Monthly Archives: November 2008

The New World

The New World

“However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

Not long ago, I sat down to watch Elizabeth: The Golden Age. The story is well-known to many but fairly new to me. I’m not a history enthusiast, although I am drawn to its memoirs via the silver screen. There’s something majestic and grand about visiting another era. When crafted well, “period pieces” etch their eccentricity into my soul, leaving me breathless for more.

The intrigues of yesterday’s “long-ago and far-away” are a worthy pause. They reveal truth by framing the past within the present. They trace our ancestral beginnings to our now, weaving a path of incomprehensible moments that lead us to this one moment in time. A day called today, when every yesterday bears the worthy trust of a purpose and a plan.

We couldn’t see it then because we didn’t live it then. Our lives were meant for this generation, but we are the witnesses to what remains—those blossomed remnants from a long-ago seeding that have fed our imaginations and scripted their influence into our current. Whether it be 500 years ago or five days ago, the past hosts the stage for the right now … for the future.

In one particular moving scene from Elizabeth, the Queen is listening to the wild rantings of explorer extraordinaire, Sir Walter Raleigh. He is describing the depth of what it was like for him to discover the new world. The tempestuous seas. The brittle cold. The weary nights and days and days and nights of water upon water with no land in sight. His is a compelling story, crescendoing with every detail until he unveils the moment of his discovery—the virgin vision of land in sight.

It is an edenic moment, one that scripts with the lush and green and wild of a fresh unearthing.

Elizabeth is undone with the telling, imagining the far-away and what it must be like to live within the edges of such adventure. With tears brimming from emotion, she voices the penchant of her heart…

“Do we discover the new world, Mr. Raleigh, or does the new world discover us?”

And with that question, I am undone. It’s a worthy wondering, for before me … before each one of us … is a brave, new and unseen world offering up its invitation to come. To set our sails in a new direction that is fraught with the unknown and the unimaginable.

Who can really plan for a sea’s crossing in advance? Who can measure the depth of the dark and the waves and the ill-effects of climate shift prior to departure? Who can reason the sun’s heat and thirst of a long journey? Who can forecast the wide open skies of a sea’s starry night or the brushstrokes of a horizon’s morning? Who can fathom the ups and the downs and the side to sides of a watery perimeter? Who can fully comprehend the completed journey even before it begins? Who can see the new world prior to leaving the old?

Who indeed?

God can. He did, and he continues to do so. On our behalf and on behalf of those who’ve come before and those who are soon to follow. He sees it all, from beginning to end—the new world. It commenced on the shores of his sacred understanding; it will finish accordingly. But sandwiched in between those eternal bookends?

A sea’s crossing. A journey’s now. From coast to coast, where faith becomes the wind that sails us home into safe harbor.

Do we discover the new world, or does the new world discover us?

Yes and yes.

It’s not that it hasn’t been there all along. Its shores have always sung. Its land has always known the generous breathing of a big and mighty God. Its width and length and heighth and depth have been measured and established by the wisdom of its Creator and sustained accordingly. The inconceivable has been conceived by the only mind capable of holding such vision.

And if we, by the grace of God, have set our sights on Jesus, then with every passing day, in unsuspecting and unimaginable ways, we catch glimpses of the harbor that stands on the horizon. A reachable Eden that scripts with the lush and green and wild of a fresh unearthing.

The new world and us. An unlikely coupling. A joint discovery on both counts. Together, a profound weaving that breathes and brims with unending possibility and with the breathless yearning for more.

More adventure.
More edges.
More moments.
More risks.
More faith.
More discovery.

More nights of stars and days of horizons, piece by piece until we arrive on the shores of the new world, and we trade in our weary remnants for the full dressing of our forever.

