Psalm 11:1-4

The last line of each stanza comes from Psalm 11:1-4.

My strength has failed, my courage weak,
My resolve has faltered, the path looks bleak,
But when clouds obscure the mountain peak,
In the Lord I take refuge.

There is a fortress that stands above all,
There is a hand that will catch when I fall,
And there’s something inside me that answers the call
So how can you say to my soul,

“There is no purpose, no point to the fight.
Careful not to miss out cause you’re chasing a kite.
You haven’t the might to attain to that height,
So flee like a bird to your mountain.

“Do as you please and live as you will,
Chase after safety or run after thrills.
Your magnificent mountain is only a hill,
And behold, the wicked bend their bow.”

The weight keeps increasing, the voices begin;
As the pressures mount up, my soul’s caving in.
The fortress’s walls appear to grow thin,
And they have fitted the arrow to the string.

I cannot see clearly with pride in my eyes.
Compared to the next man, we’ve all become wise.
I try to defeat it but still fall for the lies
That shoot in the dark at the upright in heart.

For if false was the truth then all was in vain;
I’ve been setting a pace that I cannot maintain.
I’m drifting, uprooted, nothing remains
If the foundations are destroyed.

But if faith is a seed that grows into a tree,
Then its roots run much deeper than mere man can see.
If you always answer our knock when we seek,
What could the righteous do?

The foundations are steady, barren of cracks;
You’re grace for my weakness, enough where I lack,
My refuge and compass, the wind at my back.
The Lord is in his holy temple!

Icharus

Leaves breathe
The secret deeds
Of daredevils and dreamers,
Leaders, lovers, and liars,
Always climbing higher,
Striving to see past the trees.
They speak
Of a story we’d forgotten,
Locked beyond our
memory,
From an age where men and women lived.
Vivid and vibrant,
Big- and bright-minded,
Defiant of mountains,
They drowned in their daydreams.
Their goal was to climb,
But they couldn’t brave the dry,
Unforgiving elements,
Created and sent as a fence to the sky.
So instead
Of climbing and striving and dying,
They taught themselves to fly.

Restless

Restlessness, wanderlust, ambition, dreams. This is what I tell myself I have. You point to the sky, I’m going to find myself a way to fly. But the reality of it is a lot less certain. I have dreams, but they’re pretty foggy and unclear. I want to be something–don’t we all–but I don’t quite know what.

Lately, though, I’ve been seeing the other side of this coin. When you’re a dreamer without a dream, it’s not a goal, it’s only discontent. Dissatisfaction with where you are without really knowing where you want to be, or at the very least without a way to get there.

I am the sea on a moonless night, calling, falling, slipping tides;
I am the raindrop falling down, always longing for the deeper ground;
I am the leaky, dripping pipes, the endless aching drops of light.

“Restless” (Switchfoot, 2011)

Paul writes in Philippians 4, “Whatever circumstance I am in, I have learned the secret of being content.” For years, I’ve been furious with him for not telling me what it is. Are you kidding me, Paul? You can’t just leave me hanging here! “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” He’s just bragging at this point, seriously.

It’s only recently that I realized that even though he calls it his “secret,” he gives us the answer right there:

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11-13).

I don’t know why, but for some reason I’ve always read that last sentence as a separate idea from all the others. Maybe because that’s the one that’s always on signs and posters and pillows. But once my eyes were opened to it, I realized he didn’t just give it to us here; he’s been telling us through the whole book.

“It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:20-21).

“I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8).

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).

So based on the revelation of this famous “secret,” combined with my feelings of discontent, it has begged the question: where am I finding my satisfaction?

Evidently, not the same place Paul is. His struggles are no dissatisfaction, because his victories are not his source of satisfaction. 

Maybe my discontent really just reveals where it is that I am looking to find my fulfillment. Paul says he knows how to be brought low, and how to abound. May the same someday be said of me.

