19 09 2011

I’ve been thinking. When I mentioned as much to George yesterday afternoon, his (potentially justified) reaction was, “Uh-oh.” But he needn’t have worried. This isn’t a plotting or scheming — it’s more a gathering. A gleaning. It’s looking with beauty hungry eyes toward a coming feast, tasting and seeing that the Lord is good.

It’s pieces, coming together, not to form a whole, but to suggest a vast, unfathomable mystery beyond the reach of human sense. It’s this mortal trying to comprehend immortality, like grasping for words to describe the color of an aroma or the texture of a sound.

We see bits and pieces, snapshots of a journey, and sometimes we question God’s ways. His children stumble, weighed down by pain, failure, brokenness, shame, and the world mocks, and the church is embarrassed, because aren’t we supposed to soar on the wings of eagles, to run and not grow weary, to walk and not faint? Weren’t we created for victory?

I’m captivated by Sara’s story. Her joy. Her race well run. And I want to know more, because there had to be moments — perhaps weeks or months or even years? — when she struggled. When fear and self-pity clung to her ankles, dragging her down in the mire. If we’d seen her in those moments, would we have been able to imagine the glory that rests on her now?

A couple of days ago I read an interview with Phil Vischer in the September 24 edition of World Magazine. You know Phil. He created VeggieTales and founded Big Idea Productions. And he was serious about the whole “big idea” thing. He wanted to be the “next Walt Disney.”

Given his initial success, he appeared to be on track to achieve his goal. But the whole thing crashed and burned. Massive hiring, heavy debt, a break with the distributor, a nasty lawsuit, and an expensive last-ditch-effort project that fell short, all added up to bankruptcy. Vischer lost ownership of the VeggieTale gang. He lost his dream. And no doubt there were those in the world who mocked and those in the church who were embarrassed.

But God was in it.

What do you do with your closed doors? The ones you dreamed about, diligently worked toward, believed would open? Do you thank Him when they slam in your face?

Phil Vischer says what he gained is far more valuable than what he lost. After a several-month long sabbatical spent seeking God, he launched a new business from a completely different mindset. He calls his company Jellyfish Labs, because jellyfish rely on the current to carry them where they belong. “I realized I’m not supposed to be pursuing impact, I’m supposed to be pursuing God. And when I pursue God I will have exactly as much impact as He wants me to have.”

And I think again of Sara and the way she has pursued God and loved others well from the confines of her condo. She lost her health, and she gained more of Him. Phil Vischer lost his company and his dreams, and he gained more of Him. If we see only one piece — only the losing — we miss the gift.

I want to encourage you today. If you or someone you love is experiencing a time of suffering or loss — if the world mocks your faith as feeble or unfounded, and those you trusted to be friends offer blame instead of comfort — I pray you’ll have the grace to lean hard into Christ and know this is only a piece of the picture. When He closes doors, and when he takes away what we cherished most, He offers beauty for ashes. Substance for shadow. The eternal for the passing away.

He offers the best gift, and the only one we can keep forever.

He offers us Himself.

And, as Phil said at the end of the interview, “Everything else should be held with an open hand.”

* * *

Joining a chorus of thanksgiving:

#230 glimpses of a beautiful, inspiring life
#231 the sure hope of heaven
#232 brokenness redeemed
#233 voices in harmony
#234 Jacob’s laughter
#235 friends who listen and pray
#236 mystery
#237 peace that passes understanding
#238 the testimonies of the saints
#239 the cloud of witnesses
#240 babies due any day
#241 belonging
#242 revelation
#243 plans formed long ago with perfect faithfulness
#244 closed doors
#245 waking up last night to the sound of rain
#246 grace for today



11 responses

19 09 2011

Such encouraging words, Jeanne. Beauty for ashes, indeed. Thank you.

19 09 2011
Patricia (Pollywog Creek)

Beautiful, as always, Jeanne. BTW, our hearts were bent in much the same way this morning. LOVE when God does that.

19 09 2011

Thanks. My husband and I really needed this encouragement.

19 09 2011
Jo Ann

You weave your words so beautifully Jeanne. Such an encouraging post. It’s amazing what can happen when we give Him control and realize there is always purpose, even in the times of deepest of suffering. He always has something beautiful He is making from our ashes.

19 09 2011
deb colarossi

Ah, Jeanne. I so heart yours.

19 09 2011

I’m blessed to read this today. I often feel like such a failure, but if I look at the whole picture…I can see God’s hand. It’s not about me anyway, it’s all about Him.

19 09 2011
roseann elliott

Hi neighbor…great post….I love….I am not suppose to purse impact…but purse God. Simple truth…and I know when I am with someone who is pursing God instead of trying to make an impact on me. I want to leave an impact without ever knowing it…

19 09 2011
Stefanie Brown

What an inspiring list. I especially love: #232 brokenness redeemed. I say AMEN to that!
Visiting from Multitudes on Mondays.
Have a blessed evening…

19 09 2011

Oh Jeanne – this is so absolutely right and encouraging and filled with great wisdom. We have seen much of loss but, if given time and trust and grace, the gain far outweighs it. It is all a part of that upside-down kingdom.
Your beautiful writing and heart bless.

22 09 2011

What a beautiful read! I relish in how much our sweet girl’s words have traveled to new and far places! I too am looking for the beauty amongst the ashes- such a great way of saying it. Gitz herself always told us to “lean in” to the pain, the grief, the mourning… so I am leaning in again, just as she’d want, and keeping my eyes turned steadfastly to HIM.

And yes, she had her “moments…” She just also had a way of turning those moments into something that glorified God… always.

26 09 2011
Daniel Farrow

Lest we forget…

A spiritual kingdom lies all about us, enclosing us, embracing us, altogether within reach of our inner selves, waiting for us to recognize it. God Himself is here waiting our response to His Presence. This eternal world will come alive to us the moment we begin to reckon upon its reality.

A. W. Tozer – The Pursuit of God

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