Sit in the Silence.

Yesterday It was repeated with joy, “It’s Friday… but Sunday’s comin!”

Friday was heavy. It was dark and long and all hope seemed lost. When Jesus breathed his last everything seemed to shatter, and the pieces didn’t come back together nearly as quickly as we pretend they did.

We forget that Heaven held its breath in a holy pause that we don’t like or understand.

It makes us squirm when we think about it, and so we tend to simply not. But as broken and long and hard as we find Friday to be; we simply cannot skip over Saturday in anticipation for Sunday morning. We can’t because Yahweh didn’t. He surely could have designed history to proclaim, prophesize, and anticipate two days instead of three. He could have, and he didn’t.

It matters that we remember how Yahweh let the silence linger.

There is so much purpose to his design. He let the ones closest to Jesus wake up and live a whole day with no answers, no direction. He let them wonder. He let them hurt. He let them long for a different end to the story. He gave them the chance to remember.

And as if one whole day of quiet was not enough, Yahweh took it one step further and designed that day to be the Sabbath (Luke 23:56). The Sabbath was a day of required rest for the Jewish people and it started on Friday night at sundown. The most tragic day in history was followed immediately by a day of quiet rest. Jewish law prohibited the people to do anything unnecessary. It was not a day for work, for leisure, or for adventure. But rather, for reflection, peace and stillness.

And there just has to be a reason that Yahweh let this day be silent. He wastes nothing, you know. He assigns purpose and value to every single breath you breathe. He has designed even the darkest moments of your life for your good and his glory.

Isn’t this very weekend evidence of that?

Though I have it in my head that God’s provision must equal my comfort, Holy Saturday reminds me that following Jesus is anything but comfortable. It is sticky, and messy, and sometimes really, really hard. It reminds me that sometimes I want answers that the Lord isn’t ready to give. It reminds me that sometimes I have to sit in the thickness of unanswered prayer, and wait longingly for things I am unsure I will receive.

On a day of unanswered hope, would you let it be just that? Would you let the cavities of your heart feel the weight of a supposed Savior who seemed lost for good? Would take time today, even if only a moment, to press into the significance of this silent Saturday? Would you press into the prayers of your heart that feel unanswered? The desires that seem looked over?

Ultimately, may the silence of this day sharpen your sensitivity to his voice, knowing that soon Heaven will exhale and the silence will be broken with the most glorious news imaginable.






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How Much More?

“Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”

Luke 12:24-25

“How much more” is about as quantitative of a question as you can get. When we ask it, we’re asking for a measurable answer. We want to know estimated time, dollar amounts, or distance. We want to ensure that we made the right decisions, purchased the right items, and turned the right way. And for some reason we have it in our minds that comparison is the best way for that to be done.

It’s everywhere, really. We compare beauty, success, sizes of homes and types of cars. We make a decision about ourselves based upon the side-by-side evaluation of another. It’s really rather twisted, but that’s not what my heart is after today. I’m after how we reconcile the unknown things we try to grasp with a good God who promises more.

There is something thrilling about the unknown in a mystical, fairytale way. There is something enticing about far away days filled with adventure that we’ve yet to discover. There is something beautifully stunning about a heart full of desire and void of expectation that could alter your life for better. The unknown can be beautiful.

But there is something equally terrifying about not knowing where you could be in a year. Or what you’ll be doing or who you’ll be with. It’s the dark tunnel you must travel through to reach the light at the other end. Your journey through the tunnel will impact your attitude when you reach the light. And our King has promised to be the same all the way through.

I’m certain it’s because he knows how quickly we get caught up in the unknowns of our future that he told us to look around at the birds in the air and the flowers in the field. “If I take care of them, how much more do I know what’s best for you?”

The question is rhetorical. He’s not expecting nor asking for a calculated answer with hands held four feet apart saying, “This much more, Jesus. Thanks for the equation.”

The point of the question is that there is no answer. There is simply no measure to how much more He cares for you.

And the “how much more” ought to cover everything. It is provision and protection. For the tangible and intangible. It is for the things you know you need, and the things you’ve yet to discover. And in trying to communicate this eternal truth to the people, he calls them not to look at their own lives, but at those around them.

I’m the pot calling the kettle black over here because just this week I sat on my dirty kitchen floor crying because I want answers that Jesus hasn’t given me yet. I picked my sniffling self up and headed to the couch in my living room next to a coffee table holding my leather bound journal. As I reached for it, hoping word vomit would somehow help me make sense of the unwanted fountain flowing from my eyes, I looked right a vase of lovely purple flowers.

