so blessed are we

My heart grows like a fire spreads when I set my mind on the blessing in loving Christ. This morning we read Paul's prayer for those in Philippi,

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11 ESV)

... that love may abound more and more. There is no cap on a love that is always increasing and no exhausting of gifts that come about as a result of that increasing love. We are so unbelievably blessed as we love and treasure our Savior. As we share in His suffering today and as we share in His holiness, so blessed are we.

So blessed. So undeservedly and abundantly blessed in our loving of Christ.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wT4_QSR0NWI]

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

when home is hard to... define

If you ever want to get good and sad, do a search in your iTunes for the word "home." I trimmed the playlist to 50, but that's 3:30:06 worth of accompaniment for where I'm not. I've got quite the assortment - from the Peasall Sisters to Coheed and Cambria, from Matthew Mayfield to Waterdeep and from Eliza Doolittle to Trent Dabbs, from Mark Scibila to Iron & Wine and Mates of State to Sarah Jarosz. Simon & Garfunkel even make an appearance, followed by Phil Wickham and William Fitzsimmons.

And they are all singing, desperate and hopeful, about home.

I can't really explain it, but these melodies rustle up a restlessness that says, "You're not home in this moment" and it doesn't even matter where my feet are currently planted. I could be standing in the middle of my childhood home or lounging in one of 10 places I've called "home" since then and it wouldn't matter. There's something distinctly not home-y about life and there are reasons to be discontent about it.

Come on, join in with me. Throw your discontent in my kettle and we'll stir us up some comfort food.

I'm not where I thought I would be at 27... I really wish I had the kind of friends who... It seems like nobody really knows me around here... My laundry does not have the "this definitely came from my house" smell... I can manage to go from Monday - Friday completely anonymous, if I want... If only I could get away and have some time to think... I would feel at home if I was a "regular" at the coffee shop... Home feels more like a tractor when I'm at an office desk and more like an office desk when I'm in a tractor...

I don't know what makes where you are not home, but it's a funny science - this discontent. I think I realized as my heart beat along with the rhythm of these tunes that I need to add home and here and there to the list of "things to hold loosely."

When we are tempted into discontent about the place we find our two feet (for all the pages of reasons we rush to number), it's okay to be honest. It's okay to sing sad songs about home and speak our discontent into the unforgiving air.

But discontent will become our sin when we hold too tightly and hope too strongly for what we don't have.... then discontent becomes a bitter root or a seed of jealousy. Our comfort in the most desperate, sojourning moments is that our always home is not attached to location or city or nation.

In those kind of moments - when I think about all the places I am not - I breathe deep and trust that God is.

If you need to speak your wandering, sojourning spirit into the unforgiving air today, here are some tunes. But, please, don't hold too tightly or hope too strongly for what you don't have.

You have an invitation to always home.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/37645381]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHAZz6HqJ8U]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zM3-gGB_rMw]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rbr80q4Rq1o]

Here is the one you listen to when you realize where you are always home.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

wherever your feet are planted in this moment

keep your heart young

  Just do it. No, seriously, just keep your heart young.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFtLhbgM670]

Today, I'm celebrating so many things: Dia de Independencia with my Honduran family and friends, Iowa State football (expected) victory my Dad's birthday tailgating with friends and family the changing colors of falling leaves coffee pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting bike rides mo-peds cardinal red and gold

And, I'm remembering all the ways Jesus encouraged the disciples to be like children - to blurt things out and come to Him messy, injured, and out of breath. Children are precocious little bugars, but they don't mess around with pretense. And I think this is why they can delight in the wonderful, little things and be so transparent about their tantrums. They've got nothing to hide - and they'll tell it like it really is.

This is a young heart. And I'd like to keep mine that way.

 

hard way home in the passenger seat

Remember when you graduated from high school and the world stretched out like an open road in front of your new-to-you, college-bound car? Remember that? Somehow my car circled around and I'm staring at the same highway and when Brandi Carlile sings the chorus of "hard way home," I belt it louder than is probably appropriate for my post-college age.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AV5TRO1BqU]

Now, Brandi and I disagree on a few things - some of them pretty major. But, I find a very steady solidarity in our choosing the "hard way home." I'm stubborn. And sometimes my stubbornness gets me into sin, a lot of times I guess. I can look back at my tracks and, with Brandi, point to times I should have redirected my steps but pressed on for pride or fear or foolishness.

