The Dark, Cold Waters of Depravity

On the day I should be humble, Lord

Stricken with grief and despair

I find myself looking up at You and

mocking you with my stare.

“If you are the son of God,” I yell

“then get off that cross. Do SOMEthing.

Save yourself. Call the angels. How foolish

that you do nothing!”

I watch you speak to the criminals as your lungs start to collapse,

offering a seat in Paradise? Please. You’re nothing but a man.

Eventually you die and as the sky and ground split in two,

I shrug off the scream of creation, my eyes are fixed only on you.

You are dead, Jesus. That’s what I see.

I feel nothing but disappointed.

What a joke I played on my heart, to think you were somehow anointed.

Now here I am, generations removed from the actual moment that you died

and I am so so angry Lord. I want to do nothing but scream and cry.

At You.

It alarms me because I have always been for you, with you, trusting every move you have made.

Now I find myself retreating from the wings that gave me shade.

Do you see what’s happening around here, God? Do you hear the bombs and screams?

As girls are ripped from their innocence and the heads of children fill the streets?

I’m back at the foot of the Cross and I am yelling at you again to move, to ACT

my voice catches in my throat because it’s actually desperation I feel. Not anger.

I am so tired of holding out nothing but hope. It seems so not enough for that mourning mother.

What of that child who watched themselves become an orphan? WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR THEM?

For years I have recited the rhetoric. I have looked at the cross with deep sorrow yet JOY.

But this year, God I am struggling SO HARD to believe this isn’t just a big ploy.

I have broken down for the broken down and feel entirely spent.

I know you offer eternal life, but does it matter when this life, for so many, is hell?

Yet, before your eyes close in death on the cross, before you surrender your life,

You look down into my hateful heart and am compelled, for me, to die.

You know that I will doubt you, that I will try and flee from your presence.

You have gone with me every place I am, You will continue into the next one.

God I weep at my unbelief, at the doubt I have nurtured, coddled and kept

But just as you saw me, clear as day on that cross, you saw billions and billions… and wept.

So even though sometimes it’s hard to swallow the truth lodged in my imperfect, wayward spirit,

I will proclaim to the nations, to neighbors, to friends, to anyone who will hear it:

God saw and He moved and He entered into our hate. He suffocated under our darkness.

Today, RIGHT NOW, the Enemy tears through flesh and nations to convince us that our God is absent.

Oh friend, skeptic, critic, and saint – do not be deceived any longer.

The glimpses of terror we have seen in our time, are a fraction of what laid on Christ’s shoulders.

We will not ever fully know the dark, cold waters of our depravity, as Christ has known them.

The Enemy likes to make us think those waters will drown us in despair and pain,

But Jesus’ death gives every soul the chance to come up for air, and remain.

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My Song of the Sea

IMG_7559My women’s small group is currently going through the book of Exodus. Last week we talked about Exodus 15 – The Israelites sang their “Song of the Sea” after watching God destroy the Egyptian army in the waters of the Red Sea. It’s a beautiful, poignant picture of a people who are so ready to worship and revere their God. As a takeaway idea, I suggested we try and write our own “Song of the Sea” to declare God’s goodness and faithfulness to us during our own lives. Since I’m a leader of the group I figured maybe I should follow through on my own idea (which happens probably about 30% of the time), and I’m really glad I did! This was a great exercise in worship and reflection.

Rachel’s Song of the Sea

Lord, Your ways are unsearchable to me. Your grace is unavoidable.
You stand on my behalf in the presence of the Father.
You have claimed me for Yourself and I am irreversibly Yours.

Your hands have formed galaxies even as Your mind imagined the human race.
You are altogether good and trustworthy in Your design. You do not make mistakes or have second thoughts.

With You, there is no plan B.
In You there is no condemnation for all who worship You.

You patiently deliberate with me in my doubt.
In truth You respond to my anger and uncertainty.
In love You rebuke my arrogance and conceit.

