knowing the 5th

“We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God.” 1 Corinthians 8:1b-3
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs on your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.” Luke 12:6-8
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28: 20

“I was reading in the book of Matthew, and as I got to the end of the final chapter, a terrible, earth-shattering, soul-rocking thought dawned on me: He was there. God was there the night I was raped. He heard my protests and saw my tears and watched me get those bruises.
And he didn’t stop it…
God knows pain. He knows what it feels like to be rejected and abused and despairing, because Jesus felt those things first. This truth is difficult. It’s not as pretty or tidy or straightforward, but it’s real.
I find comfort in the reality that God was there, because the only thing worse than realizing He was there was thinking that he wasn’t.
I am comforted that by being there when I was raped, God saw it for how bad it was. He heard my cries and he hears them now. He sees. He knows. He understands.
I may never understand why God allowed rape to happen to me. But of this I am sure: God came to my rescue in the dark aftermath of my rape and he continues to come to my rescue on my up-and-down path of healing.” from God Saw My Rape and He Didn’t Stop It from The Good Women Project

“We look at the same buildings and streets and field. But what we see is completely different. It’s difficult to accept that these people who are now my people can never really understand my past…we need the whole mix of them, this community of people put together by God. And it hurts to know them sometimes, to let them know me. But this is family, community in many ways, a picture of the church. Some of them remember as well as I do, others remember better…somethings are not for everyone to know, some gifts and lessons are only for those who lived through it. I’m learning to accept that and maybe even be thankful for it.” from What Happens When You Try to Go Home Again
from Chatting at the Sky

The 5th sparrow is the forgotten one. For two pennies, you could buy four sparrows and the vendor would throw in the 5th one for free.
I’ve been working on this post for a month and nothing says what I have to say better than the excerpts from those two blogs. I still can’t figure out how to articulate my struggle and frustration of figuring out what it means to be known by God and others. Instead of boring you with thoughts that run in circles, I’m going to pray for you about it because that’s all I’ve been able to do.

God, you know who is reading this right now. Bless him or her. Let him know your presence, especially when he walks through this difficult time. Gently remind her over the next few days, weeks, months, or however long this season in her life will last, that you have promised to be with her every hour of every day. God, when he leans toward isolation I pray that you will soften his heart to the community around him. Fill her up with your love and kindness, so that when she is exhausted by this season she will extend grace, forgiveness, and millions of second chances to every person she meets. God, remind him that because of your Son Jesus Christ, he is invited to have eternal purpose in every word he utters and in every action he takes. Let this season make her better, not bitter. Remind him that people are just people and sometimes they won’t know what to say. Remind her that her worth is not found in how others assign value to her pain and healing. Remind him that you offer him hope that transcends any difficult circumstance. Remind her that you know her better than anyone ever can or could–show her that is something to be celebrated, not lamented. Remind him of who he is and who you are calling him to become. Even when its unbearable, remind her that this is not the way you intended the world to be–and that with you there is hope for change. In these times, give him the strength and willingness to remember you as the one who knows him and everything about him. When she isn’t in this season, remind her to love others who are. When he isn’t in this season, remind him step outside of himself, and through your love to carry the burden of those around him who can’t carry it all on their own.

lights will guide me home

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:16-17

This past year has been marked by sporadic, unpredictable, and frequent change. My comfort has been in this: while my circumstances change day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute, my God does not.

I was gently reminded of that during this song when I saw Coldplay in Chicago.

all water

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hands or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding?
Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
‘To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:12-15, 21-26, 28-29

“All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.” Toni Morrison

shalom

For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of child birth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings tht cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying. For the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his son, so that his son would be like the first born among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. Romans 8: 22-30

do not worry

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-34

I’ll never forget the day I listened to the sermon on the mount. It was early before sunrise. I sat in the dark with my cup of coffee, eyes closed, trying my best not to fall back asleep as I listened to the odd British Jesus speaking truth from my iPhone. Then it hit me: this was Jesus’ sermon. He really was on that mountainside. He made eye contact with the people he was speaking to. Maybe a flock of birds flew overhead and he pointed to them as he said “Look at the birds of the air.” When he said “see how the lilies grow,” maybe there were small little weeds and flowers on that mountainside, just like the one above. Since I can’t sit outside on the ground without mindlessly uprooting every plant and blade of grass within arm’s reach, I’m sure I would have been somewhat distracted by them during Jesus’ sermon, his reference to them bringing me back to focus. Maybe he was trying his best to get my attention, to make his world real in my world. So he desperately looked around at the earth, using everything in sight as a way to make his words come alive. Maybe there was a cool breeze in the air, the kind that reminds you that life is good and people can be trusted. And maybe, just maybe, Jesus wasn’t lying when he said not to worry.

Humor me? Close your eyes and listen. Ignore Max’s odd voice, skip to 3:11, and pretend you were there.