Total Restoration in Progress

This is my new life statement. Total restoration in progress. Think about this with me.  As I walked down the old & classic looking streets of downtown St. Paul, there’s a place called the Coney Island Cafe. It says it opened in 1923, and now there is plastic sheets over the windows & dirt in the doorway. But a tiny little sign tells you that there is a “total restoration in progress”.  When you peek into the windows, you can see the old bar stools, the juke box in the middle of the dining room, old booths made from dark wood…signs of a past that has been lived and worn down.  Signs that at one time this little shop was something…it was made to be something, but has gotten dirty, old, been shut off from the outside & has lost life inside the walls.

As I walked away from the cloudy window, I pictured my own life like that little cafe.  Parts of my life have been dusty, abandoned, been shut off from the outside & lost life.  I thought about how many of us when going through difficult things will grow tired of visiting those places inside of us, and pretty soon they’re closed for business, not something we easily remember, and not something any one would want to go back to.

But Christ, in his ever visioning perspective & will, sees that old place and sees the potential that is still held within.  He comes inside of that place, and puts up a sign “total restoration in progress”.  Total….not one spot untouched, taking everything into the process.  Restoration…..taking all those parts, every single spec & restoring it to the original design, the original intent & vibrant life.  In Progress……an ongoing process, active & not sedentary, forward moving towards a goal, a developing of sorts.

Isn’t our life in Christ a “total restoration in progress”?  Will we ever reach a finished state until Christ says come home?  And how would we be totally restored if we do not allow him into every little nook & cranny of our being?

When you see a place that has been totally restored to it’s original state, is it not a beautiful sight? Something you want to behold, take in, soak up, relish, applaud, appreciate & marvel at?  Are we not usually wanting to give recognition to the hard work that the restorer has accomplished? Do we not look at all the tiny details that the crafter took time to meticulously finish?  Why then would we not recognize the work that Christ would like to do in us, a more than fully capable master who knows the ins & outs of us better than we know ourselves.  Should we not then give him the keys to every part of us and especially the dark & dusty parts so that we can be fully restored to the life that Christ meant for us to live out?

No Parking or Stopping

This afternoon, I found myself hidden, in a small patch of grass, mesmerized by the trees, the breeze, the heat & the deep hurt of a friend….of their deep hurt, and how I hurt because I know they hurt.  As I sat, I looked towards the road, and saw this common sign “No Parking or Stopping.”

I see these signs all the time, we all do & are often frustrated with the thoughts of “why not,” or “it’ll just be a second,” or “someone else is parked there….maybe I can get away with it too.”  But today, as I looked at the sign, and thought about this woman, friend, co-worker…..I thought of how God often tells us that earth itself is a “No Parking or Stopping” zone.

Stay with me….it says in Philippians 3:20 that “…our citizenship is in heaven.” Does this mean we’re not made for this earth?  We’re made for something else, right?  Heaven? To glorify God ultimately…but that earth, where our God has placed us, is just temporary, right?  We’re not supposed to just stay here.  This isn’t our end point.  We can’t just stop, or park here on earth….we need to keep moving…especially when times get bad.  

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  SO we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)
  
I do not appreciate the knowledge that the troubles we endure here, is “achieving an eternal glory”….I want the beauty now…I want to stop, enjoy the roses, whatever. Yet the truth is, that God is and will use these times to make His glory seem even more beautiful to us once we are united with Him.  What we experience here, is temporary….it’s something that will pass away, that we need to not stop at. We cannot allow these things to stop us….though we may want to…we need to remember the “No Parking” sign.  This is not the end.  There is more….Philippians 3:20 goes on to say “And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.”

These bodies, the ones we are wasting away in….the old, the fat, the frail, the weak, the worn down bodies that we are in…are only traveling clothes.  There is more to hope for, though right now it is hard to see.  It is painful to look for. But don’t stop….keep going.


A little shift.

I think something has changed. Temporarily? It’s possible. But changed? Definitely.  A friend asked me very cautiously, if since my mother’s death I looked at dying differently. To that I had an emphatic response of “yes…I’m not afraid of it at all.” I realize that as a believer, there’s no reason to fear death, but sometimes it’s not death you fear, but the unknown that surrounds it.  The unanswerable questions that after the fact won’t matter anyway.

I remember that when my friend Julie passed away, I was soon after on a trip to Mexico.  There we visited Copper Canyon in Chihuahua.  There was one cliff that we saw, that had a large rock at the very tip.  My friends discovered that the rock–rocked. You could stand on the rock & it would sway on the tip of the cliff.  I wanted a picture out there, but decided I wasn’t brave enough to stand on the edge, so I stayed on the “sturdy” rock in front.  Immediately after they took my picture though, I changed my mind & decided I couldn’t be that close & not stand at the edge. I quickly turned around, walked right out onto the rock & posed for a picture. Yes, I was probably about 200+ feet above the bottom of the canyon, with not much below me…not ANYTHING below me…but I realized that death didn’t frighten me. Why not live life & be a little daring?

