Tag Archives: eternal life

Finding My Way Back Home

“For we know that if the tent
that is our earthly home
is destroyed…”

I’ve been in this new place for a little over six weeks now.

I knew going into this move that I don’t handle change well, and for a variety of reasons, this change seemed particularly hard and challenging and uncomfortable.

In some ways, I’ve settled into the new routine of it all much faster than I anticipated and have been able to get rid of far more [ultimately meaningless and non-essential] possessions than I thought my heart could handle.

After reading and pondering “Packing Light”, I might even consider giving up my couch when the time comes … I’ll officially cross that bridge when I get there. But the giraffe-print chair is staying. Period.

finding my way back home

But in other ways, I’m still fighting a constant battle.

I miss home. This house doesn’t feel like home yet. And as hard as it is to admit, I think there’s a big part of me that doesn’t want to make this house my home. Because it’s not exactly my home. It seems all too temporary for that, and I’m not sure I like what calling it home would represent. The duration and future at this house is just still so unknown. In all fairness, life in general is much that way as well.

But I’m willing to consider that perhaps that is exactly why I still feel so restless (of the entirely unhelpful and I-just-can’t-sit-still variety) in this new place.

That perhaps I’ve been fighting so hard against the idea of making it home that I’m winning this battle in my mind that never should have been waged in the first place.

That perhaps I have far more control over the way I feel and react towards this house than I realize.

That perhaps there’s a better reality – a truth, even – that I’m blind towards at the moment.

That perhaps I play a part in the unveiling of that truth by choosing where (and on Whom) to set my mind.

That perhaps it’s perfectly acceptable for this house that’s not mine to be a home for a season, no matter how short.

That perhaps home has far less to do with a physical house than with a state of my heart and soul.

That perhaps home has far more to do with resting in Christ where I am in this moment, wherever that happens to be.

“…we have a building from God,
a house not made with hands,
eternal in the heavens.”

I crave stability and security. I crave the comfort and familiarity of home.

But although I’m most definitely still a work in progress, I’m learning that apart from Christ, such things that I want and seek and crave just plain don’t exist.

While these things used to exist within the confines of a physical place for me, in this season of transition and a whole lot of newness, I find that the definition of home as a physical location having these characteristics is severely lacking and incomplete. This place I live isn’t my home. At least not in the sense I’ve known it before. At least not yet.

And all of those definitions of home floating around on Pinterest (you know, the ones that claim home is with the ones you love, or some variation thereof…) don’t hold up all that well for a single person with no prospective significant other.

So at its core, home must mean something else entirely.

I won’t claim to have figured out the best or most right definition for this thing we hold so dear and call home, but I suspect it has more to do with finding contentment of mind, security of heart, and comfort of soul in the person and presence of Jesus Christ than in any physical location or material thing.

And that’s not to say that the physical place we call home and those we share it with on this earth don’t matter. I think they do to some degree. A home (which looks very different person to person and culture to culture) is important. But the truth it represents is even more important. By extending the definition of home beyond my external circumstances, the transient nature of this life doesn’t dictate the settledness of my soul.

Whether I have one house or one room or nothing at all to call my own, I can find home wherever I am. Right now. Today. Because my Rock never changes and my Foundation is eternally secure.

That’s what home is really all about, isn’t it?

A constant place of haven and rest, a quiet place to dwell, a familiar place for our hearts to settle, a place where there’s freedom to just be, a place where we can be restored and renewed away from the world with all of its unending noise and demands.

So I’m finding my way back home, and as I am, I’m realizing that the place my soul is searching for can never truly be satisfied on this earth. But until I reach the completeness, the fullness, and the perfection of my eternal home, I more desperately seek Him and more tightly hold onto the promise of His presence with me always. Here. Home.

“He who has prepared us for this very thing is God,
who has given us the Spirit
as a guarantee.”
2 Corinthians 5:1&5 (ESV)

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“I Will Sing Unending Songs…”

“Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord…”
Psalm 102:18 (ESV)

unending songs

This weekend, I will spend Saturday morning and Sunday evening recording a live worship album with the worship ministries team at church.

I’m only one small part of the second row of a large choir (plus orchestra, rhythm section, praise team, tech team, children’s choir, and student choir), but I am so excited to be a part of this recording project. I do not take this opportunity and responsibility lightly … to be a part of leading others (both present and future generations, both in my city and around the world) to worship in spirit and in truth and to praise the Lord’s name!

While we’ve been diligently preparing and rehearsing for several weeks (probably more like months…) now, this past Wednesday evening was obviously a particularly long and intense rehearsal as tempos were being nailed down, harmonies were being fine-tuned, rhythms were being locked-in, cut-offs were being sharpened, and all of the moving parts were being tweaked to come into their final places.

No doubt there will be a few additional tweaks throughout the multiple day recording process this weekend (and beyond) as well.

But beyond the logistics and the technical aspects of the music, the lights, the sound, etc., it is such an honor and privilege to serve alongside this worship ministries team under the leadership of a worship pastor who values and prioritizes Biblical worship.

