if: when we receive so much more than we deserve or expect

If only. Oh how often those immortal words have entered our thoughts or escaped from our lips, as we murmur against the hand life has dealt us or wonder just when we can fulfil our delayed hopes and dreams.

Maybe ‘if only’ has been spoken as wistful wishes or with sadness and regret. I’ve had my share of both. But I’ve also expressed those words when looking back in gratitude for the way God has intervened to rescue me from this or that. With God, we always receive so much more than we deserve or have any right to expect.

Today, I’m wondering at the wisdom of temporarily breaking my poetic silence and period of enforced rest, having been lured into the writing waters again by the prompt of ‘if’ provided by five-minute-friday this week.

If

If you can see yourself as you really are, your need for alteration and change,
and are willing for your mind to become transformed, your life rearranged.

If you can look beyond the bare bones of your own meagre existence
and recognise how much loving others makes a difference.

If you refuse to slavishly follow the ways of this darkened world, preferring,
instead, to plough your own furrow, while watching seeds of faith unfurl.

If you recognise that undue haste and hurry only lead to stress and driven
lives, and that being spiritually guided, led and inspired is truly wise.

If you can maintain hope when challenges mount up, and drink
willingly from life’s stormy, thankless and bitter cup.

If you gratefully receive grace upon grace to help you live your life
aright, while yielding yourself to God’s supreme will and his laser-light.

If your eyes have been opened to the mystery and marvellous ways of God,
and your broken heart has been broken open by his unconditional love.

If your prayers centre on inner growth, supporting others more than yourself,
and you’ve developed a greater Christ-like, compassionate heart as well.

Then you will be aware of being God’s beloved one, my friend,
created to be in relationship with him and to do good things.
© joylenton

**With apologies to Rudyard Kipling for styling my hastily executed poem similarly to his own epic work. You can read his masterly ‘If’ poem here… **

However, I am delighted to be flexing my poetic muscles again and to have an offering to share with the wonderful writers here. Come join us? 🙂

dust: our origins and state are redeemed by God’s grace

 

We may have entered Lent with dust ashes symbolically smudged on our foreheads, revealing we are dusty people in desperate need of a Saviour. God’s Light penetrates to show us the way to live and love with the freedom and compassion only He can bring. Our dust mote souls dance in its radiance.

Thankfully, Jesus didn’t come to wag a finger and point out our flaws, faults and failings. He already knows them all too well. The human heart is no mystery to Him. He came to rescue lost souls. To restore us back to the Father. To make us His own brothers and sisters by faith. To declare we are not forgotten but are deeply loved.

We may have begun our journey in a heavy-hearted way because the road to Calvary is always paved with pain. We each carry our own cross, often without realising it. But there is anticipation of joy to come.

There is cause for celebration. There’s a brighter future at stake and awe and wonder await all who come carefully and prayerfully, with growing awareness of why Jesus came to earth. Skies may darken soon but our souls grow lighter with every step.

Because we know our Redeemer lives. He has ransomed us from Satan’s clutches. He has set us free from sin’s steely grip. He has given us a new heart. A fresh start. Hope for today and into eternity. Love that will not let us go. Love that has paid the price so that God’s sons and daughters can live in close relationship with Him.

We remember we are people of the Cross, pilgrims on a pathway of faith and sojourners on earth, with our feet rooted in dust, in daily toil and concerns, but with our hearts set on an eternal purpose. It’s one we can scarcely fathom, though the mystery is an essential part of the journey itself.

 

We become changed from the inside out. Renewed, with an altered perspective and heart and an awakened desire to be who God always intended us to be: the best version of ourselves. Though we came from dust, we are destined for a glorious eternity with God.

Being dust

We begin as dust and ashes, red-based Adamic clay, ready
to be shaped and moulded by unseen hands, waiting
on breath of Life to blow as holy wind, naming
our earthen vessel souls as Man

We remain fragile, easily cracked and broken, full
of holes, etched with crevices, edged hard, made
soft with grace, gritty from frequent handling, soiled
yet bearing our Master’s hallmark

We are God’s handiwork, his creative vision, expressed
in tents of flesh—prone to wounds, rips and tears, weak
as water—we think we’re strong and capable
but only when he makes us so
©joylenton

 

story: owning the story of our lives #thedailyhaiku 31

 

I’ve lost count of the number of times I have wanted to disown the story I am living, rewrite it differently and choose an alternative narrative arc. Maybe you have too. So what does owning our story look like? 

As a woman of faith, I venture to suggest it looks like seeing our lives as a small but highly significant part of God’s greater narrative. In the story He is telling throughout history, we all have a part to play. You matter. Your life isn’t a mistake or an accident.

I grew up thinking (hoping?) I must have been adopted, such was the disconnect between me and my family of origin. Later on, hearing how my mother had taken measures to try to stop the pregnancy from continuing, my insecure feelings grew stronger.

Then God happened. He’d been there right at conception, of course, planned for me to live at such a time as this, to be born into the generation I belong to and the family where I arose from but failed to see myself as cherished.

I was born prematurely and against the odds. I was meant to be here. And to survive whatever life threw at me. I was also born to bloom and thrive because of belonging to the family of God. 

Once I came to faith in Christ, my  wounded soul brokenness was no surprise to Him, only a recognisable state we all struggle with to varying degrees. I finally woke up to the fact that I was unconditionally loved—by Almighty God Himself.

It has taken me a while to own the story of my life, filled with brokenness and emotional pain as the years have been, plus decades of health challenges. But that’s only viewing it from a purely human perspective.

Now I am able to see how God poured out His mercy and grace, loved me immeasurably, tenderly wiped away the tears and gave me a brand new start through Jesus.

I am incredibly blessed to have a husband who adores me, a loving family and close friends. I no longer want to disown the story of my life. Instead, I am willing to speak out about how much God has changed and glorified it by His grace. And He will do it for you too, my friend.

Owning my story

I claim this story
the life I live, holding it
shyly—out to you

you gather pieces
of my brokenness and give
them back to me—whole

and in your eyes, wide
as the ocean swells, I see
sweet mercy and grace

caught in a net of love
with no thought of escape, here
I will stay—always
©joylenton

We’ve made it! This is the last post in #thedailyhaiku series for October’s #write31days marathon reading/writing challenge. It’s been a joy and sweet encouragement to have your company here. Thank you! If you want to catch up with the rest of the posts, please click here.  And look out for a surprise bonus tomorrow!  🙂 ❤