Thursday, August 20, 2015

All is not lost...

In the midst of the storm, when the waves are coming so fast, it's often impossible to see very far. Can you be sure that this won't last forever, when the pain and loss just won't let up?

Well meaning friends try to throw you a lifeline, something to grasp, but sometimes the "you are going to make it" and the "you'll be stronger when this is over" gets lost in the waves, too. You can't believe what they are saying, much less take hold of it.

The waves begin to slow down. You have time to catch your breath before the next one hits. It gets easier to meet the next one...or you have become stronger...either way. You look around and take stock.

Yes, you have lost a lot.

But, not everything. And it's even shocking how much has survived. You see blessing and provision in it all. It becomes harder to feel sorry for yourself.

And look! The flood waters and waves have washed up some precious treasure you might have never discovered but for this very storm. You are ready to pick up the pieces, old and new, and live again.

Last week I found that my lilacs were attempting to bloom. In the middle of sweltering 100+ degree temperatures, and despite sunburned and shriveled leaves, my brave flowering shrub was doing it's very best to produce something beautiful.

Lilacs put on their very best show in the mild days of spring, filling the air with a sweet aroma. To bloom once more in the harshest of conditions shows strength of character. May I come through the storm with the strength of character to bloom like my sweet lilacs. 

Can you find the strength to pick up the pieces and bloom, too?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Season

It's been a season of loss at Ralphcrew. I've seen suffering at home and around the world but always felt very insulated against it. Not anymore.

Still, we can still count our blessings, because it's not like we've been tortured for our faith. We haven't watched a child die. We all have our stories of pain and loss...and so many of you have suffered and lost much more than we have, but loss is loss. When it happens to you it's personal, and it's painful, no matter the degree.

What do we do with our pain? This is what matters. This is what will define us.

Will we build protective walls around our hearts so no one can ever hurt us again? Will we go on the offensive, seeking to hurt and destroy those who have wronged us? Both? God forbid. We only hurt ourselves and possibly innocent bystanders!

Ideally, we will follow the example Jesus set. We forgive, over and over again. We forgive those who know not what they do. We accept the suffering without fighting back. We are not surprised when it comes, we know to expect it on this side of heaven.

When we know better, we do better. We press on.

Maybe we find that one loss has created room for something different. Maybe God shows up and brings dry bones to life! Maybe we find beauty in exchange for ashes.

I find myself longing for the day when we can look back and all of this makes perfect sense. Until then, Ralphcrew will keep on keeping on!