Monday, December 14, 2009


There's a Gap
Laura Hackett

What do I here in the waiting?
What do I do with my unsatisfied heart?
What do I here in the waiting?
Here in the tension of believing again and again and again?

There's a lack, there's a gap in my soul
Between the things that I believe and I know
There's a lack, there's a gap in my soul
Between the things, that I believe and I know

Holy Spirit, you who fill
All in all, come and fill me
Holy Spirit, come hold me together

I fall into Grace again
Like a child I am

I'm not very old, but I am old enough to know that waiting is not simply an empty act of non-movement. It is full, pregnant with possibility, a place of dreaming, hoping, imagining. It can be quite beautiful if one has faith and hope. Quite dismal on the other hand if one has grown sarcastic and bitter.

I think the real questions in it all are ones like, "Is God good?" and "Does He have my best in mind?" As in, can I be assured that all moments I survive and every situation I encounter are full of mercy, kindness and Love? They certainly do not feel that way. But if God is good, and I know more and more that He truly is, then the waiting is part of it all, part of how he "perfects a longing" in us. Waiting becomes a perfectly legitimate way to spend time.

Some of us are waiting for personal healing, a child, a husband or wife, the ideal career opening, a gift to minister to others in a more powerful way, a glimpse of Jesus to sustain us, so many things. Waiting is hard, but it's not without purpose. Hebrews said that Abraham only grew in faith as time passed before his promise to be a father was fulfilled. He grew in faith, despite the waiting. How could this happen? Only because he grew more and more to understand that circumstances were no indication of His Father's affection, that he could trust the One who made the promise because God puts His whole being behind His Word. He IS His Word, in fact: Jesus.

Even if we don't have a promise to hang onto like Abraham - an audible seal from heaven - we have the promise of God's banner of love waving over us. We have the guarantee that this rocky path we walk is a path of righteousness, and He's got his name and reputation staked on how it turns out for us. Psalms 23 reminds me, "He restores my soul; He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake."

It's not about my reputation, or how I think things should go. He values my opinion certainly, but He values my love most. And my righteousness in Him allows me to love Him best. So it makes sense that, whether we're crying out for our longing or holding it in our arms, it is all for the deepening of righteousness that makes His name great in our lives and in the universe.

O Praise Him!

Monday, June 22, 2009


The night before his first triathlon, Murphy and his Law were riding my brother’s bumper just to watch him sweat. He could barely take the tiny, almost purposeful, mishaps: the broken swim goggles, the triathlon gear haphazardly strewn about the dining room, the painful, resurfacing image of himself, splashing and flailing helplessly across Lake Shawnee while all the other triathletes glided gracefully past. He was a veritable mess, but all I did at first was remark sarcastically about his about his propensity for hearing about impossible things and doing them because someone said he couldn’t. He obliged my psychobabble jabbing with a smirk, and then admitted he needed a favor. He needed new swim goggles and he wanted me to go get them. Although I agreed to the task, he soon realized I hadn’t quite picked up on his sense of urgency. “Maybe I’ll get them myself,” he quipped, hoping this would make me feel bad about my dawdling. Suddenly I felt unnecessary. I wanted him to need me at least a little so I offered to go to Wal-Mart for racing snacks. He took me up on that one.

While he scurried about the kitchen, cursing at the unfortunate series of events, I pondered the idea of going with him. Maybe I could calm him down before the race tomorrow. The thought of him splashing around pathetically with no one to tell him he was okay at the end made me a little sad. On the other hand, what if what he really needed was to hit the ground hard, to crash into his own limits and feel the pain of over-commitment and under-preparation? I wondered what Mercy would do in this situation. And without actually asking Mercy what she would do, I offered to go with him, just to feel it out. He seemed relieved at the idea, but suggested that I probably didn’t want to get up at 3:00am. I couldn’t convince him that I did, but we both knew maybe it would make things a little better.

Soon I started thinking about the times Mercy has rescued me in her strange ways. Sometimes she lets me flounder and flop so I won’t crash quite so badly next time. And then there are times when, maybe out of pure pity for my ignorance, and she throws out a life raft and the circumstances tilt ever so slightly in my favor. Where a moment before I was running uphill with the wind in my face, suddenly I’m coasting on a downhill slope with a breeze coming up from behind. After my many run-ins with Mercy, I can tell one or two things about her character though. One of Mercy’s favorite things to do is be really nice when we don’t deserve it. This sort of behavior totally pulls the rug out from under our Pavlovian rug of rewards and consequences. It totally busts the if-then formula we learned about good and bad behavior back in grade school. Mercy chuckles to herself when we stare awestruck as kindness melts over us right after we just got into an argument with our spouse or lied to our boss about our vacation time or cut someone off in traffic. It’s when we are the most unloveable and mean and wretched that we are also most vulnerable to Love and Mercy sneaking up on us with their treacherous goodnesses.

