Translucent light with hues of soft orange, yellow and blue across sun-streaked sunset nights. I reach deep within the morrow of untouched rooms until I drift slowly and softly onto shore - arms wrapped around me ... as I learn to trust in His strength, alone. I breathe in fully and exhale in surrendered puffs of circled air that lingers sweetly in the moment.
It is a whole lot more difficult to stay present. There are a multitude of things that draws me away but as I begin to place fingers on keyboards and my mind to the story at hand, I am reminded of black history month when I sought a vintage vinyl; this is a song from the album. Even the name, Sentimental, eludes to a soft backward lingering. Whether the song is new or old, nostalgia swirls in just a few notes.
In contrast -
Stress surrounds the choking of a melody. The banging stroke upon my mind: boom (job, finances, tasks), boom (health, exercise, hobbies), boom (loneliness, regret and hurt)... all vying for attention. There must be a deliberate lull to the present, not of our circumstances, not of our day but of the very moment at hand. It is a deliberate pressing in toward the appreciation of living fully and completely in the breathe of the hour.
Gathering threads in a web of chaos to an untying of the knot, the soul rests in the slow discipline of concentrating on the rise and fall of the breathe. Breathe in slowly ... 1, exhale slowly ... 2, repeat- in and pause, 3, exhale again slowly. The technique of concentrating on our breathe is nothing new; it slows the train of thought. It is to become fully present in the moment, prayerfully surrendering your plans to His.
The pounding of a single note drawing attention as though it is the most important intonation on the shore. I will be honest - i don't feel like writing. The past few months have been particularly difficult; so much loss and pain and as I press into scripture, the gentle lull of His word calls me to a quiet stillness.
I believe the bible is the inspired word of God - living and active. It's truth and light found in the scriptures. As I read the above verses in context to the past few months, I find hope and a deepening of my faith through the character of Jesus. In the gospel message of Matthew, I reflect on the miracle of bread and fish:
I enter the story in chapter 14, after the beheading of John the Baptist. The disciples retrieve and buried the body and finally tell Jesus what had happened.
As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. That evening the disciples came to him and said, "this is a remote place, and its already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves." But Jesus said, "that isn't necessary - you feed them. But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish! they answered. Bring them here, he said. Then he told the people to sit on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves of bread and two fish and looked up to heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the loaves to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children.
Lord God - I pray the holy spirit would transform your words into a living promise of hope and encouragement for anyone who might stumble upon this website. In Jesus' name, I pray.
Jesus had just heard the news that his friend was dead. He left in a boat to be alone. His friend was gone.
The hardest part of living in grief is that life continues. There is a forward motion from everyone around and yet the pain invades like an impermeable membrane around your heart. There is still the details of the day and Jesus was not immune to the fragile persistence of people in need. As he stepped off the boat, scripture said he had compassion and healed people. Let's step back a moment: he had no time to wallow in his own sadness; he couldn't bring back to life his friend and yet, he continued to do God's work of healing others. In fact, the eminent miracle of feeding over 5,000 people came on the heals of his great sadness.
In contrast, notice the disciples response of annoyance, 1) it was a remote place, 2) it was getting late and 3) they wanted Jesus to send the crowds away so they could buy their own food. How often have you been there? In moments of discouragement and loss, you just want to be alone. Remote is defined as situated far from the main centers or having very little connection with or relationship to. The power of the Holy spirit living inside us is to transform lives. A relationship with Jesus means the opposite of remote - it is intimacy and connection. It goes beyond words or geographical location, it is a drawing into the present circumstances. For me, it was flying to another state just to sit in the shadows of someone's deepest grief; I had no words. At the same time and separately, I had been praying fervently for a friend who died 10 days later. Perhaps I should have flown there instead? Might there have been words of encouragement I could have offered? It is the opposite of remote - it is compassion... and I fell short, again.
The disciples said it was getting late. I don't know about you but everything seems harder and more difficult at the end of the day when exhaustion and fatigue weaken my body and mind? How interesting that in scripture, the crowds didn't arrive in the morning when Jesus was rested - no, it was getting late. I find it fascinating and not by coincidence that it was in their greatest weakness (at the end of the day) that prepared the environment for compassion; they could no longer rely on their own strength but God's.
Also, the disciples wanted Jesus to send the crowds away so they could buy their own food. His greatest miracle wasn't the healing (which was in itself life-changing) but in a deepening trust of what faith looked like to the disciples. Yes, there was compassion on the 5,000+ people that made the journey to hear the gospel message. Yes, there was compassion in the details; the people were hungry and he fed them but do not miss the subtle compassion Jesus showed to his disciples - his friends.
Jesus showed a deep connection and spiritual intimacy with those he truly loved. He met them in their weaknesses with a loving understanding and willingness to share relationship with them; he set the example of spreading the gospel of truth and love. There are things he could have done wrong - gotten annoyed, used sharp language or even reprimanded them for not caring about his loss (with the death of John the Baptist) but instead he showed compassion. That is the part I struggle with ... faith is not always how I see the story unfolding and yet, Jesus shows the example of humility and service in all seasons. The disciples' faith grew that day and I would imagine they reflected on these moments throughout the remainder of their lives and ministry. Their eyes were being adjusted and perfected toward heaven.
Each of us has a journey to walk - there will be times of joy and sadness and everything in between. There are moments when I feel sentimental thinking of the past. There are days when I feel anxious about the future but the sediment that remains: I am simply human, flawed and doing the best I can given the information I have. Mistakes and triumph are part of the deal and in my hope, love prevails.
My prayer is that you will be fully present to experience the moment - for in it, begins the song that is uniquely and creatively yours alone.
I am a picture person. It is a natural way for me to process my emotions and the world around me and yet, there are no pictures for deep sorrow. I must be content with silence.
The character of Jesus, not as a "good teacher", but as God incarnate offers us hope today. The tomb was empty. Could the disciples have known then what the ministry of Jesus would look like? Would they struggle in their faith? God knew then and He knows now. May hope is that each day you press into the truth, light and love of Jesus. May you find strength, solace and the deep abiding-peace from standing in God's light.
I will continue to stand in the mystery of the things I cannot explain and in the hope that I will one day be reunited in His eternal grace... and, in the meantime, i keep writing and working and loving until I am called home.
A fellow point guard for the faith; a writer, deep thinker, music loving, jeep blazing ... follower of Jesus.