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I’m the kind of person who doesn’t worry.

Instead, I PANIC.

This week, I woke up and decided it was high time for some panicking.

Just kidding. But really, I did panic.

It was like for so long I (and we) have been in the dramatic upheaval of marriage and missionary training and moving and starting out support raising that I didn’t have time to panic, only to keep my head above water.

But slowly, things have settled. We’ve unpacked our things. We bought a comforter. Our rings became less shiny and our stuff less new and our marriage less novel, and suddenly I wasn’t just surviving.

And when I finally had enough time to stand and look around, I panicked. Not just panicked, but PANICKED. Like, freaking out, crying, full-blown angry-thrashy-sweaty-nightmare-filled sleep panicked.

Like a child who suddenly realizes they’ve swum into the deep end on accident, I’ve lost my footing. Spluttering, choking, gasping for breath.

How are we ever going to do this? Missionaries? What were we thinking? Really. There are people far smarter, far better, far more spiritual and qualified for this than us. Trust me, we went through training with them.

But here we are. With the title “Missionary” on our marriage license and our tax forms. Doing just that.

But for some reason, God chose us for this. I definitely don’t always appreciate it (last night as we were getting ready for bed, I told Clay that I really wish God could have chosen to make us something more stable, like an office-worker or full-time vacation-taker. He told me the first one isn’t all that stable and the second one doesn’t exist. Dang.) But I know we’re right where we’re supposed to be.

And honestly, it’s a scary place to be. I wish I could say that I wasn’t scared, that I was trusting God completely, that I was at peace. But I’m not. But I’m getting there.

Every day I wake up, I’m dragging these reluctant feet a few more steps, urging this stubborn heart to soften just a little bit more. I’m getting there. I am. I’m just slower than you might expect.

“I believe I will look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

I have clung to this verse like it is life itself. To me, it says so much. It says not only will I see the goodness of the Lord, but that I will see it in the land of the living. Did you catch that? I won’t have to wait until heaven. I will see it here. Now.

Oh, that gives me so much hope!

To know that it’s not the interminable waiting. To know that I’m not stuck on “this side of eternity”, a phrase to me that sounds like being a toddler stuck behind the baby gate, watching all the fun happening in the other room.

To know that I can, right now, in this place, in this situation, experience his goodness, no matter how scared or small or insufficient I feel.

I love that. I need that.

I BELIEVE I will look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of living. In the land of missionary support raising. In the land of newly-married-ness. In the land of Columbus, Ohio (aka far, far away from the ministry and the students I love.) In this land, right here, today.

I believe I will.

I believe.

 

 

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I hope for heaven. All my longings and desires are pointing there, pulling there, drawing me ever forward.

Because of heaven, I can live with the fact that my earthly body is permanently broken and often in pain. I have a sure hope that one day, I’ll be in a body that is perfect and whole.

Because of heaven, I can live free from the fear of losing the ones I love. I don’t fear for my fiance’s safety, my friend’s cancer. My fiance and my friend will live eternally in heaven with me. Even if I have to live the next 60+ years without them, those years of missing them will pale in comparison to an eternity with them.

Because of heaven, I can put aside lesser things that I love in favor of greater things that God loves. I can forgo a large salary to take a job that serves God’s kingdom. I can give up stability and safety to do what God asks me to do, when He asks me to do it. I can forgo living near my family, seeing my dear friends, living in the places that I love, in order that I might share the Gospel with those who most need it. I can even give up my own life, because I know that nothing I say “No” to now will compare to the infinite “Yes’s” that I will have in eternity.

Because of heaven, I walk in peace, sleep in comfort, and live in joy. Nothing – from a bad day to incurable cancer – can touch me. A present comfort with a promised future. I am, of all people, the most truly free.

On Saturday, I watched two of my friends get married. Everything was beautiful, and it was all a blast, but one part in particular struck me – the beginning. Now, I know that might seem like a silly place to start, but trust me, I’m going somewhere with this.

After all the guests had been escorted in, music began to play. Everyone stopped talking, and an excited hush fell over the church. Slowly, the wedding party began to file in. Mothers, the groom, the groomsmen and the bridesmaids. After everyone was in, the doors to the back of the church closed. The music began to rise, and everyone looked backwards, necks craning, waiting for the bride to make her entrance.

Finally, just as the music hit it’s peak, the doors opened, and everyone stood. The bride stood in the doorway, dressed in white. We all watched as she made her way dow the aisle to the altar, where her groom waited.

