In my house
In my heart
In our country
It all became incredibly real to me this morning. On a cold and rainy Wednesday, in a house dark from low hanging clouds, nothing was going right. Everything around us was crumbling like leaves.
An alarm clock didn’t go off, kids were yelling and fighting, my cold wasn’t going away, his deals weren’t coming through. A dream we’ve all been counting on, hoping for, sat dusty on the shelf.
I had this feeling of holding my breath. An anxious feeling. A deep feeling. A feeling of just wanting everything to come together, fall in place, turn out perfect.
Isn’t perfection what we’re all hoping for, searching for, chasing after?
And aren’t we all sort of holding our breath?
In a world where we constantly dribble out posts, and blurb out speeches, and rail through our long and thought out arguments of who, and what, and where, and why and, honestly, who cares? I’m tired of the fluff, the Sunday school answers, the witty quips and replies.
Nope. In times like these, I need the real stuff. The good stuff. The stuff that moves me. The stuff that moves mountains.
I need the stuff of God.
For my family this morning
For me this day
For our country at this all important hour
I need to look up. I want to lean in. I have got to figure out a way to keep pressing on.
So where do we find the stuff of God? How do we hunt for it, chase it down? Of course there are millions of ways but for me, it all keeps coming back to three essentials:
And The Lord of the Rings
Not expecting that third one? Don’t worry, I’ll explain…
I know, I know, the Sunday school answer, right?
But it isn’t right; it’s wrong, so wrong, to feel that way about such an important thing and so reflective of how far we’ve gotten from where we need to be.
That prayer is taken so lightly, resisted so fully, and overlooked so readily is evidence of a heart and a people holding God at arm’s length.
Because prayer is power. It is aligning ourselves directly with the King of Kings. With His throne. With His armies. It is our way of doing combat in a world constantly at war. This is true on the level of our individual hearts, our household, and our world at large, our nation included.
We need prayer. We need to pray. It is vital, and in gut check times like this prayer is how we adjust our focus away from ourselves, away from what is happening, and zero in on His way, His truth, His love.
This is how we look up.
Next up: Worship
Again, I know, we’ve heard it before, and yet worship is the last thing I ever feel like doing because worship is surrender. In order for me to worship Him directly, I have to stop worshiping all the lesser things that have taken up space in my heart.
It’s so much easier to check out than surrender up a song, a dance, a word of thanks. But when I do? My arms open wide; literally, I can’t keep them in. My knees bend and I fall to the floor. I am physically bowed low and internally overcome. I am filled with nothing less than His presence.
All those lesser things I was worshiping, clinging to, hoping for ebb away as He fills in the blanks, the cracks, and all my broken.
This is how we lean in.
How do we press on? When dreams are put on hold, and hearts are smashed, and our world is so completely screwed up?
When rulers are wicked? And injustice thrives? And all hope seems lost?
Enter: The Lord of the Rings
In my family we turn to Hobbits. To Aragorn and Arwen. To our old friend Gandalf and the epic story/struggle of The Lord of the Rings to get our hearts on track. Because in this story, we see our story. In their struggle we see our own. In their victories we remember what ours have been and imagine what future victories could look like.
We remember who we are and Whose we are, and in remembering we find hope. We find the stuff of God.
I know this looks different for everyone. For me it’s LOR and other tried and true movies, books, and stories. For you it may be a song, a picture, a verse, a day at the lake or a walk in the woods.
You know the stuff. Whatever gets you your heart back. Whatever reminds you who you are (God’s Beloved), what you’re made of (His image, His likeness), who you belong to (Him, the Savoir, the King). That’s what we have to hunt for, return to, fill up on, linger in.
This is how we press on.
We all want perfect.
Perfect dreams to come true
Perfect houses to live in
Perfectly behaved children
A perfect candidate
It all became incredibly real to me this afternoon. After the turmoil of this morning. After praying with my family and stirring mac-in-cheese to the tune of The Great I Am, after making plans with my man and my girls for a popcorn and Frodo night…
The perfection I want in this life, whether it’s in a perfectly picked-up living room, a perfectly executed day of school, or the dreams I imagine coming perfectly true, none of it is for here. Perfection isn’t for this world. Perfection is for heaven. I am never going to get it perfectly all together. I’m not supposed to.
I can stop holding my breath…
What is for here is Him. HIM! And I can have all of Him I want. But to get to Him I have to look up. I have to lean in. I have to press on.
Our future is uncertain. Nothing is as it should be. It would be easy to lose hope.
“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand…
All other ground is sinking sand.”*
* From the hymn, My Hope is Built on Nothing Less, by Edward Mote
For me it’s walks in the woods and time at the beach and sometimes it’s just quiet and a cup of tea.
I was thinking about you and (Shauna Niequist) when I wrote the part about a day at the lake.:-)