Holy Saturday

Originally posted in 2016, this post below has been updated and edited.


I have a small sign on my desk from a friend that reads “Hope always.” It was given to me in a time where I couldn’t muster much hope. I was practically an empty shell and questioning much about what I had known for some time. It sits not only as a reminder but a marker of a time when I may not have been able to find hope, but someone else was giving me some of theirs in the waiting.

Today, Saturday, I think on this hope in the waiting. I sit in the knowledge of what has happened and what is yet to come.

I think of those who couldn’t muster hope after standing, watching the One Whom they called Christ die. The One Whom they believed to be just as He said He was, the coming Messiah. He was their hope, and hope was dead.

I thumb through the words of Matthew, of Mark, in Luke and John looking for hope. I find waiting. I find Joseph active in the wait, I see the women resting in the wait. I just see a whole lot of waiting.

When it seems like our rescue is dead and buried, when that promise will not be fulfilled we can lose our hope. We watch it slip away, confident expectation no longer pulling us. But in that waiting I believe we see hope. We see hope isn’t always this shining, beautiful thing but a mess. It’s hard. It’s difficult, and maybe even borrowed when we can’t seem to muster the hope we once knew and called our own.

Hope in the waiting can look like doing the thing we know we should or resting in a promise given by Him. The wait of Saturday can be a weighty thing in our lives. It can bear out grief, mourning, doubt and fear. Hope collides with each and every one of those to bring us through and unburden us from the weight of it all. Waiting through Saturdays of our lives guide us to the beauty of the coming morning. We no longer want the pain of Friday, a necessary grief. Yet our hearts aren’t quite prepared for Sunday.

So we wait. We wait in Saturday.

Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.

If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in His word I do hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than those who watch for the morning—
Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is mercy,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel
From all his iniquities. 

Psalm 130 (NKJV)

So What? 

You ever worry that maybe God got your plans and someone else’s mixed up? 

Maybe that He got busy with a lot of lives and plans that somehow yours was shuffled into existence in some other person’s life rather than your own? 

I struggled with that for a while, and there are days I think just maybe He flipped my life plan with another’s. Yet I was reminded that my concern is not with someone else’s life (and neither is yours with mine) but it is to be concerned with following Him. Even in that I shouldn’t be worrying over the next thing, the career plan or family plan but should be following Him with full attention. 

His will for me is sure, steadfast and promising. It flows out of Him and embodies every bit of Who He is, and not an ounce of what I think it should be. Yes, He encompasses the personality and gifts that He has given…but ultimately His will for my life is nothing short of obedience to Him. That’s it. It’s not worrying that someone else got that promotion even though they don’t attend church as much as you…or that they seem to be succeeding when you feel like it’s all turning up failures and hiccups. 

I look at Peter, our zealous brother of the Bible. I’m a lot like him some days, and even more so there at the end of John. When I feel like someone else is getting what was meant for me or is favored more than I, I point to them and say, “Hey but what about them??” This is after He’s told me what His will is for me, that He shepherds me and has guided me this entire time I say, but that’s not good enough for me. 

Christ’s response to Peter in at the end of John is the same for you and for me today, when we feel as though our concerns for His plan for others is overtaking us…”What is that to you? You follow me.” 

Oof. 

What if He blesses them and not me? What if they get the thing I desired in my flesh? So what if He does allow that for them? That’s exactly what He’s saying to Peter and to me. So what? I’m to follow Him, period, end of questioning, end of discussion. 

Christ has a mic drop moment with Peter, and if I’m honest, with me. When I heard those words shared by the Vice President of the company I work for, I couldn’t help but feel nudged by God too. Maybe you needed to hear them too today. That so what about them? Just follow Him. Concern yourself with following Him in what He has you in currently, where you’ve found yourself, and not so much about others and where He has them. 

Today may you say So What?  when the pokes of comparison, covetousness or jealousy attempt to sneak in. When concerns try to force their way into your life that are none of your concern, follow Him instead. Make Him the focus rather than the complaint. 

That Year in Birmingham

In a couple of weeks I’ll be headed to Birmingham for an event. At one time, just after college, I called Birmingham home for a year. I have been back once, for a little over 24 hours, in those 13 years since I packed up a that Uhaul trailer with my dad and grandfather and booked it back to Tennessee.

