Tag Archives: hope

The End is the Beginning

 

END IS THE BEGINNING 
Cloverton

So long, farewell
I wish you well
You gained the world and lost it all
Today is pain
To die is gain
And tomorrow Jericho will fall

And the end is the beginning
Where death makes way for living
It’s on You I’m depending
And it all begins in the end

Complexions of a Father’s love
Are veiled with shadows that you own
The ones you try to leave behind
Are deep inside your heart and in your bones

And the end is the beginning
Where death makes way for living
It’s on You I’m depending
And it all begins in the end

And the end is the beginning
Where death makes way for living
It’s on You I’m depending
And it all begins in the end
That’s where You and I begin

The Greatest Transformation

The Greatest Transformation

“We don’t understand a lot of things. But we learn that people are very disappointing, and that they break our hearts, and that very sweet people will be bullied, and that we will be called to survive unsurvivable losses, and that we will realize with enormous pain how much of our lives we’ve already wasted with obsessive work or pleasing people or dieting. … Side by side with all that, we will witness transformation, people finding out who they were born to be…” – Anne Lamott

Touching a Fairy Tale

Believing in Fairy Tales

“No matter how forgotten and neglected, there is a child in all of us who is not just willing to believe in the possibility that maybe fairy tales are true after all but who is to some degree in touch with that truth.

You pull the shade on the snow falling, white on white, and the child comes to life for a moment. There is a fragrance in the air, a certain passage of a song, an old photograph falling out from the pages of a book, the sound of somebody’s voice in the hall that makes your heart leap and fills your eyes with tears.

Who can say when or how it will be that something easters up out of the dimness to remind us of a time before we were born and after we will die?

The child in us lives in a world where nothing is too familiar or unpromising to open up into the world where a path unwinds before our feet into a deep wood, and when that happens, neither the world we live in nor the world that lives in us can ever entirely be home again.”

Frederick Buechner – Telling the Truth

The Lion in Your Life

I am reading The Horse and His Boy to my son, Allen. I read it to Jessica a couple of years ago, but Allen wasn’t so interested in it at that time. We just finished The Last Battle a couple weeks ago and since then, he had been asking me to read him this one. So we have been reading a chapter every night. Again, as always happens with The Chronicles of Narnia, I am amazed and impressed by the deep truths that C. S. Lewis was able to interject into a series of “kids’ stories.”

This story follows the life of a boy named Shasta who, near the beginning, discovers that he is not the son of a Calormene fisherman and adventures his way with a talking horse, Bree, to Narnia. They meet up with a young noble girl, Aravis, and her talking horse, Hwin.

Their journey is full of excitement and danger, and time and again, they encounter lions — Bree’s greatest fear and not exactly Shasta’s idea of a good time.

Toward the end, Shasta is separated from his traveling companions. He is alone, at night, trying to find his way through a dense fog. Slowly, he becomes aware that Someone (or Something) is walking beside him. The conversation between him and the stranger goes like this:

“Who are you?” [Shasta] said, scarcely above a whisper.
“One who has waited long for you to speak,” said the Thing. Its voice was not loud, but very large and deep.
“Are you- are you a giant?” asked Shasta.
“You might call me a giant,” said the Large Voice. “But I am not like the creatures you call giants.”
“I can’t see you at all,” said Shasta, after staring very hard. Then (for an even more terrible idea had come into his head) he said, almost in a scream, “You’re not – not something dead, are you? Oh please – please do go away. What harm have I ever done you? Oh, I am the unluckiest person in the whole world!”
Once more he felt the warm breath of the Thing on his hand and face. “There,” it said, “that is not the breath of a ghost. Tell me your sorrows.”
Shasta was a little reassured by the breath: so he told how he had never known his real father or mother and had been brought up sternly by the fisherman. And then he told the story of his escape and how they were chased by lions and forced to swim for their lives; and of all their dangers in Tashbaan and about his night among the tombs and how the beasts howled at him out of the desert. And he told about the heat and thirst of their desert journey and how they were almost at their goal when another lion chased them . …
“I do not call you unfortunate,” said the Large Voice.
“Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” said Shasta.
“There was only one lion,” said the Voice.
“What on earth do you mean? I’ve just told you there were at least two the first night, and-”
“There was only one: but he was swift of foot.”
“How do you know?”
I was the lion.” And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.” …
“Who are you?” asked Shasta. 
“Myself,” said the Voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again “Myself”, loud and clear and gay: and then the third time “Myself”, whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all round you as if the leaves rustled with it.
Shasta was no longer afraid that the Voice belonged to something that would eat him, nor that it was the voice of a ghost. But a new and different sort of trembling came over him. Yet he felt glad too.
The mist was turning from black to grey and from grey to white. … He knew the night was over at last. He could see the mane and ears and head of his horse quite easily now. A golden light fell on them from the left. He thought it was the sun.
He turned and saw, pacing beside him, taller than the horse, a Lion. The horse did not seem to be afraid of it or else could not see it. It was from the Lion that the light came. No one ever saw anything more terrible or beautiful. …
 He knew none of the true stories about Aslan, the great Lion, the son of the Emperor-over-the-sea, the King above all High Kings in Narnia. But after one glance at the Lion’s face he slipped out of the saddle and fell at its feet. He couldn’t say anything but then he didn’t want to say anything, and he knew he needn’t say anything.
The High King above all kings stooped towards him. Its mane, and some strange and solemn perfume that hung about the mane, was all round him. It touched his forehead with its tongue. He lifted his face and their eyes met. Then instantly the pale brightness of the mist and the fiery brightness of the Lion rolled themselves together into a swirling glory and gathered themselves up and disappeared. He was alone with the horse on a grassy hillside under a blue sky. And there were birds singing. 

