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

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?

Why the Leafs…

I have wonderful old books — simply fascinating treasures.

I dare anyone to measure their wealth against my library and try to come out richer.

Even the simple act of reading titles sets me a buzz with interest.

Perhaps the history of each particular volume would add to the external charm, but what is most delicious to the mind lies between the leaves.

Ink is black gold… its characters form an inheritance expansive enough to take any individual’s breath away.

 

Thanks to my sister/best friend/twin, I am in possession of several truly phenomenal acquisitions:

Tom Sawyer   by Mark Twain – printed in London, England

A Girl of the Limberlost   by Gene Stratton Porter

Swiss Family Robinson (possibly a first edition), Paradise Lost, Nicholas Nickleby, A Tale of Two Cities, and others I can’t see to name.

 

More I have read and will read – these are purchases, some, but mostly gifts or discoveries. Each is priceless. Were I to lose everything I owned but my books, their bodies would serve to build a house with and their souls would be bread, butter, and tea for me.

Gorgeously tall bookshelves

“Honey… could you pass me that book I dropped?”

To be honest, I am falling in love with books all over again. Not just children’s books, which bring joy to the child I will never cease to be. Neither the simultaneously dense and brilliant textbooks, anthologies, etc. which leave my mind actively tingling with new information. No, these are the Timeless Books, with stories which speak to every season and event of one’s existence, displaying characters both complex and simple, both raw and long-refined who present striking resemblances to the diverse people populating our own lives.

Yes! I love to taste and experience this stunning world God Everlasting has created. And it is in this world – or others very close to touching it – where such life-changing stories happen.

My great hope is that in reading Timeless Books, they will teach me how to write a better story with my own life: to live an incredible story. Just ask Donald Miller and Bob Goff.

Love is Permanent

"Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm" SOS 8:6

The Principle of Permanence

*Note: This post refers to Scripture verses found in the Old Testament book, Song of Solomon. In order to better understand what I’m talking about, it’s helpful to read these verses along with the text bollow.

While the Shulamite’s love and affections fluctuated with each encounter and each circumstance, the King’s love for her continued through those same things and emerged unchanged. All his heart was fixed on her and was not the slightest bit removed by her (1) self-pity, (2) indifference, (3) anxiety, (4) possessiveness, (5) neglect, or (6) lapsed passion. After every single struggle on her part he comes back with praise and an unwavering desire to be with her and to have her in his presence [1].

 

If you subsituted my name for “Shulamite” and JESUS for “the King” you would have a spot-on picture of my relationship with Christ:

My love and affections for Him fluctuate with each encounter and each circumstance of my life. Meanwhile, Christ Jesus’ love for me continues through those same things and emerge unchanged. As a matter of fact, one of the attributes of Christ as God is immutability: being unchanging over time or unable to be changed. God is both, so Jesus Christ is both. It is against His nature to change in purpose, character, desire, etc. All my life His heart has been fixed on me and has been not the slightest bit moved by my self-pity, my indifference, and the many other attitudes that the unsettled heart tends toward. After every struggle on my part, He comes back with praise and that unwavering desire to be with me, to have me in His presence.

Most stunning to me is that nothing I do can end my salvation, reverse my redemption, or reduce His desire and love toward me. I thought otherwise for years, and the lie comes back, but Jesus Christ proves it’s not so.

Scripture addresses from Song of Solomon

(1) Chap. 1: verse 5-6  & 1: verse 15 – 2, verse 2

(2) Chap. 2: verses 10, 14, and 17

(3) Chap. 3: verse 1-2 and 4

(4) Chap. 2: verse 16  & 3: verse 4

(5) Chap. 5: verse 2-8  & 6: verse 4-10

(6) Throughout the book

[1] Chap. 4: verses 1-5, 7, and 9-11