In planning my trip back down, I couldn’t help but recall the first time I went to B’ham as a freshly-educated college grad knowing I had a job in baseball. One week in I was crumpled on the floor of my kitchen telling my sister it was a mistake to be there. That I had somehow made a terrible decision, living five hours from anyone I knew, and I wasn’t possibly going to be able to make it in this city that didn’t offer me much.

Part of me cringes at that memory because of the emotion of it all, remembering how bleak my outlook was and how incredibly alone I felt in that city. The other part of me rejoices though, because I am 13 years wiser from it. God drew me there, whether I wanted to recognize it or not, for a purpose and a reason. He led me there, to get me right here. He did some significant work in me over that year that I can only see in hindsight, and allowed me to work out who I was in some difficult moments.

Throughout my time in B’ham I made some poor decisions, I will own that entirely. My way, my will and my attitude won out on several occasions but I am also able to see how I needed to work out that in an environment where it was me dealing with Him without distraction or other voices bringing solace. Being there allowed me to see where He was not leading me and I was taking my own path and my own way. It brought me back to Him in a way which if I had remained in Knoxville I would not have seen nor chosen.

In so much hurt and grief we cannot possibly see how it’s for our good while we are in it. We cannot see how being alone in place, a place we don’t like and the circumstances aren’t how we would craft them could bring anything remotely resembling His good for us out of it all.

But it does.

It did for me. I am pretty sure it will for you too, if we let go of our expectation of the situation, our will and our way and accept the work God is doing without knowing what it is. The end result isn’t the point, it is what you are going through that’s refining you and making you who God intends you to be in His image, as His reflection and not your own.

The whole process, in the circumstance, in the location, in the job, in the relationship…all of that is the point. Sometimes it takes a whole lot of distance of years or miles to see it. To see how one of the worst and hardest times of your life was also one of the best parts of your relationship in Christ, with God through the Holy Spirit.

But we have to allow it. We have to accept it. We have to be willing to go through it, even in the ugly, even in the lonely, even in the longevity of it all. It’s never about us. It’s about the work He’s doing, we just have to receive it.

wading in joy

So if you follow me over on IG then you saw my photo late yesterday afternoon. The last two days have been a bit rough around these parts, with presentations crashing to a busted water heater to server switches and grocery bags falling apart in the parking lot.

Yes, all the things in under a 24 hours happened. To me.

Currently I am watching $1200 worth of pipes and a brand spankin’ new water heater get installed into my home. (insert nervous laughter and increased stress) There have been some tense moments, tears of frustration and worried speech. As the grocery bag broke yesterday I just started laughing.

You see, God and I have been having some amazing times together over the last month. Just good stuff, centered on Him and not me, and a whole lot of getting to know Him more and how He is pushing stuff through my life. I have seen blessing after blessing flow out from Him in the form of friends, work, and even writing.

So the reason I am laughing still, staring at this bill, is because my heart started to worry. It started to question and become frantic over this situation, and then I remembered.  I remembered how He’s provided before, over and over. He has blessed and given in such huge ways, and such small ways, that I can only laugh. Because I feel like the devil saw an “in” with me in these situations, reminding me of the old me who would freak out and get wound up so tightly that I was lashing out on others. It wasn’t that long ago, in fact this time last year, where I would be a bundle of nerves and frustration.

Is the situation ideal? Absolutely not.

But what it is a reminder, a physical manifestation, that I get to lean into Him and be dependent upon Him in everything. That in all circumstances, I get to count it all joy.

My brothers and sisters, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4

That verse right there used to rub me the wrong way constantly, until I took time to really look at it in the midst of a circumstance, that I get to choose joy in it. I get to count it that way instead of in the frustration column. Out of it comes patience, perfected work in me in fact, if I but choose to be joyous in it, choose to be in Him and not in my self.

Now I may not be joyous at the bill for this new water heater, I am joyful that I get to see this as an opportunity to enjoy the moment, to be with Him in the midst and see this as a perfecting work of patience in my life.

Because my joy, my peace, every bit of it? It’s found in Him and not in me. That’s a choice worth making today, and every day.

A Listening Heart

As I sat across the table from my friend, I stilled my mind to intently hear what was said. Not for a lesson for him, nor what I could learn in what he was sharing. No, I was there to simply listen.

Hours before I had prayed over this meeting, the conversation and what would be talked about because I know my friend needed to talk. He needed to share and be heard, something I don’t think he feels is happening with his life presently-either with colleagues, friends, family or even God.

