Monday, October 25, 2010

When Life is a Question Mark

I have an awful lot of questions.

Me in Thornbury, ON, Fall 2010. Photography by Melody Whitney.

I may not have always asked them out loud, for fear of sounding silly, but for as long as I can remember I've looked at everyday objects, wondered who invented it and how they thought it up. I look at a word and am curious as to how it came to be. When told of God's love, I try to comprehend how could He really see me as blemish-free, and love me not conditioned on my performance. At times, I dare myself, for a split second, to prove whether laws of gravity and physics actually hold true in every case, but my fortunately my brain (or maybe just my self-preservation instinct) kicks in rather swiftly and I disregard the foolish notions.

My sisters have looked at me strange if I would dare to voice my questions out loud. "Wow, you have a strange mind. Where do you come up with these thoughts? It's how it is, so I don't even think about it."

So, most of the time I keep my questions locked inside my head, or silently turn to Google or for answers.

But... *gasp* Google isn't providing the answers to all my questions these days!

What should I be doing with my life? 

Should I go to college? What should I study? How will I pay for everything? 

What if I don't find "the right somebody to love" (as Shirley Temple put it) for a long time… or never?

What if I end up as a career woman all my life, and never have a family of my own?

What if I choose a career and end up hating it? 

How can I make a difference, whether by career, volunteer projects and ministries, or just in the lives of family and those I meet every day?

How can I find and maintain passion and purpose in life, through EVERY season?

These are some of the questions weighing on my heart in this time of entering adulthood. Sometimes it feels more like breaking and entering, like it's a foreign place where I'm not sure I belong.

These are things that have kept me running to God.





These are what pull me closer to His heart, until I'm near enough to feel His heartbeat. Close enough to hear Him whisper, "I love you," as His embrace assures me that it's going to be okay. Close enough to realize that He would never leave me abandoned or cause me pain unnecessarily.

"I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jer. 29:11)

He is good. I know this much. The rest? Does it really matter so much whether I know?

I know He's led me this far.

He's gonna continue.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Have you not known? 
Have you not heard? 
The Lord is the everlasting God… 
He does not faint or grow weary; 
His understanding is [beyond our comprehension]. 

Thornbury, ON ~ Photography by Melody Whitney

He gives power to the fainting… 
They who wait [or, watch in expectation] for the Lord 
will renew their strength; 
They will [soar above the storms] like eagles; 
They will run and not be weary; 
They will walk and not faint. 

~Isaiah 40:28-31

Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Gift of Thorns

"It seems that His servants who are used in special ways 
often experience commensurate trials. These trials 
are simultaneously burdens God gives 
to keep them utterly dependent; 
and thorns which pin back the veil that hides His face
In a fallen world, they are gifts." 
—Sono Harris (emphasis mine)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Time In Between

"For still the vision awaits its appointed time… 
If it seems slow, wait for it; 
it will surely come."
—Habakkuk 2:3

Don't take much for this crazy world
To rob me of my peace
And the enemy of my soul
Says You’re holding out on me
So I stand here lifting empty hands
For you to fill me up again

But it’s the time in between
That I fall down to my knees
Waiting on what You'll bring
And the things that I can't see
I know my song’s incomplete
Still I'll sing in the time in between

—Francesca Battistelli 
"Time In Between" from My Paper Heart (c) 2008

Thursday, April 22, 2010

On one condition...

"He will use you to accomplish great things
on the condition that you believe much more in His love
than in your own weakness."
—Mother Theresa

"Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all His benefits,
who forgives... who heals...
who redeems your life...
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good...
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear Him.
For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust."
—Psalm 103:2-5, 13-14

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Just As He Promised

Spring is arriving in my part of the world.

And with it, the promise of life. With a glorious burst of colour, the earth displays a beauty and vibrance that winter has done her shivering best to make us forget. Almost, she succeeds. Almost, we despair of spring's arrival.

Then she comes. At last. We feel her warm smile in the sunshine. Her loveliness is accented by the colourful clothing she wears.

She brings hope.

Sunshine is here. Better days are coming.

But, let us not alienate poor winter completely. She prepares for spring's arrival in a way summer never could. As strange as it seems, these colourful flowers need to experience winter's harsh, cold temperament in order to reach their potential. The richness of their beauty would not be possible without winter. She holds the seeds until spring arrives, and during her watch, they die.

But that's not the end of the story.

Seems like it is, doesn't it? Death seems pretty final. Those seeds are dead. But, in the mystery of His plan, the Father leaves those seeds for a while, dead. Until there seems to be no hope of beauty, of resurrection.

Then He brings them to life. Miraculous life. Kinda like He did with His Son on that Resurrection morning all those years ago.

Three days dead. Sealed in the tomb. Bound. Where was the hope for His disciples? Their Master, their Messiah, their Deliverer, their Friend... dead.

But wait.

There He was. He was alive!

Just as He promised.