I don't know how Brandi feels when she sings this song, but what I feel is gratitude. Oh, man! I'm such an obstinate and fickle girl. I don't know why anyone would have patience with my antics, but the Lord is steady as an oak and faithful like the sun. Though the lost in me thinks faking my death would be an exciting escape (see the bridge), the found in me delights in knowing that I can never be hidden.

With my car facing that same, great highway, the "hard way home" isn't a lonely trek when you are sitting in the passenger seat.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

wake up, wake up

"We have seen the hope of Your healingrising from our souls - Oh, is the feeling we are drawing close Your light is shining through"

This morning, I am singing my heart into wakefulness. I am singing my soul into serenade to the One who gives me voice, the One who gives me notes, the One who gives me breath -

the One who wakened me.

What a glorious thing to be AWAKE in this life - to feel the wind gripped by Autumn and see the sky painted in shades of blue. What a glorious thing to be AWAKE and how desperate the call to wake the still sleeping.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=03YxgFrDreg&NR=1]

safe place

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Gvm1o6OAoY] Sometimes, it is best to step into the safest place. And sometimes the safe place breaks free from the dark of the night and splatters golden sun on your face.

I was a stranger the day He called my name but now He calls me friend. A wider, deeper, purer love I will never know. Only in the safe place of His love is laughter unleashed and only in this safe place are dancing feet freed.

That's the place I'm living this morning.

A laugh-dancing place.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

 

the sexual revolution, a theologeek's confessions, contemporary art, and living life

Have you ever had a string of days where putting one foot in front of the other seems harder than it should seem? I mean, have you ever been frustrated at being frustrated? I'm just wondering, I guess.

Here are some things that are taking my mind off my feet this week. I hope it pushes you to think harder or differently ... and then I really hope that your knowledge grows feet. I mean, I hope your knowledge does something because otherwise it's just about puffing up.

Do you know Al Mohler? Well, he's kind of a big deal. Anyway, he wrote an article in The Atlantic recently about Helen Gurley Brown's influence on the sexual revolution. It is an interesting piece that speaks to one of the most confused cultural categories (sexuality) of our generation.

Bryan McWhite writes in a post for the EFCA online magazine about the difference between simply knowing theology and doing theology and what it means for reaching young people today. This is exactly what I like to hear! We must be about living theology not about knowing it. He writes,

What I didn’t understand at first (and realize now that I am a recovering theologeek) is that the younger generations are intensely pragmatic. And contrary to what many in the church might assume, their pragmatism is in no way opposed to serious theological thought. Young people really do desire theological understanding. But they want theological inquiry to serve a purpose beyond simply knowing.

To this generation, studying theology merely for the sake of knowing is inextricably linked to arrogance. For them, the study of theology isn’t complete until it ends in praxis. They do not abide the last three chapters of Ephesians being severed from the first three. They want to understand how knowing culminates indoing.

This piece on contemporary art, "Absolutely-Too-Much" admits that contemporary art can be a hard thing to appreciate, but it remains something to be admired. I like how this article shifts to philosophical implications in contemporary art because, of course, they are connected.

"We all had new iphones but no one had no one to call..." Thats a line from the song, "Life's for the Living" by Passenger. Sometimes, on those days when one foot drags as we put it in front of the other, we just have to remember that "life's for the living. So live, or you're better off dead." Sometimes, it's as simple as that.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuIGX_ZGgbM]

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

a friday for sifting

I'm between jobs 1 and 2 and it's shaking out to be a day of sifting. This Friday is being sifted until only the too-big pieces remain on top. And what is of most importance is becoming very, very clear.

It's normally not so easy to see with an eternal kind of sight. There are coffees to buy and websites to navigate. There are attendance sheets to make and databases to conquer. There are hours to wile away and weekend plans to make. There is an errand to run and another book to add to the pile of those I should read. But, today there is sifting.

And after this Friday is shaken, the big pieces that remain have little to do with what I've gained or stored or clocked or typed. The big pieces are eternal things that I cannot manufacture - things that put all other things in beautiful, right perspective.

Today, I am praying that my life is about the main thing, that I don't treasure my life more than the main thing, and that all other things will fall through my open hands so that I will cling to what remains. I am praying that I delight in Christ so much that I cannot imagine keeping this delight to myself. In my delight and revelry, in my worship and bust-at-the-seams joy, I am praying I live fully in the freedom His suffering allows so that He may be glorified as others hear the same call to freedom from my lips.

