Better AND Worse

I had the honor of conducting another wedding ceremony on Saturday.

It was a complex and challenging weekend full of travel and ministry and family burdens and laughter and silliness and argument and loving each other when we’re not all being nice. It was a microcosm of what Alex and Anna made vows to endure and embrace together.

After all of the wedding work was done—the ceremony concluded, the license signed, the cake consumed, the cleanup complete—we did manage to go for a drive down the coast for a little bit. We had about 30 minutes to just walk on the beach.

We took a few pictures.

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Pretty, isn’t it? Continue reading Better AND Worse

On Borrowed Faith

What do you do when you are a believer who is struggling to believe?

I have people I love very dearly right now that are going through things that would cause most any of us to at least question things that we know are true.

And this morning, in the beautiful, sunny stillness of my perch on the porch, I find myself called upon to believe on their behalf.

I know they have moments, even in the midst of the turmoil they’re experiencing, when they are confident in the powerful hand of the great God they serve to uphold them and carry them through the storm—whether a storm like the sudden, intense, terrible fury of an Oklahoma F-5 tornado or the hours-long surge of an enormous hurricane like the one bearing down on the east coast even now. I know there are moments that they, in pain and heartache, know God is hearing their cries. Continue reading On Borrowed Faith

Of Celebrations and Sorrows

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.