Groaning

It’s ironic—I know this even at the moment.

Sitting in a room surrounded by my people…

Thinkers, not feelers, almost to a soul

(this was once upon a time before I became a big sap).

I am defending the Holy Spirit.

Ironic because, I will just say it—

I am a little skittish when it comes to the Holy Spirit.

The Father—ok, I can wrap my mind around that idea.

Jesus—divinity and humanity all together in one—I am irresistibly drawn to this.

But wind?  Breath?

It sounds so unpredictable.  So unquantifiable.  So feel-y.

And yet.

Even then, even before I became a big sap,

I knew groaning.

My heart knew the redemption ache.

We do not know what we ought to pray for…

The need feels too big.

Our faith feels too small.

We can’t process it all.

Words fail.

But the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

This too, I have known…

My wordy, cynical, overthinking self.

When words fail, sometimes there is silence.

Giant, cavernous silence.  Silence so loud it hurts.

Or still, heavy silence.  Silence that beckons you to linger, to keep pressing in.

When words fail, sometimes there are tears.

Heaving, cathartic tears.

Or gentle, healing tears of release.

And then

When words fail, sometimes there are words.

Words that come from somewhere else.  From Someone else.

Words that tumble out of some hidden place that you know is not you

Because they are just right in this moment.

And you have nothing.

This, friends, is the Holy Spirit.

The One called alongside the called-out ones.

And so

Thinkers and feelers,

If, tonight, you know groaning,

If words fail,

Let him intercede.

He’s got this.

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Be filled

Be filled.

It is a passive command.  (Ephesians 5:18)

Strange to our modern American ears.

Rubbing us the wrong way, even.

It’s not fill yourself.

Or even get filled (which implies, at least, maneuvering oneself into a place where it can happen).

But be.

Be filled.

It’s not an action so much as a way of being acted upon.

I don’t like being acted upon.

I don’t know many people who do.

But this is the upside-down, backwards way of the humble king.

This is the way of the one who tells us that the last will be first.

It’s all different here.

So much paradox.

I want to act.  To work and strive.

He wants me to be filled.

I want to boast about my accomplishments.

He reminds me that apart from him I can do nothing.

Nothing.

I want to dress myself up all presentable.  To make a case for myself.

He tells me that my righteousness is like filthy rags.

Rags, people.

And yet

When he looks at my rags, he sees his blameless son.

Dearly loved.

Be filled.

Passive.

And yet a command.

An imperative.  A must.

Be filled.

Not a movement, but a posture.

An openness.

And so, again, I loosen the death-grip I have on it all.

The ferocity with which I cling to what I claim as mine.

And, again, I ask to

Just

Be filled.

Waiting for the Promise

Can I be honest for a second, friends?  I really want to be done with foster care.

Like really, really.

It is, hands down, the most exhausting work I’ve ever done.

It’s frustrating and all-consuming and—yes, I’m just gonna say it: expensive.

It’s all of the responsibilities of parenthood (and then some—hello CASA worker who doesn’t show up and neglects to call and let me know) and none of the rights (hello running all around the city to get the signatures required for the medical equipment that a child needed hours ago).

It’s thankless.  I know I am not a hero, but I deserve to be treated with a bit of professionalism.  Even when I am bothering you for the hundredth time.

Because, I promise, I am not bothering you for the fun of it.

Last year, I asked Jesus to be done with foster care.

The answer was “one thing.”

And, sitting at his feet, I answered a call and let another Little One into my heart—and my home.

This year, I don’t even have to ask.

There is one reason that I will jump through all of the hoops to stay licensed.

One.

One little bundle asleep in the other room.

Do not leave Jerusalem,

he told them.

Stay here.  Wait here.         

For the gift my Father promised.

I am exhausted and frustrated and overwhelmed.

I hate waiting.

But I know this word is for me too.

I will stay.  I will wait.

The promise is not that this story will end the way I hope,

But that the Holy Spirit will come in power.

Supernatural, undeniable power.

I know I am not done yet.

And so I will sit my stubborn self down at his feet again.

And I will wait.

My hope in the system fades.

But my hope in the promise?

That is as bright as ever.