Five Minute Friday: support

Support.

I’m thinking of Isaac Watts’ paraphrase of Psalm 23:
“When I walk through the shades of death
Thy presence is my stay.
One word of Thy supporting breath
Drives all my fears away.”

A week ago, Nabeel Qureshi, Christian apologist and author of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus and No God but One, announced that his doctors have put him on palliative care, that his body, after a year of fighting cancer, is shutting down. So I’m guessing he’s walking through shades of death this week, and I’ve been grieving and praying.

This week we happened to be walking through John 11 in our evening family times: the story of Lazarus, taken in tiny bites. There’s Christ, who stayed away and let Lazarus die because he loved them. And there’s Christ, who knows he’s about to raise the dead man, weeping for the sorrow he’s about to undo. And there’s Christ, bidding that dead man to come out. And the dead man came out.

This week I happened to be reading Revelation in my mornings, and there’s Christ again, promising to wipe away every tear. Promising that death shall be no more. And there’s a hope, better than Lazarus’ earthly resurrection: the One who declared himself to be the Resurrection and the Life will dwell with us as our God, will make all these sorrows pass away, will make all things new.

He walks with us through shades of death. He walked through them before us and for us. We wouldn’t breathe without his breath, and his breath tells us to “Fear not.” Not because there aren’t things to fear, but because he’s already told us the ending of this story, and it’s a happy ending:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”  –John 11:25, 26 

(She said to him, “Yes, Lord . . . .”)

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I’m linking up with the Five Minute Friday crew today, even though I spent longer than trying to pull these threads of thought together. The button above will take you to the FMF site, where you can find others’ musings on this week’s prompt, support.

©2017 by Stacy Crouch

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

five minute friday (on saturday): mom

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He’s crawling now — all over the floor and under the furniture, examining the minute crumbs, the carpet fibers, and whatever else he can find. I pursue him with voice and hands: don’t touch the power cords, don’t crinkle the book pages: no, and no again.

And he crawls to me, pulls himself up into my lap, lays his head on my chest, my knee. I couldn’t have anticipated this: how now that he’s free to go where wants, he comes to me. How I love him.

In the car last night we played an old mix cd I threw together for a road trip a few years back, when I had no suspicion of husband and baby coming so soon, when my heart grieved and yearned, and I needed those hours alone on the highway to gain perspective and hope.

And now, such joy.

But the hope of then was not in the potential for motherhood, however sweet. Nor could this now be so sweet if it were the center of my hopes. Paul says that “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:19). The hope Paul means? Resurrection. The dead are raised. Christ is raised. We shall be raised.

All the griefs and yearnings — some of which will never be answered in this life — find their answer in that resurrection. And that resurrection makes sense only in light of the grief of now.

Because even this joy, motherhood, comes tinged with the grief of love, the yearning of it. And as much now as then, I need a surer hope.

Mine, in Christ.

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Linking up with Kate Motaung for her Five Minute Friday free-write on the prompt mom. The “mom” button above leads to her site.

©2017 by Stacy Crouch

Five Minute Friday: create

“There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate.”

I write lying on my back on an ironing board leaned agains the couch, head down, feet up — thanks SpinningBabies — in hopes of encouraging a stubbornly breech boy to turn and get himself ready to be born. Our ceiling fan and the upper branches of the trees outside the window grow more familiar.

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Other times I’m pre-washing crib sheets and folding diapers and wondering, and if a breech baby is all I have to worry about, how much peace I have!

Yesterday, someone drove a truck through crowds of people in Nice, France, deliberately creating havoc of what should have been a celebration. And I’m in Mississippi creating a nest for a baby.

I don’t know quite how to reconcile the two things, how to consider the world into which this baby will be making his entrance in a matter of weeks, how to think of the likelihood that similar things may be happening in Mississippi before too long, that this baby may one day see, not just hear about, similarly horrible things.

