It’s crazy but I’m convinced

Read: Psalm 22, The Passion Translation

Yesterday I stood at the coffee machine. I ground the beans for our double shots, let the machine groan as it poured them into our favourite cups as I thought absentmindedly about the Psalm I’d read and write through; I wonder how God is going to speak to me today.
It struck me suddenly and with full force. I know God. And He is waiting to speak.
I realised that this daily communion with God is no small thing, yet its a thing that is so accessible to us, so readily available. I imagined Him, leaning forward, his elbows resting on His knees, waiting for me to pick up my Bible—the inspired Word—and meet Him.

And then there’s the coincidence of today’s Psalm, Psalm 22. I hadn’t planned in advance to read particular Psalms on particular days. But of course, God knew… another divine ‘coincidence’ that makes me laugh and gives me goosebumps all at once.
This chapter’s opening refrain are the words Jesus echoed on the cross, “God, my God! Why would you abandon me now?” The cross that we celebrate this weekend.
The cross that hasn’t changed, even though the world has changed too much, too fast.

The next verse, “Why do you remain distant, refusing to answer my tearful cries in the day and my desperate cries for your help in the night?
I can’t stop sobbing.
Where are you my God?”

The entire Psalm prophecies Jesus’ death on the cross, and the victory after. The last line holds more words echoed by Jesus, his very last, as He hung there, waiting to die: It is finished.

This is why the Word became flesh, why Jesus became this living expression of the Word.
He was the Word of God, but with legs to walk towards humanity, with arms to reach out to draw us in.
When we feel like God is far from us, we can reach for our Bibles and find that He hasn’t gone anywhere.
Because we know what it is to sob and ask, ‘God, why aren’t you listening? God, where are you?’ when our lives are messy, and our prayers don’t ‘work’ and we could die of loneliness and old wounds don’t heal.
But the Word became flesh and reached out although we’re the poor and the broken, we’re invited to eat until we’re satisfied. (Psalm 22:26)
The Word became flesh and drew us to the Father, and He ascended but left us His Spirit— and it all sounds crazy but I’m convinced.
I’m convinced because He shows up in burning bush moments of white linen sheets hanging on the line, and a moon hanging large in a dark morning sky.
I’m convinced because when I pray coincidences happen, and when I seek Him in the ancient text He invades my modern life.

And in this waiting space, this thin space where all of us hold our breath, I know that joy comes in the morning, and that He was here all along.

xx

A song of trust

Read: Psalm 20 The Passion Translation

We’ve had this album and this album on repeat for weeks. We’re all singing it under our breath, or out loud.

The shower is my singing place.
Our house is small, and we share a tiny bathroom with the five of us, and I’m sure my family laughs as they hear my voice rising from it’s echos. My imperfections and my tunes off-key and my made-up lyrics.
Sometimes that nightly shower is the first time since the morning quiet that I’ve been able to stop. The place where, finally, I don’t have an audience of children, and I don’t have to hold it together. The mask falls with that hot water, and that which I’ve held in can be released.
It’s a private place to cry.
When the tears turn to praises and the turmoil turns to trust, and it all happens in the shower, as the praise rises with the steam and the tears rise with them because I know He hears and bottles each one.
And there is a synchronicity that comes in the midst of doing both.
Because He promises supernatural help, and as we sing in the midst of the battle, that deliverance comes.
My natural isn’t enough. In fact my natural often makes a mess of things, but as this Psalm promises, by His mighty hand miracles will manifest through his saving strength.

