There is No “I” in Eden

Yesterday was a full day.  The majority of it was spent out in Forsyth county at a soccer tournament, where I was able to squeeze a run in between games through subdivisions set up in the middle of the country.  We ended our day at Centennial Park, getting in on the last two bands of the night (the festivities there began in the afternoon while we were still in soccer world).  The night finally came to a close after we drove an intoxicated girl, who we met wandering outside the park on the way to our car, home, a task made more difficult by the fact she was too drunk to remember her address or anyone’s phone number we could call to find out exactly who she was and where to take her.  Though at first glance the soccer parent crowd and the hippy, high and generally wasted crowd at Party in the Park seemed quite in contrast with one another, it is interesting to see how the person and work of Jesus shows me just how similar we in fact all are.

The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.   The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.  They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.  In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.  In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the Mediterranean.   He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth.  Is. 11:7-12

As evidenced in my writing this week, I’ve been thinking a great deal about “home” lately, not so much a house but that sense of being a round peg in a round hole, a bunny in its burrow, a hand in a well made glove.  I’ve had an inescapable yearning in the past couple of weeks for beautiful surroundings, a restful environment and to be surrounded by people who are well spoken and refined.  Maybe I’ve just gotten a little worn down by the boarded up businesses and houses, the broken sidewalks, people walking and speaking in mumbles I don’t understand or not speaking at all.  But when I was running yesterday in this movie set of a suburban subdivision, I saw the most idyllic backyard pool setting and it helped me understand what I have been wanting.  That home had created a little taste of paradise in their backyard, which is what so many houses offer in luxurious bathrooms, gourmet kitchens, creative children’s bedrooms or play spaces, and resort like master bedrooms.  Eden sells because it promises our hearts’ deepest craving for peace, rest, contentment and satisfaction.  It is to own a little piece of Eden that motivates us to climb to the top educationally and in our careers.  It is to experience Eden’s sense of completion and wholeness that we look to weddings, babies, perfect jobs, new places or even vacations…where we might feel less of the toil of our labors and more of the harmony, comfort and shalom of our true “home”.  The crowd in the park was grabbing for this peace by altering their senses and minds for a few hours last night, finding rest in escape, and harmony with one another by blocking out the unpleasantness and enjoying imagination and freedom that has been lost or even stolen in this present world.  There was Eden in that place last night, for many, even if only momentarily and even if upon waking this morning it will be shattered with excruciating head aches and upset stomachs, and perhaps a few humiliating memories.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”   Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.  Gen. 1:26-31

But Eden was never an individualistic community.

Eden was not created for Adam alone or for Eve alone.  And that is where they had it wrong from the beginning.  As soon as they disregarded God and each other to get more of the good of Eden for themselves, Eden began to slip from their grasp.  They had all they needed and then more.  It wasn’t even that they were supposed to be happy being one of the masses, because they had been given rule and reign over all the rest of creation.  But just like the way I feel about group projects in school, they too preferred to have control all to themselves, not for the benefit of Eden and all of creation, but for their own satisfaction, control and power.  I can’t be effectively committed to getting “what’s mine” and ensuring the thriving of others at the same time.  One will have to be set aside for the other.  Unexpectedly, one of those choices actually produces the flourishing of both, but it is seldom the choice sin persuades to me to make.

You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill.  They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.  Ezek. 34:4-6

I can’t really be all that interested or concerned in the person next to me when I can’t even formulate a sentence properly.  The escape of drugs and alcohol is just that, it is an exit from the place and people immediately around me, bringing vacation even if just for a moment, but offering greater isolation to those sharing the same space.  Similarly, an incredible backyard paradise provides a taste of Eden to all who are welcome to enjoy it, but as long as it remains in one person’s backyard alone, it might serve as an advertisement of better things to come, but is only a mirage of the new heaven and new earth and not the reality itself.  The good shepherd does not merely feed himself and experience shalom.  The Good Shepherd gathers, protects, feeds and grows his whole flock, wanting none to perish.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  John 10:10-11

I don’t begrudge the behavior of the girl we drove home last night.  While I haven’t found myself in the car of strangers, I share her longing to taste Eden now, even if what I am drinking is a toxic and poor imitation.  And it is the dissatisfaction that greets her this morning, that meets the homeowners as they maintain that pool year after year through falling leaves and broken pumps and winter storms, that both reminds me I need a Good Shepherd outside of myself and that like Him, the rule and reign I’ve been offered involves laying my life down for the  fullness of life for the whole flock.  That is when it will be on earth as it is in heaven.