This is not nearly as near to the story I just told, but last night as I drove away from my home, I spied a beautiful antique settee on the curb. I wondered, pondered & decided to drive on. Then I had a little twinge…why not turn around & see.  I turned a right and went around the block, pulled up in front of a quaint little house, walked up to the door & knocked. After a few minutes of curious knocking, a girl my age welcomed me with a big smile. I asked about the couch & she vibrantly answered “You like it? It’s yours. Think it’ll fit in your car?” Huh. See how easy that I was I thought? What did that hurt to ask?

That part of me …that is sometimes timid & nervous, is changing. I’m growing bolder, braver….little by little. It’s a good change, a welcomed change. I’m finding joy in this, and can’t wait to see what else awaits!

Another test…

I don’t know what to do.

Tonight was another test. Just how much will I be given to hold? The rain keeps pouring over the tear streaked face, too wet to remember what it feels like without tears.  The winds feel cold across my face, but I long for them, to feel something….anything.  How much Lord, must I suffer… how many deaths must I endure?  So many lives, full of hope, of courage, of grace & strength, suddenly taken away.  I realize that they live…in a time that I do not understand, hidden beyond my sight behind your great hands.  I understand this, and I yearn to join them.  I yearn to not be separated anymore from the people who have gone before me.  I hurt so much and ache for them. 
I sit here, and what I want, I cannot have. What I don’t want, I have right now.  The things that made me happy have come and gone. And the things that supposedly will make me happy again, I cannot see through the cloudy eyes of tears. There is a restless spirit within my ambiguous desires and sedentary day. What to do with myself, my life…my pain, and everything that is wrapped up within the three, forming a cord that seems to cut off life to my heart.

When oh Lord, will you come?  When will you join with us again, joining us and the ones we love? 

This last death, though a relationship not as prominent as my mother, has hit me low….it is so soon after my mother’s death,  that I feel completely empty, void of anything, yet terribly in pain.  There is too much sadness Lord, too much grief. What is your purpose, and why to us? Where will the pain end, and to what extent must it reach?  I know there are no limits of your love, and you have limited death…for you will not be overcome by it.  Yet how come I cannot always see the limits of death, or feel the limitless reach of your grasp?  You need to touch me, to hold me, to comfort me, for I cannot live without your peace. Your grace is more than sufficient to hold the terrors that haunt me each day, but meet me now Lord, do not delay.  For my heart wanes for you & aches with tremors.

The face behind the falls

Many drum beats ago, when the East was still the West, the sky still one with the sea, love abounded.  A man of sorts & a woman of sorts lived together in love, passion & peace.  They dreamt together, about the worlds they could form, the colors & the textures, the depths & the heights. The two, better described as one, knew no time. They felt no presence except that of infinite love.  


At once, which still was never, since there was no now….they, together as one came to a singular mind to fulfill their dreams of a land, a place where they could be…not the being that they currently or never or always knew, but a place that would contain them. A land that would be an icon of the beauty between them, the colors to describe their love, the texture to describe their emotion.  The man of sorts & woman of sorts dreamed together to make a living substance that would please the other in themselves.

Secretly while unhidden they together formed themselves into something that the other could enjoy.  The man of sorts changed to a winding thing, something that moved freely over the foundation they formed.  He was invisible, but his presence could be felt by the other.  The woman of sorts revealed herself as a form that rocked, swelled & crashed. The two lived abundantly, finding delight in each other, together, as a wind and wave.  

Because they had separated the oneness of the two, time was created. It lay as a reminder of times past…drum beats in the distance. When they felt enough days had gone by and they desired to join together again as one, the time joked with them and promised that tomorrow it would allow the joining to resume.  As time has told, it is a liar and cheat…never telling the truth, stealing some hours away and giving length to unwanted hours.  Tomorrow turned into yesterday, and someday turning its face to one day never coming.  

The wave of sorts pushed on the foundation, trying to raise herself into the sky, but it only made her fall into pools, raising other parts of the foundation into the heights of peaks.  She waved to the tips, but still was unable to reach the air.  The wind of sorts grabbed at the wave, trying to lift her into the heavens, but it was to no avail. He blew himself round, but it only stirred the waters & did nothing to the foundation.  

The water and the wave saw that they had dreamed to love each other differently but never saw that the love they held before had been perfect.  The waters found a secret place on the foundation, one unfound by time. There she pressed her face into the foundation & wept. She wept and wept so much that she filled the foundation with the sea.  The wind met her there, and vowed to forever wipe her tears with his breath. Together they stay, her crying for her love & he caressing her cheek with his unending love.

To this day, you can see her face, behind the waterfall….