Even the most intense rehearsals are Christ-centered and worship-focused.

I love that!

Now I’m not really much into visions. In fact, I’m probably more on the side of the skeptic when it comes to receiving some form of a vision from the Lord, but I also believe that God can and does still work that way when His people are willing to listen and see.

So what I’m about to say, I take incredibly seriously, but know I likely won’t be able to do the moment much justice at all. But it’s too rich not to at least try!

As we were nearing the 2.5 hour mark on Wednesday evening, as I was feeling more fatigued by the minute and rather at the end of myself, during our final worship set, a medley of four songs all about the eternal song of praise in heaven, the Lord allowed me to catch a hazy and fleeting, but oh so powerful, glimpse of the reality of heaven.

Not in a clear photographic vision sort of way.
Not even in a clouds-parted-and-I-literally-saw-heaven sort of way.
Not at all.

But with the house lights down, the spotlights bright, the many exit signs glowing, in the fogginess and dimness of that moment as we were literally singing the words,

“Every eye will see the coming of the King…”

I saw it.

A hazy, fleeting, barely-for-a-moment glimpse of That Day when all eyes will be focused on the Center of this eternal reality … the light and truth that is our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

Oh. Wow.

I’m speechless just thinking about it again!

It was as if for that very brief moment, I was able to step outside of myself, aware of the powerful and heartfelt worship coming from the entire team around me, but somehow removed from it and able to catch a glimpse of what this looked like from the outside.  Somehow able to see this grand light – Jesus Christ on His throne – that we were all singing towards, that our hearts were all directed towards, that our eyes were all looking towards.

Every eye seeing. Every knee bowing. Every heart worshiping.

And y’all.

It changed my own heart in an instant.

At the end of myself, the Great I AM stepped in and re-directed my heart to the unending, awesome, holy, and wonderful Glory of His Son.

While still physically exhausted, my worship was transformed following that moment … renewed, energized, passionate, and true.

Eternity is a reality. Heaven is real.

And THE eternal song of heaven begins now…

“Holy, Holy are You Lord, God, Almighty!”

“Worthy is the Lamb!”

“Jesus is the Lord!”

“Blessing and honor and glory and power, forever!”

“I will sing unending songs…”

Tragedy & the Hope of the Gospel

This is a conversation that I would much rather have with each one of you over coffee. While listening to your story and sharing some of mine. And interjecting a healthy dose of encouragement throughout what would no doubt be a rich discussion. But although it doesn’t seem complete enough in this limited format, although there’s so much more I could say, the message is far too important to not share at all. And maybe for today, simple is best.

tragedy & the hope of the gospel

Tragedy is hard. The fallenness and sinfulness of humanity is painful.

In the wake of recent events such as the shooting in Newtown, CT, the unrest in North Korea, the bombing at the Boston Marathon, and the earthquake in Pakistan (just to name a few…), it becomes obvious that we are not guaranteed tomorrow.

But on days like today, I want to say in no uncertain terms that in Jesus Christ there is a foundation that is solid and a hope that is secure.

He is an immovable, unshakable anchor. He is the only guarantee in this uncertain world full of hurt and pain and heartache.

He alone fills the emptiness for more and satisfies the longing for different.

His victory is secure.

He’s hope. He’s peace. He’s salvation.

Eternally.

Do you know Him?

Do you trust Him?

Do you follow Him?

If you do, then would you acknowledge His presence and lean into Him even closer today? Would you pour out your heart before Him and unashamedly trust in His faithfulness, in His goodness, in His sovereignty? And would you pray for those affected by the horrors and tragedies of this world?

But if you don’t, would you pause for a moment and consider that you’re not guaranteed tomorrow? Would you consider that there is a greater purpose and a greater peace for this life? Would consider your urgent need for Jesus Christ and that through His sacrifice there is forgiveness for sins and the promise of a perfect eternity with Him? Would you consider that He’s extending an invitation for you to draw near to Him and all you have to do is call on His name?

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
– Jesus Christ (John 16:33, ESV)

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If I can answer any questions, suggest resources, or simply listen to your story, it would my privilege to do so. You can contact me via email at theinnerharbor(at)gmail.com.

His Presence, His Arms, His Love

Some things really rock your world. Losing my little brother as a teenager was one of those things.

I always knew he had a heart problem. And I knew open heart surgery was a big deal. But I was young and never fully understood (or cared enough to recognize) the seriousness of his condition, so his death seemingly came out of nowhere.

Life as I knew it was interrupted and in many ways ceased to exist altogether. Normal was no longer a word with any meaning. Family was a term that needed redefining.

Everything needed redefining.

But eventually, I settled into a new rhythm. It took a long time to label it anything closely resembling normal, but the acuteness of the initial grief faded. Things that became different overnight eventually became less different. The deep ache that made it hard to move let up every once in a while, and then more often. And then quietly intertwining and invading without any fanfare, a new normal began to seep into the everyday.