Because He is worthy to receive the reward of his suffering.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXTYsY7XqNU&feature=player_embedded#!]

what it means to cling

It's a strange unsteady that catches me today - grieving the evil and glorying in the God who overcomes. I can't see how anyone who puts thought to theological matters can be any less than always emotional - either deeply despairing or deeply delighting. It is both despair and delight at once that stretch me and today I read these words that remind me of the tension,

"In all your longing to love as Christ loved, you sometimes forget that true love for one thing will, or at least it should, produce a hatred for whatever stands against it." (from Note to Self by Joe Thorn)

I do forget. I forget that loving as Christ means hating what stands in opposition. "Hate" sounds unpopular. It sounds... mean. But when I forget to develop a healthy hate for my sin, I make friends with destruction. When I forget to develop a healthy hate for the sin in others, I lead friends to destruction.

And in all this, I am finding what it means to cling.

In the strange unsteady that rocks my boat today, I am learning to cling like my life depends on my grip. My desperate hold is always rewarded by the unfaltering strong arms of my Redeemer, who reminds me my life depends on His strength.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VVwSLW-cMI&feature=related]

O, Heart Bereaved and Lonely Words by Fanny Crosby

1. O heart bereaved and lonely, Whose brightest dreams have fled Whose hopes like summer roses, Are withered crushed and dead Though link by link be broken, And tears unseen may fall Look up amid thy sorrow, To Him who knows it all

2. O cling to thy Redeemer, Thy Savior, Brother, Friend Believe and trust His promise, To keep you till the end O watch and wait with patience, And question all you will His arms of love and mercy, Are round about thee still

3. Look up, the clouds are breaking, The storm will soon be o’er And thou shall reach the haven, Where sorrows are no more Look up, be not discouraged; Trust on, whate’er befall Remember, O remember, Thy Savior knows it all

turning up the stones of my own discontent

Today feels like all my hidden sorrows have huddled to make aching war on my lower back. It's just one of those days where the question, "Oh, how long?" seems to be the only appropriate thing to say, followed by a decided and desperate, "You won't let me go." Isn't it strange how you start to think the world is falling apart when your body aches / your brother will have face surgery / national politics looks to spin out of control / there might not be enough food this winter for the breadbasket / you're still trying to figure out how to let love fly like crazy / the song in your soul sounds a little sickly?

No, I guess I don't think that's strange at all. Maybe the world is falling apart.

I better start singing this line, "You, You won't let me go." And then I better sing it again.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/40319898]

what do I stand for?

  We love anthems, we do.

We love songs we can proclaim from rooftops with passion from our gut.

We love an anthem that rallies us around something, puts fire in our bellies, and stretches our vocal chords.

We love an anthem even when it proclaims confusion.

The song, "Some Nights" by fun could not be a truer picture of this time in history and could not have a more enticing, layered melody - a mighty furious, beautiful mess building our Babel.

In the music video, haphazard opposing forces roam while directionless firepower flies and the band pounds out their decidedly lost melody.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQkBeOisNM0]

The song is certainly saying something. Even as the chorus rumbles with heavy questions, we are drawn in to sing that something right along with them,

"Oh Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for oh What do I stand for? What do I stand for? Most nights, I don't know anymore... Oh woah, oh woah, oh woah oh oh Oh woah, oh woah, oh woah oh oh"

Some nights ... most nights ... I don't know ... luck ... wish ... who am I?

These are words that describe a generation, words that build the walls of our own Babylon. We have exiled ourselves from meaning and certainty and hope.

And then we made it an anthem. This is the music of waywardness.

Our art reflects our hearts and in the mirror we see a despairing image. Makoto Fujimura, artist, writer, and speaker, says, “We, today, have a language to celebrate waywardness, but we do not have a cultural language to bring people back home.”

When the music of waywardness becomes the anthem of a generation, one must consider if the straining vocal chords declare a superlative-worthy message or if best is reserved for something absolutely certain.

 

Tchaikovsky, Curators, Aurora miracle, libraries of famous authors, and the music of KB

Well, here are some links I'm rolling out on this Tuesday. I'm dragging my feet a bit, but I've got to run before I lose motivation. Check these things out, friends, and let me know what you think.

