Monthly Archives: March 2012

4:58 PM

The aroma from the kitchen reaches my nostrils. It’s 4:58 PM… dinnertime. The first time in the last twenty hours when I’ve noticed my hunger.

I wonder why it has taken so long… this noticing of emptiness. I’m surprised it hasn’t happened sooner. I suppose it makes this chosen fast easier, at least when calculated by the clock. But when calculated by intention, not noticing my hunger earlier stymies the purpose—fasting from something in order to take hold of something… Someone.

I know why I’m doing it. I need to notice my hunger. In doing so, I call out for relief. I call upon Him to come. To find me. Meet me. Search me and know me. This is the feeding to satisfy the soul ache within. His are the hands filled with grace. His is the love overflowing with sustenance.

When the stomach is empty, the heart is ready to receive. When the flesh is neglected, the spirit is ready to listen.

I want to be fed, not with food but with faith—a faith that’s been shaken in the last twenty-four hours. What a difference a day makes. Yesterday’s 4:58 was filled with breadsticks and baked ziti. Today’s 4:58 is filled with something greater.

My need. My hunger. My reminder to reach forward. My letting go of something in order to take hold of Someone.

Morning will surely come, and I will break my fast. But until then, I’ll mark the hours with Jesus, and I’ll notice my hunger. And I’ll remember why I need Him so very, very much.

Life will never make sense without Jesus. Maybe next time, I’ll notice my hunger sooner.

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In the Olive Press with Jesus {part eight: Chancing the Arm}

Chancing the Arm by Chuck Killian {guest contributor and my dad}

There is a well-worn story from the Middle Ages about two Irish families, the Ormonds and Kildares, who were involved in a bitter feud. Besieged by Gerald Fitzgerald (the Earl of Kildare), Sir James Butler (the Earl of Ormond) and his followers took refuge in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.

The siege wore on for several weeks and Gerald Fitzgerald concluded that the feud was foolish. The two families worshipped the same God, lived in the same community, and attended the same church—yet they were engaged in a life or death battle. Fitzgerald went to the chapel door where the Ormonds were holed up. He called upon Sir James and promised on his honor that no harm would come to him.

Sir James feared treachery and refused to respond. Fitzgerald grabbed a spear and hacked a hole in the door. Then he thrust his arm through it. In a moment his arm was grasped by Sir James and the feud ended. It was from this gesture that we get the expression “Chancing (risking) one’s arm.”

“Chancing the arm!” Make the decision. We can continue to feud with ourselves, refusing to relinquish our need to be in control, or we can take the risk that leads to freedom and liberation.

Chancing the arm? It sounds so foolish. Yes it does; something like the Cross—which says to every last one of us—regardless of who we are, what we have done, or where we have been, we are loved unconditionally. The feud need last no longer!

Prayer: Father, I am grateful for your arms that stretched long and wide, high and deep, breaking through my walls and making a way for freedom. Thank you for taking a chance on me. Humbly I receive your hand of fellowship this day. Amen.

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In the Olive Press with Jesus {part seven: Doing Grief}

In the Olive Press with Jesus {part seven: Doing Grief}

It’s been two months since she died… their mom, my friend (you can read about it here). This past week, my husband and I made the six-hour round trip to their home to share with them in their sorrow. To do grief. To remember her and to allow that remembrance to touch us deeply where it hurts.

Doing grief. It wasn’t easy; grief never is. I don’t suppose I’ve ever really witnessed this kind of sorrow… in many ways unfamiliar territory for me. Funeral grief—the kind of grief that packs in and around the initial parting of a loved one—has been my common experience. Grief that comes two months later? Well, that kind of grief is easier to pack away for those of us who sit on the outside of its unwrapping. We aren’t privy to this kind of gut-wrenching grief unless we are the direct recipients of its painful prod. But just because we don’t feel the sorrow, see the sorrow, hold the sorrow as profoundly as those who’ve lost someone close, doesn’t mean that sorrow no longer exists.

They feel it. They see it. They hold it. They grieve deeply behind hidden doors, behind expectations, behind forced smiles, trying desperately to fit into a world that’s moving on, despite the fact that grief isn’t in any hurry to leave. And that, friends, is an added burden to a grieving soul. Grief cannot live outside the boundaries of human existence. Grief cannot separate itself from common conversation and daily deliberations. When grief moves into a heart, grief stays. Certainly, over time, grief changes, but I’m not convinced it ever really leaves. What I am convinced of is the need to allow grief room enough, time enough, and respect enough to breathe—to work itself into and out of our hearts as it comes.

