Prologue: Hope

Hope woke up in hell. There were no flames or screams like the priests had said, just cold hard rock and darkness. The kind of darkness that makes you see things.

“Where…?”, barely a whisper could escape her dry throat and cracked lips. Unsure where she was or why she was there Hope tried sitting up, the pain helped her find her voice.

“Aghhh!”, Hope screamed as she pulled her self up and leaned back against the rough stone. Pain and fear made her heart race. Hope forced herself to focus on the sound of her own labored breathing. As she sat there quietly breathing, Hope was reminded of a cistern she explored when she was younger. That cavern had filled her with wonder, this new one filled her with fear.

Unable to see anything in the pitch black, she gingerly explored the damage done to her body. The entire right side of her torso was tender to even the lightest touch. Hope fought back tears as she continued down past her tender hip and thigh to find a jagged bone piercing the skin just below the knee. Tears flowed freely now, breaking into sobs.

Death’s nostrils were filled with the smell of blood. His mouth watered, saliva dripping on to the ground. Excitedly he pawed the ground and let loose a wild howl. Death would eat tonight.

Leaning back against the cold wet cavern wall, Hope tried to remember. She remember kissing her father good bye as she left with the flock. This time of year the upper pastures provided the best grazing and only a day’s journey of camp. However the rainy season had been shorter this year than most. Hope remembered debating about what to do next. Not wanting to go back to her father for help she took the sheep further north, through the whispering valley to the foothills of Dividing mountains. The foothills were a place her father had warned her not to go. But her sister, Song… Hope suddenly remembered standing next to Song as the earth beneath her feet began to give way.

“Song! Song! Are you here?”, Hope shouted as loud as her aching chest would allow.

Feeling around in the pitch black Hope searched for her sister, her best friend, her joy, her Song. With each move of her leg Hope paid a steep price, but fear and love kept her moving. On the verge of giving up, Hope put her hand landed in a pool. It didn’t feel like water. Lifting her hand to her face Hope smelled blood. Tracing it back to a mound of hair and flesh. Hope began to crack and panic took over.
“NO! No No No No No. Song! Wake up!”

Desperate and forgetting about pain. She lunged forward to try and find her sister in the darkness. Instead she landed on an odd yet familiar lump of wool and cold flesh. Relieved and exhausted Hope laid her head on the poor dead sheep and cried.

Death fought to control himself as the scent grew stronger. A dark cave with slick rock was a dangerous place for a wolf to get a meal. But this was the way He liked it. Death was very hands on.

Hope opened her eyes and sunlight poured in from a rising sun. The sky above a finely woven tapestry of blues, whites, and golds. She found herself on the bank of a stream of crystal clear water. The tent across the bubbling stream took her breath away. It was her Family’s tent, the tent where she had been born, the tent where she had grown from a silly girl to mature young woman. But it wasn’t the tent itself that had taken her breath away, it was her mother tending the fire. Cooking rabbit dinner from the savory smell.

Hope realized that she was moving when her feet suddenly felt cold and wet as she stepped into the stream. In the middle of the stream with water at her knees, the wind shifted, the crystal clear water became murky, and the sun was suddenly gone, replaced by the waning moon. With her next step she plunged into water well over head, struggling back to the surface Hope gasped for breath. Desperate she called to her mother for help. But her mother was already walking back towards the tent, dinner in hand. Hope kept her eyes on the fading figure till she submerged again. Fighting against the water she clawed and kicked with all her might.

“Ahhhh!” with shooting pain woke Hope from one nightmare to another.

Laying back with tears in her eyes, Hope realized a bitter truth, seeing her mother in this place could only mean one thing, death was coming for her. The dead take care of the dead. That’s what the priest had told her at least. Hope wished for death to hurry up.

That’s when Life began to sing. She had been waiting patiently for this moment. The one when her spark was needed most.

“Remember, remember my dear
The promise of the shepherd
A promise a sure as the rising sun
Like the stars that lead you home
You will never be alone

The sun rises,
the river flows
And as surely as the grass grows
You will never be alone”

Hope heard Song’s voice as the words sliced through the air driving back the suffocating inner darkness. Reminding Hope of the promises her Father had given her.
That night her mother died was like this one, at first it seemed to have no end. But as the sky turned pink. Her father took her hand and said, “Never forget that morning always follows night”.

