On dancing. And elections.

It was late. I sat on our bed, eyes glued to my phone, unable to stop tracking the results of the national election. I readily admit I couldn’t vote for either of the top candidates, and trepidation crept in at the thought of either outcome.

He slid into the room like Tom Cruise in Risky Business, striking a goofy pose reserved only for me.

“Dance with me, babe.”

I grinned, scrambled off the bed, and we enthusiastically imitated all our favorite Dancing With the Stars moves. (Not that David enjoys the show or anything— Ahem. Ahem.) We aren’t great dancers, but we both needed the moment of levity, laughing at our rhythmical ineptitude. Such a sweet time. In the words of Andrew Peterson, we went “dancing in the minefields.”

And we lay down in peace and slept. And the sun still rose. And God still reigns.

A song runs through my mind. We danced to it at our wedding reception.

Cause the only way to find your life
Is to lay your own life down
And I believe it’s an easy price
For the life that we have found

And we’re dancing in the minefields
We’re sailing in the storm
This is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for

So when I lose my way, find me
When I loose love’s chains, bind me
At the end of all my faith, till the end of all my days
When I forget my name, remind me
‘Cause we bear the light of the Son of Man

So there’s nothing left to fear
So I’ll walk with you in the shadowlands
Till the shadows disappear
‘Cause he promised not to leave us
And his promises are true
So in the face of all this chaos, baby,
I can dance with you

“In the face of this chaos, baby I can dance with you.”  The last few months have been a whirlwind. Now, that’s an understatement, if I’ve ever penned one. We planned a wedding, my Dad died, got married, wept with loved ones facing life-altering devastation, we moved me to where David is, and we began life together. Moving to a new city threw me much further out of my comfort zone than I thought it would. And all the while, the election cycle dragged on.

But there has been incredible sweetness in the whirlwind. There is beauty in the messy. David and I are learning to be one flesh. We have the joy of loving and being loved by the other. What great joy it is! We get to point each other to Jesus. We get serve each other. We get to remind each other who we are in Christ. There is grace in disagreements. He is learning to lead, and I am learning to follow. We get to remember our desperate need for God.

Life is so much better together.

“We bear the light of the Son of Man, so there’s nothing left to fear.” Therefore, this morning my heart links dancing in our bedroom with things like elections.

In the wake of personal whirlwind and national chaos, this I call to mind.

“Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10.

We get to dance with joy. God will be exalted.

He is sovereign over all. I can dance through minefields because my greatest need has already been met at the cross. I have lost my life and found it in Christ. Therefore,

I can be kind to those with whom I disagree.

I can respect authorities and pray for our leaders.

I can believe the best in others.

I can fight for life. All life— the unborn, the refugee, the downtrodden, the outcast.

I can rest in knowing God will accomplish His purposes.

I can love.

I can delight in a husband again, and we can gracefully dance through minefields together.

And I can remember that my highest calling is to bear the light of the Son of Man.

 


Dancing in the Minefields” by Andrew Peterson

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God is Sovereign. I am not.

Sovereign2“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

As the jet ascended, Chicago’s city lights overtook the night, light saturating the terrain. It engulfed the darkness, and I marveled at its radiance. Cars became pin pricks in the distance. A clearly designed grid, created by humans minds, glowed against the black sky. From above there was order in neat squares.

To the right I could still see the rise of giant skyscrapers. Straight ahead the light ended abruptly; Lake Michigan was ink against the line of fire. It was an ethereal beauty, a peaceful calm, far removed from the congested streets, the homelessness, the hundreds of thousands of stories, the real-life struggles. Too soon though, the city’s brilliance receded into the distance. And there was darkness. How feeble was the light of much smaller towns. Light no longer engulfed the night.

But at 30,000 feet, I understood that darkness existed only in pockets. The inky patches didn’t frighten me because I could tell they didn’t last forever. Other cities, other towns slid into view. The light of one city emanated like spokes of a wheel, illumination concentrated at a central hub. Over other cities, light sprawled without any discernible pattern but still in magnificent contrast to the night.

From my vantage point, light interrupted darkness, darkness interrupted light, a constant ebb and flow. It reminded me of life- joy mingled with sorrow, sorrow mingled with joy.

“I could stay here, removed from the grit and messiness. I could stay in the place where I can see the grand design.”

Then my thoughts funneled to a single truth. God is sovereign. I am not. He is above all things. He understands all things. He is in control over all things. He sees the beginning and the end, the dark patches and the light.

Unlike a pilot, He doesn’t merely know the final destination, He sees the entire journey at once. I cannot claim to fully understand, but I know He guides all things. Through grief, I’ve learned to mine the depth of God’s sovereignty, and I’ve found it immensely comforting. God was sovereign over Jon’s death.

God knew the number of his days. (Psalm 139) My husband was supposed to die.

A high view of God’s sovereignty keeps me grounded in the reality that nothing could have thwarted His will. There were no imaginary days. The “what ifs” don’t exist. Likewise, though I long for an aerial view, God’s mercy limits my sight to the ground-level path in front of me.

Perhaps if I knew the future I would run away, afraid to face what is to come.