"Why do you seek the living among the dead?
He is not here, but has risen.
Remember how He told you
while He was still in Galilee,
that the Son of Man must be
delivered into the hands of sinful men
and be crucified
and on the third day rise."
—Luke 24:5b-7

Jesus Christ died so that we can live. The cross was my just punishment for my sin and self-worship, but He carried the full weight of it for me. As I gratefully accept His payment, like a spring flood He washes my wrongs off the record. I am clean and new. I have life!

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea
A great High Priest whose name is love
Who ever lives and pleads for me

Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God, the Just, is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me

But as He lives, I also share in His death. As I walk in His steps, seeking to become more like Him, He will ask countless "little" deaths of me. Yet as we walk on together, it becomes clearer that in that death, there is abundant life.

Just as He promised.

Behold Him there, the risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless righteousness
The great unchangeable I AM
The King of Glory and of Grace
One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God

Happy Resurrection Sunday to you all!

Unmarked quotations taken from the Hymn, "Before The Throne of God Above" by Charitie Bancroft, Public Domain

Friday, February 19, 2010

Happy To Be His Girl

I've been thinking a lot lately about the concept of Jesus as our betrothed bridegroom.

How many brides-to-be have you known who are worried as they wait for a coming surprise from their fiancé? Personally, I haven't seen many. But why is that?

Because a bride knows and loves her beloved and trusts his love for her. She knows whatever he's planning is gonna be awesome, that she's gonna love it, and that she'll enjoy going anywhere as long as it's with him. (And she knows he wouldn't dream of surprising her with something she wouldn't like.)

My friend has had some advice for me,
"Let God surprise you. Learn to enjoy the suspense." —Anna Kraft 
I'm not usually very keen on surprises—I've "wanted to know" whatever is going on, all my life! But one thing I do know is, whatever He's up to, it's gonna be awesome! I can know that, because I'm confident in the unfailing love of my Beloved. I know His heart is "kind beyond all measure." To Him, I am His princess. He delights in me. I want to prize and cherish that love. To trust Him with my heart, my life, my happiness.

I want the world to know I'm happy in His love, and ever so happy to be His girl.
It may be in the valley, where countless dangers hide;
It may be in the sunshine that I, in peace, abide;
But this one thing I know—though it be dark or fair,
If Jesus goes with me, I’ll go anywhere!

If Jesus goes with me, I’ll go anywhere!
’Tis heaven to me, where’er I may be, if He is there!
…If to go or stay, or whether here or there,
I’ll be, with my Saviour, content anywhere!

                     —Charles A. Miles, Public Domain

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Most Beautiful Love

A passage I absolutely love, because nothing else in life compares to God's overwhelmingly faithful, tender love.
I may disappoint people; they may disappoint me. But even when I disappoint this Lover, He never gives up on me and - what I still can't wrap my head around - still is actually delighted and rejoicing to have me near Him and calls me His royal jewel, His beautiful bride.

"For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,
until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
and her salvation as a burning torch.

"You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
You shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
for the LORD delights in you.

As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you."

~From Isaiah 62:1,3-5 (ESV)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

So, I Wait...

"Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Those who fear him have no lack!
Those who seek the LORD lack no good thing."
-From Psalm 34:8-10

Hungry I come to You
For I know You satisfy.
I am empty, but I know
Your love does not run dry;
So I wait for You.

I'm falling on my knees
Offering all of me

Broken, I run to You
For Your arms are open wide.
I am weary, but I know Your touch
Restores my life;
So I wait for You.

-Kutless, "Hungry" from the album It Is Well

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Unfailing Love (In Every Season: Part 2 of 2)

(Missed Part I? Read it here!)

Sure enough, spring came in its own sweet time. With it began the slow, steady process of physical healing. My sister's beautiful wedding. The gift of plane tickets to visit a dear friend. Children's ministry opportunities. Hope was planted. I had no job, no idea where life was heading, but I was content. I was happy enjoying spring and daydreaming of summer, hoping it wasn't far away. But God loved me, had always provided and He knew what He was doing, so why should I worry?

When summer arrived, it seemed like hope's tiny rosebuds burst into full bloom with colour more glorious than I had ever before seen. Where did all this beauty come from and why had God chosen me to receive this enormous bouquet?

I savoured it. It was the most amazing gift I had ever been given. I clung to it with both hands, not daring to let it go. I didn't deserve it... not at all. But it was unequalled in beauty and I felt so cherished. I loved it.

Autumn appeared, and as the weather got cooler, the wind picked up, and the petals began to fall from my beautiful roses until all that remained was the seeds at the centre. I was left tightly grasping nearly bare stems, shielding the seeds from the elements, lest they too escape me.

I questioned. Yes. I was confused. Why would my Lover give me such a gift... only to tantalize me as I watch it be ripped apart and its beautiful petals scattered by the wind only a short while afterwards? I felt betrayed, like He was less than honest with me when He gave it. If I had only known it was so fragile, I would have... would have... what? Refused it? Enjoyed it less?