Children Go Where I Send Thee

When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”…But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.Gen. 19:16-17, 26

Yesterday we learned that our options for transferring to a different public school may take us back into Buckhead to a school near where my dad grew up and went to high school.  What?  No sense as far as I can tell.  How does that fit into what we thought we were called to do here in Grove Park?  What purpose is there in our having left their old schools to potentially go to this particular one?  It all seems so random to me and untidy, inconsistent and confusing.  What is our place into which to settle?  What is the community into which we are to pour our energies and time?  How can we once again find ourselves all over town, everywhere and nowhere?  This does not seem to focus our family but to disperse it once again.  I want boundaries, definitions, simplicity and to be settled under one clear banner.  Like Lot’s wife, I’m looking from left to right, up, down and backward to try and get my own bearings and sense of certainty.  I just want a sense of “home”.

We read a story this morning about a family whose home was on a ship, and in a few short pages experienced their collection of celebrations, terrifying moments, heartbreaks and daily warm and happy memories.  When the story ended with their time to move off the boat, we shared their sadness.  When so much life has been lived in one place, the loss of that place feels like a loss of all the life lived there and there is a finality to it.  These are the stories that make me cry whether in television shows or movies, novels or poetry…and of course, real life.

And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”  So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.  After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.  Gen. 3:22-24

Whether it is the end of high school, the end of a favorite television series, the end of a great book, the end of a marriage, the end of childhood, the end of a life, the end of camp, the end of days residing in a particular town, the end of a hard fought endeavor, the end of a career…endings carry with them a heartbreak that is not easily reconciled to the demand to “move on” or simply “get over it”.  Even those gut wrenching experiences that finally come to a much desired conclusion leave their marks so that with the end there is still grieving to be done over the losses incurred along the way.  And, even as I long for “home”, I am beginning to believe that this constant sense of “unsettled” is how it should be, for this time.  This chest piercing pain of leaving “homes” of all sorts, is intentionally reminiscent of that first loss (in the Garden) of place, of home and of security in knowing that “all is well with the world”.  These current losses, however, are in fact tamer because even in them there was never perfection, but at best little hints at it.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.  John 14:1-4

I get flustered and blustered about feeling unsettled, trying to get settled, wanting a framework and definition into which my present moment can fit securely.  Instead of solid bearings, I am constantly more like a mug of coffee that doesn’t quite fit in a car’s cupholder and is always on the brink of splashing its contents all over the seats, floors and passengers.  I have never taken seriously the fact, which Scripture declares, that this world is not my home.  Its the only home I’ve ever known and I have had moments of feeling quite settled and rooted here.  Perhaps just like Adam and Eve, I don’t really understand that the end goal isn’t to get back to something I may once have sampled.  Instead, those samples were always intended to be more like the intensely delicious smells coming out of a bakery or a place like Kilwins…they were always the aroma of better things, drawing us into His place but never able to satisfy in themselves.

Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”  Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  Matt. 8:19-20

I want to follow Jesus, but I want to do it from a well defined home base, a cozy nest, a warm den.  Jesus knew the place that awaited Him at the end of His labors, the rest promised to Adam but delayed until that work was completed by the second Adam.  Jesus had confidence in the beauty and satisfaction of His real home so that He didn’t need Anytown U.S.A. to provide that for Him now.  There was restoration to be completed, the Law to satisfy and the power of the serpent to break once and for all.  The God Man knew His purpose even as I am blind to mine.  Because I don’t have my heart set on the place He is preparing, the new heaven and new earth, I am too easily persuaded to settle for a halfway house here.

What if the teacher of the Law and I both really believed where this story was headed?  What kind of fox den or bird’s nest or small town or Boston bar like Cheers would be more satisfying than the place to which all other good, warm and welcoming places point?  Might I then begin to follow wherever He leads less grudgingly, with less resistance and lighter steps and greater delight?  If He is fully committed to One Home only, and bringing all things under One Head to be fully restored and even regenerated there, might I begin to be satisfied by and committed only to that Home to come too?