  • When I was growing up, I would pull out classical bundles of music from the shelves in the piano room and ask my mom to play. She would always say, "Oh, honey... it's been so long. I don't even know if I can play this anymore..." but I could always tell she'd give in to my request and let dinner or the dishes or the laundry wait a few minutes so we could revel in the classics. This piece from BrainPickings,  "Tchaikovsky on Work Ethic vs. Inspiration" brings me back to those moments in the music room, but not just because my mom worked hard at being a musician. Also because she worked hard at being a mom - inspiration came in both cases as a result of her work. This post is about a letter Tchaikovsky wrote to his benefactress and the whole thing is beautiful - please go read it!
  • Sometimes I don't understand art, I'll admit. But, maybe it's the philosopher in me that loves what art says about who we are as a culture. Artists (and curators) kind of get to play the music that contemporary culture writes as it defines itself through values and norms. So, this piece in the NYT, "The Fine Art of Being a Curatorstruck me because of what it means for the music. Ahem.. So, if culture decides what is important right now, artists translate those things to canvas, buildings, statues, etc., then curators get to decide what does the best job of playing the music. Maybe this is another post in the making. The article is really very straightforward - talks about how curators are becoming more established as a field. I just can't help but ask, "Who sets the standards for good art?" But that's probably because I'm not, "in the know" about these kinds of things.
  • What would you say if a doctor told you that you had a brain defect that saved your life? That's nearly what happened for a young Aurora woman after she was shot at the theatre during the Dark Knight premiere. Read the story here, "A Smiling Providence in Aurora, Colorado" from Denny Burk.
  • I love books and I love libraries - this post takes us inside the libraries of famous writers and I have to stop myself from drooling. Each nook looks so dreamy!
  • I like rap. This new album from KB "Weight of Glory" is pretty spectacular. I wanted to post a video that wasn't all lyric, so check out this "behind the scenes" look at a young man who's got serious talent and serious opportunity to bring the message of hope through his gift. Worth a listen, for real. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMVPyd3hLhk] Here's the video he talks about to the song, "Open Letter" [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-2G5-deabE]

That's all for now. I'm going to go pound the pavement on a night run.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

Remedy

Talk of the economy and taxes and 'Greece-is-our-future' can get a sister down, you know? It's not just the old folks who are saying, "What's this world coming to?" No, that phrase is open to all ages because nobody knows anymore and it's a little frightening. Safe to say, everybody is looking for something. Also safe to say, everybody is looking for something to fix whatever's broken.

Here's something to sleep on by the Welcome Wagon that might chase away some of those bad dreams.

Enjoy!

http://vimeo.com/43865331

every promise, always kept

We suffer the sale of cheap words, but we buy them still.Every day their consequence cuts afresh the wound of our failure and exposes all the ways we fall short.

"The hill I'm walking up is gettin' good and steep but I'm still looking for a promise even I can't keep."

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzIab7WI7-E&feature=related]

Brandi Carlile can sing. She can sing and boy! can she write. Her song, "A Promise to Keep" has been rolling around in my soul since she released a free EP on Noisetrade. When I listen to this song, my shoulders slump with sadness - a kind of resignation that wraps me in and weighs me down. The words are heavy bundles with long, painful sighs because the notes sing the melody of hurt.

Carlile sings hurt... maybe because she has suffered the sale of cheap words, but she buys them still. Maybe because she feels the consequence of fresh cut failure-wounds and is exposed to all the ways she falls short. It's a humanity kind of failure - a shortsightedness that presumes another promise spoken, believed, and broken.

My shoulders fold in and my lip shakes a little and I hurt with her for the insufferable exchange - the buying and selling of promises.

I still talk to you in my sleep I don't say much cause the hurt runs too deep I gave you the moon and the stars to keep but you gave them back to me

The hill I'm walkin up is gettin good and steep but I'm still looking for a promise even I can't keep

I still lay on my side of the bed I dance alone when the last bottle's spent memories like a river runnin through my head I'll have me an ocean before I'm dead

The hill I'm walkin up is gettin good and steep but I'm still looking for a promise even I can't keep

I still whisper sweet words to you and when I'm busy, or have nothing to do I pray to god, that my words ring true and that your words might reach me too

The hill I'm walkin up is gettin good and steep but I'm still looking for a promise even I can't keep I can't keep it...