We must acknowledge it, whether a deeply felt, personal grief or the deep grief of a friend. We mustn’t clutter it, stuff it, or bury it. We simply and profoundly need to let it breathe and then to do the seemingly impossible—breathe alongside it. Not underestimate or overestimate what it is, but to let what “is”… just be.

This is our grieving season, friends … a lengthy round trip to Calvary and back where we come alongside God’s grief to feel it, see it, and hold it. Just for awhile. Just long enough for it to breathe strong remembrance into our souls. We weren’t there at the funeral some 2000 years ago; we’ve only heard stories about it. But here we are today, walking into that story, standing heart-to-heart with the One who wrote that story, and receiving its painful truth as our portion. His grief belongs to us; it is now part of our stories forever forward.

There’s no room for cluttering, stuffing, and burying the truth of Christ’s cross… not for those of us who call ourselves by his name. Easter pilgrims are those who willingly carry the suffering cross for self and for others, knowing it will hurt… greater still, knowing it will consecrate our hearts for a deeper identification with Jesus. The cross is what he came to do; in doing so, he and the world around him, “did grief” … continues to do grief. Why should we do any less?

Do better for Jesus this week; do better for those you love. Come alongside them to breathe with them. In doing so, you give them Easter’s breath … Easter’s best. As always…

Peace for the Journey,
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In the Olive Press with Jesus {part six: from within and without}

We are about halfway through the Lenten Season. Passion Week and Easter are just around the corner. This in-between time is tough work. The Ashes of Wednesday are washed off and we hunger for the sight of the lilies. The forty day ordeal–this time of self-reflection, of going inward and deeper, calling for repentance–enables us to discover that the continent of the inner soul is the real ‘lost continent’ and it seems so far away. How far?

Some time ago, I saw a film at the space museum in Washington, D. C., The Power of Ten. A man is lying on a beach, and the camera is 10 meters above him—10 to the power of one. The trip begins into space—10 to the power of 2, 10 the power of 10 and by now you are out among the Saturn rings. By the time you get to 10 to the power of 24, you are among stars that are light years from each other—billions of them infinitely larger than our ‘milky way.’ As I viewed this scene I began to ponder some questions: Who am I? Where am I going? Where will I be in a 100 years? Can an infinite God who is behind all of this care about me?

Then the camera reverses, speeding back to planet earth. And there is the man still basking in the Florida sun, but the camera doesn’t stop. It focuses on a square inch of skin on the man’s arm, and proceeds inward—10 to the minus power 1, 10 to the minus power 12 where you reach the cell, the basic unit of all life. And at 10 to the minus power of 24, you reach the atom. Our bodies are made up of billions and billions of these complicated, yet well organized atoms. If an atom were as big as the head on a pin, the atoms in a grain of sand would make a cube, a mile high, a mile wide, and a mile long.

I shared this little tidbit with a scientist-scholar and he remarked, “It is just as far within as it is without.” Well, where does this leave us?

We are talking about a Lenten Journey; the story of One who invaded the stream of history, fleshing Himself among us, God incarnate—as the poet W. H. Auden put it, “The Alien Unknown reveals Himself.” All the questions above have their locus in that Revelation and the immeasurableness of my world. The one without and the one within are under the custodial care of an infinite Creator, who dispatched the affairs of the universe in a twinkling of an eye. That being the case, the ‘inward journey’ leaves me with one resolve. It is summed up best for me by C. S. Lewis who said, “We are not imperfect creatures needing improvement, but rebels who must lay down their arms.”

When that happens, one covers far more territory that 10 to the minus power of 24; and in so doing, the journey is nearly complete and the ‘lost continent’ is found.

I am grateful for my father’s contributions at the blog during this Lenten season. While reading his words for this particular post, I recalled a particularly moving scene from the movie The Passion of the Christ. I was able to find the clip on youtube. The first two minutes of the video hold this scene, and while it is difficult to watch, it helps me to focus on this “within and without”–God’s ever watchful perspective on his beloved, his created … us. Oh the beautiful, lovely mystery of God! One day soon, we’ll fully grasp the length, depth, breadth and width of it all. Until then, keep to it, friends. Keep to the cross of Jesus Christ. Shalom.

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