Years later again at first light, Hope prepared to take the flock by herself for the first time. She stood before her father trying not to look as nervous as she felt. Quietly he took her hand and pressed into it a final gift saying, “Keep this by your side. Together you will never be alone.”

Death was frustrated by the darkness and the cave, but his bloodlust would not go unsatiated. A misplaced paw sent him scratching and clawing at the floor as he slid down landing with a thud. Struggling to get up Death kept moving closer still.

Hope had imagined death would come for her in an angelic form, but the scratching and panting coming from somewhere in the darkness told her this was something more earthly, something a good shepherd was intimately familiar with, and Hope’s father had raised a good shepherd.

Using her last bit of strength Hope lifted the sheep carcass over her body. With her good arm she felt along her waist searching for the gift that her father had given her the first time she had taken the flock out by herself. Finding it she wrapped her hand around its hilt. The weight of the dead sheep started to suffocate her, if death didn’t hurry this sheep would do it’s work.

Hope never saw Death instead she smelled him. And then she felt him as he started to devour the sheep on top of her. The weight of the giant wolf forced more air out of her lungs causing Hope to see stars and hear flowing steams. Stealthily Hope brought Promise up and stabbed Death in the neck with it.

Death reared back in shock and pain, like he had been bitten by a snake. In the darkness he struggled to get away, but the bite had been true. Death bled out in the darkness.

Hope woke up in a world of white, white bed sheets, white blankets, white pillows, and bright white light shining through the window. On the night stand was Promise, her father’s gift, her most prized possession. Sleeping in the chair next to her bed was her sister Song. Hope was sure she was dreaming.

“Song…”, Hope’s throat was sore and dryer than a desert afternoon.
Her sister didn’t stir, but Hope felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned and looked into the face of a man overflowing with joy and love.
“You kept your promise.”
“Rest my child. I’m proud of you.” He said with a smile.

Sailing from Worry to Overflow

There is an ocean of worry
it’s waters are bitter
and it’s depths are filled with the dead.
The ships of men sail across her stormy waters
in the pursuit of all kinds of earthly riches
but few ever reach the shore.
This sea is all consuming
neither man nor boat can satisfy her
she is a devourer of the present
and a thief of many futures.
Who can tame her winds
who can safely ride her wave
only He who speaks to the wind and waves
Peace, be still!
He spoke and created the waters
and by his words the bitter waters of worry
are transformed into the sweet wine of the overflow
This ocean is the bringer of life
it flows from the heart of the creator
to the heart of the created
Those who cross the ocean of overflow
do not require vessels or fear the storms
because they are upheld by His right hand
There is an ocean of overflow
let your worry be lost there

Seeing in 3D

27 “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! 28 Father, bring glory to your name.”

Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.” 29 When the crowd heard the voice, some thought it was thunder, while others declared an angel had spoken to him.

John 12:17-29

Like anyone else, when I read the bible I try to put myself into it. Like what kind of Israelite would I have been? One of the ones that were screaming at Moses to take them back to Egypt? Or the kind that trusted in the God that had just delivered them from slavery with ten awesome plagues? And like anyone else I usually put myself in the good guys camp. I could never doubt God after seeing the angel of death come through Egypt, or the red sea parted, or water come from a stone, or you name it. Likewise in the scripture above. How could these idiots hear a voice from heaven and dismiss it so easily as thunder?

Then Tozer in his book, The Pursuit of God, says this:

Our thought habits are those of the scientist, not those of the worshiper. We are more likely to explain than to adore. “It thundered,” we exclaim, and go our earthly way. But still the Voice sounds and searches. The order and life of the world depend upon that Voice, but men are mostly too busy or too stubborn to give attention.

A. W. Tozer – The Pursuit of God

I’ve loved science since I was little. And that’s not a bad thing. Science in general isn’t bad. I believe my love of science and technology is a something God has placed in me that makes me who I am. The problem doesn’t lie in the fact that I see with the eyes of scientist it’s that my worshiping eyes are so dim. A loud voice from heaven may certainly sound like thunder, but if that’s all we hear then we’re missing something. Like listening to music in stereo but only the left side is working properly. Or watching an old 3D movie but with only blue colored lenses.

The natural man is one way to view the world, but what’s the other way? The bible says a lot about worship, but this is the key to me. Jesus outlined the proper way to worship God.

For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.