Who can fathom the worth of such a journey? I am compelled to try, for long ago and far away, in another era it seems, God’s love called out his invitation for me to come. A “period piece” from my history that etched its eccentricity into my soul. I’ve been sailing its waters ever since. It’s been a worthy row, friends, and one that is drawing me ever closer to my discovery of the new world. I bet you could voice the same. May God keep us, everyone, to the journey until we land in the seen reality of our unseen and wild imaginings. It won’t be long, thus I pray…

Bring us home, Father God, into safe harbor with you. Keep our eyes fixed on the horizon instead of the sea that seeks to drown our faith in the process. Thank you for the process of discovery and for the vision that you’ve seeded in our hearts for the inconceivable realities that you conceived on our behalf long ago. Your grace is the unimaginable gift that allows us participation in the new world. It leaves me breathless and with a heart of thanksgiving for the life I’ve been allowed. Keep me grateful. Keep me mindful. Keep me moving forward, straight into your arms. Amen.

Copyright © November 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved

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Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! I will be traveling this week and plan on stepping away from the computer for a few days. Enjoy some turkey and some fellowship with family and friends. I am thankful for you, my blogging companions, who have spent the better part of 9 months on the journey with me. What a joy to share this road with pilgrims like you! I mean that. Shalom.

A Golden Moment…

A Golden Moment…

I know this post is a bit pre-mature. With Thanksgiving at the door, an Advent post might seem hasty to some. But here’s the deal I made with God several months ago. He challenged me to spend my words as they come. Not to hoard them or store them up for a better day; that better day is today. Tomorrow is not promised to me or to you. Thus, I give you this post as it has arrived. I didn’t intend to write it; it simply wrote me and will probably end up being the family Christmas letter this year. I’m not sure I will be able to improve upon it in the days to come. May these simple thoughts be a point of beginning for you as you ponder the sacred worth of a Bethlehem pilgrimage. They are my gift to you. Peace for the journey, friends. Walk it well and find your Peace.

I had one of those rare moments yesterday. A moment that spins golden and breathes pure. A moment that is often easily missed if eyes and minds are focused otherwise. Fortunately, my eyes and heart were prone for the whispers of a better focus—

baby girl, asleep on the couch.

She really isn’t a baby anymore. She is six years old, but as my only “pink” in line behind three “blues,” she will always hold the title as my baby.

Rarely does she sleep during the day. She’s outgrown such habits, but yesterday’s quiet and the drone of the television lulled her into a late afternoon nap. Everyone else was somewhere else, and I was busy at the computer. When I hadn’t heard from her in a while, I went into the living and found her curled up on the couch. Instead of rousing her from her slumber, I gently picked up her frame and cradled her on my lap.

She barely noticed and continued with her ruffled breathing for the better part of an hour. I simply listened and held and prayed and cried some tender tears for the moment. It won’t be long before my cradling of her tiny body will be beyond my reach. Literally. But her heart? Always within reach. Always fit for my cradling, my holding, my praying, and my tears of celebratory and unwavering love.

She’s a gift to me. I never imagined her. As a single mother of two young sons, I never imagined much beyond my survival. But then Billy. And then the gift of a third son. And then a friend who jogged by my house one afternoon. She didn’t normally stop mid-jog, but that day she did. I answered her knock, and she boldly proclaimed to me that God had strongly spoken a word into her spirit while passing my house. God would give me another child. I laughed and said “thank you”… sort of.

I wasn’t planning on another child. We were working on sealing that deal when I began to notice a shift in my body. Something was going on. Baby girl was going on and, now, six years down the road, I am the better for plans gone awry. Plans that exceed my wisdom, my desires, my focus and my calendar. God interrupted my life with Amelia, and my heart (already so full to the brim with love for my family) ripped open once again to receive the gift of a daughter.

There was room enough to love a little pink, and just yesterday, I was reminded of the sacred privilege that I’ve been given to be her mother.

She’s growing so fast. So good and so full of fresh perspective. I see her take to her Jesus even as I took to him at her young age. She exceeds the Christian talk. She’s walking her Christian talk. And last night, as witness to the stirrings of her heart, she made a picture for me. It reads,

“I love Jesus. Jesus is the star. Jesus is the best! He rocks. He is the baby. He is the son of God.”

