Five Minute Friday: future

I walked down the aisle to “O God Beyond All Praising,” a magnificent poem by Michael Perry, set to Holtst’s magnificent “Jupiter” theme.

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The second verse says:

Then hear, O gracious Savior, accept the love we bring,
That we, who know your favor, may serve you as our King.
And whether our tomorrows be filled with good or ill,
We’ll triumph through our sorrows and rise to bless you still,
To marvel at your beauty, and glory in your ways,
And make a joyful duty our sacrifice of praise.

“Our tomorrows.” I worry about those. On our first date, my man told me of his rather audacious dream to move one day to a place that terrifies me. I prayed and questioned and said “yes,” and walked down the aisle to sing that song. But I still worry.

And when I imagine various futures, they don’t look like triumphing through sorrows — the potential sorrows are much much too large for me to envision any triumphs this side of glory. Isn’t that the point, though, in Hebrews 11? “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar . . . they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one.”

There is triumph in that better country, surely. But also grace in the here and now. Not yet for any imagined sorrows, but grace enough for every sorrow that becomes a reality.

A friend recently told me how she wants to live “an impossible life.” To be able to look back and say that she could never ever have done it apart from the grace of God.

I like to live comfortably within my own perceived abilities, with that grace as a safety net, but unnecessary. Foolish me! As if apart from grace I could accomplish one heartbeat of my own making.

But His grace is sufficient. He makes His beauty shine through the sorrows, so that we may marvel at ways higher and more glorious than ours, so that He, “the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God,” receives “honor and glory forever and ever.” (1 Tim. 1:17)

Amen.

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Today I join the FIRST link up on Five Minute Friday’s new website! Use the button above to read more on this week’s prompt, future.

©2017 by Stacy Crouch

love: small and glad, day 7

This sixth-floor waiting room has wide windows, overlooking the city, which from up here has more trees than buildings, by far. In the far distance, a buzzard wheels and rides an updraft, and in the foreground, there’s a butterfly riding another updraft, up at what seems to me a dizzy distance for a butterfly, that fragile patron of herbaceous borders and flowering shrubs.

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I walked yesterday morning with my camera — because my camera makes me go more slowly and look at the light on things more than I would walking empty-handed — and going slowly I saw how the world was just drenched in glory, and I was glad.

On the other side of the world, children are growing up in war zones and a hospital was destroyed by what ought to have been friendly fire. Nearer home, people grieve school shootings, and babies are parted out for profit, and sin so blinds that the glory becomes invisible.

And I can see where the questions come from: what kind of a love is it, that paints the leaves on a billion trees, gifts the butterfly and buzzard equal buoyancy, and lets bombs burn sick people in their beds, lets babies be torn limb from limb?

What kind of a love is this?

What kind of a love lets guilty ones walk through glory-drenched October mornings? What kind of a love gives His perfect Son for the profit of ungrateful murderers? What kind of a love offers thieves the inheritance of a King?

This is the Love who wore our sins and drenched the ground with His own innocent blood and exalted Himself to redeem our ruins. This is the Love who will be the death of Death itself, who will banish mourning and crying and pain.

He crowns small ones with steadfast love and mercy and fills us with gladness in His presence.

This is the Love.

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©2015 by Stacy Nott

Five Minute Friday: celebrate

An apt word, this weekend, as it’s a celebrating weekend: a wedding shower tomorrow, my first official event as bride-to-be.

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There are all kinds of good reasons to celebrate weddings, but there are a few things we keep in view in the midst of the celebration:

  1. Marriage isn’t eternal: it’s lifelong, Lord willing, but it’s a pre-glorification institution.
  2. Marriage isn’t about marriage: it points to a post-glorification reality, Christ and His church. That’s not an accident; God created it to do that.

With these things in view, I came across 2 Corinthians 3:11 this week: “For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.” In this passage, Paul is talking about how the law — “what was being brought to an end” — is a type and a shadow pointing to righteousness in Christ — “what is permanent.” But it also applies to marriage, another thing which is being brought to an end, to be supplanted by something permanent.

Oh, and we do celebrate marriage, and it comes with glory, and I am astounded to think, if this shadow is this glorious, how glorious our forever-union with Christ is going to be.

Cause to celebrate? Yes.

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Linking up with Kate Motaung for her Five Minute Friday prompt, celebrate. (And, astonishingly, on Friday!) Click the “celebrate” button above to visit her site.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

Five Minute Friday: send

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“Send out your light and your truth;” the Psalmist prays,
“let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.”
Psalm 43:3

After a week of cold gray mornings, we have a cold bright morning. My car windshield was coated in literal frost over which I had to pour warm water before I could see to go anywhere.

