First Issue Summer 2020
Passion and Purity
God asks what it is He’s made us love, what it is that captures our attention, And then, leaning over us, He whispers, “Let’s go do that together.
God puts dreams in our hearts and writes a destiny over our lives. And if we are obedient to walk through the door, we will find what we could not experience deeply any other way. The gospel comes to life there. A crack at discovering the way God actually redeems what seems irredeemable . . . the hope of seeing him create a new ending out of a bad beginning. And if we trust Him enough to take Him at His word, we will find ourselves on a journey toward the fulfillment of that dream.
This movement from expectations to disillusionment to a different sort of hope is a spiritual rite of passage, I’ve discovered. Hope is the golden stuff that draws us along on this journey. It keeps us alive on the inside so we can actually taste and experience the wonder of belonging to God. The richness of His mercy. To experience the power to love that is not our own. I’ve discovered that Hope is a container God shapes in our heart where faith and love can be stored—and then generously offered to others.
This hope is a daring seed that we plant with prayer again and again because this is the way our life yields more joy. Love is complicated and the simplest thing in the world and when we understand and know the embrace of His love in a thousand ways, daring to hope becomes the way you breathe.
I’ve also discovered the journey that takes us towards that dream is always wrought with thickets and thorns. Nothing worth having ever comes easy or without opposition. Our fears will be confronted.
The journey itself, though, is often not what we expect. It can be full of detours and potholes and narrow paths. Or perhaps I should say that God has a different sort of wonderful than the one we have in mind.
God wants to bless us. That’s the primary idea. Because He can’t resist giving us the highest good, He’s determined to give us an encounter with Himself. It’s the greatest blessing He can think of. It’s the highest dream. But we don’t view things that way. So God goes to work to help us see more clearly. One way He works is to allow our lower dreams to shatter. He lets us hurt and doesn’t make it better. We suffer and He stands by and does nothing to help, at least nothing that we’re aware we want Him to do. In fact, what He’s doing while we suffer is leading us into the depths of our being, into the center of our soul where we feel our strongest passions. It’s there that we discover our desire for God. We begin to feel a desire to know Him that not only survives all our pain, but actually thrives in it until that desire becomes more intense than our desire for all the good things we still want. Through the pain of shattered lower dreams, we wake up to the realization that we want an encounter with God more than we want the blessings of life. And that begins a revolution in our lives.
And I have realized that God allows our journey to be difficult because He intends to refining us and preparing us for our place of promise. He is intent on extracting from us, that which our enemy would love to leverage against us. God loves us too much to promote us before we are ready.
“I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.” Elisabeth Elliot
I think of the words of Proverbs that had caught my eye earlier this morning as I sipped coffee in my still-quiet room at 3 am: “when she speaks, she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly. ” (Proverbs 31: 26 MSG)
My friend whispered of my wounds that has never healed, my heart is broken: ”How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” (Psalm 13)
Buy as the sun sets over the horizon and dances patterns across the bench where my friend sat. She sees me with new eyes, a captive of the hope set fully on the grace given her through Christ. She look at my circumstances and expect Jesus to enter in and redeem, renew, restore.
Romans 4 painfully reminds me of that time of asking and waiting.
As I read Abraham’s story in Genesis. Abraham was waiting, God was working. Molding his character. Teaching him patience. Building their friendship. It was in those seemingly wasted years that God transformed him. And after decades of waiting, Abraham was ready for the supreme test of his faith, when he was asked to sacrifice Isaac, the son of promise. The son he had waited for. Abraham’s faith wasn’t rooted in the promise of descendants. If it was, he never would have taken Isaac to be sacrificed. He wouldn’t have relinquished what God had promised him years earlier. He would have clung tightly to Isaac, feeling entitled to this son. For Isaac was the fulfillment of God’s long-awaited promise to Abraham. Abraham wasn’t clinging to his own understanding of the fulfillment of God’s promise. God could fulfill his promise any way he chose, including raising Isaac from the dead if he needed to (Romans 4:17).
Abraham’s faith lay in the trustworthiness of God. Abraham’s faith wasn’t in the promise alone. His faith was rooted in the One who gave him that promise. Because his faith was not in “what God would do for him, but in God himself.” Abraham was willing to risk and do whatever God asked. He wasn’t holding on to a particular outcome. He was holding on to God. Abraham’s waiting strengthened his faith (Romans 4:18).
As I let that promise sink in, I see my waiting differently. Perhaps God is making me wait for the same reasons that he made Abraham wait: to forge my faith. To make me more attentive to his voice. To deepen my relationship and solidify my