Do we really know His saving strength?
What do you do when it falls apart?
Do we sing a song of trust? A trust that God will give you every desire of your heart and carry out your every plan as you go to battle.
It’s right there in this Psalm. It’s a promise.
Whatever battle we’re facing, He’ll bring victory.
And sometimes the weapon we need to pick up is our song.
Singing, for me, is a vulnerability. It’s one thing to hide my voice in a sea of them, but when it’s my voice alone standing up, reaching out without even an echo—that feels risky.
But in those battle seasons I’m learning to voice my prayers, my sorries, my thoughts, even if they’re met at first with silence.
Even if the shower is the only place I have to cry.
Even when the lyrics don’t rise to my lips in victory, I know that as I sing, as I speak, as I share, as I fill the silence, that the victory comes.
As King David sang this Psalm, His song of trust, I’ll sing too:

May we find connection in our isolation.
May He remember us as He paints the moon, and let us see Him in the dancing sunshine through our kitchen windows.
May he quieten us in our frazzled and worried doing, and busy trying.
May we know the God who fights for us, and feel the courage of that knowing settle in our bones, so we don’t rush frantic to fix what only He can.
May we see the manifestation of miracles, however small, in our every day.

xx

Grace is a shield

Read: Psalm 18. The Passion Translation.

In the church communities I’ve been a part of, Lent isn’t something that is observed or taught. I discovered it only a handful of years ago after coming across Alicia Britt Chole on Instagram, and the book she wrote; 40 Days of Decrease.
I’ve picked it up each year since, for Lent—enjoying the sacredness of this long-held practice from other Christian traditions—using it as a framework of setting aside this period of time to journey towards the Cross. Towards Easter. In the slow, and often painful walk toward the joy of Sunday. Each day of the forty, Dr Chole encourages a different kind of fast: today, fast regret, or today, fast rationalism.

This year I’m learning to daily fast perfectionism. I’ve laid down my ideals of ‘getting it right’, of ‘doing it properly’ and in all of it finding a God who gives so much more grace than I have ever been able to give myself.

What a God you are! Your path for me has been perfect!
All your promises have proven true.
What a secure shelter for all those who turn to hide themselves in you!
You’re the wrap-around God giving grace to me. Ps 18:30

That word used in this verse is ‘shield’ and in the Hebrew literally means ‘to wrap around in protection’.
God Himself is our protection.
And grace is a shield.

Grace shields me from the shame of not getting it right.
Grace protects me from the fear of not being good enough.
Grace covers me with the reassurance that God stretches heaven’s curtain open and comes to my defense (18:9), that He will reach down into my darkness to rescue me (18:16) that His love broke open the way, and he brings me into a a beautiful broad place (18:19).

My girls have favourite blankets, and now that the weather is cooling, these blankets are wrapped tightly around their shoulders throughout the day. They can’t do much with their hands when their arms are swaddled within the thick layers, but they forgo those things to be wrapped in warmth and comfort.
Grace, wrap-around grace, is just like this. A thick, warm layer of it that enfolds us. All the parts of us. So the parts that feel like they need to do more, or be more are simply stilled by that enfolding, encompassing grace.

And this is a comfort in this season. Because the general rhetoric is loudly saying we should use this time of isolation to do more, to be more; to get better and fitter and launch online businesses and grow followings and online gatherings and to leap lightly and easily into our new pivoted lives and truthfully? All of it leaves me feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.
I can’t keep up with the Zoom calls, and I don’t want to sit in front of a screen any more than what is a necessity and for the first time ever I’m craving a normal, everyday phone call so I don’t have to have perfect hair.
So when I read Psalm 18 in the still-dark morning today I took a great big exhale of relief that even the tree branches swayed beyond my windows.

I’m not fighting the wrapping up of all of the parts of me.
I’ll sit here, perched high and out of reach (18:48), far from the grasp of shame or performance or striving.
What would happen if we just let grace wrap us up tight?
What if we let Him lead us into that beautiful broad place?
It’s right here that there’s room for everyone. Here, the table is wide and there’s a blanket of grace to wrap around each of us, even if our hair is dirty and our skin is blemished.

So today, grace is a shield, protecting me from the lie of perfection, and ushering me into a place of beauty, vulnerability and gratitude for who I am, and who God is to me. I’m wrapping it around me like my favourite blanket, and it’s holding my arms close and I sigh with relief as it envelopes me. As He envelopes me. There’s no need for perfect here.

What do you need the shield of God’s wrap-around grace to cover and protect you from today?

xx