IT ENDS WITH A WEDDING

“When we arrive at eternity’s shore, Where death is just a memory and tears are no more, We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring. Your bride will come together and we’ll sing, You’re beautiful.”

These lyrics are based on the passage in Revelation 21:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, for the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.'”

This takes my actual breath away, because we get to know how it ends. When it hurts, when it doesn’t make sense, when it seems like it’s all going to crap –we get to know how it ends. And it ends with a God who makes his dwelling place with us and with the fulfillment of the promise of all things new. The tears and death and ashes have their place here, but in the end, they’ll be no more. It’s the most beautiful story that will ever be, and in Jesus, it’s our story too.

Jesus really is good news, our best news. And while it’s hard not to wonder how much worse our newsfeeds can get, we don’t have to wonder if he wins. He already won. The end, for us in Jesus, is a wedding feast. The hurt and hate and horrible news will be no more. We will be His people + He will be our God.

 

DECIDE

I started this year with seven goals, each containing three or four action steps. I’d mapped out which things I’d like to start with and got my checklists and over-scheduled planner all set up. Seven days into 2018, I’ve decided this isn’t how I want to spend my year. I love goal-setting, list making, and structuring more than the average person –and I don’t think it’s wrong if that’s what you’re up to this January. I’ve just decided that for me personally, in this year and this season, that particular method was quickly feeding into this striving, earning, perfectionist persona that I’m desperately ready to drop.

As I’ve started thinking through replacement resolutions, I’ve realized my hope for this year is actually pretty simple –I want to make room for the things that matter. For slow mornings and pour-over coffee, for Scripture and community, for laughing and cooking and writing. For good books, silence, sabbath, and beauty. For hospitality and healthier habits. For pouring out, being known, and really, truly listening. I want to learn to make space for what’s meaningful.

More of anything almost always means less of something else. Less Netflix-watching, less unhealthy eating, less wandering the aisles at Target. Less trying to appear perfect, less sleeping until ten minutes before I need to leave, less checking off to-dos just to say that they’re done. It will also mean deciding. Deciding that starting the day Bible flung-open will be better than snoozing the alarm. Deciding that inviting people into my sorta-messy house [and life] is better than never at all. Deciding that three chapters of  a book will be more life-giving than three episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. Deciding that duck fat fries with friends are worth their calories. Deciding that I’d rather see you sleepy at seven in the morning than not at all. Deciding to start when it’s scary, write when it’s hard, trust that God’s heart is kind.

So my resolution for this year is that —to decide. To decide what this year should be full of, what matters, what faithfulness looks like. And then to choose those things, over and over again. I want to learn to choose what’s better, to lift my eyes from my checklists  to Jesus, who already upholds the universe by the word of His power.

DARKNESS + LIGHT

Yesterday was the darkest day of the year –meaning that moving forward, each day will be a little lighter for a little longer than the ones before. I think that’s what healing feels like. While the air is cold and the sun is still setting before you leave your office, you don’t always notice the light chipping away at the darkness –but then suddenly it’s 7 o’clock in June and the sun hangs high. The extra moments of light each day aren’t tangible, but over time, the weight of winter lifts.

Winter solstice aside, yesterday wasn’t the darkest day of my year –but I remember the one that was. And while I haven’t noticed each day to be a bit brighter than the last, six months later I’ve seen light overtaking the darkness all the same. I heard it said last weekend that “in the depths of the darkness, the light becomes precious to us” and I’ve seen it to be true. When I was jobless, planless, hopeless, I spent a lot of time reading my Bible –not because I’m extra-disciplined, but because I didn’t have anything else to do. It was in the darkness of my pain, and even my own thoughts, that I saw God’s Word to be a light to my path, and Jesus, the light of life.

I’m reminded this Advent that “a day will come when we don’t need the sun,” when the light will so completely overcome the darkness and all will truly be well. Revelation 21 talks about a city “that has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light and its lamp is the lamb.” On our darkest days, we can trust that someday there will be no night for those in Him, the light of the world. That the Light is slowly taking over, and the darkness will not overcome it.