in expectation of Jesus: living in perpetual anticipation of an immediate departure

There are only two places in my life where I have the feeling of my heart being strung up into my throat: in an airport and in my living rooom.

There is a given, prestated time my flight will board, wil depart, will arrive again. There is the same established hour at which, or between which, the coordinator will call for a driver-helper. Meanwhile, I can’t eat, can’t really drink, and I only touch the front four inches of my chair. Even when the flight won’t leave for a good few hours. Even when the voice on the line says, “Not yet”.

Troll's Bridge, Norway

Why?

Because at any single moment something could change. A postponement which instigates the removal of all our luggage to a ticket counter as quickly as possible – a task which requires no little quick-thinking and mental stamina. A last-minute phone call for the first ever shift I’ve never worked, ever. There is no option of being caught in the backwash. Not at an airport; not in a new job.

One of my friends is a former member of the 82nd Airborne. His job was to drop out of the sky into a battle zone whenever his commanders needed him. To this day he barely sleeps the night before a trip somewhere, even trips he has planned for himself.

The children of Israel spent an entire night experiencing this heightened anticipation. And it wasn’t for toys or the concert of the year or anything like that. Every man, woman, and child was on a hair trigger because the moment the word came they would be gone.

The sudden knock on the door.

“I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will surely drive you out of here altogether. You shall let none of it remain until moring, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover.” And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they had brought out of Egypt; for it was not leavened, because they were driven out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared provisions for themselves.   ~Exodus 11:1; 12: 10-11, 39

"Ah!"

Do you lie awake in anticipation of Jesus’ shout? Do you come to with a start and instantly look around for an updated boarding time? Double-check your gate, your terminal every hour? Spend the night sitting up, fully dressed? Are your bags backed, lunch bagged, boots by the door, keys and ID in the top pocket the moment you need them? I think you can picture it.

“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”           ~I Thessalonians 4:15-17

Are you on the balls of your feet? Heart in your throat? Prayer on your lips? Because something could change at any moment. Any moment the call could come.

 

 

Fragments for Jesus…

I’ve been studying John 6 over the last eleven days, and, at verse 13, I remembered a Bible reading my Grandmother sent me a year ago. Clipped from her devotional and tucked in the mail with a letter, it was called, “Gathered Fragments”. She added a note that, as a young women, she had a collection of poetry, quotes, and autographs which bore the same title. Inside my heart and my mind, I pulled the clipping out again and chewed on it for a while. This is what I found:

Life seems like a hurricane sometimes – tearing through our quiet worlds, scattering creatures with its violence, shattering hopes (those fragile things we carry), and leaving rubbish strewn everywhere: glass, twigs, shingles, tree trunks, front porches, and more. Like Hansel and Gretel, we have a stippled trail of crumbs and broken bits in our wake.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost (John 6:12).” Five-thousand men, plus any family they had brought, had just eaten a full meal, and Jesus saw to it that the clean up was thorough.

And here is why: Nothing is lost. Not through Jesus; not when He is watching out over our lives. Not a crust of bread, not a broken dream, not a single wayside soul escapes His sight. It’s amazing what we discover once He has it all gathered together. Fullness. When the disciples were finished with their task, 12 baskets were filled with the broken pieces that remained (John 6:13). A kingdom decked in the finest silk banners and polished gold would not bear the glory of God’s Kingdom which is filled with all the redeemed of the earth.

And yet I should not forget that, as His disciple, these are also my directions: Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost. It’s work, you see, but I have to remember to “keep a basket in hand”: to always be gathering the broken pieces remaining from my life for God to use in His Kingdom.

“We few… we happy few….”

I heard once a speech, spoken by a man facing war. A man who saw faces as intimately familiar as his own, staring down a battle they would most certainly not win. And on this day, dedicated some 95 years ago to the remembering of faces and names and actions…this speech returned to me.

He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother…

And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Henry V, St. Crispin’s Speech

Thank you, William Shakespeare. Thank you, Private Benitez. And thank you, every Veteran. I am proud beyond words to know you.