My hearts in pieces so please understand I've tried to jump, but I've nowhere to land so give me your heart and I'll give you my hand and I'll try as goddamn hard as I can

The hill I'm walkin up is gettin good and steep but I'm still looking for a promise even I can't keep

She is desperate for an impossible promise and her grief is filling up oceans, recklessly hoping there is someone better than she. I get woven in to her grief like I'm knit right into the melody's sweater. I croon it out my car windows and sing it to the silent roof.

Why can't I find someone who keeps a promise these days? Why can't I keep a promise?

And with my heart freshly beaten, my soul cast down at our dreadfulness, I hear sweet words proclaimed from the pen of Paul.

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. (2 Corinthians 1:19-22 ESV)

For the promises of God find their Yes in him (Christ).

Through Christ I can utter my beaten, battered, folded-in AMEN to God for his glorious promises kept to a suffering and obstinate people. Not one of us can sing Carlile's song and not know her hurt. But, oh! that we might claim the AMEN in Christ - who was the fulfillment of God's promises and evidence of God's faithfulness.

God establishes us in Christ, anoints us, puts his seal on us, and gives us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

The hills we walk up will get good and steep and full of suffering. But, even as we sing of our despair in broken promises, let us glory in the God whose promises are all Yes! in Christ. Every promise, always yes. Every promise, always kept.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

Until the Dawn Appears

Well the man of sorrows walked the shores of Galilee And his eyes were cast with joy towards the crystal sea Well the shadows will be gone and all these bitter tears And my heart will hang on that until the dawn appears

Matthew Perryman Jones is one of those folk singers. He croons with a heart outside "mainstream" and his new album makes me emotional. Every time I hear, "Until the Dawn Appears," my heart hangs on the last verse because without it the song would be only sad. Jones has a way of singing sorrow. It kind of seeps out slowly and settles in deep. The last verse (above) transfers all the sorrows of this world onto the shoulders of one man. One man who will bring the dawn that banishes the shadows.

One man who will never let me go.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/40319898 w=500&h=281]

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

I asked the Lord

Oh, friends. What happens when you reach the end of your rope? What's after the end - another rope?

Today, I'm asking the Lord. Actually, I just kind of sat for a few minutes and let space pass between me and the Lord. I let this song do all the asking, because it seems to write the kind of lyric my heart is singing. Hymns pack a pretty hearty punch when it comes to expressing what feels hidden too deep for language. John Newton first penned these words in 1879, so their strength does not surprise me. What does surprise me is how accurate his description is (after 133 years) of the woeful condition of my heart. Even as I seek the Lord in earnest prayer, I often ask for what most benefits me - what most quickly satisfies or appeases or quiets or calms. I am earnest, but I am disappointed when what He gives is abundant in every opposite way.

I hoped that in some favored hour At once He’d answer my request And by His love’s constraining power Subdue my sins and give me rest

Instead of this He made me feel The hidden evils of my heart And let the angry powers of Hell Assault my soul in every part

My conversation in quiet moments with the Lord that started with an honest desire to grow in grace and faith ends with frustrated confusion. God must not have understood - I wanted to grow in grace and faith. 

And here I feel, again, the guilt and weight of my sin - the hidden evils of my heart that lead even my prayer life away from the Lord. O, how gracious to set me free from self and pride - again and again so that I might seek my all in Him.

Lord why is this, I trembling cried Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death? “Tis in this way” The Lord replied “I answer prayer for grace and faith”

“These inward trials I employ From self and pride to set thee free And break thy schemes of earthly joy That thou mayest seek thy all in me, That thou mayest seek thy all in me.”

[bandcamp track=1751705126 bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

Jesus, I Come

A weepy weariness hides inside my chest while my heart sings parallel a convincing and clear song. It is not a sadness that weeps, but a longing. Jesus, I come.

[bandcamp track=1465849288 bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=1f5f93 size=venti]

I'm walking out of everything that lacks in this day and into all the abundance Christ provides. This morning feels like a desperate sprint out of distress and to jubilant song. Jesus, I come to Thee.

This week I'm speaking at a camp full of 10, 11, and 12-year-olds and my heart is almost sick with desire that they know the surpassing joy of Jesus - to reverence His power, imitate His love, and join with Him in suffering. Oh, how I love my Jesus. There is absolutely nothing sweeter. Last night, I left the counselors with the students to make meaning of my talk on suffering while I prayed with my mentor in a quiet room.

