Coffee, hope, poetry. I don’t know if I’d read it somewhere, but these three words keep ringing wistfully in my head lately. Perhaps it is because they are representative of the things that tug at my heart the most in this life. Oh would we all be so lucky to have our days filled with drawn out coffee conversations, quiet hope and beautiful poetry that makes sense of it all. What else could one ask for. Perhaps it is the simplest things that mean the most after all.
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country.
Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” // Hebrews 11:13-16
Only when we understand how it will end will we know how we must live in the now. God placed eternity in the hearts of men for this very reason. (Ecc 3:11) This vapor called life has to be anchored in what is transcendent and of eternal continuity if it is to have any meaning – otherwise we are but mere wandering fools to be pitied.
Everything else is like chaff – it will all burn away to dust before the fire of His eyes. I can’t even begin to tell you how it is my biggest fear to live a life that counts for nothing. To have built my life upon all these things that seemed so great in the eyes of men, only to stand before Him on that day and have it all fall out from under me.
I swear, with everything I have within me, that I will live and posture my life in such a way that when I finally enter into His presence, it will not be with shame – but with my head held high, strong and absolutely victorious in love.
Seasons come and seasons go, and I have many dreams to fight for, but this – this will always be the biggest dream of my heart.
I will receive the reward of my faith.
“… to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.” /// Jude 1:24-25
“The measure of a man is the measure of his heart,
The measure of a man is the measure of his love.”
Few words have struck me as deeply as these. We cannot define greatness on our own terms, we have to define them by His. Only two commandments did He give to us – the entire Law hangs upon these two simple lines. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor.
If all of life comes down to love – if greatness is defined solely by this rightful pursuit of our hearts – then we must learn to do it well. How can we afford otherwise?
At the end of my days, when I stand before Him I want to do so with a heart that is tender, a heart that has been enlarged by life to love and love well. If this is how He defines greatness, then may I always live up to His standards and not the world’s. The world asks me for my career, my beauty, my status, my fame. But He cuts through all of that and asks me of only one thing – my heart.
May I exchange my vain ideas and empty ambitions for what truly counts before the throne of God. I want to build my life upon this one and singular firm foundation, because I know that everything else will one day burn away before His eyes of fire.
You don’t measure me like man may see, You’re looking at my heart; the core of me. When it’s all been said, when it’s all been done, when the race is run – it all comes down to love.
“Did you learn to love?” is what You will ask of me.
“Did you learn to love?” not about my ministry.
“Did you learn to love?” not about my money.
“…Did you learn to love?”
Someone once told me that nothing ever happens like you plan for it to. I should’ve listened. It would have saved me so much heartache. I had so many notions and dreams of my own – all these plans for what and when, and how and who. And o the strife and confusion that happened in this little heart of mine. There were moments when I fought when I should’ve rested, and moments I drew back when I should’ve fought. In hindsight, I really didn’t know any better though. I had always just done what I thought was best at the time.
But that is what happens when you strive after selfish little dreams that aren’t His.
Because He holds me to my vows of being completely His and not my own, everytime I start to build castles that aren’t His, He steps in to fight me. Mostly gently, but sometimes with much fierceness (how great and terrifying those moments, I can never forget).
But this is the path I have chosen – His will and His story, above mine, now and forever. I am not saying that there are not woeful nights when sighings overtake my heart and I wistfully yearn for the things that could have been had I chosen another path. There are. So many of them. Even so, I no longer wish to strive for petty dreams, even the big ones, because every dream that isn’t His is ultimately rendered petty, no matter how good and fulfilling they seem to appear at first to the undiscerning human spirit.
And such is the life I will live. The one of always choosing His will, His dream, and His story above my own. No matter how painful. No matter what it costs me. And it has cost me a lot, yes even now, even in my tender youth.
“Occasionally, weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.” // Piper
Surprisingly enough though, there is a fulfillment that comes with giving yourself over to a cause higher than yourself. It is deeper than anything I’ve ever known. When you die to yourself so that you can say yes to God, the strangest peace will overcome you.
And perhaps there is a place where His dreams and my own can meet. Perhaps there will still be an unraveling of a life so much more beautiful than what I could have ever planned for on my own.
Is He not a good Father after all? He is. I know His heart.
So I say yes to all His ways.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
– Robert Frost // The Road Not Taken.
“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” // Isaiah 57:15
This is He who loves me.
What peace floods my soul, knowing that there is one like Him who holds the very fabric my life together in power and love. I know who He is – and I know what I mean to Him. It is with this profound truth that I can walk through anything with my head held up high.
I am so content. I mean that, I really do. The burdens and aches that I’ve carried and fretted over for the longest time have all but rolled off my shoulders. I love where I am at and I don’t think I’ve ever been more satisfied. The past is behind me, and I care not for peering too much into the future either. And let me tell you, it is the most freeing thing in the world.
The problem I had for the longest time is that I lived for the future. Isn’t that the funny thing about the prophetic sometimes? I lived for every promise God gave me (and believe me, He has given me a lot, more than what I feel I am even able to handle), so much so that I missed everything that was right here in the now. I glanced past the goodness around me and missed out on so much simply because I could not stop myself from yearning for all these things that hadn’t even come to pass.
I had also let the mistakes and the circumstances of my past keep my heart bound up in so much pain. I would lie in bed awake at night, playing these things through in my head, wishing I had done so much differently. Wishing I had known then what I know now because I almost lost myself. Sometimes we only learn the hard way, but still, I have paid a lot of high prices over the last few years – and O how I ache for all that has been stolen from me.
No more. What’s past is past and this is where I will draw the line. What’s coming will also come but this too is where I will draw my line.
Because for the first time in a long long time, things around me (and inside me) are falling into place and I couldn’t be happier.
Right here. Right now. Isn’t that all I have anyway?
I will not apologize for loving my life because I’ve been through hell and back to get to where I am. So please, let me live it.
Sometimes I wish I could go back in time, wrap my fragile younger self in my arms and say to her, “Everything’s going to be alright. He restores.” God knows how much she needed to hear it. But I can’t do that of course. I can’t tell her how much she really is worth. I can’t tell her that she doesn’t need to fight for love because real love would have fought for her. I can’t tell her that what she needs is to protect and fight for her own heart and dignity instead. I can’t tell her that all she ever needs can be found in the safe and loving arms of a Father. I can’t tell her that she really is beautiful, even when she sees anything but staring back at her in the mirror. I can’t tell her that Love is wiping away her tears each night as she cries herself to sleep, and that Mercy will make it all brand new. I can’t tell her about the way He will turn it all around and make her little heart strong and capable of withstanding anything. I can’t tell her how He will fill her eyes light and help her dare to hope and dream again. I can’t do any of that.
But I will spend the rest of my life telling it to every other broken young girl I meet.
Because it’s true. He did it. Every little thing He promised to me, He fulfilled and is still fulfilling. He’s turned it all around and I can’t even recognize any trace of that broken little girl I once was. He’s given me beauty for ashes, strength for brokenness and praise for sorrow. Faithful He has been, and faithful He will be. My faithful, faithful Restorer. He’s the reason I still believe today. He is every stubborn breath and relentless pump of this still-beating heart. He is why I can get back on my two feet no matter what comes to break me in this life — I swear I will not be broken because He holds my every piece.
Don’t lose hope.
He isn’t nowhere near done with you.