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promise

Faith

Taking Back Tomorrow’s Promises

May 15, 2014

Today I woke up feeling like a plate lady. The balance of life with all these different components I’m trying to keep atop makes me feel like a woman straight out of the circus with seven plates being spun above her head. The audience is leaned forward sure one will fall and she will collapse to the ground in a roar of shattering noises after the plates smash into tiny pieces. I feel for that lady in the circus ring. Plate twirling is no easy business.

My current season feels like a similar balancing act of marriage, work, health, school, dreams, and more. I often feel overwhelmed by the demands of today that I find myself deciding that if I can just survive today, tomorrow I will thrive.

I think it’s my hopeful nature that keeps me believing for tomorrow’s green grass of goodness. And yet, in the midst of that, I inadvertently find myself negating the possibilities for today. These days I can be so quick to decide today doesn’t have room for things, that tomorrow will carry my hope.

You may be doing the same if it always comes back to tomorrow. Instead of giving today your presence, tomorrow becomes when you will rest, breathe, live, or accomplish. And so, you neglect today out of this false idea that tomorrow will allow the space to expel life’s anxious air and inhale grace’s presence.

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So tomorrow becomes this picture of false and never-met promises. And today remains about survival.

On a day like today, feeling overwhelmed by my spinning plates, I wonder if I have painted tomorrow’s fate by deciding today does not have time for my dreams, my rest, and my wonder. Maybe I have strangled life from today by only hoping for tomorrow. And it’s made me realize something important:

It’s time to take back tomorrow’s promises.

It’s easy to complain about waiting for God in certain areas of our lives, often feeling the long enduring as tortuous or unfair. And yet, at the same time, we easily withhold from ourselves that which does not have to be waited upon. In fact, I wonder if maybe waiting wouldn’t feel as tortuous to us if we didn’t tack on to its pile all that is actually for us today.

I mean things like rest. It’s easy to narrow it down to a concept of time and space, planning for that far off day when there will be time to do nothing and simply rest. But in doing that, we take what is a promise for today – in this moment – and tag it as a rarely-experienced wish for sometime in the future. And now, what was offered as a promise becomes reduced to a mere wish.

Or what about grace? What would it look like if we offered grace to ourselves today versus purposefully punishing ourselves through days or months ahead before we partake of what is on the table for us. How much fuller, freer, and joyful would today be in an instance?

The truth is, Heaven longs to deposit that which is accessible today right into our midst.

And we can actually reap dreams, health, or rest today if we stop putting them as stock on the shelves of tomorrow.

So the question is, could you inhale deep what is gifted and created for you, and receive what God promised for you today?

Faith

An Altar of Goodness

March 4, 2013

For years and years, I found myself in a place of perpetual waiting – hoping – for God to fulfill in my life what felt like the one desire I longed for more than any other. I longed to be a wife. To live beside my best friend. And to journey on the wild adventure of life together.

Due to his seemingly perpetual absence, I embarked around the world on my own, jumping into a fast-paced ministry of crazy adventure that led me to 40 countries in the last 5 years. I resolved to live life to its fullest and deeply hoped that along the way, I would find him somewhere beside me in the same orbit of adventure.

Some seasons I could easily remind myself of the catch I believed myself to be, that the wait was worth it, and that God’s hand was in it. Other days and weeks were filled with doubts over if it would ever happen given how long it had been without. The tears fell easily and I would weep wildly.

A couple years ago, in one of those downward seasons where my heart ached beyond comprehension for someone I didn’t think I even knew, I scribbled a message with dry-erase marker up on my mirror wall. Every morning and night I would look at it, speak it out, and do all I possibly could do in the midst of my spinning to settle back into its truth.

Psalm-27-13-web

I did all I knew to keep believing that despite the prolonged waiting ground I stood on, richly watered by my ever-flowing tears, I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. The word highlighted off my mirror each day was the word still.

Despite all that’s (not) happened,  I would see it. His promise alive and active ahead.

Ten years after first asking God to fulfill this desire, he showed up. I assure you, the whole thing looked nothing as I imagined it to be. It was not sparkly or pretty or glamorous – it was breathing, living and messy. Sure signs God’s hand was in all of it.

Yesterday, one lovely year ago, God fulfilled the long-awaited hope for me as I stood on the shore of St. Simon’s Island in front of the love of my life on his knee. With a ring. Asking me to be his wife.

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After that ring was slipped on my finger and I uttered “yes” a million times, Mark stood to his feet and my arms instantly embraced him. Tucked close into him, my eyes looked out over his shoulder at an endless ocean in the distance, with the waters appearing to fall off the world’s final cliff. The moment was frozen for me – all was still, silent, and paused.

As I stared out at the beautiful vastness, I began to replay in my mind’s eye the last decade of waiting – the moments of being sure I had found “him,” of being curled up on my bedroom floor weeping over a hope still not met, of watching others step into what I so longed for myself, of prophesying on shores, chairs, and the like for who he would be. Every moment and memory carried the same underlying voice, the voice that repeated His soft word of promise year after year, season after season: “Beloved, I am good.”

Standing on that shore, embracing my soon-to-be husband, I wept. I wept because of how true that word stood in every moment of waiting. All I uttered for an hour on the Georgian shore, over and over, was this…

You are so good.

That day the love of my life promised all of himself to me for the future ahead. The ring, as a sign of the the covenant to come, was slipped upon my finger. And something long awaited for became fulfilled.

This day, just one year ago, will forever be marked as an altar of the Lord’s manifest, tangible, breathing goodness in my life as I never knew before.

Building altars in the old was the symbolic proclamation that on this day, in this place, the Living One showed up and moved in their midst. It was an expression of remembrance, to help insure that what happened in the past would not soon be forgotten with the coming wilderness trials.

This story isn’t scripted to necessarily be hope for those who are single, although it could be. And it isn’t a story that assures “all is well in the end,” though it may. This story is one about the goodness of God in the land of the living. The altar built that day in my life is an altar of goodness. It’s one of remembrance, to insure I will not soon forget how He has moved in my life and midst.

I believe with all of me that the absence of it today does not negate the promise of it ahead. The waiting ground is the birthing ground for promises fulfilled in the seasons and years yet lived. And it is by waiting in the “still” of today that we are able to partake in the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living that is to come.

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