Putting God in His box



I believe it is He that sends the snow crystals floating on the swirling winds, cascading into piles of glitter, transforming our world and lighting the nights with reflection. I can credit Him with that mystery.


Fire. Where did that come from? Just like the breath of life from His lips into our nostrils, it's lit by His miracles. I stare at fire for hours. And think about Him. I credit Him with that mystery.


The sun rises a flame every morning.


And sets in red and gold every night. And though I've searched science and I know enough physics to understand the earth spinning around the sun, I can't come up with any other beginning than a creation. A miracle. That I credit to Him.


I see the figures of the monks and the apostles and the theologians and the saints of old, marching timeless through stained glass. I wonder how many of them doubted. I wonder how many of them saw that there was mystery. If they ever stumbled and staggered under doubt.


If He has the power to create; the power to make things grow; to change the state of water; to direct the seasons; to push the sun up every morning and pull her to bed every night... Why don't I believe He has the power to change me? Why do I think this power over sin I hear about is for someone else, that I am the hopeless case, the one who can't change, the one who is beyond His promise?

I've been praying for years: Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief. (Mark 9:24) I thought I was praying about believing in things like creation and sunsets and tulips blooming and babies growing. But what if what I was really begging for was an answer to my lack of peace? The turmoil in my heart? The pain I can't speak of anywhere, to anyone? The pain I cut away on my arms at 19 and beat into my shins with boards when I was 9 and slammed my head against pavement at 16? The pain I tried to make physical so it would be less about my heart. Less about my sin. Less about my desolation.
‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.” Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the LORD have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.’ (Ezekiel 36:33-36)
That day He cleansed me from my sins? That was on the Cross. That was on the day I believed, when I was four. That day I was rebuilt, cultivated, become like the garden of Eden, fortified, inhabited. He has spoken. He did it. 

I memorized these words as a child, in a small Bible church in Silver Bay, Minnesota: "Come now, let's settle this," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool." (Isaiah 1:18) My whole life I've pictured it. Soul white. Then sin. Now crimson again. Then washed white as I confess. But the truth is, it's white. Always white. Forever paid for, forever washed clean. The shame that washes over me when I fall in sin again is designed to draw me close to my Father, to give thanks for the forgiveness that has already happened. Not drive me away. Not keep me weary and desolate and alone. It is the false shame heaped on me by a cunning and carnivorous Evil that tries to keep me in that place where all I see is blackness and scarlet, as far as my eyes can see. To see my sin again, although I am forever washed clean, as impossible to overcome.

HE HAS OVERCOME.

I am clean.

Lord, let the scales fall from my eyes so that I see this truth, live in this truth, live like the redeemed. (Acts 9)



There's a girl in the corner
With tear stains on her eyes
From the places she's wandered
And the shame she can't hide

She says, "How did I get here?
I'm not who I once was.
And I'm crippled by the fear
That I've fallen too far to love"

But don't you know who you are,
What's been done for you?

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

Well she tries to believe it
That she's been given new life
But she can't shake the feeling
That it's not true tonight

She knows all the answers
And she's rehearsed all the lines
And so she'll try to do better
But then she's too weak to try

But don't you know who you are?

'Cause this is not about what you've done,
But what's been done for you.
This is not about where you've been,
But where your brokenness brings you to

This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.

You've been remade.


Did I really write this in March of 2010? Because I don't remember it. I didn't learn it very well. I need a do-over. Ever feel that way about your blog posts and what God has shown you in the past? In times of newly fierce trials, these old truths sparkle again from the mine fields, and I stand in awe all over again at what Christ has done.




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