he dug down

When I was half-grown, my family got horses. I thought it would be cool. It turned out to be a lot of work. My dad roused our family one Saturday and told us it was time to fence in a pasture for our future horse. He had outlined the perimeter of it, he said. Now we had to fence it. We set out, loading our supplies onto the four-wheeler. One of us took the post-hole digger and started digging. Dad would measure, and tell us to dig deeper. Two of us came behind, one holding the post with thick work gloves while the other slammed a post-pounder down on the top of it, over and over. Behind them we came filling in the holes, snapping on the insulators, stringing the wire. It was a long day. When we finished we could scarcely even see the slim wire fence against the thick prairie grass. It was there, and effective, but practically invisible.

I read the parable of the builders today, in Luke 6. Jesus says of the first builder that “he dug down” and laid a foundation. It didn’t even take having a horse to know that I hate digging, and here’s God, saying you have to keep digging if you don’t want your life to fall over.

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“Do you really think these trees have been here for a thousand years?” Tiffany asked. Jon looked up. We all looked up. Standing there under the towering fragrant forest, we couldn’t doubt that they had seen a thousand years of sunrises, heard a thousand years of laughter. Their roots, I learned, grow up to 6 feet deep and nearly 100 feet out. The Redwoods are anchored for the centuries.

I spent about a year, maybe even more, digging through my crippling insecurity, trying to find the root of it, to dig that out too. You’ve got to dig down into yourself, but dig down into God too. It was only ever after I started with Him and His words as a foundation that I was able to dig up the crap I’d been standing on.

I’m trying to build this life-foundation strong, because I want to stand tall. Maybe it is hidden work, but even if nothing of the foundation shows, then at least the life-that-does-not-crumble will. Perhaps it will take hours at my kitchen table, reading and underlining and praying the scriptures. Maybe it will take years. Maybe it should take years. But perhaps if we stay where we are meant to be, if we dig down deep enough, then in a thousand years we will be as beautiful as this.

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holy Saturday

Truth, truth. It is like a dye, staining every thought I have this weekend. I have scripture ringing in my ears – a lying tongue hates its victims; Proverbs 26. I repeat it to myself, thinking not just of telling lies but of softening truths. It is so easy to sidestep truth, to just assume somebody knows my beliefs and positions and that I don’t need to clarify them.

I never want to present truth unlovingly. It’s the spoonful of sugar with the medicine. But you can’t be nourished on spoonfuls of sugar alone, and that’s the way our culture has leaned. Religion is suddenly acceptable if love is the only real application. But truth and love are inseparable. That is actually my clearest memory from my recent trip to California.

Redwoods are beautiful, don’t misunderstand me! I loved them. But on the way back to the airport, Tiffany reminded me of the absolute vitality of truth. It’s unloving to not speak the truth she said firmly. She’s right. I’ve been mulling over those words since I reached the airport and quietly circled the terminal with hot coffee.

I read a post about celebrating Easter as a millennial who’s left church culture, and the post was about the spirituality (in a loose sense) of the holiday and the beauty of celebrating newness. I love newness and celebration, but the truth of Easter is so much more brutal, so sin-dyed. And it is so much more powerful, beautiful, so earth-shattering light-filled. Easter is the obliteration of our blackest wrongs through brutal death. Earth is the glory of new life where no life was even possible before.

Tiffany was right about truth. To withhold the glorious beauty of Easter and just celebrate newness? That is no kind of love. I do not want to alienate people who are on the fringes of faith and church, but I’m not going to break the truth into pieces we can consume without fear. Truth in love, yes. Half truth, no.

Those are my thoughts on this Saturday of waiting – the day in between death and Resurrection, a grave day of not celebrating, not yet. And this is my invitation to you: celebrate with us tomorrow. Celebrate life and grace and forgiveness, the truth of the holy day.