No. It was a beautiful gift. The brevity of its lifespan could subtract nothing from its beauty. It gave me a glimpse of just how much He loves me, and now I refocus my attention on my Lover Himself. He really was so immensely kind in giving such an exquisite gift. And, though I have little left of the gift, I know, without doubt, the depth of His love. He stayed close by, observing my fascination with His gift. He was always ready when I wanted to talk with Him, when I needed advice or a listening ear, whenever I needed His help. Even when I was too busy, enraptured by His gift, He pursued me and sought me out, and never let me wander too far.

But. I have little hope seeds left on these bare stems. They're all I have left of the roses, and I'm holding them tightly. He asks that I give them back to Him. I wince. Jesus, you know how I'm sentimental that way. Can't I keep them in memory of it?

His hand tenderly rests on my arm. You know I love you. So trust Me with those seeds.

I glance at the Hands holding me. Strong, steady, gentle Hands that have never been unkind to me. My gaze travels to His face, to His eyes so full of love and tenderness, and, as I slowly hand him the leftovers of my bouquet, he takes the remains and prepares the seeds for planting.

He smiles. It'll take time and the cold of winter. There, buried in the dark ground, they'll die. But, leave them alone, and, in the spring, they will grow. In time, you'll have many more roses than just a bouquet, and you and anyone that passes by can enjoy their beauty.

How kind He is. How wise. How very, very good to me. And to think that, in my shortsightedness, I can consider forfeiting all this just to hold on to some dead stems?

I'll leave you with this quote from Charles Spurgeon:

Remember this: 
had any other condition been better for you 
than the one in which you are, 
Divine love would have put you there.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Unbelievable Grace (In Every Season: Part 1 of 2)

I do a year-in-review note for myself and my friends every year, but this year called for something a little different. I knew I needed to summarize 2009 somehow. To tell the faithfulness of my amazing God, especially this year, but didn't know quite how to do it.

Well, after reading a blog post by a friend this fall, I got to thinking about seasons. I noticed how closely life can resemble nature's seasons and was compelled to start writing about my year along those lines. So, while it's different in style than usual and a little longer, here is my year-in-review story, Part I:

I'll begin where the calendar did, with winter. My least favourite season. The earth around is dead and lifeless, lacking the vibrant colour and fruitfulness of the other seasons. Sure, I enjoy snowball fights and playing in the snow with the kids, wool coats and tall boots, hot tea and Christmas, but the best part of winter is knowing spring will follow.

Last winter was hard. I spent a lot of time in doctor's offices, filling out a lot of paperwork, and dealing with the big mess of a workplace injury that left me without a job and, at least for a season, without many of the physical capabilities that I usually took for granted.

I had so many of questions for God. I knew He wasn't obligated to give me reasons, to tell me why and what He was doing. I knew better than to question whether He was in control or whether He had good plans in mind. But still. It was five months of, often intense, rhetorical questioning: WHY?! Months of fighting bitterness as continued work made things worse. Fighting for faith when I couldn't see an end to the pain.

Growing up, I've been kind of proud of being the strong one, the healthy one. The one that rarely gets down sick and never had to see a doctor. I may not have many special skills, but I could manage nearly any manual labour anyone gave me to do, and employers were certainly no exception. Suddenly that all changed. Now I not only was useless to my employer, but to my family, and, to some degree, myself. I just plain needed help and I very much resented that. God, surely I'm more useful when healthy and strong? I'm sure I could serve You a lot better if this would just go away!

(Or, maybe not. Maybe He could better use someone not so self-sufficient?)

It was a season of silence. Cold silence. But, not unlike the intensity of winter's sunbeams, the support of true friends was priceless and renewed my hope that spring would come and bring life to my world. Winter couldn't last forever.

(Continue to Part II!)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Grace. Love. And 2009.

Wow. 2009 is over.

So much has happened in a year. So much has changed. But I still have the same gracious, faithful, completely trustworthy God who is as sovereign and worthy of worship as ever. Never have I been so sure of that as now. He is good. Always. And His love never ends.

He truly has “crowned the year with His goodness,” with mercies new every morning, with everlasting love, and I'm excited to see what 2010 will hold!

I think this is my summary song of 2009:
I can sing in the troubled times
Sing when I win
I can sing when I lose my step
And fall down again
I can sing 'cause You pick me up
Sing 'cause You're there
I can sing 'cause You hear me, Lord
When I call to You in prayer
I can sing with my last breath
Sing for I know
That I'll sing with the angels
And the saints around the throne

How can I keep from singing Your praise
How can I ever say enough
How amazing is Your love
How can I keep from shouting Your name
I know I am loved by the King
And it makes my heart want to sing

—Chris Tomlin, "How Can I Keep From Singing"
May God go with you and bless you with a beautiful 2010!

(Author's Note: A related two-part series is upcoming! It will deal more with the past year, with its questions, Answer, pain, joy, disappointments, and blessing.)