When I hated Your plan for me, You heard and knew and felt that pain.
And You comforted me.
You lifted my chin and turned my eyes to a tomorrow that I can only dimly comprehend.

Great is Your faithfulness!

When I shake my fist in Your face, You put me in my place.
You destroy my wobbly attempts at being someone I’m not, simply by reminding me that I am Yours.

You free me to risk and to try because everyday I wake up in Your mercies.
Where can I go from You?

I chase after the wind as You chase my wayward heart.
You sing over me even as I reach for other gods.

I don’t understand You, God. You don’t fit into my boxes.

At times I’m silent before You, seething and lonely and scared.
At times You are silent before me, present and listening and leading.

Your Spirit is an anchor in the fickle seas of my flesh.
I am caught and pulled and tempted and fail.
You are steadfast, available, and ready to redeem.

The Enemy sits in my comfort zone, I have made him a friend as I seek and search for how to be god.
He prompts me and urges me towards forbidden fruit, towards the empty, glittery promises of lust, pride, greed, and hate.

When I do not trust You, I am trusting him instead.
Forgive me, Lord. Teach me to trust Truth.

You overturn his lies in righteous anger. You pull me from the depths of the pit and place me on high ground.
You are my high ground.

Your Kingdom is marked by truth and righteousness.
You opened Paradise to the ungrateful beggar.

Your mystery dwells in the hearts of everyone who calls upon Your name.
You are deep in the DNA of Your people.

No one can know what You know and still love like You love.
No one saves like You.

You are both my hiding place and my courage.
You are my Savior and my Maker.

Great is Your faithfulness!

Grace Makes Room

Forgive my fickle faith, Lord.

How it ebbs and flows with the tides of this world.

Forgive my cries of “Hosanna!” that melted into “Crucify Him!’

Forgive the blackness of my heart, shrouded in suffocating robes of sin.

Forgive my spit upon your face, my doubt that sheaths your grace.

Forgive my bitter spirit for producing such toxic words of hate.

Forgive my finger-pointing, and my pouting when you ask me to wait.

Forgive those thoughts that I entertain, that belong in the depths of hell.

Forgive those sins I love to hold. The ones you know so well.

Forgive my small attempts at reconciliation as I silently plot revenge.

Forgive my limping heart as it struggles to make amends.

Forgive the twisted humor that delights my depraved mind.

Forgive the state of my weakened resolve, forgive the mess within me that you find.

Oh God! How you forgave me this, and things I won’t even say out loud.

How you forgave this girl, this hypocrite, cheering in the crowd.

Oh how deep the grace that poured from the veins of your own Son.

Oh how blind, and mute, and deaf to your suffering I was.

Yet no rivers made from tears of my regret, will overwhelm this flood of grace.

For though I mourn on Friday, yet on Sunday I’ll see your face!

Sweet Lord whose blood was spilled on wood to set this captive free,

Thank you for not turning from the road to Calvary.

If it was I in your shoes, I know I would have changed my course.

But only you know the pain and joy of perfect love, for  you alone are its source.

Teach me Spirit, day by day, to turn away from lies.

Teach me how to see the world through my kind Savior’s eyes.

Teach me how to die to self, with Christ as my example.

Bring me to repentance when my sin, on Him, does trample.

Bring me to the foot of the cross, but don’t let me forget the empty tomb.

Remind me to rise up again, for every sinner, grace makes room.

 

 

Tired

I’m tired of the pain, Lord. I’m tired of the tears.

I’m tired of the death and guilt and paralyzing fears.

I’m tired of people saying You’re outdated or a fraud.

I’m tired of seeing my own flesh spit in the face of God.

When I say, “Come, Lord Jesus” my heart is tired too.

The unbelief is deafening as this world becomes unglued.

I’m tired of the rhetoric, the bullshit, and the crap.

My mustard seed is shrinking. I just want You to come back.

My motive is purely selfish, as most my motives are.

I want to see Your face, Lord and trace the pattern of your scars.

I want the world to see that while Your people turned away,

You hung on a cross, consumed by wrath, so that “there will be a day.”

