Even When You’re Eyeballs-Deep

Take a moment to look at this picture.

It’s full of glorious color.

It’s a testimony to the beauty of creation that renews over and over and over again.

It’s a testimony to the evergreen and its reflection of the faithfulness of our great God.

What you don’t see, however, is that is was taken standing next to a garbage dumpster.
Now, I didn’t climb into the dumpster to take the picture, but I could have.

I know a number of people right now that have kind of latched onto a phrase I used several weeks ago as I spoke of being overwhelmed with the mess of life. I described the feeling of being “eyeballs-deep in the mess” and it struck a chord with some folks. If you’ve ever been through a season when you couldn’t seem to see out over the mess, you know what I’m talking about.

Part of my function as a pastor is to help us see things more completely, to see the hand of God at work even when we don’t feel it or when we’re overwhelmed. I get to sit in the mess with people and try to draw attention to the beauty around us that is so easily overlooked.

We sang a song yesterday that expressed it beautifully with this simple lyric, “There’s beauty in my brokenness.” (Give it a listen here.)

You see, the life of faith—for all who have believed in Jesus—is filled with beauty. When things are difficult and painful and scary, there is still an abundance of wonder in the greatness of our God and the things that He has made.

John’s gospel account teaches us that everything that was made came through Jesus (John 1.1-3). But when Jesus came to earth, God was coming to us, stepping down into the mess of this life to show us the most wondrous thing of all—Himself.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1.14)

My friends, there is much beauty around you. Despite how clouded our vision may become with the weight of the mess of life, the beauty is still there. Regardless of how broken and battered our hearts may be, the beauty of this God who stepped into the mess of this broken world is still all around us.

I know that the mess is overwhelming sometimes. I know that it’s often hard to stand up under the weight of it all. I know that the pain is so much sometimes that you cannot see around it. But the beauty is there… even when you’re eyeballs-deep.

Look up. Look beyond the mess. See the glory of our great God on display all around you.

Father, help us today to see Your glory on display—even when we’re eyeballs-deep in the mess.

The Rainy Days

It’s raining this morning.

It’s beautiful. It’s soothing.

But it’s isolating and lonely. It’s inconvenient and restricting and… messy.

We all know that rain is necessary and healing for the land. We know that we can’t live without it, that there is a fundamental need that it fulfills.

At least we know that is true for the literal rain. But then there are the rainy days of a deeper, heavier sense. The rainy days of life when loved ones are dangerously ill, when bad news beats on our minds like hurricane gusts, when the instinct to hide or escape or self-medicate presents options we would never consider in brighter days.

Those days stir questions without simple answers and longings that just never seem to be fully met. Continue reading The Rainy Days

Hope For the Future (Reprise)

Today we come to the end of what has been a very encouraging and inspiring journey through the book of 1 Thessalonians. I hope it has been a blessing to you.

The underscore of this letter is, quite simply, hope. I have called this series, “A Real Life Faith,” because I believe that faith is about embracing hope. When we are reminded of our great and glorious hope in Jesus’ promised return, our faith surges, our endurance strengthens, and our determination to see through the temporary trials and rest in the promised deliverance is built up.

You see, Paul makes very clear that, at the end of our days upon this earth as it now stands, God will finish the transforming work he began when first we believed. In chapter 5, he repeats a phrase used earlier in the letter:

“…And may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess 5.23.b).

What a glorious thought, isn’t it?

When that day comes that Jesus returns and calls us up and out of this sin-cursed world, the transforming of out lives that started when we put our trust in him will be fully and finally completed. And, as Paul taught us in chapter 4, “and so we will always be with the Lord.” I don’t think we can quite grasp the significance of that statement. We will be with him… never separated again, never to ache for his presence because we are in it.

My brothers and sisters, in this is hope.

Whatever life throws at us, it is only temporary. The eternal is sure. This is a real life faith.

And a real life faith is hope for the future.

Father, thank you for your promises that provide a hope beyond our ability to fully grasp. May that hope stir and strengthen and motivate our faith until that day comes.