In her tiny, fragile, six-year-old way of understanding, my daughter weaves a pretty stable theology, don’t you think? It speaks of her love for the baby who shines as the Star of her stage. Not just any baby, but God’s Son who came to rock the world with his “best-ness.” Amelia “gets” her Jesus.

Her words are simple. Her faith is growing, and her heart remains, for the most part, untainted by the world’s insistence to the contrary. There will come a day for hurts … for her questions and for some unbelief. But right now, Jesus rocks. He’s the best thing she’s got going on, and she isn’t afraid to allow him some praise via her pen.

She’s teaching me … to use my pen to script his praise. It’s not always easy to be taught “faith” through the simple of a child, but I think, perhaps, our propensity toward making faith a difficult road could use a swift and prolonged detour to a couch and to the whispers of a younger season when innocence ruled the day.

There’s too much crowding in our lives, friends. We are concerned about a great many things while neglecting the tender pull of our heart strings. We long for life to sing its beauty, but rarely are we willing to pause for a listen. Beauty has never been absent. She has always been singing her song. But us? We have perfected our absence. We choose it every time we decide…

on busy over the best.
on chaos over the calm.
on computers over the couches.
on schedules over the sacred.

We miss the loveliness of a moment because moments can sometimes breathe so singular. So set apart and so seemingly unnecessary as it pertains to the whole.

Shame on us for not thinking that a single moment can change everything.

Single moments are the stuff of eternity. Single moments shape and sharpen and hone a heart for hugeness. Single moments breathe with the promise of a grander epic. Single moments collect and gather to form a destiny that exceeds the temporal and the seen.

I had one such moment yesterday. A single pause that spun golden. I held a child in my arms and knew that my life has been and will always be better because of the holding.

Over 2000 years ago, there came a moment that spun golden for another mother and her child. Months earlier, a friend of sorts stopped by her house and spoke a word of witness into her spirit.

“But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.’” (Luke 1:30-33).

A single moment. The stuff of eternity, and we are all the better for the holding of the Child.

In just a few weeks, we’ll relive that golden moment. Some of us travel to the manger with our reluctance. Some with our desperation. Some with our baggage. Some with our eager expectation, and a few rare of us, with our peace. We pilgrim to Bethlehem for various reasons. But for one little girl named Amelia, and one big girl named Elaine, we’re walking to the stable for one reason alone.

To glimpse God’s best. To witness the Son who has rocked our worlds with his arrival into our hearts. To give our Star the stage that he deserves and to applaud his performance with our hearty “hallelujah’s” and our grateful “amen’s”.

His name is Jesus, and he’s never too old for our cradling, our holding, our prayers, and our tears of celebratory and unwavering love. May your couch and your deliberate pause therein capture the glimpse of God’s best in this season.

Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel.

Copyright © November 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved

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PS: Here are the winners for John Eldredge’s Epic. Now before you applaud me for my benevolence, realize that I’ve found a great new discount store in my neck of the woods that carries an awesome selection of books with rock bottom prices. I mean can you say looowwww? Anyway, I went in there yesterday to secure a few more copies and ended up buying what they had left. Eleven. Yes, that’s right. Eleven winners. Actually, twelve, but said preacher man stole a copy! I allowed Miss Pink to pick and here are the results. I’m not going to “link” your name (honestly, too much work for me, and I’m exhausted).

Beth E., Joanne Sher, Technonana, Laura, Denise, Sita, Susan, Lynn B., Stone Fox (Heidi), Sheryl, LauraLee. Congrats ladies. Email me your snail mail (full names please) even if you think I already have it. It will take me a few days to get everything in the mail, and if I see anymore at my new favorite hang-out, I promise to pick up some additional copies. Whew. Love you all! ~elaine

A Morning’s Reminder…

What does an early morning obedience yield?


#1—My story is part of a bigger drama.
#2—There is coming a day when the graces and ills of said story will weave a completed and understood work.
#3—My full participation in that story has come with a costly price tag.

But for now, in this moment and on this day, I only see glimpses. I feel them in part. I hear them in fragments, but rarely do I fully grasp them. They are but reminders of an unseen reality that is working diligently on my behalf. Yours too.

