Monthly Archives: March 2016

Lead Me to the Cross

crossWe’ve been in a season recently of mountains not moved, waters not parted, prayers not answered. I know that sounds kind of negative, but it’s real life. It’s how we feel. We would have liked to have been spared so much illness this winter. We would have liked to hear that I did not have a stroke for real. We would have liked things to go better with issues at my husband’s job. We would have liked for our extended family members not to deal with difficult health problems. I’ve asked; I’ve pleaded; I’ve prayed. But the no’s have kept on comin’.

Hidden away in my house full of sickness, it was easy for me to get inside my own head, to feel sorry for myself. My isolation has allowed the enemy a lot of room to whisper lies to me, and, unfortunately, I’ve allowed it. Invisible. Unimportant. Dispensable. Overlooked. Failure. Sad, sad, sad.

But here comes Easter, and all I can think about is the cross.

Particularly as Good Friday came and went, my mind dwelt on how final the cross must have seemed to Jesus’ followers. Talk about a sea not parted! Jesus’ followers were anticipating him entering Jerusalem to overthrow the government, to become the king. Instead, he was crucified. To say it felt like a loss is, I’m sure, an extreme understatement.

But then came Sunday, the resurrection. Even as the disciples found Jesus’ tomb empty and saw his resurrected body, I wonder if they fully understood the implications of what had happened. What appeared to be the darkest hour was actually the working out of our salvation. When things looked worst, God was actually going about saving the world. It’s astounding! And it brings perspective. Maybe in these dark moments, God is about the business of saving my soul.

One of my all-time favorite worship songs is “Lead Me to the Cross” because it fixes my mind’s eye back on that cross, even when we’re not in the Easter season. It reminds me that all those sad, sad feelings I so often give in to, they’re not where I’m meant to live. Instead my heart beats: “Lead me to the cross, where your love poured out. Bring me to my knees, Lord, I lay me down. Rid me of myself, I belong to you.”

Bring me to my knees … Rid me of myself, I belong to you. None of this is about me. It’s about God, his kingdom, his glory, his plan. Compared to the cross, my darker moments seem like nothing. Because of the cross, my darker moments are actually nothing. In truth, because of what Jesus did, my soul is secure, and nothing that happens on this earth can change that.

One of my former students, Caity, who passed away at just 17 years old had a favorite quote that went like this: “It will all be ok in the end. If it’s not ok, then it’s not the end.” She was wise beyond her years. And she was so right. Life is pretty messed up sometimes, but that doesn’t change our ending. And when it is truly the end, it will truly all be ok. I have thought about that quote so many times since her passing nearly 5 years ago, and like “Lead Me to the Cross,” it restores my perspective. Everything on this earth is temporary. There’s another kingdom that I’m living for. And it’s all because of the cross. I’m so thankful this Easter for the truth that puts it all in perspective, that kicks me out of my sad, sad sorry place, and reminds me of the end, my hope, my future.

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In Search of the Brighter Side

crocusIt’s been a rough season for us in the Burleigh house. We’ve battled months of illness, from my vertigo in the fall, to ear infections, viral throat infections, rib splitting coughs, fevers, vomit, you name it…  Some of the worst bugs we’ve weathered as a little family. On top of that, my husband has weathered difficulties in his job, and my parents have faced difficult health questions and diagnoses. And, then there’s my whole health saga. Recently, I received the results of my final MRI — I did indeed have a stroke; and there are no answers which yield any certainty. It was possibly caused by this, but may also have been caused by that, or it could be something else entirely. There’s absolutely no certainty.

After months and months of all these trials, I find myself fixing dinner, my mind racing, searching for the bright side. There always is one, right? Where is that darn bright side? I know it’s there somewhere. But where, in all of this, is it? In the middle of the vomit, the wild two year old tantrums, the hair pulling, the vertigo, the ear infections, the stroke… where are you, bright side?

I’ve recently been working on a Sunday school lesson on the sovereignty and the goodness of God. My premise is that God is both totally sovereign and totally good (a long ago lesson from the Jerry King days — Thank you, Jerry!). It’s daring to believe. Because it means that in the midst of vomit and ear infections, job changes, and strokes, God is absolutely in control, and even though that stuff feels junky, he’s still good. I’ve come to realize through this winter of many trials that I cannot allow the fallenness and brokenness of our world color my view of God. I must begin with the firm believe that he is good, and I must use that unwavering belief as a lens through which I see everything else.

If I look at life through the lens of our fallen world, I will see a broken God.

And that’s not the truth at all. The depravity of our world and of the human condition does not have any baring on God’s goodness. Instead, I stand firm in the belief that he is good, and I use that knowledge to process all the junk I encounter.

If God is good, then how should I interpret the reality of my fallen world? Personally, I choose to believe that, even when it doesn’t appear to be so, God ALWAYS has my very best interest in mind, and he is working for the greater good of HIS kingdom. You see, this world, this life, really isn’t about me and my happiness, my health, my comfort, my anything. It’s about him and his glory. And so if I have to go through some “light and momentary trials” I can trust fully that they will not compare to the “eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor 4:17). It stinks to have poopy seasons in life where everything just seems wrong, hard, bad, gross, day after day. It has worn on me these past few months. The final MRI was just the icing on the cake.

But, I have pinned down that elusive bright side in this: Rather than perceiving life through the lens of my broken circumstances, I must see my broken circumstances through the lens of God’s goodness.

Rather than focusing on all that’s wrong with my world (which is just depressing) I can choose to focus on a good and loving God who is truly working for my good, according to the purpose for which he has called me. So, no matter how dark the circumstances may look, the bright side remains in my good and loving Father God. And I find that once I turn my focus to him instead of on all the junk, my problems become much smaller, much less significant, much less depressing. What we have gone through in these last six months is nothing compared to what others have endured. And it all dims as I fix my mind on the fact that my good Father loves me. That is more than enough for me.

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