John 4:24

The right side of our stereo, the red lenses of our 3D glasses is our spirit. This is the aspect of ourselves (us modern day scientist) that we must exercise. We must look beyond the thunder and find the voice that caused it.

The facts are that God is not silent, has never been silent. It is the nature of God to speak. The second person of the Holy Trinity is called the Word.

A. W. Tozer – The Pursuit of God

I think we have enough kings

Read this today in Luke 22:

25 Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ 26 But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.

“Friends of the people” really struck me. It’s hard not think of our current political cycle after reading that. I felt like God was saying that today we have too many kings and not enough servants. And while politics is the easy target here, I can’t help but wonder if it’s not the same in the church.

Into the Holy of Holies

We sang this song yesterday and I just love the words.

Take me past the outer courts
Into the Holy Place
Past the brazen altar
Lord I want to see your face
Pass me by the crowds of people
And the Priests who sing your praise
I hunger and thirst for your righteousness
But it’s only found in one place

Take me into the holy of holies
Take me in by the blood of the lamb
Take me into the holy of holies
Take the coal, touch my lips, here I am

Kutless – Take Me In

Come to me…

“…and I will give you rest”— that is, “I will sustain you, causing you to stand firm.” He is not saying, “I will put you to bed, hold your hand, and sing you to sleep.” But, in essence, He is saying, “I will get you out of bed— out of your listlessness and exhaustion, and out of your condition of being half dead while you are still alive. I will penetrate you with the spirit of life, and you will be sustained by the perfection of vital activity.” Yet we become so weak and pitiful and talk about “suffering” the will of the Lord! Where is the majestic vitality and the power of the Son of God in that?

– Oswald Chambers – Getting There

Blood flows

Torrents of blood fill our streets
We cry out in pain and sorrow
Our hearts torn and tattered

Yet we continue to worship violence
And elect hate to lead us
Living in fear of our fellow man

Years ago blood flowed down the side of a hill
Shed in love and passion
For the lost and the broken

But we must worship the Prince of
Only then will His blood heal our broken places
And His love will cast out all of our fears

The Explanation For Our Difficulties

God is not concerned about our plans; He doesn’t ask, “Do you want to go through this loss of a loved one, this difficulty, or this defeat?” No, He allows these things for His own purpose. The things we are going through are either making us sweeter, better, and nobler men and women, or they are making us more critical and fault-finding, and more insistent on our own way. The things that happen either make us evil, or they make us more saintly, depending entirely on our relationship with God and its level of intimacy.
Oswald Chambers – My Utmost for His Highest

The Angel of Death

I had only ever seen his handy work from a distance. His signature was unmistakable. The Angel of Death was nothing if not a craftsman. This time was different. Dying before my eyes was a man I loved. I’m not ashamed to say it. Throughout a boy’s life he’ll have many friends, mentors, and bosses, but only one dad.

The scene was familiar, the hospital bed, the beeping monitors, the inescapable smell of antiseptic. The situation was different. This stay wasn’t a mere inconvenience or temporary station. We had come to say goodbye.

In the same way that death unifies the human experience it also acutely exposes our difference. While death’s footsteps echoed in the hall everyone said goodbye in their own way. Many said it with tears and sobs. Others said it with a faint smile remembering a special moment or one of his famous jokes. Others still hung back not saying anything though their eyes spoke for them.

Quiet fell on the room as death made its grand entrance. Dad’s face grew pale and his breaths became shallow. The angel of death carries with it an atmosphere of sorrow. The air in that little room became dark and heavy. Clouds began to form and realization rained down. Death paused for a second to bask in its native habitat.

Before the darkness could dominate the air a note rang out. More notes followed, forming into a beautiful melody. Praise and worship to the Holy One washed over me, the room, death himself and flowed out into the hallway. Heaviness lifted, the clouds fled, and death hastened its step no longer enjoying the moment.

As the singing continued death took dad’s hand. If you weren’t paying close attention you might not notice the shallow breathing stop. The singing died and a quiet somberness filled the room. Its job done, death turned to leave.

As we stared on in silence at dad’s hospital bed it was transformed from a barren wasteland to fertile ground and what began to bloom was absolutely glorious. Bright and radiant dad sat up slowly. His eyes focused on the brilliant angel of life who had quietly entered the back of the room. What it lacked in pageantry the angel of life made up for in power. Hoping down and without a look over his shoulder dad took the angel’s hand.