It’s been a roller coaster of occasions over the last several weeks.

There have been so many things to celebrate.

I’ve had two kids finish degrees and I’ve passed another birthday. We’ve celebrated the baptisms and the growth of our faith family. There have been great blessings and sweet victories. I’ve seen relationships restored and new ministry projects succeed. I celebrated the passing of another year of life and yesterday marked twenty-six years of marriage with my favorite human.

What an array of occasions I’ve had the privilege to celebrate with people I love.

But…

I’ve sat with friends as they wrestled with the changes of parenthood and prayed with others for answers that have yet to come. I have prayed against the dreaded cancer and cried with the unwilling divorcée and struggled to make sense of the mind losing its grip.

I left a great ministry activity to drive a couple of hours to be with family in the turmoil, fear, and agony of a precious child that died before it had even taken a breath. I tried to speak words of comfort and hope amidst the indescribable sorrow of such a loss.

The celebrations and the sorrows seem unevenly commingled like a salad with way too much of that one vegetable you simply cannot stand to eat. The celebrations, rich with joy, are yet tainted by the inescapable brokenness of life. The sorrows, with all of their gut-churning sting, are still somehow endured by clinging to the promise that this brokenness is truly temporary.

It’s not supposed to be this way… but it’s broken.

It was all created and made very good… but it’s broken.

There shouldn’t be litter in the beauty of the Grand Canyon… but it’s broken.

We shouldn’t need nursing homes and hospitals… but this world is broken.

There shouldn’t be commercial demands that squelch the creation of art and we shouldn’t have to choose the lesser of evils… but it’s broken.

Love shouldn’t be so painful and marriage shouldn’t be so hard… but it’s broken.

Laughter ought not be tainted with tears and offenses should not wreck families… but the whole thing is broken.

We shouldn’t have to bury family pets or be laid off from long-held jobs… but it’s all just broken.

Babies shouldn’t die and young men shouldn’t get cancer… but it’s all broken.

This world is not what it was made to be.

But it’s also not what it one day will be.

But, in big and small ways, in beauties amid the tragedies, in pleasures among the pains, in the joys mixed in with the burdens, in the hope stirred through the despair, in the celebrations alongside the sorrows… there is an innate sense among us that there must be something more.

The beauty is so rich that we know there must be more.

But the brokenness is so profound that there simply has to be so much more.

He told us there is something far greater yet to come:

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21.4)

A number of years ago a young songwriter expressed this idea beautifully in his song, “Beautiful, Broken World.” I encourage you to give it a listen and that you join me in looking for the beauty amid the mess, the joy amid the pain, the celebrations amid the sorrows.

The beach is made of sand. Anybody knows that. What difference does a single grain make?

It seems that depends on where it is. When you eat a bowl of clam chowder on the coast, when the clams are very fresh and not out of a can, you will find a grain of sand now and then in your soup.

If you spend the day frolicking by the sea, you may find a grain or a few in some uncomfortable places. And if you find a grain of sand inside an oyster after it’s been there for a good while, you may be very excited indeed.

A grain of sand by itself is, for the most part, insignificant. It is blown around by the wind and thrown every which way. It is tracked along by people or animals. It has not enough weight to stay put.

But when you gather a few billion of those grains, it can withstand the great crashing waves of the sea.

On our last morning at the Oregon coast, my wife and I wanted to steal away for a last brief walk. It was our most windy experience of the week as the scattered raindrops and loose sand were blowing in a stinging combination. It was less exfoliating and more irritating than I would have expected.

The wind off of the sea was blowing the sand (and Tori’s hair) pretty wildly. The light colored waves on the beach are actually waves of sand being blown along (lighter in color because it is dry, not damp).

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Yet Unfinished (Reprise)

April 16, 2017

This faith of ours…

It’s an ongoing work, always moving forward or falling back.

It has been a long wrangling in my spirit to come at last to the recognition that my faith is simply not yet finished.

Indeed, in this life, it is not and will not be finished. But that day will come.

As he recaps the scope of his letter, Paul declares his desire for his pupils:

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely,” (1 Thess 5.23a)

Do you see that?

He prays that God will do this work of renewal, he calls it “sanctification,” and do so “completely.”

As he challenged us in chapter 4 to give ourselves over to this sanctifying work, we know that if we are still here, if we remain in this life, his work in us is ongoing.

He will do it. We must yield to it.

We do so because we want to be with him, to be known by him, to know him.

So today, would you pause to remember with me this truth?

A real life faith is yet unfinished.

Father, remind me, convince me, and grant me the grace to embrace that my faith is yet unfinished.