Who am I? He askes me.
“You are Lord of all, Creator, Abba Father, Savior and Redeemer,” I respond.
What do you see around you? He probes.
“Defeat. Sickness. Disappointment. Frustration. Failure. Grief. Death.” I utter under staggered breaths.
Ah, yes, Daughter. Those things are present and always will be right in front of you telling lies about your worth, your identity. Do this for me, try again. But this time… look up. Now tell me, what do you see?
Learning to see beyond
I look up. Not physically, but mentally, re-posturing not just my thinking, but my heart. I look above the swirling dark clouds of disappointment. I look above the lightning strikes of failure. I look above the quicksand of defeat. I look above the grave of death. It takes a bit because all of that has clouded my vision and it’s hard to see past. But there is something beyond there that I sense an urgency to behold. I must see it. It holds so much more than what my eyes were seeing before.
As my eyes rise to what feels like an expansive sky, they lift up on life-giving winds that hold something more then desperation and fear. Here, in this space, is hope. When I look around, taking it all in, I realize this hope-wind is everywhere. Not only does it exist above the darkness below, but it swirls down throughout the shadows of broken life. It goes behind as far as I can see and carries up and beyond my limited vision in front of me. In this wind, carries a love and joy that cannot be separated from hope. No, there is indeed no way grab the weave of this trio, and unwind one without silencing the entire force. Hope IS love. Love IS joy. Joy IS hope. It strikes me, “This everlasting, intertwined, power is indestructible.” And in my next thought, “How is this possible?”
Why, daughter, why do you suppose is it impossible to silence this hope? This love? This joy? Is it a mere fabrication of your imagination? Is it created of your own positive thinking? Did you think this into being and will it to be just so? He gently shifts my perspective. I see quickly, I am not infinite enough to create such a lasting wind that holds such power in the face of evil and brokenness.
Hope existing among the broken
I look down below at the shadowland of brokenness and see this power whirling around grief, fear, disappointment, identity crisis, failure. I see love-gifts offered out of shattered hearts and broken flowers springing forth in full bloom. These offerings, this fresh life bounding out- they do not make sense. They could never happen on their own or by our willpower or positivity. On their own, they are defeated, broken and dying. Someone greater needs to exist to be able to pull such power out through broken vessels. That power floods through and magically takes what is broken and turns it to beauty. That power is our Savior on a cross, taking the scars and marks that should dull us forever and instead giving new life. The marks are still there though. I notice that is part of what makes this flower, that heart, that broken vessel look so beautiful.
I look up again. This is hope. This is a promised future of redemption and all things being made new. This is a promise that He stands with us now, has always been here, always will be here. He is Author of a story greater than any of us could ever pen. I look back down and I realize my perspective has shifted. When I look down, I also see hope. A promise of redemption in the here and now and a turning of hearts to make new and beautiful things in the face of all that threatens to tear away at our souls.
A new gift
My gift? A new set of lenses I call my ‘Jesus eyes’. They hold in focus the upper story, one that arcs across from the beginning of creation to now and holds a guaranteed victory in the future. A story that we all get to be part of, can grab a hold of the promises within it, and can be carried to new heights on hope-winds. No matter the circumstances surrounding us, our powerful Writer of the greatest story ever told is at work weaving hope, love, joy and redemption through our little stories. We no longer have to settle for being lost in darkness, unworthy and dead. No, rather we get to rise up, look up, hold on, breathe in, breathe out, step out, step in, re-focus, rest, move forward. Because all is not lost. And what has been lost is oh so temporarily so. Victory is ours in the upper story, in Jesus. May we choose to move our perspective from our lower story steeped in pity, selfishness, anger, grudges, and empty searching for our identity and move it above the dark clouds to Him, who is holding all of time together in a beautiful mosaic of grace, sacrifice, and redemption.
Friends, I discovered one of the manifesto’s of Can’t Steal My Joy is this – a perspective shift. Some wonder how our family continues to thrive after such pain and loss. Because we know it is temporary. And we know God promises a hope that will not disappoint. We know that soon, all that was broken will be made whole again. I get to live brave in that victory Jesus claimed over death now. And so do you.
What are you looking at?
Thanks for listening,
PS. I’m constantly in awe at how we get to be part of such a massive, redemptive story. It keeps me on the edge of my seat. Better than any book I’ve ever read, and I’ve read some exhilarating ones. As God continues to write our story, I’m trying to be faithful to put words to them with the goal of sharing hope, encouragement and joy with you. Once a month, I connect with readers through a newsletter (or maybe better defined as simply a letter) full of encouragement, resources and JOY. Would love to connect with you there too. Sign up here and get the Can’t Steal My Joy Connection Guide, a companion piece to Can’t Steal My Joy: The Journey to a Different Kind of Brave, FREE!