Ode to Psalm 5

Give ear, sharp, perked up
Oh Lady Grace my Liege
to my words.

Consider my meditation.
Draw near, hover,
snuggle down over
my fear, pain,
anxious moments and
tossy topsy turvy turnings.

Hear my inner voice,
may it call true to You,
from mourning to morning,
may my soul learn to trust Thee.

For in the morning
will I direct my cries unto You,
and to you shall my inner eye
always gaze straight.

 

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What Is New? Reposting a fabulous essay

The world is full of beginnings and endings. We begin a new year with a certain hope—another year, another chance, a new day. But we carry with us the same fears, the same longings, the same resolutions. A more cynical riposte thus might be: Is there ever really anything new about a new year? When the past or present seems so broken that its shards seem to reach well into the future, new days are often filled more with fear than with promise. I remember a time myself when I could see the end of a difficult situation, but I could not see a beginning unmarred by the residue of the past. ”Is there really such a thing as new day?” was the question I held disconsolately. A friend gave me the following words and asked me to hold them instead:

“But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘therefore I will hope in him.’”(1)

Spoken in a time of exile, I imagine these words were as pungent for the people they were spoken to as they were for me. The ancient writer held fast to the assurance of things new, even in the midst of a situation that blinded him from any vision of what that could possibly mean. In all of the suffering and sorrow surrounding him, it would not have been unreasonable for him to admit that he saw no way out. With all the damage that had been done, with the uncertainty of exile, and the finality of a destroyed Jerusalem, no one would have blamed him for seeing new mornings as nothing but a cynical promise of more of the same.

But this was not the lament on this writer’s lips. Written in the style of an ancient funeral song, the writer’s words, though consumed with death, call to this God by name: The steadfast love of Yahweh never ceases, his mercies never come to an end. Another translation reads, Because of Yahweh’s great love we are not consumed; his mercies are new every morning. What the writer was able to see in the midst of his own lamentation is that only an all-powerful God can truly make a beginning. New mornings, new years, in and of themselves, are useless and worse than useless if they are not seen as belonging to the one who makes all things new.

And often, it is in the midst of a definitive ending that this particular God brings new beginnings to life. In a poem called “Ash Wednesday,” T.S. Eliot describes redemption as a figure moving about ashes and endings.

The new years walk, restoring
Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring
With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem
The time. Redeem
The unread vision in the higher dream.

Perhaps there is something restorative about a new years walk, something hopeful in unread visions and new days, precisely because there is a coming new day that this God has promised. Perhaps the hope promised in new mornings, the assurance of new mercies and new beginnings, is only a hint of the promise of a certain redemption, a new earth.  In this higher dream, God is the dreamer, redeeming worlds, redeeming time; God’s redemption is the great love that prevents us from being consumed.

It is no coincidence that the last words of the Christian story are aimed at describing the beginning of something more than we see now. Depicting the vision of “a new heaven and a new earth,” John reports a voice crying out: “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”

This day is new because it is a day made by the God of visions and beginnings, the God who came to live among mortals, the God who offers himself as a new portion every morning. Behold him come, for this is the Christian hope of newness.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.
(1) Lamentations 3:21-24.

 

On the notion that everything happens for a reason…

We have all heard it, have we not?

“It’s all good…everything happens for a reason.”

That line is used as a salve and as a panacea to any and all things not understood or sensible to us.  And the implication is that we are supposed to just go with the flow and let this reason manifest.  Far too often, this results in a sort of hollow fatalism which results in our justifying any action that we wish to pursue after we stamp our experience with that cliché.

But let’s stop a minute…what is the reason everything happens??? 

Is it always the same reason that everything happens?  Does each thing happen for a different reason?

What if the reason is evil?  Meaningless?  Absurd?  What then?

When atrocities occur, are those happenings for a reason, and if so, is there a reason to stop them?  To let them continue?

See…it is the vague pithiness of that assumption that deeply disturbs me in my core.  I think that it is a modern quan cribbed (as so much of our law, morality and guidelines for living in our culture are) from the remains of foundational bedrock spirituality bequeathed to us by Christendom, when it was vital, alive, and dangerous.  I think that it comes from this truth, penned by the great thinker Paul of Tarsus:  “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose“.

Do you see that?  There is a condition!  Similar to our own experience when we wish to help someone mired in something bad for them–a habit, an addiction, a bad relationship, bad choices–it is impossible to truly help someone who refuses to embrace and receive that help!

Free will is a bitch!  And it is the fulcrum that pivots our lives from one side of the truth that everything happens for a reason to the other side of it, which is God involving Himself in our lives and changing what is happening into something that ultimately is for our good.

Right now, it is true indeed that everything happens for a reason, and that reason is that this world is deeply broken and wounded by sin and death.  No, not just the countless acts, great and small, which are mean, evil, venal, and self serving…sin and death are powers that have entered in and taken us hostage to their icy and implacable hold.

But it is also true that God has loved, does love, and will love us enough to get Himself dirty and covered in filth on our behalf, and through His involvement transform and resurrect our purpose and destiny into one that fills us with life, love and hope.

For those reading who already know that I urge you to comb back thru the recent events in your life and recalibrate…root out the sloppy thinking and fatalistic resignation to the happy illusion that it will all just work itself out…it won’t!

For those reading to whom the concept of loving God and choosing to be called according to His purpose is new:  I invite you to consider asking God first of all what His purpose might be…what Love is…and for Him to begin to dialogue with you regarding the possibility of choosing to love Him.

Everything happens for a reason, and God, who loves us, cares enough to cause all things to work together for good if we let Him, if we open the door to Him by our free will and choice to love Him.

Pedantic words perhaps to some…but no less true for it.

Love,

Charissa Grace

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Breaking into Wholeness

There, ‘neath the charred and crisp skin
the hull, the shell, the null…
Something shines,

laughingly lurking and eager
to break thru the crusty cap and gleam
brilliant and true.

Fire and rain have fallen
and taken tribute from
my bleeding vital heart,
and twisted back again and over,
licking kissing and
claiming all their bounty…

what can be shaken is
what can be eaten is
Leaving…what?  Who?

Leaving me
Charissa Grace
Shining thru.

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