Of course, I would never trade loving and being so deeply loved by my husband! But had I glimpsed the future, would I have even started down the path with him. Would I have looked across time and accepted becoming a widow at 30?

Probably not. I might I have said, “Well Jonathan Atkins, you’re a wonderful guy, but there’s too much pain in that path. I’m not heading toward a world shattered and turned upside down.”

I might not have cared about the magnificent, radiant light that is following my the sea of ink. I may have said, “That darkness is too big, the night encompasses too much.”

Praise God I cannot see the aerial view! At ground level, He teaches me to trust Him. The One who sees the final city, will lead me safely to it.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light, momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” II Corinthians 4:17

Because I know God is sovereign, I know He has purpose. Nothing is arbitrary. No circumstances are futile. His plan is good, even when it includes immense, dark patches of suffering and trial. I know that’s a hard thing to hear. I’m right there with you! But let our frightened hearts rest in radical truth. For the Christian, darkness is swallowed by light. Through deepest black, Jesus is incomprehensible light.

He is peace that passes understanding. He is joy even in sorrow.

Though He is transcendent, He is also imminent. He is here. He is close. My Lord is not content to dwell far removed from the grit. Rather, He is also personal, deeply intimate, and close at hand when darkness seems to overwhelm. In His goodness He gives seas of ink. And In His goodness He gives cities of magnificent light.

Lord you are sovereign. You are in control over all things, and no one can thwart your plan. You are transcendent, but you are also personal. Thank you that my Savior is intimately acquainted with grief, and walks through darkness with me. You are radiant light. You are joy. I rest here today.


This post by Ami, appeared first at anewseason.net.

Life or LIFE?

IMG_20140628_201906752A couple weeks ago I was soundly beaten at the game of LIFE. However, my nine year old friend would surely admit it was a “cheater’s game.” But despite the loss, I’d say LIFE still ended pretty well for me. I mean a husband, two sets of twins, $90,000 a year salary, a dutch colonial home, and a lovely retirement at Millionaire Acres—what else could a person ask for?

Wouldn’t it be nice if life was like LIFE?

I pondered this as we spun the dial and took our chances.

Well, if life was like LiFE I’d be able to see the whole board. I’d get to look down a fork in the path and make a decision based on a desired outcome. Sure there would be some risks, but the end of the game is almost always desirable. Pitfalls exist in the game of LIFE, but I couldn’t see any real tragedies. A tree may fall on my house, but hey I have insurance so all is well! It’s a quick, easy fix with zero emotional turmoil.

There are no stillbirths, no terminal illnesses, no adultery, no death. And at the end of the game the one with the most money wins.

Yep, LIFE would be good.

Or would it?

It didn’t take long for me to answer with an emphatic no.

If life was truly like LIFE existence would be futile. A good retirement? You’re telling me that’s it? There’s nothing else. All the toys and riches would fade at death. That’s the end.

Life would be shallow, one dimensional without the beauty of complex emotions and devoid of depth and meaning.

It would presuppose that I am God. Or that luck is God. When I’m honest with myself, how utterly hopeless I would be without a Sovereign King who reigns over all! How overwhelmed I would feel with the responsibility to control everything.

Also, I’ve known deep love. And I would never trade it for a simple mapped out, easy path.

But what about sorrow? Yep, I’d keep that too. It’s fire that makes silver a precious metal, refined and purified.

I would rather have all the unknowns, the unexpected twists, the feelings of being out of control, the disappointments, the grief, the turmoil…

the tears, the longings, the frustrations

the JOY

the happiness, the purpose, the delights, the comfort, the rest, the peace

that comes from knowing I am not God.

No, I would not want life to be like LIFE.

For I have a God with whom it is impossible to compare a mere spin of the wheel. I have a God who is sovereign (ruling, in control) over every domain.

I have His words given to me.

“It will happen as I have planned. It will come about according to My purposes…I have a plan for the whole earth, for My mighty power reaches throughout all the world. The Lord Almighty has spoken—who can change His plans? When His hand moves who can stop Him?” (Isaiah 14:24, 26-27)

Not my plans, but those of the Sovereign God who reigns.

But how do I know I can trust such a one?”

Because God came to us. He who knew no sin became sin, that I might become righteous. God doesn’t say come up the preverbal mountain! He came down it instead.

I trust Him because of who He is.
I trust Him because I know HIm.
I trust Him because of what He accomplished.
I am able to trust Him because of the power of the cross of Christ.

“Make me to know your ways O Lord… All your paths are steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 25)

For the redeemed in Christ, whatever the path, whatever the joy and sorrow, whatever the longings, frustrations, and turmoil, we can rest in knowing they are under the cover of His steadfast love and faithfulness.

So give me real life with all its messiness. This is not the end.

I’ll take the confident expectation that one day Jesus will return, heaven will come to earth, and all will be made new.

Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. And after this the judgment.

I will stand before God with Christ before me, the One who already took my place.  What a fearful thing if not.

Give me real life found only in Jesus. Give me eternity with Him.

And there will be no stillbirths, no terminal illnesses, no adultery, no death.

Yep, I’d take life over LIFE any day.