My nature as someone who empathizes with others is to often listen to fix. To figure it out and discern what God is trying to teach-maybe to them but often to myself. I want to hear them but only as I prepare to mindfully respond to what they are saying.

God had other plans as He calls us to walk this life in community. To not just listen with our ears but with His heart, to the cries of His children. To the moans of the earth, and respond appropriately.

A listening heart means that sometimes you don’t respond verbally, but in repeated prayers. A listening heart means you don’t sit and think on how to respond immediately but actually hear the heart of the other person opening up. This was a vulnerable conversation I had with my friend, one in which I shared with him in return something I do not talk about very often (actually rarely). It was an opportunity for God to use me to hear but also for my friend to speak.

A listening heart allows vulnerability to take place and be present, it provides an avenue in which friendship is grown without pretense or expectation. A listening heart bears the burden without judgement. And a listening heart allows time and thoughtful consideration to the person speaking.

I hadn’t fully prepared my head and heart for the conversation that transpired and the heavy weight my friend is carrying presently. However I know God needed me present and listening for my friend more than He needed me to suggest solutions or fixes. He needed me to share a prayer with my weary-hearted friend hours later rather than in that moment. God needed me present and listening with my heart, just as my friend did.

It is a joy to be used and available in such a way…as I am ever so thankful to have rediscovered a listening heart within that Christ fills with His love and compassion.

Activate Plan B

By nature, I am a planner. It comes in handy for my job obviously. It comes in valuable when I am in a dating relationship or when friends are wanting to do something. I make it a point to know three things to do on a given week and what needs to happen in order for plans to be made.

Recently I was dating a guy who was very similar in the planning mode. He would know what was going on across the city at any given point. However he wouldn’t want to secure anything until the day of. It was a bit nerve-wracking as I want to have the next day planned out.

(Yes I am a Type A, ESTJ, Activator to the max)

It’s funny though because what I see as such a strength is in fact a huge weakness. Planning ahead doesn’t allow room for trusting others. It gives me the control and the responsibility. It plants me safely in the driver’s seat, where I have come to truly like it. Not knowing what’s around the corner, well, that is a big anxiety point…or it has been.

Lately though I have been asked by others and especially by God to trust in the plans ahead. To put my need for control or planning on the table, and not pick it back up. While my inner self warred with that, I found it freeing. All that worry about  what could go wrong? It simply was unfounded.

Yes, things do go wrong in life, but when I relinquish the need to plan ahead for it, it allows me to enjoy life just a bit more. To look around at what God orchestrates and know He is the master planner. He knows far more about what’s ahead than I could ever plan for, and now I am slowly but surely beginning to be okay with that. I am even beginning to enjoy it. It leaves room for fun, for whimsy and for goodness.

Most of all it leaves room for a future written by the One Whom Knows All. It pours in hope that only could come from Him. Because God is not the Author of Confusion, and He most certainly doesn’t need a Plan B.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

Rush Rush

Yesterday I got the opportunity to chat with some colleagues I rarely spend time with at work. It was refreshing honestly to chat about their areas of responsibility and catch up on life as I typically see them in passing-hurried steps to keep up with the pace of our jobs. The conversation came around to relationships as they oft are to do when females are together. (We don’t talk about it all the time guys, but frequent enough for the stereotype to hold true) One of them commented that they missed dating life, as she is married now. The other responded she was much happier now being married over dating any day.

The conversation flowed back and forth on the joys of being in a dating relationship versus a married one. It was interesting to hear from these women about the differences and lens with which they viewed dating and marriage at this stage in life, as both have been married for a couple of years now. It renewed a sense of joy in me for the dating life I have now.

courtesy of oprah.com
courtesy of oprah.com

Too often we try to rush one stage to get to the next. We want to fly through college to get the job, push through the first job to get to the corner office. Rush through dating to get to the wedding, then hurrying past life to have children. We choose the pace that the world tells us to have, instead of breathing in the sweet timing that The Lord has for us. I fear life is being lived out at some rapid spin that I will not understand I have a say in stopping. No, I cannot stop time from moving, I know that.

You know I can do though? I can create space for the things I say matter in my life…relationship with God, The Dude, my family, my friends, my students, my work, my writing. Ultimately I get the choice in how I spend my time, what I dedicate the preciousness of my time to daily, weekly. What if I started establishing my heart instead of my calendar each morning? Would my day reflect my heart? This is my pursuit, my prayer for my upcoming days and weeks, for my life.

“You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of The Lord is at hand.”-James 5:8