Together, we are Bread and Wine.
Life wasn’t meant to be hard. There’s a deep part of us longing for that utopia….that blissful state in life where we are loved and it’s easy to love others, & life is just, well….good. Wouldn’t that be nice?
I think she’s actually quoting Shane Claiborne here, but in her book, Bread & Wine, Shauna Niequist says the “genius of Communion, of bread and wine,is that bread is the food of the poor and wine the drink of the privileged, and that every time we see those two together, we are reminded of what we share instead of what divides us.”
Life wasn’t meant to be hard in the beginning. But it is. Our world broke centuries upon centuries ago. It broke because we thought we deserved more, and it continues to break for the same reason. We were created to be unified with one another, but the nasty sin in us makes us find the faults in others or just be distant from people and find ourselves divided. We’re a people filled with a million little cracks, and those cracks get filled with entitlement and greed and selfishness and arrogance.
Jesus came, YES- He did, indeed. He came to save us. He came to tell us that while we live on this earth, we will undoubtedly face hard (sometimes excruciating) times, but He has a plan. Isn’t that the most comforting thing? When we feel lost, it is amazingly reassuring when someone else announces they have a plan. And Jesus has a plan. We still have to wade through this messy life, but because He came to this place all those years ago, we get to wade through it with Him. After living amongst people for over thirty years, telling humanity and better yet, SHOWING humanity the way of true love, He died a horrendous death. This is how we know He truly feels every ounce of our pain—because He lived it. Then when He returned to life and ascended to Heaven to join God, He left the Holy Spirit for us. Sometimes, it’s easy to wish we still had access to God in the form of Jesus—to walk with and talk with and see. But we have access to God through His spirit. We have the ability to reach out to God any time of day or night at any location, and He is there for us because He lives within us. This is also how we know He feels our pain—because He is with us in all of those moments…every one– He grieves not only for us but with us. Every person on this planet is filled with spirit. The difference is that if you truly believe in Jesus, you have the HOLY Spirit….so no matter where you are, who you are with, what you are doing, God is within you, and He is guiding you, and He is for you. And one day, when this life is over, we, like Jesus, will take our place in Heaven, where we also truly belong.
Back to life being hard. It’s so hard. Growing up has felt a little claustrophobic lately. It’s like every day I get older, the more pain and anguish and loss I’m exposed to—and every time, it feels like my lungs lose just a little more air. I don’t know how people tune into the news every day. I would be the least fun person ever because I would be haunted all day long. I’m not promoting oblivion to life outside your own—not at all.
If we’re not shouldering some of the world’s hard for others, we’re not living the way we were meant to live.
I think we have to continue living our lives with full breaths and joy and laughter every chance we can, but I think if we don’t let what’s going on outside of us affect how we’re living and what we’re doing to fill our days, we’re missing the point of LIFE. We try to live these compartmentalized lives where we devote a small amount of attention to the lives of others but then we move on with it. Every time I look at my daughter, I should be reminded how blessed beyond all reason I am to know she is cared for, clothed, loved, and fed. I never have to worry about not having enough diapers for her. I don’t worry that she isn’t safe where she is. I hope God’s spirit inside me is a reminder to love her well every day and for our relationship to be a reliable & precious part of her childhood.
But here’s the thing—every time I look at my daughter, I am reminded there are girls who have never and will never know the life she lives. There are girls all over our world I would do anything to save so they could know love like my daughter does. Don’t you see? It’s not them and us. They are not a category separated from us. We were made to fully live—that means loving our people with everything we have, and that means loving the people who aren’t ours, too. They may not be ours, but they’re HIS—every single one of them.
There are moments my heart feels so trampled. Just the other day, I told Blake, I know God is here, and I know He is for us, but I just cannot comprehend how a God who so fully loves us and hears us and feels our pain could continue letting us go on like this.
I think that’s a thought a lot of us face, and it’s scary. We don’t have the plan—we would just aimlessly be navigating through this mess of a place if it wasn’t for some kind of plan, & we don’t have it. We want to believe God has the plan, but it can be so hard to see when we see terror around us. He told us there would be hardship but that in the end, He WILL overcome it all (John 16:33). He told us, and I think we easily believe Him when we read it in text or when life feels simple. That isn’t really surrender, though. We aren’t choosing Him over our circumstance then. We have to decide we choose Him over our comfort because we know, we know, we know He is BETTER. We can make that choice. We can surrender ourselves to Him, knowing that He not only has our plan, but He IS our plan. He will win, and we can win with Him.
There’s a desperate hope I hold onto when I see or hear of tragedy, & that is that Jesus is with that person or those people in a way that I cannot imagine. He shows up in a way that comforts any heart and silences any beast. Any time I see or hear of tragedy, I see Jesus there—wrapping His arms around His people.
But what about now? Is He showing up now in the everyday? I think He is. He shows up in many ways. He shows up through His spirit. He shows up through the people in our lives—or maybe someone not in our normal lives who we encounter one day. He shows up through His creation.
He shows up through words and song and the miracle of a new baby being born.
He wants to show up through US—you and me. He wants to show up through us so we can love the people in our lives well, and He wants to show up through us so we can love the world well.
Letting Him show up through us—it’s the difference between life and death, really. Because if we’re not letting Him show up, what’s the point? We weren’t given life to simply breathe in oxygen and focus on the bits of life that make us happy. That’s what life of an infant looks like. We were made for so much more. There are times of so much joy, and yes, times of so much pain. But we are here for a reason, and if we let Him, God will show up through us, and our lives will matter.
We were not made to feel guilty or shame for enjoying ourselves, laughing, or giving our children the best we possibly can. Those are all wonderful gifts. Our God is the God of Love…of course He wants our days filled with love. The love we give our families is our most important task– the most important– but it is only part of life. Directly investing in our families is only one avenue we were made to travel. We were made to use our gifts and resources to give people hope, and not just the people like us. We were made to be a people God is able to use to show up through for someone else. He will take care of the rest—we just need to be available, and that takes being intentional.
Every season of life makes being intentional hard for one reason or another. We’re busy—too busy, usually– & it’s hard to get out of our own heads.
I was talking with our adoption case worker the other day and told her how I felt the desire to serve people outside of my home and family but it just didn’t seem like it could happen right now with Collins being so little. She completely understood, being a mom, herself, but she reminded me that while it may look differently than what I’m used to, it has never been a more important time for me to serve—because now, I get to take my little girl with me and begin showing her what that looks like. We were made to love people, you guys. That utopia we long for is a life full of love and nothing else. We can’t access that right now, but we can strive for it by loving others as much as we can. I guarantee we will feel no greater satisfaction. Will you join me in being more intentional with our days?
I bought this bracelet today. The white bead is filled with water from Mt. Everest, the highest point on earth, and the black bead is filled with mud from The Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth. The idea behind it is, “Sometimes you’re on top of the world. Stay humble. Sometimes you’ve hit a low. Stay hopeful.” I love this. Let us all remember this for ourselves and for each person we come in contact with. We’ll never really know where each other falls on this spectrum….until we ask them.
There’s nothing worth more that would ever come close,
No thing can compare, You’re our living Hope,
Your presence, Lord.
I’ve tasted and seen of the sweetest of loves,
When my heart becomes free and my shame is undone,
Your presence, Lord.
Holy Spirit You are welcome here,
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere.
Your glory God is what our hearts long for,
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord.
-Holy Spirit, Jesus Culture