I’d love to travel on a sailboat. To hang out over the railing, the wind whipping the rigging, flying fast and free over the foamy blue. Sun, salt, and sea-spray lightening the red of my hair, utterly unbridled joy and excitement. This water-daughter has lived most her life by the sea, and would love to sail upon it, to reach glorious lands yet unknown (at least to me).
And in a way, that’s what I’d like my spiritual journey to be like too. To fly along blown by God’s Spirit, utter and complete joy in everything, each day bringing a new cresting wave of truth and knowledge.
But sometimes the wind stops. The sails droop. And you’re caught in the doldrums—the place feared by sailors of old, where the wind disappears for days, even weeks, and only oars can take you anywhere. It’s a stifling hot still, where everything is numb and the same. You can row and row, but each pull is agonizingly hard and there’s not a glimmer of change on the horizon.
And sometimes, we can get into spiritual doldrums too. Bible reading just doesn’t excite us as it did anymore. You don’t feel overwhelmed by God’s greatness in worship. Prayer seems like a chore, not a privilege. The wind of excitement seems to have completely disappeared, and you’re wondering what happened. You keep rowing, keep on going, but there seems to be no change, and you’re tempted to throw the oars overboard in defeat.
But there’s some things we need to remember when we get caught in the doldrums of life.
Why do I write?
The question stares at me tonight. The span of time since I’ve written stretches far back into days, weeks, months even. A pulsing emptiness, the great void of silence. It asks, why should I attempt to bridge it? Why pick it back up? After all, there are plenty of other things to do. I could be studying. Or earning money. Or cleaning house. Or doing something, tangible, physical, real even. It warns me to back away from the canyon, to settle back into the normal life.
Because it’s hard to live the writer life. Making words is like giving birth–I don’t know how it works. It takes concentration, focus, and an undistractedness I rarely have.
So why do I write?
Because every word I write stands as a silent protest to this most chaotic world…
I read a quote the other day, from a title or an article, saying “You should spend every moment of your waking time as a single readying yourself to provide for your future home.”
And I’m ashamed to say, I didn’t actually read the article. And that’s not a direct quote. That’s simply the best I remember of it, though I do remember being shocked at how specific “every moment of your time” was. I did fully intend to read the article, willing to give the author credit for having an explanation, a caveat. But sadly, somehow its page was closed, and I couldn’t find where it came from or where it went. So I shall assume the best of the author, and believe that they intended to explain themselves, and place preparing for our future home in its proper order of importance.
Yet the fact remains, I know of teachers who might just accept that quote as it now stands.
I know of girls who believe that quote just as it now stands.
I know of people who live that quote just as it now stands.
I used to be one of them. Continue reading
Embers are strangely beautiful things.
We had an impromptu bonfire the other night, enjoying the happy crackling of the blaze and the exhilarating, whooshing roar of a marshmallow turning into a torch. But although I enjoy eating s’mores, although I enjoy being loud and laughing about it, neither of those are the best parts of the fire. The most lovely part is just sitting, still in body and mind, watching the flames run and the heat ebb.
And perhaps the most beautiful flow of all its life is when it gets down to embers. The flames long-gone, the warmth and depth of wood-fire-smoke becoming a part of you, these embers still glow and dance long into the night. Ever-fluttering light, as if a thousand heartbeats were jumping inside, every now and again a single flame popping up and dashing lightly back into another hiding spot, as if a thousand tiny faeries of heat were dancing inside, and skitter across the blackened log to return to their revelries.
It’s beautiful. But the thing is, you can’t see it when the fire is bright. Continue reading
I looked back the other day and saw you.
Tired, broken, crying out in loneliness.
Because days are long, the future is uncertain, and the pressure to have your plans all scheduled and written out is terrifying. But that wasn’t it. Those were just the fuel to the smoldering pain in your heart.
No, it was because, near a certain holiday, your social media begins to light up with pictures of couples. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s not wrong. In fact, several of your friends had just began serious relationships, and you danced about and rejoiced with them.
You were happy, so very happy for your friends and their fiancés. But, deep down inside, hard as you tried to quiet it, the whispers rose up. Why not me? Continue reading
I have a love-hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions. Or perhaps it’s more of a love-hate-appreciate relationship? Let me explain.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become one of those people who love to be organized (which was an immense surprise to all parties involved). I schedule my day’s activities, I sort my study materials into little folders, and even my closet is (semi) categorized by season and color. There is an immense satisfaction in checking off the boxes of my to-do list, and one by one seeing the white emptiness disappear.
But there’s a problem. I love the idea of fulfilling my to-do list, of keeping my area decluttered, of staying organized, of having these grand New Year’s resolutions that help me to better my life.
But I am an utter failure at doing so.
Because every year, about a week or so (if I’m lucky) after January 1st, after we’ve all caught up on sleep and swept up the streamers, there comes That Day. Continue reading
Silver bells has always been one of my favorite Christmas songs. Its rhythm, its imagery, its ease of hum-ability; all making it a favorite. Just its quiet joy, its quiet contentment.
I don’t know precisely what silver bells Bing Crosby was referring to. But I have my own image in mind.
You’ve heard it. Down-town Christmas shopping, the stores all shining with their finery. There’s plenty of noises about: cars honking, the murmur and foot-steps of hundreds, the woosh of a delightfully chilly breeze; but it’s still there. Above all the bustle, above all the noise, above all the laughter and clamor for toys, it’s there.
Just a little red bucket. Just a little silver bell. But behind each there are stories to tell. Of days spent shivering in the cold, of hours spent standing alone; yet still their faithful vigil they hold. But, every day they are there. Continue reading
Making our mark. We all want to do it. We want to do something big, something important; to change to world, to change lives. To be a brightly burning star, dashing across the sky, spraying light and sparks in a trail of glory behind us! — that is our dream.
And as Christians we still have this desire. Maybe it doesn’t manifest itself in the same ways: wanting to be a famous singer, becoming a billionaire, running for president; but we still feel it. There is still that title of important, world-changing Christian: the pastors, the missionaries, the rebelutionaries. Sometimes, in the words of my friend, we just “want to do something crazy, like drop everything, sell it all, and go be a missionary in a foreign country!”
And Amen and Hallelujah! If that is what God is calling you to do, go! Don’t let any complacency, concerns, or cultural standards stop you. We need more radical Christians, on fire for the Lord, following His call into the ‘craziest’ of situations.
But also don’t become caught in the lie that if you aren’t out on the mission field, you aren’t faithfully following Him. Continue reading
In case you haven’t noticed, there is a bit of a sporting event that’s been on lately. A big sporting event. A great, big, wonderful, crazy, exciting event of hundreds of different sports all at the same time showcasing a million different skills and the site of a thousand different stories. In short, the Olympics.
Our family always enjoys watching the whole thing (although our DVR might not be quite as appreciative) always cheering and shouting loudly to the athletes. (Yes, I know they can’t actually hear me. But obviously my moral support helps them somehow!) Continue reading
Today I was supposed to write a post about how life is beautiful.
And that post will happen, because life certainly can be, as God’s common grace abounds in the loveliness of His creation.
But some days, life doesn’t feel beautiful. Some days it seems the whole world is going in a no good, very bad, terrible way. Like a top, we seem to be spinning more and more erratically, the horizon swinging up and down at the strangest angles, until at last we must fall over completely. Continue reading