Why can’t I see you now Lord? My God, what can I do?

If I “take up my cross and follow” is it true that I’ll get You?

“Yes Rachel, there is hurt and anguish, sorrow and remorse

As man, left to his own depravity, charts a damn-ed course.

But see, today the Spirit will give sight to blinded souls.

Hell will lose some citizens, as Satan’s grip grows cold.

Hear the angels sing with joy! What a liberating sound!

Keep pressing on, do you not see the harvest that abounds?

You can always find your rest in Me, the unchangeable I AM

But do not let your hate of pain outweigh your love for man.”

I Am From

My sister recently did an exercise from reading a book called “Writing to Change the World” by Mary Pipher that’s entitled “I Am From.” It’s basically writing a poem-esque piece that begins with “I Am From” and filling in objects, places, thoughts, and memories that you deem formative in your life. It stretches you to think beyond geographical locations and delve into what is the make-up of your personality, your values, what is you — and how did you get there?

Inspired by her own stab at the exercise (check it out here) I wanted to give it a go. It was difficult for me to not copy and paste a lot of her lines since we’re from the same lineage but I did my best to express it in my own way. 😉

Without further ado…

I Am From

I am from the compassion of a therapist and the curiosity of a thinker.

From the organist hammering out “Bringing in the Sheaves” and Pop-pop’s hugs.

I am from snoring like a bear and cackling like a hen.

I am from “She may never walk.” to “She won’t stop dancing!”

I am from birthday parties of Olympic proportions and church musical productions.

From homemade icing and peach pie.

I am from playdates in the attic and dress-up in the basement.

I am from “Go blow the stink off ya” and muddy-knee blue jeans.

I am from the day I received Jesus as Savior and a sour apple blow pop.

I am from hand-me-downs and “Let the sun shine in.”

I am from long legs, big feet, crooked teeth, and near-sightedness.

I am from bad backs, gravelly kidneys, calloused hands, and courage.

From imperfect people.

I am from hot cocoa and toast mornings.

From algebra homework and book reports at midnight.

I am from the middle seat in the mini-van.

From the tall girl in the back.

I am from the studio and the stage.

From the right side of the brain.

I am from the stands in volleyball tournaments, the audience at band concerts and competitions, and the spectators at gymnastic meets.

I am from small-town stop signs and lead-foot drivers.

I am from late-night conversations that led to lifelong friendships.

I am from a walk on the beach to “For better or worse.”

I am from faith, not luck.

From Providence, not coincidence.

I am from a plan bigger than where I am from.

Taken in NYC circa 2008"In the zone" in the studio.

Taken in NYC circa 2008
“In the zone” in the studio.

Uncommon Grace

Uncommon Grace

For God so loved the world…

Once I walked in common grace, oblivious to His presence,

Relishing a big bear hug or a cool breeze through my hair.

I thought myself a lucky girl, yet my soul lived as a peasant.

Never seeing beyond the apparent, I didn’t think to care.

I sang the song a hundred times, “how sweet the sound” indeed!

Until at last my soul awoke, “This grace will set me free.”

For while the lost and found alike can soak up rays of sun,

Only souls who accept His grace will find unending love.

Oh that you would know the God who thought you into being!

I’m not promising the end of pain but is your purpose not worth seeing?

We are common, you and I, surrounded by the normal,

But this grace speaks to worn-out souls, and sets free the eternal.

The laughter of a child and the understanding of a friend

are not the end of knowing grace, they point us straight to Him.

Dying for a world that hope seemed to have forsaken,

he bled and breathed his last so that the penalty was taken.

What a dismal story if it ended at the tomb,

But take heart for He has risen and is preparing many rooms!

Rooms for each who call on Jesus, hallowed be His name,

For wretches who ran past the common and found the grace that saves.

Once I walked in common grace unknowing, unaware.

Now I live in saving grace, uncommon and unfair.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 3:16-17



Exhausted arms, exhaustive love – For my Mom.