A thousand times, and more, I have faced difficult times, situations that broke my heart and I thought would break all hopes for a happy future. I wonder, though, how many were that Lion in my life.

And how many times, though I did not recognize it, He was there … giving me new strength, pushing me when I thought I couldn’t go any further, comforting me when I was alone, protecting me from harm.

Perhaps every single time. I like to think so.

Have you met Him? Have you seen His footprints in the ground after a dark and misty night? Or perhaps it is still night, and you sense Someone walking beside you. Believe that the sun will rise.

You will see clearly.

And you will know that He was with you every step of the way.

Glimmer

Silver Lining through the Clouds

We often don’t really know why things turn out the way they do.

Sometimes a heart is left aching and although we know that “He does all things well”, at times all we have to hold on to is a glimmer of hope. And the thread that connects that hope to our hearts is thinner than a strand.

Yet the glimmer can grow into a silver lining of promise, and eventually the sun bursts forth, although veiled by shadow only a short time before.

This is hope. We cannot always choose when or how this process will work in our lives and hearts.

Yet when the One Who holds our lives and destinies is given leeway to hold our hearts, our dreams, our hopes, then we have nothing to fear. For His grasp of a situation is not a perception, but true reality. A reality that He can dispense to our fragile hearts, bestowing joy in spite of sorrow, beauty from ashes, and victory after it seems all hope is lost.

Hold on to that glimmer.

Hold on for that promise.

It is yours, even if you have to wrestle the angel before receiving the promise. Do not let go of the angel, even if he bears sorrow or tears. Hold on and he will bear you up and take you to a place of beauty, promise and hope—your future.

Your purpose.

The Story behind “It is Well with my Soul” – Horatio Spafford

It is Well[Written by Jane Winstead, from Yahoo Voices]

In the late 1860s life was good for Horatio G. Spafford and his wife Anna. They were living in a north side suburb of Chicago with their five children, Annie, Maggie, Bessie, Tanetta and Horatio, Jr. He had a successful law practice in Chicago. … Horatio G. Spafford was quite active in the abolitionist movement. Frances E. Willard, president of the National Women’s Christian Temperance Union as well as evangelical leaders like Dwight L. Moody were often guests in their home. …

Until now Horatio and Anna Spafford had led a charmed life. They had everything going their way. However, in 1870 their faith was tested by tragedy. Their four year old son, Horatio, Jr., died of scarlet fever. The Spaffords were devastated. In October of 1871 when the Great Chicago Fire broke out Horatio faced another test of his faith. A few months before the Great Chicago Fire, Spafford being a wealthy man, had invested much of his wealth in real estate by the shore of Lake Michigan. Not only did the Great Chicago Fire destroy most of Chicago but most of Spafford’s holdings were destroyed. 250 people died in the Great Chicago Fire and 90,000 were left homeless.

The Spaffords did not despair. Their home had been spared and they had their family. God had been good. Even though their finances were mostly depleted, Anna and Horatio used what resources they had left to feed the hungry, help the homeless, care for the sick and injured and comfort their grief stricken neighbors. The Great Chicago Fire was a great American tragedy; the Spaffords used it to show the love of the Christ to those in need.