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”  Rev. 21:1-5

The Gospel and The Three Amigos

 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.  We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.   However, as it is written:  “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him— 1 Cor. 23-9

They were only actors, not actual heroes.  They were called to the town of Santo Poco, by what they didn’t realize was an incomplete telegram, to help battle the villain, El Guapo.  Assuming that their unemployment had just come to an end and that their fame had landed them a new film, the Three Amigos headed to Mexico, so impressed at the far reach of their Hollywood fame.  It wasn’t until the first real gun battle, when Steve Martin’s character was knicked by the fire, that the realization hit:  “They’re using real bullets!”  “I know!  I’ve been shot already!”  “This is real.  This is real!”  Clearly they were not prepared for an actual battle with a real life war lord.  They had not signed up for that.

At the end of a long and aggressive cry last night that involved more than just the eyes part of my face but somehow engaged my entire body to the point of making my arms tingle, I realized that I am no different than those characters…I just want to be a star in a movie but I don’t really have any courage or plan or ability to fight an actual El Guapo.  I may have admired Pele, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bravehart and Don Cheadle’s character in Hotel Rwanda, but I am not actually a brave warrior myself.  I park in the same place at the Y every time I go.  I sit in the same seat every week at church.  I listen to the same playlist over and over and over.  I prefer routine to change, the familiar to the new or different and the known to the unknown.  I am an imposter, in costume, with no business being in the middle of Mexico fighting for the protection of Santo Poco from actual bandits and rough outlaw campadres.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.1 Peter 4:12-13

What brought my raging tears?  Well, it was something as innocent as the last in a roll of Mentos dropped into a bottle of Diet Coke.  Who would ever guess, unless you either saw it on YouTube or have a preschooler, that coke could fly that high in the air?    I kept thinking, like the Three Amigos, that I was headed out to participate in a beautiful film where the heroes handily overpower the relatively benign bad guys, all according to a script that could be neatly completed in an hour and a half.  When our condo wouldn’t sell so we could easily get to this new neighborhood, when we landed in Uganda to quickly discover we were very much on our own to figure out how to get our new child and entire family back home, when we withdrew our children from private school to almost immediately learn our application to start a charter school had been denied and as we slip further away from any reliable plan or tangible future strategy, our “skin in the game” feels more like having been at a white sandy beach all day without sunblock.  Last night, Terrell simply shared a bit of information about something he’s working on that might not go as we’d hoped.  In that moment, it was the final straw for me and opened the floodgates of the losses I have felt over the past couple of years, losses that have come by what is beginning to seem like a misunderstood and incomplete telegram from Mexico.

By allowing all those bottled up and previously unidentified emotions to erupt, I am better able to see that I have been holding on fiercely to a scenario of life that I never really possessed nor is actually being offered.  I keep imagining that I had a choice between one type of life and another, just because on the outside it appears that way.  I am assuming that the grass is greener in another environment and that if I hop back on my plane to Hollywood, my movie franchise will be waiting.  I have attached value and strength and security to an imaginary life and feel tormented by my current distance from it.  It takes a moment like Steve Martin’s when he realizes he has nothing to return to in California that the decision is made to stay and actually try to help this town fight El Guapo.  And then, it allows for the moment just after they have successfully broken into El Guapo’s compound when they realize there is no step two to their plan because they never thought they’d make it through step one!

So, here I stand in El Guapo’s compound, in a neighborhood with scenery I don’t recognize, gang activity I don’t know how to navigate, my children’s future education absolutely uncertain to us, our sense of community more than a little frayed and disconnected, they’re using REAL bullets and we have no step 2 for this plan.  But we are not in God’s plan B, nor His second best, nor have we actually lost anything that we’d trade what we do have to get back.  I may find myself, like Ned Nederlander, suspended above the danger with my feet stuck in a pinata.  But even that will turn out to be part of the master plot in the end.  The person and work of Jesus has never gotten off course, has never taken a break, and will never be in need of a plan B.  He is working all things together for His very good purposes, and hopefully my heart will start to rest in that.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.  His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:2-3

