Joy in a Million Drops of Rain

Today marks the 6th anniversary of the day my word caved in; the great collide between good and evil.  In my life, good is winning.  I’m held within the continual embrace of Christ, who thrills my heart, renews my mind, and restores my spirit in a variety of extraordinary ways.  Yesterday afternoon, as I thought about my journey—the harshness life and death, mixed with the beautiful reality of God’s redemptive plan, I saw a picture.  One solitary page lay before me, a journal entry etched in tones of black on white, the substance of my days, the minutes of each hour.  Drops of rain, my tears, which left a watermark behind, framed the page.  As I considered the analogy of this illustration my heart began to pen a script, the story of my life, in simple stanzas, releasing sorrow, receiving joy.

Upon the margins of my heart etched in a thousand drops of rain,

Frames life and death, black and white, evidence of what remains.  

These droplet ribbons run, as dappled colors collide,

Fallen from green pools of sorrow deep inside.

Tears cascade, meandering upon my face, 

Ever flowing from a seemingly endless place.

 

And somehow as these tones converge,

I stare in wonderment; joyous glimmers emerge.

For there, flowing forth from salty pools,

Runs a rainbow of gloriously brilliant hues.

His promised declaration covers me,

Permanency gleams, alluding to what will be.

 

The words he speaks are ever true, 

No shifting, no changing of these 7 hues.

As I linger in the vibrancy of Rainbow’s embrace, 

Death’s shadow departs, vanishing without a trace. 

Gazing once again at the marks upon this page,

My eyes are drawn to beauty, by the One who eclipses pain.

The One who eclipses pain.  This phrase became the anthem to the rest of my day.  Jesus, in his mercy, passes between me and the pain.  He covers me, he heals me, he envelops me.  In the softness of his embrace, sorrow melts away.  I see it no longer.  In past years I’ve learned not to run from pain, but to run towards Christ, anticipating a tangible release of new life.  Always available, he takes the substance of my wound, and in return, gives the essence of true love.  It is The Great Exchange!  He took the weight of yesterday’s burden, painted a picture with it, and released amazing joy.  Redemption displayed in beauty for brokenness.

And so, on this 6th anniversary, the sky pours forth it’s million drops of rain, quite fitting, as He proclaims his poetic life inside my heart. I look, with expectation, toward the pools of color running across my story.  Dappled drops of varying shades—each moment proclaiming redemption, provision, grace, mercy and love, they flow over me washing away the black and white.  As I look in the mirror radiance greets me, beaming brightness, a divine display.  I am adorned with His rainbow, covered by His promise.  My heart knows joy, not trumpeted on center stage at high volume, no, this joy is different.  It is clothed with mercy, in a million drops of rain.

Celebrate This Day

This day I celebrate love: I celebrate God and his redemption over my life; I celebrate the love he has given and those I share it with; I celebrate the simple blessing of this holy moment in time- another day to live and love and learn his ways.  On this day as I celebrate I also mourn.  As one who knows the pain of profound loss and brokenness, I see a similar trail of “Hansel and Gretel” crumbs in lives around me.  The piercing pain of separation defined by living on this side of Heaven: sometimes lost within the depths of the forest; trees so huge they threaten to block the brightest light of day.  It’s cold and lonely in that place and finding your way out takes every bit of strength and perseverance you can muster.  The only reason you keep walking, trudging up hills and through thick brush is because you hear the One who is calling to your heart.  He speaks words of love and life so tenderly that although you can’t physically see him, it’s as if he has taken your hand and is gently leading you. His voice, while not heard is felt.  It says, “One more, just take one more, you can do it; you’re going to find me on this side and then you’re going to see me on the other side.”  And although you don’t know exactly what “this side” and the “other side” might mean, you know that you’re not alone anymore and the forest isn’t so scary as long as he stays with you.  Day after day you walk with his gentle voice and touch, knowing that with each step you’re getting closer to freedom- wide open spaces filled with sunlight, a carpet of soft grasses and flowers waiting to envelop your step, warm gentle breezes wrapping arms of love around you.  You have dreamt of this place and so you press forward.  Suddenly you find a clearing where a solitary beam of sunlight shines directly onto the forest floor; birds dance and sing as they fly through, bathing themselves in pure light.  You linger in it for a little while, soaking it in.  “So this is how it feels?” you say to yourself.  “I want to live like this everyday”, and without making a conscious choice your feet start moving, you’re running now, holding nothing back.  You give every last drop of energy to get free from this forest; exhausted but still you run.  It feels like you’re flying, it’s as if your feet aren’t even touching the ground.  As you look down at your feet you are completely stunned- “I am flying, soaring on wings like eagles!” you exclaim.  Your momentary disbelief and confusion fades quickly as you realize that you’re sheltered in His wings.  It’s a peace so complete and overwhelming that you’re helpless within it.  You wouldn’t want to fight anyway.   It’s better than any sleep you’ve ever gotten, cozier than any bed you’ve ever laid upon.  Finally, the complete exhaustion you’ve known is gone.  The wings of love carry you to the most magnificent place you’ve ever known: beautiful trees spread their branches to shelter you, wide open space just like you’ve dreamt.  There is a lake with clear blue water- fish jump out, glistening in the sunlight; they too are beautiful!  Birds fly high overhead and some dance and sing within the branches of trees above.  There is a peace and stillness similar to the one you felt while flying.  It’s amazing here; the colors are more vibrant, scents are deeper, it’s as if you’re really living for the first time!  There’s a joy and life beating out a song inside your heart that you’ve never heard before, but it’s instantaneously identifiable and so you DANCE!  Your body sways and twirls in a rhythm all it’s own, completely set free.  You wonder at the true beauty before your eyes; as though going through the forest is almost “worth it” just to be where you are now…not that you’d have ever wanted to be in that dark, cold place.

