Everything Sad is Coming Untrue

I was mowing the lawn when a friend called and shared some bad news. I should say he shared some more bad news. I hung up the phone and went back to mowing. I love my time in the yard. After many years of relentless depression it has become a place of joy. It wasn’t always this way. There was a time when I could barely function. The grief was so heavy and I felt so useless that I retreated to the yard and mowed the grass just so I could accomplish something – anything – useful; something that would say I had some value. It was a pitiful declaration of being alive in spite of the weight of death inside me. I did not enjoy it, I only wanted to get it done. I was so sad all the time that everything tasted sad. There was no place to go that didn’t feel sad. There was nothing to see that didn’t look sad. Everything was sad. The yard was one of the few places I could swim in a sea of sorrow and, if not move forward, at least tread water. I used to shed a lot of tears while I worked in the yard. They were like juice from a crushed piece of fruit. The sorrow squeezed my heart so hard the tears just came.

While I mowed, I listened to an audiobook about Winston Churchill. He was familiar with depression to the point his loved ones set people to watch over him lest he give in to it. He lived in sad times with enough bad news in any given day to crush anyone. Did you know he cried a lot? It comes up again and again in the book. Churchill cried publicly. He cried without shame. Churchill’s tears. It makes me cry to think of it. And as far as I can tell, he had no reason to believe things would change. I mean he had no logical reason. He believed in spite of all the bad news. He spoke to the people with the facts. He spelled out the bad news. Then he told them they would prevail. There was something hard in him that did not break. He was crushed and sad and he cried and he did not break. He believed. When he told the people they would prevail, they believed it too. I think they believed it because he did. I can’t see any other reason why they should have believed it.

Mowing. Listening. I decided to switch to music. There was a song I wanted to hear. Everything Sad is Coming Untrue by Jason Gray. I listened and I mowed and I cried some more. But I cried the most when I heard these words:

Every winter breaks upon
The Easter lily’s bloom

This is the hard thing in me that’s not going to break. Depression couldn’t crush it; it only drove it deeper into my being. I died a thousand deaths in my yard. I attended the funeral for my happiness. But there was something in me that was not me. Everything else in me was pressed down into the ground; into the perpetual Narnian winter that knew no Spring.

Life is coming Alive
Death is destined to die
And love…

Love. It is love in me that could not be crushed. Not my love for others or love for my own life, not even my love for God could withstand the depths of the coal mine. It was His love for me that hardened to diamond in the emotional hydraulic press. God loves me. He loves me. I believe. I believe. I believe.

I’ve had enough bad news to last a long long time. People are sad all around me. People wonder if this war will flood over them. Can we prevail? Do not look away. Do not deny the bad news. Do not hold back your tears. It looks bad. It looks hopeless. We’ve suffered much loss. We expect more. Now. Let me tell you. We will prevail. We will. Believe with me. God loves us. He loves you. This isn’t another thing, it is the thing. Anyone presenting a war strategy that leaves Jesus out is sadly mistaken. Listen. God spoke to all of us in Jesus. He said it plainly. He made it simple enough for a child to grasp. He said I love you; all of you. Can we be friends again? Come back to the garden and this time, eat from the Tree of Life. That other tree was poison from the first bite and it is today. Listen. Stop eating from it. The knowledge of good and evil isn’t helping anyone. You eat it all day long. You feed yourself on your news and your social media and your politicians, and it’s made you sick and weak and given you a stomach ache. The other tree is right here. Life. Eat it. Take it in. All day long. Taste it. God loves me. God loves me. God loves me.

Broken hearts are being unbroken
Bitter words are being unspoken
The curse undone, the veil is parted
The garden gate will be left unguarded

Now let’s win. Let’s play like the outcome is assured. It is. Hate is a parasite and sorrow is the echo of the death of death. Love prevails because God is love. Easter is the proposal of heaven. Down on one knee God says “I love you, will you marry me?” The engagement is sealed. His promise ring around my finger is the Spirit of Christ. The wedding day is set. The celebration is here. Let’s put on wedding clothes while the bombs fall. Let’s declare that we are subjects of the King before we are citizens of a country, or members of a race, or constituents of a party. We are the beloved of God. What can they give us that compares? And how will they take away from us what heaven has proclaimed over us? We are begotten and beloved not buying and behaving. Listen. We are the change. Let heaven speak to you. Let it whisper. Let it shout. Let it resonate. Jesus repeats it. He doesn’t mind saying it again. He is like a lovesick suitor who cannot resist turning back to get another kiss and to say one more time “I love you.” He never tires of saying it and will say it until we hear it; say it till we believe it; say it till we feel it; say it till we know it; say it till everything sad comes untrue. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Could it be that everything sad is coming untrue?
Oh I believe that everything sad is coming untrue.
In the hands of the One who is making all things new.

