Category Archives: Room to breathe

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.

Jesus.

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.

Room to Breathe

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; you works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, … .” (Psalms 139:14-15).
I am pro life. Whether on the battlefield, in the nursing home, at the end of a feeding tube, on death row, or in a mother’s womb, I will always vote for life. This doesn’t affiliate me along party lines, for both sides hold their merit in various ways. It does, however, make me ever conscious and deliberate about the decisions I make when elections roll around. That being said, there is a story I want to write.

Not because you haven’t heard it before, but rather because by not doing so, I would be denying the stirring that’s been haunting my thoughts for nearly a week now. It’s a story that’s been writing me for the past five days. A story that doesn’t belong to me alone, but one that belongs to the million plus voices who, this year alone, will never be given …

room to breathe.

We all know the outcome of the presidential election on November 4, 2008. But there is a lesser known outcome from that day that probably didn’t make the “cut” for post election discussions around your tables and in the work place.

California’s Proposition Two. Jim Downing, writer for “The Sacramento Bee,” reports the following:

To a huge majority of California voters, it seems, the chicken does come before the egg. The measure makes California the first state to require that its chickens be freed from their cages and allowed to stretch their wings.…

And what does getting out of a cage mean for a chicken? Three main things: a nest, a perch and a place to take a dust bath. Without these basics, hens act stressed. Caged systems don’t offer them, while modern cage-free setups generally do.”[i]

Apparently, the hens are living in less than desirable conditions, and while their “output” remains strong, their surroundings for doing so was deemed worthy of an upgrade. The National Humane Society contributed over eight million dollars toward the upgrade, while opponents donated over seven million dollars toward its defeat.

Fifteen million dollars expended on behalf of the chickens. A costly proposition in my opinion, and one that paid off…at least for the hens. By the year 2015, hens across California will be stretching their legs, making their nests, and enjoying the romp of a dust bath at whim and will. Thanks to the voters, California hens will have a little more room to walk their two year life expectancy without any…

*bars to cage their steps.
*inconveniences to cramp their living.
*restraints to hinder their production.

Room to breathe, friends. I can almost hear their thankful clucking from where I sit tonight on the opposite coast. And lest you think, I’m ungrateful, I’m not. I am for the humane treatment of all of God’s creatures, but as it pertains to a chicken’s “rights” and California’s Proposition Two, my heart and soul shudder at the hypocrisy lived out with such a mandate.

Many well-intentioned people expend their pocketbooks, voice their objections, and vote their conscience along such lines. They man their vigorous campaigns with bold initiatives and principled views, all in the name of the humane treatment of animals.

But when it comes to the one and half million unborn babies who will know an early death this year because of abortion, pocketbooks often remain closed. Voices remain silent, and the human conscience is swallowed up by a vigorous “lesser” that offers no room for innocence to breathe her first breath, much less make a nest, find a perch, and stretch her wings toward hopeful flight.

Many will argue that the issues are different. That the variables are extreme and cannot be considered as equal.

I would agree. Hens and human life are different. They are not equal and, in terms of intrinsic worth and eternal value, should not be considered in the same breath. But when the hypocrisy is so blatant, so obvious and so egregious, I cannot help but speak of them in the same sentence. When the rights of a hen get more press than the rights of the unborn child, my heart cries in disbelief and in grief for the moral disparity that is blanketing our country.

Abortion was not the only issue in this year’s election. I understand. There were and still are many valid concerns that weigh heavy upon our hearts. America is the sum total of these concerns. But I’ll be honest. I didn’t walk to the voting booth with many of them in mind. Instead, I walked with a “one issue” focus that took hens and the like off the table and put the sanctity of life at the helm.

I cast my ballot accordingly; not because of any particular fondness for either candidate, but simply because I want the unborn children of 2009 to have the right to walk their life expectancy without any…

*bars to cage their steps.
*inconveniences to cramp their living.
*restraints to hinder their production.

I want them to live. To spread their wings and to have room to fully breathe their rights as God-created, human beings. Some will. Sadly, statistics show that over a million won’t. And tonight all I can muster is a few painfully pondered questions.

Who can fathom the consequential depths of such poor decisions? Why would anyone want to? Who could argue the death of a child as a best laid plan…ever? Who could appreciate such statistics and reason them appropriate? Who could voice abortion’s worth accordingly?

I cannot, nor would I ever endeavor to try. My holy fear of a Holy God won’t allow me to voice such an offense in his presence. God is not impressed with our excuses, with our many words and with our defense of such poorly reasoned sin. Nothing we could argue would warrant his condoning of abortion. He is the Author of human life, and he values it accordingly. The fact that you are reading this now is witness enough to the beauty of such a sacred truth.

Your mother was willing to give you room to breath. To let your life matter. To let you grow and to let you become a person of kingdom influence upon our King’s soil. There was never a moment when you didn’t count, when you didn’t matter and when your Father looked away. You have always been his priority. Not chickens. Not ever.

As I approach a new year with a new Washington, I will be watching to see if our new President will uphold the strides that have been made in the past eight years toward reducing abortion and toward promoting the rights of the unborn child. I will remember California’s chickens, and I will expect higher preference to be afforded the children growing in the womb. I will settle for nothing less, at least as far as my voice is concerned. I may be forced to live with the choices of unreasonable politicians, but for as long as I have breath, I will voice it…

For life. For freedom. For wings to stretch. For nests to call home. For perches from which to launch, and for wide, open spaces that afford me a gracious cleansing and room enough …

to generously and thankfully, breathe it all in.

the fruit of my thankful womb!

As always,

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Copyright © November 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved

[i] Jim Downing, “What California Voters Hatched with Chicken-Cage Ban is Unclear,” The Sacramento Bee (November 10, 2008), http://www.sacbee.com/111/story/1380971.html.

PS: Congrats to Pamela for winning the $20 gift certificate toward a necklace. Pam, please e-mail when you are ready to purchase, and I will have a code for you to deduct the $ from the total purchase. If you know you won’t use it, please let me know so my daughter can draw another name! Congrats, friend.

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