And lest you think that you don’t need them—that your faith is so strong, so deep, and so mature so as not to look for them—then may I suggest that your faith bleeds weak? A faith that doesn’t look for reminders is a faith that poses little threat to the enemy and his many schemes for destruction. A faith that refuses its growing is a faith that falls prey to its burying. A faith that doesn’t need moments of breath-taking glimpses of God’s glory is a faith that expects little. Hopes little. Lives little.

I want a big faith. My today longs for it. I desperately need the hope of the faith that I so boldly proclaim. Why is today’s need more profound than yesterday’s? What prompts the search for faith?

Hurting hearts, that’s what. And mine is breaking today on behalf of a friend. The doctor’s report didn’t spin they way that we had hoped. The longed for conclusion was for remission. The reality spoke otherwise, and today, she is left with her questions and her decisions and with a heart in need of a few reminders that her God is good and that he has her in his watchful care. I am in need of a few myself.

Thus, I went looking for some of God’s sacred reminders this morning. First, in a book. Second, in God’s Word and thirdly, outdoors in God’s creation. I found them—my glimpses of hope; not because they weren’t there all along, but rather because my eyes and my heart were inclined toward perception.

#1—John Eldredge’s book Epic: the Story God is Telling, is a reminder to us that our stories are part of a bigger drama. That we were created with that drama in mind and that our individual parts are the central and key components in making the story come alive with a richness and depth that bring color and texture to the whole. Without our participation, the story reads with gaps. Your life and mine were meant to fill in those gaps. We were intended to be a part of God’s story. Epic gives us the permission to participate accordingly.

A gentle reminder of the bigger picture around 1:00 AM.

#2—Exodus 15 was the Scripture text for my morning devotion. A song of deliverance sung by Moses and the Israelites after walking their faith through on dry ground.

“‘In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling…. You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance—the place, O LORD, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, your hands established. The LORD will reign for ever and ever.’” (Exodus 15:13, 17-18).

God’s mighty and outstretched arms were more than enough to lead a people from captivity to freedom. This has always been his way. His arms and his stretch, reaching long and wide and high and deep on our behalf and for his kingdom come. His strength will lead us home. To the mountain of his inheritance where breath-taking glimpses of his glory will be viewed in their entirety, forever and for always.

A gentle reminder of the bigger picture around 6:30 AM.

#3—The F-15 Strike Eagles were out in large force this morning as I took to the streets for my usual run. They are hard to miss. Their noise makes it so. Living in a military community requires my frequent notice of these tactical fighter jets that are designed to penetrate enemy defense and to outfight enemy aircraft. They hold my wonder and my constant gratitude.

The F-15’s fly with a bird’s eye view of their below and with a breathtaking view of God’s above. The men and women who pilot these aircrafts are doing so on our behalf. For the freedoms we now embrace and for the freedom we hope to remain. It comes with a hefty price tag. That is the way of freedom.

It costs. It exacts a price. It requires a sacrifice. It is a gift undeserving, yet willingly given. As it is with the F-15’s so it goes with my Father who willingly paid the price for our spiritual freedom through the sacrifice and his one and only Son.

A gentle, yet forceful reminder of the bigger picture around 8:00 AM.

A book that weaves a story of Epic proportions. A song that sings a story of deliverance. A plane that flies a story of protection. Three sought-after reminders. One conclusion.

God’s still writing the story … with his deliverance, with his protection, and with the bigger picture in mind. And while I cannot always fully see his hand in the matter, I can see the tracings of a greater Epic. One that allows me a few lines of participation and a few minutes on the stage. And the stage, my friends, is always a good place for a few humble reminders.

Today I am humbled, even as I am hurting. I am reminded, once again, that the best is yet to be and that I walk toward that best with God’s deliverance as my cloaking, with his holy intention as my guide, and with his protection as my shield against the enemy’s plans to the contrary.

I can walk home with a bigger purpose in mind. So can my friend. So can we all. Thus, let us walk it with God’s truth as our song:

“Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing! Come out from it and be pure, you who carry the vessels of the LORD. But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” (Isaiah 52:11-12).