“How much more?” my heart echoed. “I love these flowers a whole lot. But how much more, Gwen? How much more do I love you? How much more will I take care of you?”

I don’t often have fresh flowers in my living room. I bought them for a dear friend’s grandmother who was in the hospital in Dallas, but made it all the way up to her room before learning she had been discharged just hours earlier. With no time that day to drive an hour outside town to their home, I concluded I would need to babysit the flowers until I could make the trek.

Some may call it silly, but I call it Jesus’ sweetness to force me to place a bouquet of flowers on my coffee table, knowing I would need them that night. Knowing that I would need to see flowers to remember the way he takes care of me.

It’s a funny emotion to feel sought after by Jesus and if I’m honest it often causes me to buck up my pride. It’s almost as if his closeness gives me the courage to lash out with doubt-soaked inquiries regarding my future. “Why? When? Where? Who?” These unanswered questions have the ability to spin my heart into an anxious heap of wondering, and I’m hoping that maybe you need a little recentering, too.

Not only does anxiety fail to add hours to your life, it takes away the hours that you do have. The more time you spend spinning webs of “what ifs”, the less time you have to trust. Maybe we need to be reminded that trust and anxiety are the antithesis of one another and they can’t occupy the same heart.

No matter where you’ll be one year from now, you are somewhere today for a reason. Dig your heels deep in the place you are and lay your wonderings about the future before the One who does know. He doesn’t withhold good things (Psalm 84:11) and works even the messy things for your good and his glory (Romans 8:28). Live fully and love deeply right here, right now. Seek his kingdom – pursue holiness. Fight sin. Invest in others. Love people when they’re messy. Let people in when the messy one is you.

I’m in the process of reoccupying a heart filled of fear with confident trust in the promise of who God is and what He has spoken over me. And what he has spoken is a simple, “how much more?”

What things are occupying your mind to the point of a breakdown? What is ruling your thoughts in a way that cripples your delight and trust in Yahweh? most importantly, Will you believe him when softly speaks, “how much more?”






 

Pigeons.

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

Matthew 6:26

I first took notice of the pigeons as I sat on a hard wooden bench, waiting at a bus stop in Fiji. The day was hot, a breeze not yet noticeable. The sun was shining lustrously and the sky was filled with cotton candy clouds. The gravel of the road was broken and dusty and I found my eyes mindlessly drift to the pigeons that had gathered there. Since that afternoon, I find myself noticing the pesky birds nearly everywhere I go. What’s worse, I’m finding how embarrassingly similar I am to them.

Think of the pigeons. They abandon the trees and sky and resort to searching under tables for leftovers. They peck at the pavement as if they might find something there that will satisfy. Although the vastness above is waiting, they are preoccupied with scraps. Thinking this is their only chance to be fed. With the full expanse of the sky as their playground, why are they here? The gravel doesn’t nourish. It never will. It couldn’t, even if it tried. But still, they gather, pecking at the crumbs dropped carelessly as people pass by without notice.

Could it be any different than this? Could there be more? Don’t they know that their Maker will feed them? Don’t they know that they were meant to fly? This life in the gravel is a shallow excuse for freedom.

I used to think that the birds must have it all together. What could they possibly worry about? They can go anywhere at anytime, answering to no one. They need not worry about where they work or what they earn. They haven’t a concern for education and never fear if their degree will be high enough to earn their dream job. Instead, they sing. They celebrate in worship as they soar from one tree to another, across open fields of lilies and sunflowers, around mountains and up waterfalls.

But it’s to the pigeons, gathered on the dusty streets, that I feel I can relate. Because maybe, just maybe, they doubt sometimes, too. Maybe they find themselves here because they question whether or not their Maker will feed them in the sky. As I watch them, I’m made painfully aware of my own lack of trust.

THEY MISS THE FREEDOM THAT THEY WERE CREATED FOR IN FEARING THAT THEY WON’T HAVE WHAT THEY NEED.

So I try with all my might to make them fly away and enjoy what is waiting for them in the expanse above. I want to shout, “Go! You’ll find what you need, I promise. Don’t waste your time down here!”

But truly, those words are more for us than for the birds.

Sweet child, He sees you. And He loves you more than the birds that fly high above. He has promised to provide all you need. You’re missing what you’re made for as you peddle on the broken road.

Stop scrounging in the gravel looking for someone else’s leftovers. Abandon the thought that you won’t have what you need unless you find it yourself. A feast awaits you when you, as you were made to do, soar.