Good Friday and Easter Sunday are perhaps the most significant days of the church calendar, and yet, in a real sense, we live our lives on Saturday, the day in between. Philip Yancey

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Connect the Quotes

I find it delicious when words encountered mirror and expound upon life that’s being lived, especially when they tie back the mysteries to the holder of the keys. This has been one of those savory weeks. God is using my love for reading to connect the dots quotes to reveal good things to my soul.

I enjoy blog reading. (Check the sidebar if you want links to favorite posts as I come across them.) I also tend to keep a number of books going all at once. My brain is colorful that way and no, you don’t want organizational tips from me.

I adore fiction but those books tend to be devoured quickly while the spines of the others rest.

In the past few months I’ve actually completed some, all good, several of them great: Be Still My Soul, A Praying Life, Give Them Grace, Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller, Gospel in Life and Wresting with an Angel.

The first quote I want to pass on is from Wrestling with an Angel by Greg Lucas, one of the great books on that list. I previously sent it to my friend Lisa to ask her thoughts. I've even experienced what he describes, want to believe it will be a natural progression again, but what a leap especially during the month of November with facebook around.

True desperation is always the most fertile ground for God's grace to produce an abundant harvest of hope. And each time God has shown us His greatest glory, He has always first revealed our greatest despair.

Her wise response is worth sharing:

I don't disagree with the quote. I think that true desperation is fertile ground for a lot of things. Sometimes reckless endangerment and oftentimes plain old stupidity. However, I believe the promise of Phil 1:6 and that the person with the Holy Spirit has a different outcome--that of hope as the quote indicates. Getting to the desperate cry of, "I can't do it anymore. I give up!" is usually when our ears are most attuned to what He wants to tell us. It is hard to work with people who think they can do it, control it, manage it, overcome it, et cetera. But those in prison, in pits, headed to the gallows, at death beds, and sometimes even in the car pool line in great despair are keener to spot cracks of light than those shining a bunch of artificial lights all around them.

It made me think about the older brother in the story of the Prodigal Son, the focus of Tim Keller’s books above. Indeed the older son can’t see past his artificial lights of self righteousness and an inheritance to recognize that he too has no actual affinity for the father. At least the younger brother’s darkness makes his need to draw near to the one who loves him blatant.

A benefit and heartache of deep grief is that so many things that used to bring delight go flat. The lights go out. I’ve spent the past year trying to plug back in one strand of artificial lights after another only to find deal-breaker missing bulbs each time. Nothing would light up. I’ve been angry about it as they were typically good or at least “neutral” things. They weren’t the Father though. Lisa’s thoughts along with John Newton’s (author of the hymn Amazing Grace, also quoted in Wrestling with an Angel) put a protective perspective on my persistent darkness.

Sometimes if you drive a bird from one branch of a tree he will hop to another a little higher, and from thence to a third; but if you continue to disturb him, he will at last take wing, and fly away. Thus we, when forced from one creature comfort perched upon another, and so on; but the Lord mercifully follows us with trials, and will not let us rest upon any; by degrees of our desires take a nobler flight, and can be satisfied with nothing short of Himself; and we say, "To depart and be with Jesus is best of all!"

Indeed that is the conclusion. In my discontentment with this world, just give me Jesus. Keep me thirsty and hungry by blocking my attempts to take the edge off with lesser things.

Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.  Psalms 107:8-9

I went to have my teeth cleaned this week, the first time in almost a year because Lydia took a hunk of my brain with her when she left. I’m an every-six-months gal but missed the last appointment, the type thing I’ve done more in the last year than the combined 35 years prior. So the end of December was my last conversation with my hygienist. She described her sad Christmas, alone with her dogs and a microwave dinner. Feeling sorry for herself she held on to the comfort of “At least I’m not Allison.”

As I think about the bird/branch/flight analogy, her view of me provokes laughter. Our economy is so upside down from God’s. A drive-by glance at my life may not leave you envying a cozy nest. Yet I do hope that if you pause and look deeply enough, that you will see evidence of someone greater than the things we naturally chase and grip tightly.

This leads me to one more favorite quote of the week, so timely for both those wrestling with this month of gratitude and those who are effortlessly dancing through it. You can trace these words back to the blog Teaching Tuck and Ty.

Being thankful is not telling God
you appreciate the fact that your life is not in shambles. 
If that is the basis of your gratitude,
you are on slippery ground.
Every day of your life,
you face the possibility
that a blessing in your life may be taken away.
But blessings are only signs of God's love.
The real blessing, of course, is the love itself.
Whenever we get too attached to the sign,
we lose our grasp on the God who gave it to us.
Churches are filled with widows who can explain this to you.
We are not ultimately grateful that we are still holding our blessings. 
We are grateful that we are held by God
even when the blessings
are slipping through our fingers.

~ C. Barnes

Did those dots connect for you? I am thankful for the resulting illumination of the One they reveal to me.

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