Eve Rehab

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  Prov. 3:5

Eve’s vulnerability was that she didn’t trust God.  Satan’s downfall was a determination to be God, an impossibility, yet a fatal goal he was determined to pull others into.  He easily convinced Eve and then Adam that they should trust only themselves, look out for themselves first and that they would be their most reliable own advocates.  He was wrong, of course, because he failed to point out the handicap of not being omniscient, omnipotent not to mention selfless as a feature of genuine love and pure goodness.  He failed to point out that strength was greater in one who resists temptation and impulse than one who is ruled by them.  He failed to point out that the Kingdom of God never spoils, fades or perishes whereas all created things will inevitably do so apart from the sustaining dependence upon the creator.  But Eve didn’t ask.  She was too ready to be her own author, sustainer and Lord.

How dependent am I, really, on God?

How much is my inner turmoil a result of my own lack of understanding, that I am newly stumped by unforeseen realities, disoriented by circumstances and individuals foreign to my experience and paradigms?  Why do I so easily marry my understanding with God’s power, design, authority and even His ability to handle what I cannot?  How is it that I trust His control more when I feel in control than when everything around me feels out of control?  When my surroundings or the people around me feel unstable, I assume God’s goodness, provision, dominion and control are equally unstable.  Is God really more solidly on His throne when the world I can see is safely under my control and running according to my comforts and preferences, my rules and understanding?

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven.  He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.  He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.  Dan. 7:13-14

Like Chicken Little, an acorn hits me on the head and I assume the sky is falling.  Like most Americans immediately after 9/11, trauma touches my life and I am certain the world’s end is upon me, never mind what we experienced that day characterizes daily life for many children and citizens in the Middle East and parts of Africa and long before it happened to us.  God is not surprised by the capacity of humanity for wickedness, for destruction, and for darkness because He has always known that apart from Him who is the source of life, there is no goodness, love or life.  It is I who refuse to believe that and then find myself utterly disoriented when I encounter proof that I actually need a Redeemer, that the world is actually as broken beyond its own ability to repair as God has been graciously communicating since the Garden, and that through the person and work of Jesus the overwhelming need has been met.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice  inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13

My adulterous heart is far too prone to wander, to leave the God I love.  I, just like Eve, am way too easily gripped by Gospel amnesia, forgetting that God is good, in control, kind, generous, patient, forbearing, persevering, compassionate, merciful, consistent, sovereign over all things and in all things, working for His good purposes which will be completed in His perfect time.  Until I am convinced that apart from Him I can do nothing, I need for Him to keep me in this Eve Rehab program, pushing against my addiction to self-reliance.

I am too full of my self and my honor.  I am too full of myself and my superiority over others.  I am too full of myself and my own understanding.  I rely on my omniscience, which is not.  I rely on my power, which is feeble.  I rely on my ability, which is crippled.  I rely too much on the wrong god, myself.

Lord, have mercy on me the sinner.  Please change my heart permanently, thoroughly, deeply and beautifully that I may love without fear, serve without consideration of cost, stand confidently against your enemy because I am hidden in You and not standing alone in myself.  Remind me each morning how unreliable and helpless I am that I might begin to consistently and genuinely cry out to you for help because I know I actually and desperately need it.

You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  John 15:3-13

All Things

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome  it.  John 1:3-4

There has been an increase of gang activity in our neighborhood.  It is alarming.  It is foreign to me.  It is unpredictable and irrational.  It keeps us on edge throughout the day, primarily in the afternoon hours.  They have assaulted two of my friends/neighbors, both of whom are white males and both go to our church.  They have been sighted throwing rocks at an older man down the road and this week, apparently, beat up a woman and her 7 year old son.  The two are ok, but reasonably traumatized.  The reason for such assaults?  Power, position, prominence?  Are they more corrupted than kids on the north side of town?  Are their hearts more wicked?  On one level, it would seem obviously so.  Yet biblically, no one is righteous, not even one…apart from Jesus.

