturing…to look at later? I wanted to savour. Take it in. Touch the tapestry hung from the walls. Then as my friend and I walked into the Sistine Chapel, we heard security guards loudly shouting, “No pictures! Ssssshhhhh!” Good luck with that, I thought. Within seconds of being ushered into that sacred room, my eyes welled up. Michelangelo’s nine-years of artwork was astounding and all we could do was bustle about taking a photograph. I had to just lean against the walls and behold. Remember it. The sounds. Oh yes, I also took pictures 😉

So my thought for this week is… I know we need our phones. I know the Internet is here to stay. I for one plan to keep taking pictures and texting and blogging.

But perhaps, just perhaps, we could do a little more beholding in our lives. In the moment, in front of us, within reach. Savour the very moment in our hands.

James 1:17 says that every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of light, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” He gives us good gifts. Every day. Let’s not miss them!

Let’s behold more this week!

*Beauty*

What comes to mind when you hear that word? Is it a magazine cover you just saw? Your Grandma?  Or maybe the rolling hills of the country. The rush of the ocean. Or flowers sent to you when you’re feeling sick.

I catch myself saying “that is beautiful” about a song that delights me, a rainbow, a new recipe that met with success or a brand new baby. Beauty can be seen, heard and felt.

This morning I’ve been reading “Captivating” by Staci Eldredge. I’ve read it before, but decided to pull it off my shelves again. The chapter this morning was on how beauty is the essence of God and how every woman at her core has a beauty to unveil, and desires this. It is who we are. And we want that beauty to be loved and appreciated and pursued, just like God does.

Here are some thoughts from the book to ponder:

“Beauty is the essence of God….Nature is not primarily functional, it is primarily beautiful. We’re so used to evaluating everything (and everyone) by their usefulness that this thought will take a minute or two to dawn on us. Beauty is in and of itself a great and glorious good, something we need in large and daily doses (for our God has seen fit to arrange for this)….”

“God gave Eve a beautiful form and a beautiful spirit. She expresses beauty in both. Better, she expresses beauty simply in who she is. Like God, it is her essence.”

“One of the deepest ways a woman bears the image of God is in her mystery. By ‘mystery’ we don’t mean ‘forever beyond your knowing but ‘something to be explored’…. Just like God, a woman is not a problem to be solved, but a vast wonder to be enjoyed.”

“What does beauty do?
– Beauty speaks. It says “all shall be well”.
– Beauty invites.
– Beauty nourishes.
– Beauty comforts.
– Beauty inspires.
– Beauty is transcendant, our most immediate experience with the eternal.”

“Whatever else it means to be feminine, it is depth and mystery and complexity, with beauty at its very essence. Now, lest despair set in, let us say clearly as we can:
Every woman has a beauty to unveil. Every woman.
Because she bears the image of God. She doesn’t have to conjure it, go get it from a salon, have plastic surgery or breast implants. No, beauty is an essence given to every woman at her creation.”
 

Wild At Heart (the same book for men) – “The reason a woman wants a beauty to unveil, the reas she asks, “do you delight in me?” is simply that God does as well. God is captivating beauty. As David prays, ‘One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek…that I may….gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.’ Ps 27:4″