In 1873 Anna Spafford’s health was failing and hoping to put behind the tragic loss of their son and the fire and to benefit Anna’s health, the Spaffords planned a trip to Europe. They would sail on the French steamer Ville du Havre to Europe with their four daughters. Spafford not only wanted to visit Europe but he wanted to assist Evangelists Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey in a revival they were conducting in England. …

The day they were to sail for Europe Spafford had a business emergency and could not leave. Not wanting to disappoint his wife Anna and their daughters he sent them on ahead and planned to follow on another ship in a few days. … On November 22, 1873 the steamer Ville du Havre was struck by a British iron sailing ship, the Lockhearn. The steamer Ville du Havre, with Anna Spafford and her daughters aboard, sank within twelve minutes in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Only 81 of the 307 passengers and crew members survived this tragic shipwreck.

Even though the Lockhearn was in danger of sinking the unconscious Anna Spafford was picked up from floating debris by the crew of the Lockhearn. An American cargo sailing vessel, the Trimountain, arrived in time to save the survivors of the Ville du Havre and the Lockhearn. Anna Spafford was taken to Cardiff, Wales where she telegraphed her husband Horatio. Anna’s cable was brief and heartbreaking, “Saved alone. What shall I do…” Horatio and Anna’s four daughters had drowned. As soon as he received Anna’s telegram, Horatio left Chicago without delay to bring his wife home. Sailing across the Atlantic Ocean the captain of the ship called Horatio to the bridge. He informed Horatio that “A careful reckoning has been made and I believe we are now passing the place where the Ville du Havre was wrecked. The water is three miles deep.”

That night, alone in his cabin Horatio G. Spafford penned the words to his famous hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul.” …

After Anna was rescued, Pastor Nathaniel Weiss, one of the ministers traveling with Anna and Horatio’s group remembered hearing Anna say, “God gave me four daughters. Now they have been taken from me. Someday I will understand why.” Anna was utterly devastated. Many of the survivors watched Anna closely, fearing she may try to take her life. In her grief and despair, Anna heard a soft voice speaking to her, “You were saved for a purpose!” …

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, 
When sorrows like sea billows roll; 
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, 
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, 
Let this blest assurance control, 
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, 
And hath shed His own blood for my soul. 

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! 
My sin, not in part but the whole, 
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, 
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! 

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, 
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; 
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, 
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is believed that Horatio took the words “It is well” from the words of the Shunammite woman whose only son was raised from the dead by Elisha.

When Faith Shall be Sight

Bible by candlelightWhen I was four or five years old, I was reading through “The Picture Bible” (still one of my favorite renditions of Bible stories) and decided that my favorite Bible story was the one in Second Kings Chapter four, where Elisha saves a widow’s sons from being sold into slavery. The woman has absolutely nothing that she can use to pay her debts. She goes to the prophet Elisha, who asks her what she has. “Nothing but a little oil,” she answers. He tells her to borrow jugs and bowls from her neighbors and start pouring the oil — which lasts until the very last jug has been filled. It’s enough to pay off the debt and live off the remainder.

It’s an awesome story and still one of my favorites.

But Second Kings Chapter four has another story, which has not one but two miracles. It has become one of my favorites as well. It is a tale of amazing faith. I call it the “It is Well” story.

Elisha the prophet often passed through a place called Shunem. A woman of the town invited him for a meal and suggested to her husband they set aside a room in the house with a bed and a table and other furnishings so that the prophet would have a place to stay whenever he passed through.

In appreciation, the prophet asked her what she wanted. “I’m good,” she answered. I could picture myself saying something like that. But in reality, she had a dream … a dream she had pretty much let go of by that time. She wanted a baby.

Elisha found out from someone else that she was childless and next time he saw her, he promised her that this time next year, she would be holding her son.

And so she was. Her dream had come true.

But one day, while working long and hard in the fields, the boy’s head started to hurt. He went home and died while resting on his mother’s lap.

Her son. Her dream come true. Dead.

Without a word to anyone, she asked her servant to take her to Elisha. He saw her coming afar off and sent his servant to ask if everything was okay. Her answer?

It is well.

Her only child had just died. I could think of nothing worse happening in my life than losing a child. But she answered, “It is well.”

Perhaps, like Abraham with Isaac, she knew exactly where her son came from: God, who holds the power of life and death within His hands. She knew He had the power to bring Him back, if it was His will. And so she answered, “It is well.”

And it was.

The boy rose from the dead. The mother’s dream woke up and breathed and she embraced him.

“It is well.”

On Saturday I will share the story of the man who wrote the hymn “It is Well with my Soul.” In the midst of deepest sorrow, he also spoke those words of faith in God.