Our covenant Father, Yahweh, sets our course as he leads the way. The Creator of the entire Universe, Elohim, guards our steps and keeps watch over us from behind. From beginning to end, we are nestled in between the Sacred. Find your rest in this reminder today.



Copyright © November 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved

I was so blessed by my reading of John Eldredge’s Epic, I want to make a few copies available to my readers. Simply leave a comment, and I will pick the winners by week’s end. Shalom.

On Being Productive…

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

“Yvonne is still working on being a productive member of society.”

Those were the words of closing benediction from last night’s Hallmark movie. A story chronicling the woes of a homeless woman and her rescue therein. A good watch, and why I would have liked some follow-up details, the post script told me all I really needed to know.

Yvonne still struggles with her demons and with her freedom accordingly. A painful pull between the lonely wanton of the streets and the welcome embrace of a sheltering purpose. Of belonging, of fitting and of making her mark in a world that has embedded its indelible marks across her weary and well-torn heart. She’s still working on being a productive member of society.

So am I. How about you? What benediction could be written over your now? Anybody feeling a little well-worn and less than significant as it pertains to kingdom business? Is the call of the streets drowning out God’s call upon your life for discipleship? How is the pull, pulling?

For the past couple of weeks, my pull has been pulling tight. I’ve felt the profound strain between my “nothingness” and my “mattering.” The world has screamed its resistance at my feeble attempts at faith, causing a dissonance that strikes at the root of my identity as God’s workmanship. And while I understand that my sacred significance is not based on man’s opinion, my heart is easily swayed by man’s judgment.

God has created me for good works. For his good plan and for his kingdom come. Long ago, I surrendered my limitations and my plans upon the altar of his will and invited his presence into my life. I continue to do so. Why?

Because my full perfection and his full purpose for me has not fully lived its finish in me. There is still work to be done—in me, with me, and, ultimately, through me. God continues to seed my heart with a yet to be realized harvest. I cannot tabulate the eventual return, but I am feeling the cost of its current sowing.

God allows me the struggle; not because he delights in my anguish, but rather because he desires for my faith to prove genuine (1 Peter 1:6-7). To be real and relentless in the midst of difficult times that call for a resolute faith. A faith that doesn’t waver according to the daily news but a faith that stands firm and with the confidence of an abiding Holy Spirit and a determined consecrated purpose.

Faith based on the shifting sands of our uneven times is a faith that will eventually fall prey to the lure of the streets.

*To the sifting through the garbage bins for leftovers that feed rotten rather than lasting.
*To pushing carts filled with the cast offs of a fleeting treasure.
*To begging for an unjustifiable wealth.
*To sleeping beneath the covers of a dangerous and unattended dark.
*To addictions that soothe temporary and last indefinitely.
*To an uncleanliness that breathes sour and offends accordingly.

How does this “homeless” and wandering faith play itself out in our lives? What does street living look like for a Christian?

Garbage bin feeding: gaining our nourishment from the television, the internet, and the radio, instead of from God’s Word (John 6:26-27, 35; 1 John 2:15-17).

Pushing carts: filling our lives with the religions and philosophies and “truths” that produce temporal answers instead of “leaning not unto our understanding” and, thus, receiving the mystery of an eternal Truth that fills lasting (2 Tim. 4:3, 1 Cor. 4:1-4, Proverbs 3:5-6).

Unjustifiable wealth: asking for the bounty of another’s blessing instead of receiving what is ours as children and, thus, benefactors of our Father’ rich inheritance (Romans 8:15-17).

Sleeping without protections: giving into the lures of a dangerous dance in the dark where we assume no one can see, much less hold us accountable for our sin (1 Cor. 4:5; 1 John 1:5-9; Matthew 6:19).

Addictions: lining our flesh and mind with all manner of prescriptive measures meant to mask instead of lining our hearts with the sacred perspective that is intended to free (Romans 12:1-2; 2 Cor. 3:17).

