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Pursued by the Word

Advent wreath

Blessed Lord, who has caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Book of Common Prayer, 1928.

 

BCP

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As a child, books were my safe place. My place to hope, to dream. My window seat into other worlds. My unscrambling place. My place to imagine life in fresh ways. My place to confront the impossible and see the possible. My place of pursuing life.

1 Books

Books are still that for me…a place of invitation: get unstuck, untangle what’s tangled. See afresh. Laugh. Weep. Travel forth. These characters look oh-so-similar to me.

 

A good book (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, prose) is a mirror. Shows me what I didn’t even know was there. A good book disrupts my comfort zone, even while it’s a safe haven. A good book dismantles barricades. Barriers that distant me from desire, from hope, from dreams. A good book grabs me. Hugs me so tight that tears cascade, stinging down my sobbing face. Hugs me so profoundly that I laugh way down deep.

2 Books

A good book invites me to be more fully alive.

 

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 Snow hydrangeas

Enough sorrows to sink me

Enough joys to keep me buoyant

And the God-of-Angel-Armies ever at my side.

 

That’s the epitaph of this year for me.

 

Enough tears to hollow caverns of sorrow in me. Enough joys to lift me from those carved canyons of sorrow. Always, always, in it all, the God who is Present, Father, Son, Spirit, ever by my side.

 

I’ve run to books often in this up-and down-year. I’ve poured over prose. I’ve played alongside poetry. I’ve reread books from my childhood. I’ve discovered children’s literature I’d missed along the way. I’ve returned to familiar authors. I’ve read books as new as the dew. I’ve read books enjoyed over generations.

 

Story mesmerized and healed me.

3 Books

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So here in Advent’s waiting, as a new year begins, as I wait and wait for that celebration, for that Baby to be born again in my heart, I read still. I read the familiar yet ever new Collect for the Second Sunday in Advent  from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. It’s fresh and old. A prayer that savors the holy Word.

 

Holy Scriptures.

Written for our learning.

Hear them.

Read them.

Mark them.

Learn them.

Inwardly digest them.

Contents of Bible

Thy Holy Word.

Woven with

Scents

of

Patience

Comfort

 

Holy Word

Inwardly digested

Nourishment of

Ever-hold-fast

Hope.

 

Holy Word.

Number One

Book of the Year

For

My heart.

 

Here in Your Word,

We’ve talked.

I’ve listened.

I’ve watched.

I’ve learned.

 

Here with You,

Father

Son

Spirit

 

I’ve entered in

Story:

 

Adam naming

Eve companioning

Those two straying

You still pursuing

 

Patriarchs

David

Job

Isaiah

Habbakuk

Believing and doubting

Wrestling and aching

Keeping heart open

Even in

Face of

Loss.

You still pursuing

Psalms

Psalms

Veins of emotions

Pulsing

Of

Ache

Of

Hope.

Pulsing

Of

Worship

Of

Worry

You still pursuing

 

Gabriel announcing

While holding his breath for

The young girl’s answer.

Mary and her Yes

Even when it all

Looks mighty impossible

You still pursuing

 

Enemy tactics

Steal

Kill

Destroy

 

Put on the armor

You still pursuing.

 

Jesus

Life full

Full life

 

Younger son

Elder son

Prodigals alike

In ways

Only

Father sees.

 

Second touch

Healing’s not instant

Just ask the blind man

Or Lazarus.

 

Holy Spirit

Acts

On fire

You still pursuing

Genesis

I read it forward.

Genesis to Revelation.

I read it backward.

Revelation to Genesis.

Either route,

Your Story

Eternity-wide,

Everlastingly long.

And always,

It ends,

At a Wedding Feast.

You still pursuing.

Revelation

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Enough sorrows to sink me

Enough joys to keep me buoyant

And the God-of-Angel-Armies ever at my side.

Lights out of focus

Father, Son, Spirit, thank You for the Word written, for the Word Incarnate, the Word alive in this Story that is ever true and ever full of Your heart for me.

 

You still pursuing.

 

A never-ending Love Story.

 

 

 

You Still Pursuing

 

 

 

 

© Lane M. Arnold, 2013

 

 

The Shape of New Beginnings

 

I’ve been asking God how He wants to shape me for this new year. Not a resolution. Not a goal. But a clarifying of who I am to be, how I am to become. I’ve been listening for His response, waiting to hear.

As Advent turned to Christmas, as December moved towards January, I’ve journaled, imagined, even read some of those end-of-the-year evaluative thought-provoking questions. I’d imagined it would be a hint of what’s in store for the year ahead, my part in His story. I really wanted to know before the year changed from old to new.

Did it have to do with this good and glorious calling as a wife? A mother? A grandmother? A friend? Did it have to do with expanding my role as an author? Speaker? A Spiritual Director?  Is there something new I’m being called towards?

Seeking His shaping for me, the silence continued. Even on the last day of the year, the silence was unbroken.

Finally, on the last day before one year became the next, His shape for me became quite clear.

Emerging from the library, a lanky father held open the door for his gangly daughter. She glanced up at him. I was too far away to hear their words.

He grinned. She leaned in. He tousled her hair. She hugged him tightly as she smiled. They clearly exchanged tender, humorous words.

Again he spoke, an invitation, so it seemed, for she nodded. They took off running across the sidewalk.

Their gallop of joy, him setting the pace, her keeping up at times, then lagging behind, or playfully darting ahead, had all the antics of two schoolchildren delighting in a frivolous moment together.

Continually, the father’s eyes are upon the daughter. The majority of the time her eyes track his, boldly confident in this love relationship. They race onward, his overcoat flapping, her scarf like a kite trailing up into the sky, their cheeks rosy in the brisk mountain air.

His strides, long and sure, could easily outpace her younger, shorter ones. He sprints, challenging her to stretch forward. She rises to the challenge. The, she lags behind, distracted, discouraged, a bit undisciplined and lazy.

It doesn’t stop him. He’s still running forward full force, yet always cheering her on as he looks back over his shoulder, waving her towards him. She surges towards him. He ambles alongside her.  She drops to a walk. He stops and waits, jogging in place. She laughs then springs forward in quick pursuit, hugging him when she’s near.

A good father offers invitations. A good daughter trustingly accepts, most of the time.

So clearly, this father loved his daughter. So clearly, this daughter loved her father.

Adored. Beloved. Cherished. Delighted over. Encouraged. He gives. She receives. She gives. He receives.

There it was: the shape of what my good heavenly Father, my Abba, wants for me in the year ahead. No resolution. No goal. No new calling. No expansion of present callings.

 

Just a clarifying:

He wants me to enjoy being His daughter. He wants me to enjoy Him being my Father.

 

He wants me to be shaped by this knowing beyond knowing that I am tenderly and tenacious:

Adored. Beloved. Cherished. Delighted over. Encouraged.

 

He invites me onward. I lean into Him.

He gazes lovingly, challenging me to go and be likewise.

 

Adored, I adore.

Beloved, I love.

Cherished, I cherish.

Delighted over, I delight.

Encouraged, I encourage.

 

So that’s the shape God wants for me:  a daughter who is ever leaning in, feeling my Father’s tender adoration, following Him into the gallop of joy, into the challenge of a little more than I think I can handle. He’s not going anywhere without me. Why would I go anywhere without Him?

I’m accepting His invitation to be shaped by this wildly vast love. He’s quite something marvelous, this Tender and Tenacious heavenly Father of mine.

 

How about you? How does God want to shape you as this year unfolds?

 

Lane Arnold

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