Not everyone will have their dreams returned to them. And few will understand why, in this world, such things happen. But one day, they will be rewarded for simply trusting that it is well. One day …

“When our faith shall be sight

The clouds be rolled back like a scroll

The trump shall resound

And the Lord shall descend

Even so … it is well with my soul.”

Inconsolable Longing

looking up[Ken Gire, writing on Heaven, from Reflections on your Life]

Whatever else heaven is, it is more than our experience of life here on earth, not less. It is the fullness of life, not its reduction. It is the waking, as C.S. Lewis put it, not the dream.

From the glimpses given us… we know that whatever else heaven is, it is full of joy. The picture He left us with is one of merriment, of music, dancing, and feasting (vv. 22-25). “Enter into the joy of your master,” are the words He used in a parable to describe the rewards of heaven (Matthew 25:21, 23).

Now and then we get firefly glimpses of that joy… Fleeting moments that pass all understanding. Here one second, someplace else the next. With childlike excitement we follow them, hoping to catch one of them long enough to take in the wonder of it all.

C.S. Lewis describes the feeling as an “inconsolable longing.” In those moments of longing our joy speaks to us. It speaks to us the way the lick of the spoons speaks of birthday cake, the way the smell of roasting turkey speaks of the Thanksgiving meal, the way the scent of pine speaks of Christmas.

And what it speaks of, is heaven.

All Will be Right At Last

faith[By Frederick Buechner, from The Clown in the Belfry]

NOT AT EVERY moment of our lives, Heaven knows, but at certain rare moments of greenness and stillness, we are shepherded by the knowledge that though all is far from right with any world you and I know anything about, all is right deep down.

All will be right at last.

I suspect that is at least part of what “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness” is all about. It means righteousness not just in the sense of doing right but in the sense of being right—being right with God, trusting the deep-down Tightness of the life God has created for us and in us, and riding that trust the way a red-tailed hawk rides the currents of the air in this valley where we live.

I suspect that the paths of righteousness he leads us in are more than anything else the paths of trust like that and the kind of life that grows out of that trust.

Change Your Life

hopeI pass you on the street. You sit in front of me in class. Behind me. Beside me. Across the way.

I listen to you teach. I watch you smile and laugh and I notice the words you choose.

I see your pictures on Facebook and read your posts. Sad. Happy. Angry. Questioning. Alone. Hopeless.

And I wonder.

Do you have the same hope as I? When I discover that you don’t, through the things you say that reveal your heart, my heart hurts. Because it isn’t just hope that I have.

It’s knowing.

That there is a purpose for your life. That you have a soul, a spirit, within you which will never fade.  That you are known … Every thought and heartache and question and decision. And that you are loved. So completely.

As you meet my eyes for an instant, I think that I, if only for a moment, understand. I see. And I want you to see what I see…. to know what I know.

Of a Love that reaches into the deepest part of you, and makes it new. Of a Love that recreates you. Gives you purpose. Meaning. Truth. Of a Love that never leaves you.

Can I speak to you of it? Just this once?

If you’ve tried a thousand things … Or have been too afraid to try even one … I promise you this is different.

It will change your life. Forever.

The Beautiful

The Beautiful

At the end of days

 

The Beautiful

Today

In my heart

 

The Beautiful

Light and life and love

Friends and family and flight

Rain and reminiscing and rainbows

 

The Beautiful

Butterflies in spring

Lightning on summer nights

Earth-tone leaves dancing in autumn

Sparkling white on forest green in winter

 

The Beautiful

Purpose and paths and promises

Rivers of life and roads of gold

Hope and Heaven

Into the Beautiful

I’ve been working with a man from the UK over the past few months, assisting him in the area of ghostwriting and editing. I finished a project for him this past week and sent a report. In response I got a note from him that his brother just died unexpectedly.

What do you say in response to something like that? All I could tell him was that I would be praying for him. I am, and I will. Me and the kids stopped right there to pray for him and his family and friends.

It’s been 14 years to the day since my best friend died, and still sometimes I wonder what life would be like if she had stayed. Would she have married? Would we be comparing notes about motherhood or writing? Your life is never exactly the same when you lose someone close. Those things that could have been never will be, and it hurts. I pray that my client in the UK finds peace and comfort, and that his brother is in a better place … a place of light and love and beauty.

The song I’m sharing today has recently become one of my favorites. It makes me think of Heaven … the beautiful. It’s one of those songs where I can close my eyes and just listen to it over and over again. Today, the song is my prayer for my friend, for his brother. That the chaos be made a chorus. That His love and mercy covers all.

Take me into the Beautiful.