how to be … community in a wardrobe


This is for those who are unsure about reaching out, reaching in. Who feel on the outside of church but aren’t sure about the inside either. And it’s a reminder to those who have stepped out, and it’s a reminder to those who have walked through. And it’s for me, to acknowledge to myself why church matters.

There are many reasons for engagement in community and the lives of others, but the one I’m thinking about today is that it is life to me. Rich, sweet life.

It looks tedious, having to commit and follow through, being inconvenienced, pushing through awkward stranger-ness, leaving the house (aka getting dressed). It looks tiring, giving time to others, serving, intentionally pursuing depth, praying for people. It can appear so much less, so ordinary, so basic. But step inside, and you find something bigger than what you saw. Something bigger on the inside. The gladness of rejoicing with those who rejoice. The gravity of weeping with those who weep. The miracles of healing, the growth of struggle. The character that blossoms as we set ourselves aside. The beauty of being loved, period. The opportunity to wash feet, and to intercede. The becoming our truest self, closer to and more like Jesus. The relief of being known. The strength from encouragement and from a common foundation and truth. The blessing of the pleasure of blessing. The joy of loving. The deep satisfaction of familiarity. The wonder of all this.

This is the great world that is the Church, my friends. It is heartbreak and glory, dust and beauty. It is the ideal banner of good news and the disappointment of the fall. It must be, if the earth is to know the Gospel. The Church, she is the gift of God. He gives rightly, and shall we not receive? We are God’s own, and Christ considered us worth everything. He has given us His Church, and I daresay she is worth it.

on ubiquitous, inexorable grace

What do I deserve?

I have experienced healing, thanks be to God. Through medicine and God’s grace, I am no longer plagued, haunted by leukemia. Its possibility still lingers and will for some time, but for now I can rest in this, in being made well. What an amazing gift.

I have lived in fear these past eight months. When I have been in pain, especially, I have withdrawn most often from communion with God. I retreated into myself. Into nothing, really. And there was no joy. And I asked myself more than once whether I thought I deserved to be healed. I knew I didn’t. I knew that whatever came my way, God would be good and sovereign and holy and loving. But all I wanted was to be healed. I didn’t want to have to go through the gauntlet of treatment and infection, that cycle that wore me down. I didn’t want to go through the fire. I just wanted relief, always just relief, please, God. Just take this away.

Well. He has relieved me. But He has not left me alone; He is still working on me. We’re not done.

Thankfully, God never gives what is deserved… ¹

If He did, I couldn’t bear it. But He does give gifts, every day, some so ordinary we miss them altogether. He gave me sleep in the hospital. He gave me someone to catch me when I passed out there once. He gives me the pleasure of cold drinks and fruit. The presence of plants in my home to lift my spirits. But also, weakness in my body to remind me I rely on Him for everything. This is a hard verse: “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”²

What I have seen as evil – hospital stays, blood draws, so many pills, swelling, headaches, cancer – God always is far above and His story is so great I can’t fathom it. From this “evil” I have experienced the greatness, the sweetness of the Church. I have met new friends and strengthened old friendships. I have seen my husband grow and rise to the occasion, and he is my hero. I have seen my family more than I would have. And these are only the results that I can observe; God knows so much more.

So I believe, though I don’t always like it, that all is grace, all is gift.


And now I must learn, just as before, to give thanks in all things. And to let go of what I think, even subconsciously, I deserve. Because I’m wrong. But God gives joy. I haven’t experienced consistent joy in so very long. If God gives it, how can this be?

My hard heart. My inward looking. My mind trying to escape reality. The reality is, we can find joy amidst pain. The joy is found, friend, not in relief but in Christ. Oh, this lesson has been nagging me for months, trying to get through my prideful walls. I can speak this truth, but even now to believe it requires me to let go… of control, fear, the clenching, grasping for what’s beyond the pain. It requires me to be. To rest in God’s presence, no matter what assails me.

A dear friend gave me a bracelet with a verse etched on: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” [Exodus 14:14] Yes. And when I know that all is grace, that God is always good, that I can trust Him to fight for me, I can rest at last. And give thanks for so many gifts. And in thankfulness, in letting go, the heart lightens and softens a little, and joy can come, even through tears. I have cried painful tears of surrender at times, fighting my will to deserve.

But He is able to withstand my hardness, my will, my fighting. He knows pain and He more than anyone deserved relief. But He forfeited it, and may I never forget. Christ, who deserves all surrender and praise, relinquished authority to evil people, separated from God in a way I have never been. He is not threatened by my will and my thanklessness.

Rather, He desires to give gifts and joy, to win over my heart, to fight for me. He would that I let go and be.

For in His presence there is fullness of joy.³




¹Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p. 178

²Job 2:10, ESV

³Psalm 16:11 ESV

on looking for the green

“Oh, Aslan,” said Lucy. “Will you tell us how to get into your country from our world?”

“I shall be telling you all the time,” said Aslan. “But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder.”¹


I may have a compulsion about plants. I’m no skilled gardener, but I suppose I have this affinity for growing things. I want to gaze on them, be surrounded by them, and see them transform. Thus is it always to my dismay when one of my own succumbs to rot or perishes for some other reason. I try what I can to replant, trim back, and wait for recovery.

And I have done this several times. It’s a slow thing. Weeds have no trouble growing quickly once cut back or plucked, yet the things you want to thrive seem to struggle.

But this summer, I have seen a turn. I have come across so many of my rooted friends growing again, after I’d given up hope and come to accept the losses. I have seen small eucatastrophes, if you will.²

If I sit open, I could find a greater hope than this.






What hope is there in life, with affliction and certain death and suspicion and fear? I’m coming to think Christ is telling us all the time, but we have our eyes and ears inward, looking to our own answers, so wise are we.

You are leading me I know not where. I know not how. But I do know a few things. God is real. God is gracious. God saves me. But how can I make that to my heart the wonder it really is? I am hard and cold. Like old East Berlin in winter behind that wall. Help me out of here, out of myself. Why do I cling when I’m so miserable to cling to? I’m no kind of home to myself. Would that I could rest my soul in something sweeter, brighter, stronger. Would that You would become all to me, and that I would yield and trust and fall to worship.

So there is a great chasm to cross, but we can’t reach that far. We can’t stretch out and touch the hope that is there. No, friend, it would seem in all this world and life, hope lies hopelessly far beyond our fingertips.

And yet, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”³

Here He comes, the great Bridge Builder, crafting a way to Himself with Himself, stretched out and laid down so we might pass over into peace. If ever there was any hope to be with God, it was by His design and His death and His glory and love. And it is a turn of events unforeseen, least expected, least looked-for. A eucatastrophe of the greatest degree.

And so there is hope for me.


That sweet surprise of new life. That beauty. Some days are hard, dark at midday, yet even these have beauty in them. And beauty calls to us, “God is here, with us. Wait.” Like these tiny new tips inching from the soil, soft and bright and green. Their small, smiling progress speaks to the nature of things – that growth is bitsy and tender, and breathtaking. Mine can be too.

Let it be.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! [Psalm 27:13]


¹ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis

² Term coined by Tolkien: a sudden and favorable resolution of events

³ Psalm 27:14