Thursday, December 13, 2012


I feel in writing today its sort of like I'm calling a friend I was supposed to have called a few months ago and totally forgot about...and now its kind of awkward and there are somethings to be explained.

Like how I was planning on writing daily for the 30 days of May. and I did. Twice.  It's so typical me. Big ideas, poor execution.

I like to think maybe my excuse is a little bit valid. I started that blog in the throws of the first trimester of pregnancy. And unlike my rather uneventful pregnancy with Eden, this baby has made his presence known and felt in every month. The first few months, I dreamt about what it felt like before nausea became a constant companion. Thus, an unsuccessful attempt to blog every day in the month of May.

But now it's December and May was almost eight months ago. And this baby is allowed to be born any day now. In fact, if he were like Eden, he'd be making his debut tomorrow. At four. Oh how I wish he would.

And during these past eight months, my mind and heart have been in a different season than ever before. I could list the various circumstances that caused it, but truly I feel like I'm just now surfacing from months of searching. Not searching in the sense of wandering away from Truth, but finding out that the Truth looks and acts and moves without consulting me. It's like that verse in Psalm 115 that says, "Our God is in Heaven and He does whatever He pleases."

Over the past 3 years of marriage, I feel almost like all I've been learning is the goodness, the kindness, the enduring love and faithfulness of God. How faithful He is to all of His promises, and about what those promises are-- I have been learning so much about how to hang my hat on the character of God as revealed through His word. And I think part of me began to think that if I continue to love Jesus, my life will look and feel the way I perceive safety, protection and hope. The kind of thoughts that Job's counselors and friends had, that if bad is happening in your life, it's basically your sin, or your fault. In my search for the truth about God and His character, I began to think I understood Him perfectly. And, like the countless before me, I have learned these past few months that God will not be summed up. He will not be forced into the confines of my understanding. Bill Johnson says it this way, "You get the peace that passes understanding when you give up your right to understand." But who among us is brave enough to follow what we cannot understand?

Trying to reconcile the tragedy, brevity, reality of this world with the image of God as a loving, faithful Father isn't always easy. In fact, I'm learning its rarely easy. And over the past months, despite how safe my life has been from dark and depressing things, I've watched people I love and care about exposed to various caustic and hostile elements of life. And it left me reeling.

Where is God when a four-year-old is fighting stage four cancer despite the millions of passionate, faithful people praying on her behalf? Where is God when a perfectly healthy, godly couple loses a baby? Where is God when a man is wrongly accused, and still pays the punishment for something he didn't do? Where is God when a woman who lives her life solely to please Him is plunged into the depths of tragedy in losing a father, a friend, a love, and in them the substance of her dreams?

I was sleepless one night after hearing a few of these real life stories from people I love, and I could feel my heart putting up fortresses. When you start realizing how little control you have over your own life, your own health, not to mention the lives and health of friends and family, it is so terrifying. What is more terrifying is that I never will be in control. I felt like for a few months I was holding God at a distance, afraid that if I left Eden, Chad, my family, my life, in His court, they'd be tossed to the four corners of creation and I'd be left alone. And for some reason I thought if I cocooned them in my heart, they'd be safe.

I've seen friends' faith shipwrecked by tragedy. By unexplainable, unreasonable sadness and injustice that exists in the world because the enemy of our souls exists. They lose heart, they think that a good God would not allow evil. And so they walk away from Him. During these months of wrestling over these issues, I know I cannot abandon faith. I know that's not the answer, because most of those friends' lives are even more miserable now than ever. I know God exists, I know He is good because His word says He is good, but there is a gap between my knowledge of God and my knowledge of the world. During that night, I felt the Lord wake up my heart to this:

"Charis, you are spending your energy trying to understand who I am. But you're gathering all the evidence from outside circumstances, trying to fit together an image that isn't a just representation. I never intended for you to discover my character based on what's going on in the world around you, but to have FAITH in my character despite what it is going on around you. I have given you the Word to describe and explain me."