When I sat down from my mowing I wrote this down. I realized it is already happening. I’ve already lived it here in this yard. His love for me is gently persuasive and the sadness is gone. I am helping Him to do it in my family, my work, my neighborhood. I know it will work for everyone. I know His love is the cure that runs in my veins. I rested from my labor and wiped the good sweat from my face. On my patio where I used to cry without hope, I smiled and watched my bluebirds building a nest.

The frozen rivers run
The death of winter comes undone
Whispers of Kingdom come
While the bluebird sings

Everything
Everything that I thought I knew
Everything
Everything sad is coming untrue

Why Your Relationship Could Use a Third Wheel

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Relationships might be the last place you’d want a third wheel – we all want to get on faster and who needs a third wheel anyway?  But real relationships aren’t built for speed, and every one of us (if we are honest) has limited experience and short legs when it comes to relating to others.  We need a middle wheel.  We need a mediator.

I noticed this when I was meeting with a friend and his wife a while back.  It was amazing to me that I could hear what she was saying and what he was saying but neither one of them could hear what the other said; there was too much junk in the way – too many hurt feelings, too many broken promises, too many unforgotten (and unforgiven) words in the air.  But I had none of those hindrances so I could hear what they said and then tell it to the other person.  I realized that God was allowing me to walk in the place of Christ, The Mediator, and the reason this couple was having such a problem was they had lost their third wheel and they were just spinning in place – no stability, no direction, no motivator.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian, said:

“Without Christ there is discord between God and man and between man and man . . . Christ opened up the way to God and to our brother.” (Life Together)

We cannot have an authentic relationship without a common intersection – without something which exists for both the individuals involved.  Think about it, a true connection with someone has to happen at a precise point of agreement and commonality.  Its how relationships are formed; we find ourselves relative to something, a movie, or a book, or an experience, and then we find someone else relative to that same thing.  Remember that?  How you talked about it for hours and hours when you first met someone?  For human beings full of perceptions and assumptions and alternative points of view; and most especially full of change, maintaining a relationship based upon objects or experiences is difficult.  Ultimately it is impossible.  We need something that doesn’t move so we can always relate to it and then to each other.  And everything in the world moves.  Jesus Christ offers us a point of intersection where stability and mobility exist in perpetuity, not because we work so hard to maintain it, but because he gives it to us. If you are having a difficult time in relationships, maybe its time you got a third Wheel.

How to Live on Hell’s Front Porch

images (11)To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell. – Thomas Merton

Sad to say, but even though I know I’m not going through the door, I’ve spent many days on a rocking chair on hell’s front porch, contemplating both the good and the evil done to my poor pitiful self.  The good never good enough (or lasting enough), the evil always intentional, even down to some stranger letting a door close in my face.  Smells like smoke in here; here inside my selfishness.

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25)

Why Most Church Meetings Suck

Most church meetings I’ve attended appear to be a group of believers attempting to maintain their belief and convince someone else to adopt that belief, rather than a gathering of followers mapping out their course and trying to convince someone else to come along for the ride as they go where only Jesus can go.

The first kind of meeting is not only boring it is intellectually offensive; the second is the only kind of meeting Jesus ever conducted.images (4)

How to Help Others

A person who makes claims on you to get them well will also blame you when they don’t.  Why graft a branch into another branch? The vine is healthier than the healthiest branch.   If you want to help others get well, don’t let them depend upon you for wholeness – point them to genuine wholeness, perpetual health, authentic holiness.  These only exist in one place, actually in one Person.  Jesus was so healthy that death couldn’t kill him, it could only coronate him.  Attach the broken to this him and let them have full life.

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