Uncleanliness: wearing our sin out loud and in charge so as to cause our brothers and sisters to follow suit (Romans 14:19-21; 1 Cor. 10:31-32; 1 John 2:9-10, 3:7-10).

God hasn’t designed us to be a street people, at least not here. He’s called us to be on the streets; not as dwellers but as pilgrims. A people on an intentional journey—on the highway of the King headed to an eternal street living that lines golden and ripe and laden with the treasure of heaven’s richest fare. And until we arrive there, we are given the consecrated privilege of contending with the boundaries of a lesser road.

Lesser because everything short of our going home to be with Jesus breathes with reduction. Privileged because the road boasts the feet of those who are homeless and are in desperate need of following God’s sacred lead. Consecrated because it is our high and holy calling to take that lead … to be God’s light and his ministers of reconciliation as though God was making his appeal through us (2 Cor. 6:20).

Consecrated street living is hard living. Rarely is it convenient or comfortable. Rather, it is costly and contrary to the fleshly pulse that beats in isolation for self-preservation. Thus, I am still working on being a productive member of society—God’s society, where self-preservation takes a back seat to kingdom preservation.

These have been difficult days for many of us. We are tired and weary from our well-worn worry. Accordingly, we are tempted to fill our carts with an aimless wandering devoid of sacred perspective. We are pulled in a thousand different ways, with a thousand different thoughts, and with little anchor to hold us as steady. We are taking to the streets, rather than taking to our knees and to our need for a helping hand to guide us in the right direction.

And while I want the pull between my “nothingness” and my “mattering” to be less, I want my faith to prove genuine even more so. Thus, I concede to the struggle, knowing that my perfection hangs in the balance. Perhaps, like me, God’s workmanship in you has been a difficult striving. I understand.

You are not alone, ever. God is with you. I am with you. We are walking this road together … to our eternal rest at our Father’s feet where our lingering “demons” will finally give way to our lasting freedom. Where the streets of our current dinge and dark will be buried beneath the blistering gold of a perfected glory. We need not fear its certain coming, for it is God’s promised ending to us as Christians. We simply and profoundly need to embrace its sacred worth on the front side of its arrival.

The backside will breathe with understanding, but if we can, even now, get our thoughts anchored in the truth of why our striving matters and what awaits us accordingly, then we are well on our way to being the productive members of a kingdom society that God intends for us to be. Thus, I pray…

Make us a productive people, Father, not for ourselves but your mighty end. Forgive us our self-focus. Encourage us with your purpose. Strengthen us with your promises. Enliven us with your Spirit and work in us your perfection, all the way home to our final rest. May our knees find the floor before our feet find the streets. You, alone, are our Anchor, our Sustainer, and the Perfecter of our faith. Encourage us with this certain truth as we walk each step of this day. Amen.

Copyright © November 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved

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Room to Breathe (part two): My Consolation

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. (Luke 2:25).

I am caught in a struggle this morning. A struggle that requires my penned obedience. A struggle that calls for some words that have yet to breathe and to find their home within my heart and upon this paper. I know they are here … simmering just beneath the surface of my chaotic thoughts, but getting them out into the open requires a bold and mighty wrestling.

I’m fighting for some words today because, quite frankly, I am not sure there is anything I could write that would embody as much passion and need as the last words I penned. How does one begin to trump the sanctity of life? What follow up could be written that would matter in comparison? At this moment in our nation’s history, could there be any other issue that warrants our more needful attention?

Some would suggest my need to “lighten up” a bit. To take a load off and to marinate my weary with some comfortable complacency. I would argue that this world’s collective propensity toward complacent and “lightened up” living has landed us on the current road of our confusion. We are people desperately wanting to live at ease with our convictions. The problem? Convictions were never designed with ease in mind.

Strong held convictions are deeply sewn into the fabric of our souls. When pulled upon by the arduous contrary of a rebelled cause, we cannot help but feel the tightening of their threaded grip. The resulting “ouch” is not permission for us to stay focused on the pain. Rather, it is God’s invitation for us to put voice to the pull and to put his convictions ahead of our comfort.

This is almost always … a difficult deliberate.