I interacted with three of these “fellas” in an unplanned encounter on my own last Friday night.  After returning to the neighborhood cook-out with them, I ended up spending the whole evening eating dinner with them in what honestly felt like a dance of mistrust and diplomacy as each of us tried to size up the other and at least for the moment attempted some sort of peace treaty.  The fear that their world view introduced to me wasn’t fully realized in my internal workings until they had departed and I began to process the experience.  The questions multiplied.  Who am I in relation to them?  What in the world was I doing trying to navigate relations between a former member of “the bloods”(a neighbor who I’ve quickly come to love) and forming members of “cryps”?  How did they get there, to that view of people and life that is so self serving and so disregards the existence of anyone who can’t help promote their lordship?  And in that question, I found our common story.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Gen. 3:6

Just like these neighborhoods terrorists, I too want to take what is good, what is pleasing to my eye and what will give me an advantage over others.  These kids have become their own God, deciding for themselves what is right and what is wrong, and determining to rule over others with violence and destruction rather than to bring life and see their environment flourish, as God intended His image to do.  This is the course for me, too, on a daily basis when I surrender to my demand to rule and reign for my own glory.  I may not physically whack people over the head with tree branches or guns, but my own words and attitudes can be just as hateful and dark, oppressive and life sucking.

What is exhausting and wearisome and overwhelming is that in both cases, my heart and theirs, I am powerless to effect change in either.  I can’t yell righteousness into either one of us, I can’t threaten it or beat it or arrest it or force it in any effective way.  I cannot breath life into dry bones, replace hearts of stone with hearts of flesh, give sight to the blind or hope to the hopeless.  I cannot create a program or system or response that will effect this desperately needed change in both of us.  But Jesus can, has and will.

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”  “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.  “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.  Acts 9:3-5

It is God and God alone who can change hearts, who can interrupt our plans, who can transform thinking and radically change the course of history.  I am only able to lose sight of this when I think with enough strategizing, research, expert opinions and understanding I might be able to do so.  So it takes a circumstance so far out of my league, out of my experience, out of my grasp to turn my eyes, heart, hope and tight grip from human help to the God of the universe in whom all things hold together and apart from whom nothing exists.

In the meantime, I long for a five star hotel where I can relax, feel “at home”, turn my mind off and not always have one eye opened as people walk down my street, unknown cars drive slowly by or groups of kids in their teens make their descent on the neighborhood after 3pm.  In the meantime, I found myself crying after being at a friend’s beautiful house today for a wedding shower filled with beautiful girls and enviable accouterments.  In the meantime, I long for the familiar and the pretty and the life of privilege that I once considered the entitlement of adulthood.  In the meantime, only Jesus can offer this restfulness of genuine peace, the beauty that comes from His presence and the familiarity of One who made me, knows me and is committed far more than anyone I know to making all things beautiful in His time.

But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.  Luke 23:31-32

The sadness and the weariness and the burden I have been walking around with the past two weeks isn’t because God’s Kingdom is far away or not coming.  What I found myself sad about today was really just that I want to be back in Buckhead, in a magazine home, with my kids back in private school and my social life returned to topics that make me feel like an insider, capable, strong and in control.  What I really want is for my kingdom to come, and to come now. What creates the unbearable dissonance is that the culture I feel plopped down into without any bearings feels in stark contrast with the environment of material beauty, social currency and experiential privilege that I assume is my right.  I am trying to get back to some “Garden” of my own making which has little to do with God’s Kingdom, but a great deal with my own.  Feeling out of control is scary, miserably uncomfortable, angering and sad.  And in these moments, I tend to have absolutely lost touch with the fact that He is always in control.  The story His Word tells from Genesis to Revelation of His creation, the corruption of that creation, the redemption and promised glorification of the creation is perfectly compatible with this particular scene in the grand story He is telling.

‘Now get up and stand on your feet.  I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me.  I will rescue you  from your own people and from the Gentiles.  I am sending you to them  to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’  Acts 26:17-18

There is no brokenness, wickedness or rebellion outside of the reach of His arm or that in any way exists apart from His will.  All of creation, from Cain to Pharaoh to Saul who became Paul, tells of His goodness, commitment to restoration, patience, kindness and faithful presence.  Might I turn away from the mirror and look to Him for help and change, to His power to do what is humanly impossible?  Could this be the season of life when I begin to actually call upon His power to bring sight to the blind, hope to the hopeless, reconciliation to the irreconcilable, strength to the weak, humility to the proud and faith to the faithless?  Might I begin to desire His Kingdom more than my own immediate yet ultimately unsatisfying one?  This too is impossible for me, but with God, all things are possible.