Blessings,

Bre

Chapters

Just some random words strung together. This is something that’s been on my mind lately, as I’m in this transition period. I’m excited for the new, even as it means a lot of change. I like to think of change as not a loss of old experiences–what I’ve learned from those will live on in me forever–but the gaining of new ones: new knowledge, new hopes, new worlds to uncover. Even so, the reminder that some things do not change is a comforting one for me. I can’t build higher unless my roots stay strong.

This
is not
chapter one.
This is chapter eighteen.
And as it closes,
the page turns.
Another chapter opens,
but it builds on the pages before it.
The cascading waterfall of words
did not originate here,
nor will it end here.
Passing through,
but picking up new stones along the way–
fresh currents,
new fish to swim alongside.
Perhaps the salinity changes,
perhaps the direction.
Neither final nor familiar,
but not inconsequential either.
Change is inherent in growth.
Foundation holds fast, strong,
even as leaves change,
branches stripped or full
to meet the season.
Roots remain
even as I
stretch
toward the sky.

The importance of the insignificant

The most critical element in the practice of theatrical magic is the art of misdirection: the ability to direct your audience’s attention towards one thing so that they don’t see what is really important. This is why, if you’ve ever had the chance to listen to a magician explain his tricks, you often feel utterly embarrassed at not having caught it in the act–because more often than not, there were no fancy tricks or false compartments; your attention was simply directed elsewhere.

In a culture in which attention has become our most valuable resource, it’s easy to get misdirected. Our money, energy, and time go towards whatever can catch us the quickest and hold us the longest. This applies not just to advertising, the news, and social media, but to our schooling, careers, and relationships. We’re driven by where we choose to invest our attention, and everyone and everything wants a share in the stock.

There are magicians all around us, holding up the ball and saying, “Look at this ball!” as he secretly slips another into his pocket while your eyes are focused elsewhere. In a world where distraction is rarely farther than our fingertips, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important: the ball that goes into the pocket.

I recently finished reading Anonymous by Alicia Britt Chole, in which she writes about the importance of hidden years and anonymous seasons. While we see Jesus at his birth, and once when he’s twelve, we don’t encounter him again in Scripture until sometime in his early to mid-thirties. What happened during those unrecorded, unapplauded years? Chole doesn’t speculate beyond the obvious: God was preparing him for what was to come. Otherwise, why not begin his ministry at eighteen or twenty? No, that time was spent invested.

And for us, the hidden things are not inherently unvaluable; in fact, they are invaluable. Unapplauded does not mean unproductive; unrecorded does not mean insignificant. Chole actually gives us a mathematical formula to describe the phenomenon. She calls it the iceberg equation:

10% visible + 90% invisible = an indestructible life

You want your life to be indestructible? You want your impact to be indelible, your legacy to be untarnishable, your imprint to be uneraseable? Then buckle up for several seasons of anonymity–of humility, invisibility, and insignificance.

The world is misdirecting our attention toward the unimportant: the applause that fades in seconds, the profitable career that eats your most valuable years, the status obtained by striving to fit a mold. Culture values busyness, profit, and results, where God gives  quietness, contentment, and growth.

Chole writes about the maple tree, whose leaves are stripped for winter: not to steal her beauty, but to prepare her for the coming season, in which care for those leaves would steal nutrients from where they are needed to sustain her. Instead, those resources can be redirected toward strengthening her foundation and spreading her branches to bear the snow without breaking.

Andy Stanley wrote, “It is our direction, not our intention, that determines our destination.” I’m currently at a turning point, a transitional season: the closing of one chapter and the opening of a new one. Amidst all the chaos involved in that, I’ve been challenged to check my direction. Am I moving forward, or just moving? 

I’m realizing that it’s not just the few big decisions, but the thousand little daily ones that make up who I really am. I am right now becoming who I will be; my prayer is that that is someone worth the effort.

Blessings,
Bre

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