The horizon of the road headed east was rosy with anticipation, and suddenly, above the trees, there was the sun in all the orange intensity of seven o’clock.

My heart sang, and birds flew eagerly eastward over the road, and the fields wore soft winter-white frost, and the trees were silver against the pink and blue sky.

And in the God whose glory the heavens declare I had exceeding joy.

Christ himself is light and truth. His word is light and truth. But also, sometimes, He sends out his literal earthly light to lead me to worship Him.

Singing hymns all down the highway, I thanked Him for this grace.

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Today I join Kate Motaung to write on her Five Minute Friday prompt “send.” The “Send” button above will send you to her blog where you can join in the fun and read what others have written.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

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This evening we drank hot chocolate and decorated the Christmas tree which has been fragrancing our living room for a week now all unadorned. I unpacked memories with the ornaments: all the little woodland creatures that used to talk to one another in the hollows between the tree branches, the cat and dog that always hang near one another at the bottom of the tree, the golden globe which hangs on a motor which will keep it turning and turning until January.christmas tree

And I remembered that every year since I started writing at Between Blue Rocks, I’ve shared some Christmas poem or other here in December. Handling those ornaments reminds me the joy of maintaining small traditions, and so I continue this one here.Today’s poem comes from Luci Shaw and is published in her collection Polishing the Petoskey Stone (Harold Shaw Publishers, 1990). It deals with an event included in the Christmas story, though it preceded it, actually, by many months.

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St. Luke 1:39-45

Framed in light,
Mary sings through the doorway.
Elizabeth’s six month joy
jumps, a palpable greeting,
a hidden first encounter
between son and Son.

And my heart turns over
when I meet Jesus
in you.

I like the simplicity of this poem and the way it takes that meeting and lets me own it. For us there is no physical carrying of the newly-incarnate God, but even so the glorious mystery of the gospel “is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” He is in us, and as we walk with Him we are transformed into His image. So that sometimes, when I am with other Christians, I get glimpses of Jesus. Those are beautiful.

©2014 by Stacy Nott

Noticing, Day 22: working backwards

Today I noticed how the sweetgums and poison ivies are taking their habitual lead in donning autumn attire, flaming out from among their more reticent deciduous neighbors.

Virginia creeper, too, apparently.

Virginia creeper, too, apparently.

Is this a case, I wonder, of God giving more honor to those that lack honor?

Whether it is or no, each fall I’m stunned by this glory of what is being brought to an end. (How much more, then, will what is permanent have glory?)

And as I think of that, I’m reminded of this quote from C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which I noticed a Facebook friend sharing earlier this week: ” . . . when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead . . . Death itself would start working backwards.”

Every time I read that last bit, I get excited. Jesus Christ was killed in our — the traitors’ — stead, fulfilling and yet overturning the age-old order of things, reversing the death-sentence under which we once walked and granting the glory of permanent life as adopted children of God to all who believe in Him.

I notice that this is more glorious than the sweetgums.

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©2014 by Stacy Nott

Noticing, Day 20: but He did

This is a sprig of a beautyberry bush, genus Callicarpa, species americana.

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I’ve decided that October is the perfect month for noticing, because it seems that everything is lovely in October.

Whenever I start noticing the colors of this world I get to inhabit, I think of a line from a Sandi Patty song on one of my childhood cassette tapes:

He could have made it black and white, and we’d have never known.

Think of it: God didn’t have to make colors. Even in black and white He could have dazzled us with lights and textures:

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He didn’t have to give us eyes at all. He didn’t have to equip our skin with sensitive nerves to know the difference between pine bark and a baby’s skin, to recognize where a breeze blows and where the sun bakes. He didn’t have to fill the world with music and tune our ears to catch it. There was no requirement that we should taste food or smell flowers. But we do.

If He had chosen to make us senseless blobs in a dark, bland, silent world, we wouldn’t have known the difference. But instead, our days are crowned with glory and honor as we walk through a creation which screams His majestic name.

And, surely, this glory is more than we deserve: a more-than-sufficient gift for a less-than-sufficient people whose sins cause creation to groan in bondage to futility. Surely, there was no need that He should give us more than the glory allotted in the here-and-now. He didn’t have to become one of us, didn’t have to clothe Himself in our sins, didn’t have to die on our behalf. But He did it, rising victorious from the death which would have held us, securing glory for our hereafter as well as for our now.

Is He who made the beautyberry mindful of us? Oh, yes; yes, He is.

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©2014 by Stacy Nott