True and eternal conviction is never birthed through accidental measure. We don’t wake up one day with a sacred depth. We cultivate it through the intentional pursuit of the one God who created us with depth in mind. Who designed us with a heart and soul and mind capable of hosting embedded convictions.

God never intended for us to mealy mouth our way through important debate. He means for us to win the debate. Not with our words, but with his—with the truth of his Gospel written and firmly rooted within our hearts. With love-driven actions that boast the visible witness of such a holy planting. We are never more fully alive then when we are fully operating from the conviction of God’s Word within. All other living breathes temporary and complacent and less essential.

I’ve lived most of my life half-way. I am no longer content to do so. Thus, the struggle to find a mattering word this day.

I stand in good company. Not long ago, there was a young woman who faced a similar struggle … a wrestling with the word. She was given the awesome responsibility of bringing God’s Word to the world. She allowed her innocence to be cloaked with the perceived shame of an unplanned pregnancy, and rather than offering her objections in the matter, she simply bowed and offered her words of surrender that would seed eternal and that would convict everlasting:

“I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38).

A difficult deliberate, indeed. It came to pass, just as the angel had said. The Word became flesh via her flesh. He walked among us. Died because of us. Rose again for us, and now lives forever through us.

What could be written to trump the sanctity of human life? What “follow up” could be penned that would trump my impassioned pleas for the life of the unborn child? There is only one Word that surfaces.


Emmanuel. God with us. The Author of human life. The One who found his voice because his mother allowed him the room to grow and breathe and become the certain and final consolation of all mankind.

In just a few weeks, Christians will celebrate Jesus’ birth by remembering his humble beginnings. At least we should, shouldn’t we? Or will that, too, fall prey to our complacency and to the world’s cry for us to “lighten up”? To resign our convictions in order to soothe the nagging ache of naysayers who can’t quite put their finger on their discontent?

Oh, my friends. Hear me if you will. Better yet, go with me if you can. Just for a minute to that stabled manger and hear the cries of our Consolation as he wrestles with our humanity and weeps because of our chosen and deliberate silence. It may sing as a Silent Night in our carols, but nothing could be further from the truth. The silence of our eternal dark was shattered that night through the obedience of one who whispered her “yes” and through the willingness of One who shouted his “YES” accordingly.

I don’t know just exactly how my Christmas season will breathe. But of this I am certain. Most of the world will miss Christmas this year because most of the world intends to do so. They will wrap and spend and shove their version of contentment beneath the tree, but true and lasting peace will never be found shoved beneath a tree.

Lasting Peace spent himself upon a tree—high and lifted up, unwrapped for all the world to review. Some wisely received him as their own, but most turned away. Most still do because most will choose complacency over conviction when given the choice. “Lightening up” has become the politically correct preference of our barely visible standards. It has also become the stench in our Father’s nostrils—an offense to the Consolation who cried his surrendered tears 2000 years ago so that we could fully live the freedom of salvation’s grace.

A baby named Jesus changed my life. If you know him as your Savior, then you can voice the same. We may not fully understand his incarnation. On this side of eternity, understanding comes in part. But there is coming a day of full perception, when the pull of our convictions will thread directly back to the heart of our Father. We will see the connection and be thankful for all of the difficult deliberates that have weaved for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

It won’t be long, friends, so stay the course. Keep to the road. Keep to the Word and find your voice on his behalf. He is so worthy, and this is not the time to shrink back in our faith, but rather the time when we must stand as a bold witness to the convictions he threads the deepest. Thus, I pray…

Strengthen our convictions, Father, with the pull of your truth … with the depth of your Word. Forgive us for our silence and our willingness to concede our witness. May this season be the one in which we testify to the grace we have known, the forgiveness we have tasted, and to the sure hope we harbor for how this “thing” is all going to end. You are our end, God. Our Consolation and our Savior. Keep us willing and keep us certain … all the way home to your heart. Amen.

Copyright © November 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved

Thanks to Sassy Granny for the wonderful song and picture. Please head over to her blog today for her thought-provoking post, “Not in a Million Years.” Shalom.

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