My talk last night was supposed to be on love. Because God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline (2 Tim. 1:7). As I was preparing and praying and enjoying the presence of the Lord (don't let anyone ever kid you - preparing to speak is the gift of more time with Jesus), I thought about Paul writing the letter to Timothy from prison. I remembered that when God first invited Paul to be his child, he invited Paul to suffering (Acts 9). I remembered the orders Jesus received from the Father - to suffer because God so loved. And when Christ set his face toward Jerusalem and toward the ultimate suffering of the cross, it was for the joy set before Him.

I know I fumbled and mumbled with my wild gestures and crazy illustrations, but my whole heart hopes that this morning the campers have a notion that love and suffering cannot be separated... and that somehow God has woven a mystery of joy into the pair. As we become more like Christ, we can expect to suffer... and delight that we might know our great Redeemer more intimately.

And so today, I set my gaze opposite all other things because it is to Jesus I come. He is my supreme hope, delight, strength, and overwhelming joy.

Out of my bondage, sorrow and night, Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come; Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light, Jesus, I come to Thee; Out of my sickness, into Thy health, Out of my want and into Thy wealth, Out of my sin and into Thyself, Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of my shameful failure and loss, Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come; Into the glorious gain of Thy cross, Jesus, I come to Thee; Out of earth’s sorrows, into Thy balm, Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm, Out of distress to jubilant psalm, Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of unrest and arrogant pride, Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come; Into Thy blessed will to abide, Jesus, I come to Thee; Out of myself to dwell in Thy love, Out of despair, into raptures above, Upward for aye on wings like a dove, Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of the fear and dread of the tomb, Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come; Into the joy and light of Thy home, Jesus, I come to Thee; Out of the depths of ruin untold, Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold, Ever Thy glorious face to behold, Jesus, I come to Thee.

longing for a home

On my 15 hour trip across Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan, I finally had time to process Van Gogh's letters to his brother Theo. The lyrics to the new Matthew Perryman Jones song, "O Theo" have accompanied many of my night runs, but I hadn't realized they were so old. They date back to intimate correspondence between Van Gogh and his brother and one such letter inspired this especially earnest and confessional song. There's something magnetic about the words - something that pulls you in and makes you listen to what was painfully penned from a brother to a brother of a dreadful waywardness.

Under the silence of water, Into a sky full of birds Out from the land of our fathers, I am falling on your words, Oh...

Dark as the night of a preacher, I made a bed out of hay They paid me a handful of money, I gave it all away... All away...

And the righteous raised their stones And the devil threw his arrow That was longing for a home With nowhere to go, Oh, Theo...

In the half-life of the city, She took off all of her clothes I flew from the height of the mountains Into a valley of dry bones All alone

Then my heart was still unknown I was drunk and full of sorrows I was longing for a home With nowhere to go, Oh, Theo...

So, I set fires of starlight, To burn up against the despair I was caught in the tangles of midnight's Long, unanswered prayer: 'Are you there?'

And the light of morning grows On a field of fallen sparrows I was longing for a home With nowhere to go, Oh, Theo...

Are you pulled in to Van Gogh's plea for a home? Does something deep inside turn over when you read about his waywardness?

Van Gogh describes his desperate and failed attempts to cure himself of loneliness. He reaches out and lays all things bare, longing for a home.

In a phone conversation the other night, I heard the same longing - a beautiful soul captured by grace who longed for the security of "home" without the fear of abandonment. I heard her confession of sin and her fragile hope of new life. I heard fear drip from every excuse as she listed reasons why now is a hard time to turn from sin.

And right there we called spades "spades." We agreed about her sin and the fear that made her cling to it. We agreed that her life looked like Jesus hadn't accomplished anything on the cross - that He wasn't capable of holding her up when her world crashed.

We agreed that Jesus wanted a complete turn from sin so that she could look Him fully in the face and hear the words, "Child, you are mine."

I remember sitting on my friend's porch a cool, August night in high school. I remember trying desperately to convince my friend that I had sin to deal with. I remember my friend saying, "That's it?"

We all get desperate and blinded by sin. The only hope of redemption we have is to believe that Christ willingly stood in the place of that sin (because it is sin) and continually sits at the right hand of God interceding for us, not that we would continue in sin but that we would enjoy the freedom that comes through repentance.

And it is with this honest, repentant heart that we do find a home that is secure.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XQGU0LMJLQ]