Christ was born, a helpless baby in a world at war with its Maker, born for the purpose of dying a horrific death, born to gain the victory and create a new kingdom.

He did it.

So that however ugly the warfare may look to us, these enemies are fighting in a cause that they’ve already lost. “All things new” is no ephemeral hope, but a certainty upon which we confidently stake our very souls.

So that the peace of this nesting time is no illusion, but a foretaste of glory.

So that I don’t need to be afraid for my baby.

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Linking up with Kate Motaung and her Five Minute Friday writers to write on her prompt, Create.

©2016 by Stacy Crouch

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: easy

All night long it was the sound of the rain from the eaves, and still this morning it falls, steady and deliberate, on the million leaves that have supplanted the pollen of two weeks ago, on the birds feeding out back, onto puddles where it bubbles and disappears.

And this is easy, to sit and watch the rain, and it falls soothingly on my soul that had felt grimed and heavy with hurts and worries not mine, that I can’t help carry, but that I wear in spite of that.

On the bank beside the driveway, the roots of trees which had been clinging there past all probability gave way under rain earlier this week, and I think of that: how tree roots need to go deep, to be well-buried, how their roots penetrate concrete and disrupt plumbing, and how the rooting process must not be easy. But the deep-rooted trees don’t fall down.

Their roots go deepest when the season is dry and the surface-roots grow parched and things are not easy. And I watch hurting ones around me digging down deep through their dry seasons, and I rejoice to see them bearing fruit.

And I rejoice that the Father who sends this rain can also heal all these wounds. For Him, that is easy.

easyToday I link up with Kate Motaung and her Five Minute Friday writers to write on her prompt, easy. The “easy” button above will take you to her site to learn more about it and read others’ posts.

©2016 by Stacy Crouch

 

Five Minute Friday: morning

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And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, on the brown brink eastward, springs —

“Oh, morning.” Gerard Manley Hopkins got it: morning is always on the way, circling our globe, coming back for us when we’ve watched all the light drain away and felt there was none left.

“Weeping may endure for a night,” the Psalmist says, “but joy cometh in the morning.”

Make of it what you will, but I went to watch Risen this week, and one of my favorite moments came when Clavius interviews the drunken tomb guard to get the real story. Through tears and terror the guard explains that “the sun rose in the tomb.” The sun rose in the tomb.

Resurrection. Morning.

The sun rises and rises and rises, so that the fact of its rising is engrained in us before we’re capable of conscious thought, and yet morning has power to surprise us, breaking out with glory in our darkness, brand-new mercies where we forgot to look.

Oh, morning.

Isn’t our God good?

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Linking up with Kate Motaung for her Five Minute Friday free-write, on the prompt, morning. The morning button above takes you to her site.

©2016 by Stacy Crouch

Five Minute Friday: season

 

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What do you do with Christmas, on a chilly Friday morning, when the sun gathers itself into a point on a car windshield and shoots through the coffee shop window into your eyes to dazzle and delight?

What do you do with it, listening to carols and washing cups in your kitchen with windows beaded with the night’s condensation?

What do you do with it, stitching green Christmas trees and gold sequins onto red felt?

What do you do with it, when your grandpa’s heart has him in the hospital far away, and a boy who used to be in your children’s choir started chemo this week?

Where do the garlands and lights downtown meet the people with ports and IVs and monitors? Where do they meet the women enslaved by ISIS? Where do they meet ugliness and grief and pain that tinsel and cookies can’t comfort?

Have we got it wrong, with gaudy celebrations and songs? Or is it that this season is at its heart exactly about meeting those pains — about the only thing that can heal those wounds — an extraordinary event demanding extraordinary celebration.

Meet it with awe and reverence: God walking in human feet, come to bear human woes. And meet it with loud songs of joy: whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

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Writing more than five minutes, but still linking up with Kate Motaung on her prompt, season. The “season” button above takes you to her site.

©2015 by Stacy Crouch