Path of totality

We witnessed a total solar eclipse this week.

It was stunning. Glorious. Beautifully sobering. God displayed in His creation–its order and majesty and power all pointing to Him.

Don’t you feel the pull of His glory?

Eclipse darkness is so different than normal darkness. There is an almost eerie quality to the air and light. I can imagine the fear in days long ago when there was little knowledge of the wonders and workings of the universe.

I can imagine a fear of not knowing what the darkness meant.

The eclipse surprised me. Surprised me by its quiet power. But startled me most of all by the light that escaped during totality. Fully dark for just a second, and then a burst of white light surrounding the moon.

The light that could not be held back.

I expected the darkness. I expected the blocking of the sun. But I did not expect the cold, dark moon to be surrounded by such glorious light.

I was startled by the light in the darkness.

This picture that remains in my mind is so dear to me. I will hold it to my heart forever.

There is no darkness that can obliterate God’s light. Even when your journey takes you down a path of unusual night, where the light is dim and frightening and fading, you can look up and be amazed at the glory of God.

He is always there. He never leaves you. In the most unnatural darkness, He provides a panoramic view of His beauty. Sometimes subtle, sometimes startling.

But always enough.

Enough to light the path ahead. Enough to assure you of His presence. Enough to disperse fear and gloom. Enough to instill hope.

The darkness is the perfect stage to display His glorious light.

He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing. He binds up the waters in his thick clouds, and the cloud is not split open under them. He covers the face of the full moon and spreads over it his cloud. He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness. The pillars of heaven tremble and are astounded at his rebuke. By his power he stilled the sea; by his understanding he shattered Rahab. By his wind the heavens were made fair; his hand pierced the fleeing serpent. Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand? Job 26:7-14









If not, then it’s paradise

This post was originally published over a year ago after we learned of Marissa’s recurrence. This past week a 24 year old young woman I was praying for was welcomed into God’s presence without much warning. We weep but hang on to hope in our sorrow.

I know two mamas who said good-bye to their babies not so small this week. Said good-bye before they were ready and before they knew how.

It can shatter the heart.

And it would be so hopeless without Jesus. Without His promises which slowly seep back in to heal the shattered pieces. Without the knowledge of redemption and peace and eternity with God. Without His nail-scarred hands pulling us in and holding us close.

Jesus is our only hope in the sadness.

He makes real the truth we did not know before this sadness. He’s a friend and He’s a conqueror and He speaks peace. He binds our wounds and He heals our hearts and He carries us. He reminds us of a forever-after with no sorrow and no pain. With no sickness and no separation and no fear.

I always want to be open, always honest about the sadness. I want to be able to talk about hard things. I want to show my children that God is real and He meets us in our real. He meets us in our hard.

He has met with us this year.

On a Sunday just after Marissa’s biopsy, we went to church and I felt truth wash over me. Afterwards, we had a sweet talk with our pastor. He gently encouraged our fearful hearts. He reminded us of God’s providence and sovereignty. He told Marissa he expected her to be here for many years. But if not? If God was doing something unusual and painful and hard?

If not, then it’s paradise.

Marissa is not afraid of dying. She doesn’t want to, but she is not afraid. She knows God as her Savior and she is settled in His hands. We trudge on and we wade through and we expect God to answer our prayers for healing. We know He is able. We know what our hearts seek, what they desire.

But if not, then we unclench our fists and open our hands fully to God. If not, then we remind ourselves of the painful glory of the cross. If not, then we rejoice through tears.

Because if not, then it’s a safe passage for her through the swollen waters of the Jordan. If not, then it’s streets of gold and eternal harps and angel choirs. If not, then it’s the forever healing in the presence of God, her King.

If not, then it’s paradise.

The journey home

For Jennifer, and all of us in the middle of the story

We did some traveling this past week, and we drove through Durham and right past the exit for Duke where Marissa spent so many days. Where we fought and some would say lost. So much happened there, and I feel such a tumble of emotion–and not just for the physical battle.

No, the battle was much more than that.

Floods of memory rush in with a growing thickness in the throat. A sigh for all the ways the battle changed us. And a heaviness. For Marissa, the horrific fight but then a full transformation into glory. For us left behind, some growth. Some faith. A new realization of God.

But many scars. Fear. And a struggle moving forward some days.

I suppose this is how soldiers feel after a great battle. Where do we go from here?

A friend has finished her cancer treatment and is searching for a new normal. She knows Marissa and knows the end of that story and wonders about her own.

And wonders how to trust God with all the stories.

Because all the stories are different. All the stories are His. Short or long, peaceful or battle-filled, joyful or laced with sorrow, they are His. He writes them. He fills each line.

Some are filled with excitement and wonder. Some are funny and light-hearted. Some are settled and beautiful. Some have one great battle and then peace. And some, endless conflict.

What is there to do but trust the Author? To remember His skill and His purpose and His love. To keep moving through the pages with faith. To be patient. To wait expectantly for Him to resolve, renew, and restore. To believe that He will direct each step and give strength for each new fight.

To stop looking at the words on the page and to trust in the proven One.

To believe in His plan, His beauty, His grace. To settle our hearts in truth.

To believe that it ends well.

That our journey ends with the warmth and joy of home.

Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. John 6:68

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11

And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces. Isaiah 25:8