 It reminds me of that verse in Proverbs 25 that says, "It is the privilege of God to conceal a matter, and the privilege of kings to search it out." And Jesus, according to Hebrews 1, "is the sole expression of the glory of God [the Light-being, the out-raying or radiance of the divine], and He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God’s] nature." So we get a bearing on the character of God not just throughout Scripture in His promises, but in the very life of Jesus. And when Jesus encountered human tragedy, loss, death, and decay, He didn't respond as a stoic, He didn't respond as uncaring, He didn't respond as if it's what we deserved. He wept.

Why did Jesus weep when He saw Lazarus' tomb? He knew He was able and was going to raise his friend back up from the dead. I don't think anything Jesus did was haphazard; He says it Himself in John 5:19, "Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." So why is Jesus, who can literally ONLY do what He sees God doing, crying at a funeral of a man He will raise from the dead in just a few seconds? I think the answer is that it's His nature to have a broken heart over the brokenness in our world.

Life isn't predictable. Even when we know God, some might say especially when we know God. We can't formulate how healing works, how to avoid death, how to avoid sorrow, how to avoid loss. We can bank on the fact that despite anything, despite the fact that Jesus guarantees in John 16 that in this world we will have trouble, we can take heart. He has overcome the world. And at the end of every one of my fears, even if all of them were to come to life today and be lived out on the giant screen of my heart, I have a home in the heart of God. And He is an ever present help in times of trouble, His grace is sufficient for me, and when I awake, I will be satisfied for I will see His likeness. The truth is, there isn't any other option but to trust God. David is so wise, in Psalm 34 to say, "I sought the Lord and He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him will be radiant, no shadow of shame will darken their faces."

Graham Cooke says, "Sometimes the grace of God allows you to enjoy what is happening, and at other times, the grace of God allows you to endure what is happening."

I was talking with one of my friends who is in the midst of a "perfect storm" of events in her life, who has suffered so much in the past few months and I was stunned at her words. "I wish I could go back and tell myself not to be so afraid," she confided to me. "I have spent years being so afraid of these things happening. But its nothing like I thought....I still cry, I feel loss, but I have never felt more enveloped in the tangible presence of God as I have lately. For every realized moment of sorrow, He has been nearer and better than I could have ever imagined." Standing on the outside of her grief, her personal loss, her heart ache, I can't fully appreciate her pain. But I can be convinced that God is being faithful, right now, to her. And He will be for each of us, in whatever season we are in. God cannot deny Himself, and He calls Himself our comfort, our helper, our strong tower.

psalm 57:1 "in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by."

Just like cold is the absence of warmth, and darkness is the absence of light, death and decay is the absence of God. From the moment Adam and Eve sinned, death and destruction entered into the world. But also from that moment, we see God already had a plan in place for mankind to be reconciled-- put in right standing again with Him. Even in the midst of the first of millions of acts of rebellion on the part of our hearts towards God, God orchestrates a way for us to get back into a right relationship with Him. He refused to let us live without hope, even for a moment. And its so appropriate that this season is the advent season-- the expectation and celebration of the birth of the One who is reconciling the world to God, and the one who is our Hope.

It's been really amazing to be pregnant this month and realize that (even if our calenders are wrong) Mary was pretty much just as pregnant as I am. And she was carrying that Hope, the Messiah, the anticipated One, in her womb. If only we could understand fully the gift of Jesus, the promise of His hope, the way He loves us so perfectly. We wouldn't be afraid. 

I love how John 1 explains Jesus:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."

I think its interesting that the word for comprehend in the Greek is katalambano, which means to lay hold of (in the mind as well, which is where we get the translated word comprehend)...because even now, in the darkness of the world, it can be hard to understand the Light. But I refuse to let go of Jesus just because I cannot explain or understand perfectly the what and how about the pain the present moment. I do not want to keep in the dark, when there has been an invitation to walk in the Light. I will lay hold of Him, because He has already fastened an iron grip on me, and nothing can take me out of His hand.

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
3 You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
4 For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[d] his shoulder,
and his name shall be called[e]
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.