Choosing Substance: Thirst (Day 6)

thirsty

   Like a devoted gardener, I will pour sweet water on parched land,
        streams on hard-packed ground;
    I will pour My spirit on your children and grandchildren—
        and let My blessing flow to your descendants.
    And they will sprout among the grasses, grow vibrant and tall…
    One will call out: “I belong to the Eternal.”
    …Yet others will write “Property of the Eternal” on their hands. Isaiah 44:3-5 

That ancient land is mine, for I live in a culture that thirsts, too. Educated, but not satiated. Full of knowledge, but desperately thirsty.There’s no shame in thirst.

Our world, the endless library, crowds our thoughts with volumes and e-books, webinars and experts. We run to it all, for we we want to know. “Tell me all this matters. Promise me there’s purpose to it all. Teach me how to stay untouched by the very pain that drives me to seek.”Have you been there? Are you there this advent season?

A person of substance is unashamedly thirsty.

The quest to comprehend is endless. The more we find, the more we don’t know. The more we discover, the more we see our ignorance.

Cynicism sneaks in and whispers doubt. And out of fear, or maybe just exhaustion, we choose the desert. The parched, the impenetrable, is often more bearable than the fertile truth. Even the searching and the longing and the humbling thirst — it’s sometimes all easier than His flood of grace.

But wholeness is born out of my moments of dying, out of my surrender. And His truth blooms on a weary, withered soul, and I live despite the storm of deception throughout my land, my culture. Throughout my own thoughts.

A person of substance is thirsty. She uncovers her ache, looks her longing in the eye, and runs to the Source that can quench her forever.

I swim in His endless, raging ocean of grace and thrust my hand upward. As He carved me on the palm of His hand, I too, etched Him on mine. “Property of the Eternal” is my forever mark. Forever.

And Isaiah, that prophet who promised sweet water on a parched land and the unleashing of His Spirit on my children and the assurance of being known — that same Isaiah seemed to touch the depth of everyone’s doubt. The naturalist, the philosopher, the realist, the dreamer — he spoke to us all:

“Hope of all hopes, dream of our dreams, a child is born, sweet-breathed; a son is given to us: a living gift. And even now, with tiny features and dewy hair, He is great. The power of leadership, and the weight of authority, will rest on His shoulders. His name? His name we’ll know in many ways— He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Dear Father everlasting, ever-present never-failing, Master of Wholeness, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Are you wandering in the desert of your heart this Christmas? The very Source of the stream will pursue, washing you away in His mercy time and time again.

On the sixth day of Christmas my True Love gave to me the humility to admit my thirst and the courage to quench it.

…He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found…


Choosing Substance

  • Read Isaiah 44:1-8
  • In verse 6 God proclaims, “There is no God except for Me.” To what gods of culture have you been running to quench your thirst?
  • Read verse 8 again. What promises has God made that you’ve seen revealed? How has He been your Wonderful Counselor, your Giver of Wisdom, this past year? When was He the “ever-present never failing” in 2015? What has the Master of Wholeness redeemed in your life?
  • Deepen your definition of what it means to choose substance. What is He revealing to you?

photo source | David Marcu

Hope

10888478_10203590246578826_910944565872039823_n Be strong, I thought as I silently scolded my quivering voice. Deep breath. Don’t you dare let those eyes water.

“I’m sorry this is your story,” I said to my 13 year-old.

“I’m sorry this is your story, too,” he replied.

My goodness, how does he do this? How does he balance between childhood one minute and manhood the next? I was trying to comfort him, and he let his tenderness spill out, flowing right toward me like a stream I wasn’t expecting.

We were talking about nothing life-threatening. Nothing that would look tragic to someone on the outside. To us, though, the ache we whispered about, the pain that was reaching both our hearts, was real. It was a simple conversation in the car that suddenly turned intimate.


And here we all are — well into the second half of 2015. I had intentions of taking a seat at the table again as we approached mid-year. July 1. It would be a Happy New Year and a Half post, full of reflection and challenge and grace as we pondered where we all were on December 31, 2014… and what we were hoping for on January 1.

But sometimes you literally can’t find words. Sometimes you must wait for your mind and heart to intersect again, in what you know and believe to be true, before you bring words into the equation. And as hard as it is to give yourself grace in the silence, sometimes it’s your season to be quiet. When you can’t find clarity within, it’s certainly hard to join the conversation again — especially that cyber one.

I remember back to last New Year’s Eve. I was weary, carrying burdens that really weren’t mine to carry. I was in the company of dear friends and slipped away for a moment, succumbing to social media numbing myself with social media. And somehow, I stumbled upon this photo of a street called “Hope” victoriously giving direction through the brokenness.

This will be my story in 2015, I determined. I am choosing Hope. A picture says a thousand words, and this would be my voice. So I boldly posted and shared this photo of Hope personified. Thank goodness we can’t see the future, for if we did, we’d be constant cynics.


“They’re really struggling,” I said to my husband recently.

“Who isn’t?!” he replied. It wasn’t said in disgust, but almost in a comforting tone.

I read between the lines. He was speaking truth again. We’re not lone victims, Christan. Our chapters read differently, but we’re all surrounded with the reality that we were made for a different Place.

We’re all kind of aching for something that doesn’t exist here, yes?


Another school year’s about to start. And you know what a whirlwind fall is, as we hold on tightly and watch life quickly unfold into new stories. It’s easy for me, come August, to mentally place myself in the autumn cool and the bustling holidays and another calendar year coming to a close. We blink, and what in the world?! We’re already Christmas shopping after stocking up on pencils and glue sticks and notebooks galore.

But this year I’m choosing to mentally place myself half-way through 2015. Seven months down, five to go. Am I still clinging to Hope? Watch closely, I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as I speak, and you’re about to see it. I am preparing a way through the desert; Waters will flow where there had been none. Isaiah 43:19

I’m still so thirsty, and I’m really needing those streams in my desert. I look at my friends, my dear community near and far, and they’re choking on broken relationships and cancer and parenting aches and racial inequity and loneliness and mental illness and more. They need grace to wash it all down. My friends — those I hold dear have carried quite a bit in 2015.

And if I’m not careful, I start doubting in my mind what I know to be true in my heart… I am preparing a way through the desert; Waters will flow where there had been none. 

But in the voice of a child, or in a young teenager this time, I’m reminded that I am seen, and those I love are not forgotten, and Hope really does rise boldly out of the rubble.

“I’m sorry it’s your story, too, Mom.” You see, I was resenting the fact that sometimes you just can’t protect your kids, and out of nowhere, I drank in empathy. And tenderness. And I saw facets of God’s character I had been ignoring.

Whatever it was you were hoping for on January 1, let yourself go back to that place. My intentions are not always yours, explains the Author, and I do not go about things as you do. My thoughts and My ways are above and beyond you… My word will go out and not return to Me empty, but it will do what I wanted; it will accomplish what I determined. Isaiah 55:8-11

And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts. Romans 5:5

Cheers.