I have to admit though. These means are quite effective. While I’m in the middle of kicking myself for being an ass, I’m completely unarmed when it comes to defending myself against Love. I am forced to realize that Kindness just tackled me for no reason except that she loves me, I guess, because I sure did not earn it. It seems to have this bizarre pleasure in making me very uncomfortable. But it works. Like the time I drank my grandpa’s whiskey in the basement with my cousins until I blacked out. I said all sorts of inappropriate things I wanted to deny except one of my cousin’s got it all on video. When I came to, my hair was being held back by one of my brothers, the other one holding me steady. That was the night I lost my right to be self-righteous about how much they drank and I didn’t. I woke up guilty, sunken and hungover, slumped into the queen bed in my bedroom at my parents' house. I sprawled there marinating in heaps of shame, my own Satan, my own voice accusing me. Soon I saw my old car, the "legendary" Buick LeSabre, pull up in front of the house. And I wasn’t driving it. When I inquired about the strange behavior of my vehicle, my mother informed me that my father had taken it out and cleaned it. And it was sparkly, as sparkly as an ’86 Buick LeSabre could be, with a full tank of gas and everything. It was horrible. When I knew what I really deserved was to be excommunicated, here comes Mercy, my Teacher, sidling up next to me with cookies and warm milk, taking me out of the cold, and erasing my latest black mark off the whiteboard. When Mercy wins, she kind of loses, at first, so I can win. I can’t say that I understand it fully, but all I know is, this is the only way we both get what we want in the end. I turn around, tearful, repentant and grateful, and she gets to welcome me home.

This is the sort of thing Mercy loves to do. This is why I am not Mercy. But I can’t deny she’s good at her job.

PS: The good news for John: he participated in the triathlon anyway, despite all the obstacles, or in his case, because of them. He ended up with an excellent time and to his own chagrin, he will probably end up doing a couple more. And if I know him, he may not even train for them.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Weather and Curiosity

Today was the sort of day Kansans brag about surviving.  Some time this morning, the wind grew fierce, or at least it was moving a lot faster than I can run: approximately 40 miles an hour.  But if this was a campfire story, I would guess it was going at least interstate speed.  At least.  The sky was having serious mood swings; one minute it was grey and mopey, the next cheery and sunny.  A tornado watch sounded over the hospital intercom.  I probed the clouds with my eyes, trying to determine which one might drop a funnel.  The clouds didn't do anything interesting though; just kept rushing around, changing their minds.  Eventually I had to abandon my post and return my "real job".  Minutes before I left for home, the monsoon started.  I wasn't wet yet so I could appreciate the clean, fresh air smell, better than any dryer sheet.  Several women huddled near the hospital door.  I watched the downpour for a moment before I decided to surrender.  I rolled up my pants, took off my new shoes and went for it.  And wouldn't you know it, as soon as I thought I was heading for the fray, the rain began to lift.  I secretly knew God wanted to help me preserve my new black patent leathers.  He did make the first clothes, after all.  The Saab made it through a few high water spots on the south side of town where, I hypothesize, the city doesn't pay to drain the water because its the "lower income" neighborhood.  Just a theory.  Josh came home an hour or so after me.  I must add that he arrived bearing a beautiful Acme bouquet and raspberry sorbet with gummy bears on top.  The man speaks my language.  He wasn't home for an hour before the hail came, the kind that sounds like shattering glass when it makes contact with the air conditioning unit.  The sky is unhappy looking, rumbling deeply to show us how serious it is.  I'm wondering when my nightstand lamp will blink off with a power outage.  The tornado watch is still in effect, but so far, no sirens.  

All this weather got me wondering though: where does wind come from?  When I ask questions like this, I can't help but assume that everyone else remembers this answer from kindergarten, but I was home-schooled in kindergarten and we didn't learn things  like that.  Besides, I grew up in Oregon so the only things they teach in school are how to grow organic things, how to vote Democrat, and how to tell the difference between a Volkswagen and a Volvo.  Naturally, when I have five year old questions like this one, I Google it.  WikiAnswer came up as an option so I clicked on it, not expecting a meterologist's response but not expecting a third grader either.  I got the third grader.  Here was my WikiAnswer: "Wind is a result of changing temperatures.  As you may know, warm air rises.  When it does, cooler air rushes in to take its place, thus causing wind.  I think..."  You think?  Sheesh.  How am I supposed to write my science paper on that?  I continued my search and found this handy diagram.  It's actually fairly helpful, I mean, for those of you who don't remember how God makes wind from your kidhood.  To give credit where credit is due, click HERE to go to the site.