Today I celebrate the woman who birthed me, raised me, and continues to love me through the ups, downs, ins and outs of life.

For my mother, who faithfully let the sun shine in.

Exhausted arms, exhaustive love

“So let the sun shine in! Face it with a grin! Smilers never lose and frowners never win!”

Before I even knew what it meant to be cherished and really loved, you were wiping up my poopy butt and giving me good night hugs.

When monsters and meanies interrupted my dreams, I would run to your exhausted arms and happily listen to you sing:

“He’s still workin on me.. To make me what I ought to be.

It took him just a week to make the moon and the stars,

the sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.

How loving and patient He must be, he’s still workin on me.”  

Before I could claim His free gift of salvation for myself, I knew that Christ was present by your prayers and the Childrens Bible on my shelf.

When doctors told you that I could never do ballet, thank you for buying my first leotard and watching me twirl every which way.

Though a lot of my childhood memories are a little bit blurry, one thing I remember about your love: it was never in a hurry.

I can’t forget to mention all the EPIC birthday parties that you threw. My birthday was a big deal, and my friends always knew! Where else would you fish marbles out of ice cold water with your toes, or run back and forth on a basketball court trying to put on ridiculous dress up clothes?

Thank you for all the things I don’t remember.

Thank you for all the things that you remembered for me. The dentist and doctor and at what time they would be.

For all those times you held my hand and laughed your infectious laugh. I’m proud to own a piece of that laugh and don’t plan on giving it back.

As my life unfolded with preteen drama and trivial matters of state, thank you for finding those things important instead of telling me those things could wait.

When all my friends advanced in dance and I was held back, I knew it was because my legs wouldn’t stretch and my feet are so woefully flat. But you sent me a letter via good ol’ fashioned mail, reminding me this was a time to grow, to learn, to try, to fail.

You never let me sit in any pits I dug from fear, you always helped me out of them, mom, with a loving hand and listening ear. I stuck with dance the next year after, and the one after that and after that. I tried with new resolve and I could laugh when my effort fell flat.

When I started high school and so many people changed, some friends became “too cool for school” and dating was a “must do” game; thank you for instilling in me a desire to stand firm, to not apologize for who I was, and to value what I learned.

And throughout ALL my teenage years when I told you that “I’m fine,” Thank you for opening my bedroom door and holding me while I cried.

God really blessed me with a mom who saw past my face. When life became about wearing contacts and mascara you reminded me to focus on His grace.

As I stumbled into womanhood I entered with a confidence not my own. Because I knew that in Christ I mattered and I never walk alone.

When it was my turn to go to college and you dropped me off and hugged me bye, I stared as the car drove away and forced myself not to cry.

Those care packages from home always came just in time, and I always laughed at the random bargains that you would find.

Now I’m quite the bargain hunter and I know that you’d be proud! I look at the price of a sweater that’s not on sale and I literally laugh out loud. Instead I find two outfits for the price of that one sweater and I hear you say, inside my head, “That’s my girl! MUCH better!”

When I met the man that stole my heart and he asked me for my hand, I know it was a little hard and sooner than you had planned.

Planning a wedding in 5 short months was not an easy task, and you bore so much of the burden and did more than I could even ask.

Thank you for making that day special for me and for making me feel special for every day that came before it.

As I continue to grow with each passing year, I know our relationship has seen its fair share of tears. We have walked through painful times, experienced forgiveness. We have worked through many differences and have grown in our awareness:

Aware that time has sealed some memories that will keep til kingdom come. Aware that a daughter is called to be a wife and is learning to make her home.

Aware that a mothers touch can be felt from hundreds of miles away, and even though you can’t carry me in your arms anymore, in your heart I found a place to stay.

I don’t call you as much as I should, and Lord knows I’m not the perfect daughter. But having you in my life from day one has only served to make me stronger.

I love you mom and I always will though my expression often falls short. I cannot deny the source you have always been of confidence, love, and support.

Love,

Rachel