Henry Van Dyke

Thank you, John, for lending me this pale, teal-blue copy – goldleaf, hand cut pages – of Henry V. Dyke’s first poems. And thank you, Mr. Van Dyke, for understanding what my heart could never say.

Yours is the echo of my own.

IF ALL THE SKIES

If all the skies were sunshine,

Our faces would be fain

To feel once more upon them

The cooling plash of rain

If all the world were music,

Our hearts would often long

For one sweet strain of silence,

To break the endless song.

If life were always merry,

Our souls would seek relief,

And rest from weary laughter

In the quiet arms of grief.

henry van dyke

Braving the rain…

May I simply say that falling on the Autumnal Equinox for a birthday does a lot to stir feelings of warmth, vibrance, and excitement in a girl. I have been anticipating chilling air, a fiery parade of colors, musty piles of fallen leaves, and such comforting sights as apple orchards, chili bowls, and pumpkin or corn fields. Because September is meant to be the lovely blending of adventurous, hot August and crisp, bright-eyed October. September is meant to be the Golden Month – in light, temperature, and color. September is perfect.

Welcome September

Except…

It’s raining here in Bellingham today. Again. I woke up to find the seventh day of Autumn met by bright gray skies and water falling all over the world outside my window. Every surface was being beaten as vigorously as gravity will allow in such tiny particles.

Please don’t mistake me. Rain is very romantic. I have seen it transforming tree branches into glittering chandeliers. I have seen the streets coated in diamond dust. I have seen crystal rivers running down the sidewalks. Could you ask for anything more beautiful?

And yet… there was such hope for a bronze, harvest-laden opening to arguably the best season ever.

Perhaps it’s time I came to recognize the true nature of my birth month: a whimsically drooping, silver-skied overture of London Fogs, slippered afternoons, cold yet lush marshlands, and kaleidoscope windows.

I can’t help feeling that more happens in the rain that no one notices than any other time of weather. Singular walks down city streets or country lanes. Fearlessly running down the street in a midnight downpour. Jumping full-force in every puddle and splashing dark water all over the pavement.

This is September. Soaked and soaking in return. Dripping denim raindrops. And still dreaming of sunlight.

Dear You,

Confession:  I never suspected cultivating a blog would become part of my life. And yet I want to write…  with the sincere belief that without words to create and elucidate the world would fall silent.

 

Can I be honest? Writing for an audience of unknown globe-scattered readers is – without contest – the most amazing and potentially anxiety-riddling endeavor I could ever set out on. Nothing is known. There are no givens. But you have the opportunity to see what no one else alive has ever encountered: the world through my eyes. If I could, I would follow you around, climb inside your skin and feel the world like I’ve never felt it before. That, as it is, is not my gift to give. But I can let you put on my skin and experience a concoction of beliefs, ideals, skirmishes and outcomes like none other. Adventure is for the faint of heart.    Are you with me?

A seed of resentment…

Have you ever felt inside of yourself a seed of resentment?

If you’re not sure, let’s clarify:

re*sent*ment     [noun]

bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly

: his resentment at being demoted | some people harbor resentments going back several years |

 

Why do we – as human beings, and yes, even as Christians – experience this initially small, uncomfortable thing?

 

…because we lack forgivenss. We are unwilling to place that seed – and the monstorous plant that probably goes with it – on GOD’s altar to see it sacrificed in flames. You see, GOD’s fire burns in such a way that not even ahses are left to linger over.

That painful, bitter seed sprouts roots which dig themselves into our souls, making it fatal in some degree to remove. A piece, if not all, of our flesh must die for it to be fully extracted.

The leaves are jagged and twisting, an irritation to any tender sentiments or ideas. Oils on their surface cause a rash which induces us to rub that spot, keeping it inflamed.

The fragrance of the blossoms is sour, spoiling joyful moments, sweet memories, and playful conversation. It linger on these thing, temporarily tainting them.

To speak of the fruit… resentment – when neglected or nurtured – produces a sickening sensation. Some people can managed it and may eventually shift from ignoring it to enjoying it. Malice, jealousy, slander, abuse, and more are the bruised and poisonous fruits borne.

 

As humans, we each bear a seed of resentment. As Christians, what are we to do about it?