***Friends, that’s what it’s like when half of your heart lives out life on earth while the other half lives in heaven.   You’re trudging through the forest knowing that God is speaking, leading you forward, but not exactly seeing him.  The surrounding circumstances seem to almost overwhelm you and choke out His light.  In my journey I’ve made it through that forest, I found my magnificent place; however there are times when simply the memory of the climb takes me back to the sadness of those days for a little while.  It’s good for me to remember, because then I can passionately celebrate the land in which I now live.  It’s the goodness and love of God that has brought me here.  As I survey the lives around me I see many who currently find themselves in that forest and my heart breaks for them today.  A friend who lost his wife, a family missing their daughter…the beautiful ones who now see His face and behold His glory in Heaven.  Hearts that were tightly connected on earth are stretched…sometimes it feels like too much to bear.  I’m sure there are people connected to your life who have “stretched-hearts” as well and I encouraged you to touch their lives today!  Touch them with the healing LOVE of God.  It’s the greatest way to celebrate…giving of yourself for someone else.  Send an email, drop off a card or gift, ask them to dinner; be willing to listen to their stories and cry with them.  There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.  (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4)  You just might be the very way God will carry them out of the forest and into their magnificent place!

There are many times in our lives that we find ourselves in a forest (or wilderness of sorts) and there are countless people around us needing the tangible LOVE of God everyday.  Today I’m asking you to focus your attention to those missing a loved one, but don’t forget to look around and be “Jesus with skin on” on a regular basis.  We are all called to be HIS ambassadors.

 

Becoming 1!

Ephesians 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

I’ve been thinking about these verses a lot over the past couple months and wanting to understand more clearly and deeply, the Father’s heart on marriage.   We see, through scripture, the comparison between marriage and Christ’s love for the church.   We hear words of unity, respect, love and even submission.  As I’ve asked for His perspective here’s what’s resonating in my heart today.  Marriage is about 2 becoming 1.  There are lots of ways this happens.   It’s about sharing, sharing the same last name, finances, responsibilities and intimacy.  I love sharing my heart with my husband, Dan…I love sharing the little things I’ve been treasuring inside, pondering over, and I love his response.  Sometimes I find myself sharing things I don’t love: worries, stress, frustration; and again, I love his response.  I have seen so clearly the love of Jesus poured out through the love of my husband.  His encouragement, support, oneness- it’s like Jesus with skin on.   Now before you get the wrong idea and stop reading let me tell you the other side of the story.  It’s not all perfect.  We have days just like everyone else, there are times when I’m not hearing Dan’s heart and he’s not hearing mine, times when the stuff that’s in our hearts is better left unsaid.   We are both human beings who rub each other the wrong way some days.  The challenge comes in those moments- will I stop and remind myself that we’re on the same team?  Will I choose to believe that we’re fighting for the same goals and dreams?  Do I want to make the tough choices to call my attitudes sin, seek forgiveness and move on?  Will he do the same things?  More often than not, the pitfalls of marriage don’t come from huge, glaring incidents, but realistically they come from small things that aren’t dealt with; things that are swept under the rug and pile up over time.  So how do I get back to oneness, unity, love, and respect?  In the verses above we are reminded of the words God wrote in Genesis 2:24, that’s where it started- the 2nd chapter of the Bible!  “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”   After speaking of unity and becoming 1, there is no place where it is suggested that we, as married couples, divide ourselves.  That just sounds crazy…but don’t I do that all the time?  If I really want to follow God’s heart for marriage and love my husband the way it is intended, then shouldn’t everything I do come from a place of marital oneness?  Regardless of location, I should carry my husband with me through each thought and action, knowing that we are perpetually 1.  Our marriage relationship parallels our relationship with Christ.  Unity in our marriage should flow so completely that God is blessed and Christ is exalted.  The way I choose to love Dan should clearly portray my love for Jesus and in receiving the love my husband longs to give I open my heart to the lover of my soul.  These 2 relationships are set to be complete mirror images of one another.  My husband and I openly loving and giving ourselves to/for each other in thought and deed; and my relationship with Jesus- actively giving myself in love to him, partnering with him in what he is doing and receiving love and intimacy in return.  For me it is counter to what I’ve seen and heard from a world which says that marriage is 50/50, give and take; I say it’s 100/100!  This goes against belief patterns I’ve held my whole life, it’s turned my world upside down.  I see the concept, I believe in what God’s speaking to my heart and I’m working to be the bride that he desires, both for Dan and for Jesus.  Am I there?  Not yet, but we’re working on it.  I am thrilled by the changes I see inside myself, the way it’s impacting Dan and others around me.  Ultimately I know that as good as all of that is, it doesn’t compare to the richness of relationship that Jesus is cultivating inside my heart, right now…as He whispers and I wonder.

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