It’s now been years since I’ve lived under the weight of just-get-through-one-moment-at-a-time fresh grief.

But some days…

His presence, His arms, His love

I didn’t expect simple things of no consequence to trigger such deep emotions. Grief can be so unexpected and beyond all rational explanation.

Ten years later, it can still break in with a vengeance and then fade just as soon as it swells.

Often completely unprepared for it, all I know to do is ride the wave of overwhelming emotions so deeply felt that I’m sometimes left knocked down and gasping for air. So I ride. I let it happen. I sit with the grief and allow myself to just be in that moment. To let the wave hit and break and crash and drift away. To experience the torrents of emotions as they come and then ease.

Yet even though it’s uncomfortable, even though it’s painful, there are few moments such as these where I sense a more immediate need and know a more intense desire to just sit with my Heavenly Father … in His presence, in His arms, in His love … allowing Him to speak truth over me and listening with a ready ear as my mind goes back there. To that night, to that hospital, to that hallway, to that room.

But at the end of the hallway, there’s the embrace I’ll never forget. The arms of strength that still give me permission to fearlessly collapse and release. The words that still echo in my heart. Not of empty promises or meaningless platitudes, but quiet whispers of love and grace and a sure promise of His presence.

Arms that weren’t letting go. Love that wasn’t going anywhere.

And in the arms of this Abba Father who so intricately orchestrates every detail of this life for His glory, who loves this child unconditionally, who sees the worthiness and righteousness of His perfect and blameless Son when He looks at this face, there is peace. there is calm. there is freedom.

Because even in the midst of the tears and ever confusing grief that ebbs and flows, His presence is strong, His arms are solid, His love is fierce, His embrace is secure.

Because in these moments He’s as close to tangible as I sometimes suspect He’ll ever be in this life.

Because I know this ever present Holy One knows, sees, and understands the deepest parts of my grief.

As I sit with Him, as He draws me near, as He holds me close, He grieves with me. We cry together. He is faithful to His promise. He is the God of all comfort and He is close to the brokenhearted.

And though it doesn’t make it easy, though the grief still runs deep and the loss will not simply be written off, there is hope in the midst. This world is not the end, this life is not all there is, and this earth is not my home. Because in the arms of this Father, through the sacrifice of His Son, there is the assurance of eternity in His presence without the earthly pain and grief. An eternal reality that far surpasses this momentary one.

I still find rest in His sovereignty and His goodness.

Grief doesn’t change that.

Yes, grief is hard and makes my humanity painfully obvious. But the Father’s promise to be close, to bear the load with me and for me is unchanging.

And in the sitting with Him through it, as He draws me near and holds me close, in the wake and the aftermath of the moments of poignant grief, the release and collapse into His presence, His arms, His love is strangely sweet.

“…and God himself will be with them as their God. 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 21:3-4 (ESV)

For When the Words Don’t Come

I sit and stare at a blank screen, distraction free, all white space except for the two light gray words in the bottom right hand corner encouraging me to “just write.”

I have thoughts and ideas suitable for full-length and substantial posts.

But the words just don’t come.

Moving from thoughts and ideas to coherent and well-written sentences seems impossible, burdensome, heavy.

I love the process of writing. The release that it brings. I enjoy the experience of blogging.

But I feel weighed down by the practical issues and responsibilities of life this side of the computer screen. Somehow unable to reawaken the creative energy necessary to keep going, to press on, to continue when the blank screen stares back.

I have even uttered five of the saddest words to my soul, “I want to quit blogging.”

But I don’t really want to quit. I simply feel uninspired, unmotivated and exhausted. I’m in a lull of sorts.

And while picking up and heading to the beach – allowing the expanse of the ocean, the peacefulness of the shore to restore my perspective – sounds close to the perfect solution, that is simply not a possibility at the moment.

One of my dearest friends suggests that I should read. Anything. Finally taking her up on that advice, I read something relatively easy and mindless. And it feels good. Refreshing even.

Yet I still find myself coming up short in the words department.

My mom suggests that I should focus my thoughts on gratitude. So I begin a list of the small, trivial, forgotten and everyday things for which I’m grateful. I quickly list 25 items in a matter of moments.

Knowing I have been blessed far beyond what I deserve and saddened by the reality that I fail to acknowledge it far too often, I purposefully and intentionally seek opportunities to get out of myself. To serve others. Even when all I want to do is retreat. To fold in rather than reach out.

I take action and make commitments. Some of them relatively easy, others seemingly big and life-changing.

And I give myself a break from the guilt that so often wears me down. Of not doing enough. Of doing too much. Of lacking proper balance.

My thoughts turn to Scripture, so I read John 6:22-71.

“Jesus answered them…’Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal…For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to this world…I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst…It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.'”

– John 6:26, 27, 33, 35, 63 (ESV – emphasis added)

And I am reminded that Jesus is the bread of life.

When my words just. don’t. come.

His words are life.