As I watched her, the obvious question of “I wonder if that will be me someday,” arose. But then, I thought. “No, that will be US!”

As I looked at the friends who surrounded me, all of whom dearly love the Lord, I realized that one day, we would all be doing this. My mind turned to thoughts of Revelation 19 and 21, and the excitement I had for my two friends turned to excitement for all of us.

One day, Jesus will return, and he will call his Bride, the Church, to come. Made pure by the Blood of the Lamb, we will be clothed in white, ready for our wedding day. The entire universe will watch in eager anticipation as we stand, ready and waiting. The gates of Heavenly Jerusalem will open, and we will be ushered in.

As we make our way in, we will see him.  Sitting at the right hand of the Father, the one who has brought us here. Our savior. Our lover. Our groom. Jesus. And in that first moment when our eyes lock and we see him face to face, everything will change.  Every ounce of suffering, every tear, every cry, will seem like nothing compared to the weight of glory we are now experiencing.

Nothing else matters.  All our tears will be dried, and there will be no more pain, no more crying, no more death. Nothing else matters. Because we are here. He is here. And we are finally together, to be united forever.

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
(Revelation 21:2-4 ESV)

“Zion” by Jonathan David Hesler

When I’m dreaming (as I often do), my dreams often slip to the way I wish life could be. They way I would live, if I could. The way life could be, if Eve had never reached out and sinned that first time, and the world was perfect.

I would live in a small house set deep in a big forest with a large garden and a medium sized lake nearby. My garden would have flowers and trees, and enough veggies to satisfy both the bunnies and myself.

The house would always be lit with sunlight, and smell like fresh flowers and baking bread. It would never be quiet, filled with children and visiting friends and laughter.

I’d spend my days baking and gardening, visiting friends, wandering in the forest, swimming in the lake, sleeping in the garden and enjoying the sunshine (but never a sunburn). I’d never have to take a photograph, because everything would always stay perfect – and if I wanted to see it again, I could just come back later.  Every meal would taste the way food does after you’ve been very hungry, for a very long time, even though you’d never be hungry.

And best of all, if it were perfect, God would be there. And I’d spend all of the time sitting with my Father, talking to my Brother, and enjoying the warmth of the Spirit. And all of the gifts above would pale in comparison to this. Because this – this is what my soul was made to do.

These are the things I think about, when the days are long and my heart is heavy, and my body feels weary through my bones. I think, and I can smile, because I know I’m not just dreaming. I have the assurance of things hoped for, and though I know I’ll probably only see slivers of this now, but in a blink (for what is 60, even 70 years in comparison with eternity?) I’ll be in heaven, and I can rest until all of this is reality.

This what I dream about. What do you dream about?

The Lord has dealt a bitter hand,
and though it fits some theme or plan,
that does not stem the flow of grief
or dry my tears, nor
bring relief.

And though I walk a desert path
God guides me still, and with His staff
He makes a spring from boulders flow
to whet my lips, and heal my soul.

And though this life brings strife and pain
I know that all my loss is gain.
For knowing Christ, and him alone
is enough to bring me, ever home.

Onward, to the Eternal Kingdom march!
with tear-streaked faces
and broken hearts.

Oh, soon, we’ll arrive
in our heavenly home
where our tears will dry
and our hearts will mend
and all things painful will see their end.

So cry, red eyes!
And grieve, sad hearts!

But hope, ever hope,
for Christ’s return
and eternity’s start.

 

“From the moment we are born, we begin to die.”

This quote used to be one of my favorites.  It both terrified and intrigued me.  Only recently did I realize something new when I heard this quote.

I march, not toward death, as the quote implies, but life.  Oh yes, I will die.  But for me, death is only the vehicle to which I take to my new life.

Death (and the long, slow, often agonizing march toward it that we call “life”) is but a momentary pause, a blink, the final definitive step through the doorway that leads to my true life.

How much I look forward to that day!!! For, when I die, I will have entered into the final, glorious phase.

Like a bride slipping into her gown in the dressing room, such is death to me.

After that, it won’t be long til those door fling open wide, and my Groom will come to meet and lead me out to our eternal home – the renewed and reunited Heaven and Earth.  He will take me by the arm, and in the moment that I have dreamed about for so long, we will walk out into eternity, in all His glory and all my joy.

No, death is not bitter to me. I am bitter only that I must probably wait so long for it to come.

“For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” – Phil 1:21

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Past Musings