No Sorrow . . .


Scruffy and I were in the worship service at church the other day. He looked over at me and asked: “Do you think that’s true?”

I paused. The line of the song said: “Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t cure.” Now both Scruffy and I have weathered our share of sorrow, Scruff more than most. Were we cured when we came to Christ? My spirit, soaring with the beauty of the song, said “Yes!” My heart, broken and changed and weighed down by the tragedies that we have seen said “No!” 

“Yes and No,” I told him. I still stand by that answer.

We see so many kids walk through the doors at camp. Innocence and joy, exuberance and fun, sorrow and heartbreak. So many children. So many stories. Some that would make you weep.

That song reminded me of the movie, Star Trek 5. Not the best of the Star Trek movies by far, but thought provoking. Spock’s brother, a strange priest character with the power to remove pain from the human heart, is gathering a mob of incredibly peaceful followers. Several of the Enterprise’s crew let him work his magic and are eerily happy with the results. But Captain Kirk refuses. “I need my pain. My pain makes me who I am!”

And what of God? Is He like Spock’s brother, washing the heart and human psyche clean of every wound? Is He like Kirk, who believes that to erase the stain of life would be to erase what a soul has become? I have mentioned this before, but I think this verse says it best.

Matthew 25:26b–“So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?”

In the parable of the talents, the lazy servant is afraid of his fierce master, who “harvests where he has not sown and gathers where he has not scattered seed.” Now, every analogy breaks apart at some point. Perhaps this is the part of the parable that does not describe God. How can it? That doesn’t seem very honest . . . and yet. I have seen God harvesting faith, love, hope, peace, joy, patience . . . all of the fruits of the Spirit out of troubles and situations that God did not plant. God does not sin and He does not tempt people to sin and yet, out of the terrible tragedy of this dark and stormy world, He brings forth an amazing harvest.

And so my answer is still “Yes and No.”

Yes, I have found healing in God. No, I will never be the same after walking through the valley of the shadow of death. I am changed. But while I would throw the sorrow away in an instant, I do not wish to erase the strength I have gained, the understanding I now carry, the good that has come about. I think God can do incredible things with a blackened, devastated field that he did not sow with hurt. He is not above swooping in like a pirate and taking an abundant harvest from even such a terrible place. He can work miracles with the most broken and desolated of souls. I have seen it with my own eyes. Look around. Look within. Perhaps you have seen it too.


Boo Boo

Rhyme and Rhythm



I was sitting in church the other day, listening to the worship music, when something occurred to me. That particular song had a sense of dissonance and clash that instantly turned the heart over, reminding me what it feels like to hurt and bleed and be in pain. But a gentle melody threaded its way through, giving a strand of hope within the dark. That song was such a picture of life. A glimpse of God’s story within our world.

The power of music, of art in all its forms. . . I think it is the rhyme and rhythm within the wild ache and clash of sound that draws us. The sense within the senselessness, the plot and story and balance of an artistic piece, the steady beat amidst all the bloodshed of life.

When there is dissonance in a song, I feel the reality of it. The terrible realness of all that surrounds us. But as the music flows together into something that makes sense, hope rises within me. It is the same for story. So much opposition is thrown up against the main character that the reader is sure life will squelch him in an arbitrary wash of senseless trouble and toil. But then there is that glimmer, that “for such a time as this” moment. The reader and the hero both realize that life is not a senseless tangle of horror. That they are where they stand for a reason. When a story finally wraps up, with all the threads untangled and the hero facing down the horror of his situation and becoming more than what he was before, it thrills the heart.

For isn’t that the ache in every heart? The longing to matter. Sometimes this world looks like a terrible mass of writhing destruction. War, enslavement, torture, destruction, tears. There are so many examples in the news and within the angry depths of our very own hearts that I shudder. And yet . . . I look outside and see a thick curtain and snow, drifting down in gentle perfection. Each flake a delicate work of art, unique and yet the same. Trees stretch out their limbs, soaking in the sun’s power and purifying the air around us. My children learn and grow, taller and more complicated every day. People change and forgive and move on to become more than anyone thought they could become. In real life, not just in the stories. 

There is a thread of reason within the terrible weight of darkness. There is God. Creator, Conqueror, Father, Friend. One who molds and makes the sensible order that flows all around us. One who chose to step down into our chaos and carve out a path to freedom. 

Isaiah 9:2–“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”

Isn’t this why the heart lifts when we hear a song, gaze upon a powerful painting, or fall into the pages of a book? The clash and bruising of reality in art pulls you forward, but the thread of hope in that one elegant strand of order frees the heart and makes us hope. We hope that we too are more than we appear, that there is a happy ending somewhere through the darkness that requires us to take that next terrible step forward.

God speaks to us in so many ways. I am so glad that He stirred the human soul to sing and paint and write and dance, to be like Him, to create. His story is all about us, if only we are willing to pause and to see.


Boo Boo

Summer Staff Winter Retreat


This last weekend was our annual Summer Staff Winter Retreat. A weekend where the camp counselors and other camp staff (both old veterans and new recruits) get to be the campers. It is a camp where they do not bear the weight of caring for the needs of campers, but get to rest and hang out and grow in the Lord in the quiet beauty of His creation. Of course it is not always quiet, but the joyful tumult can be refreshing as well.

We had a beautiful heap of fresh snowfall and lovely weather for tubing and outdoor activities. There were many board games played and quiet moments in the lodge as well. Ian (Faramir) Ross was the speaker and his word for the weekend was “Parched.” The woman at the well was one of his examples of our deep and abiding need to be quenched by the ministrations of the Holy Spirit rather than the remedies that we can find in this fallen world. 

I spent my time writing on the camp couch while I observed our three boys zipping around through the counselors in a rowdy pack. Occasionally, counselors would join me. I was able to interview one of them about the weekend, what it meant to her, why she came.

She told me about how busy the winter months are, with school and running start, deadlines and due dates, home issues and the things you have to deal with every day. Things just pile up on top of each other, especially during the Holiday season. But camp was an escape for her, an opportunity to take a pause from the turmoil and strain.

“Camp regenerates you,” she said.

I understand what she means. Watching the snow drift down in a steady, silent, cloak across the forest. Listening to the campers laughing as they sat hunched over a board game or their screams of terror on the tube hill as they rushed down the slope clutching a tube for dear life. Hearing them sing in the soft light of the lodge at night, accompanied by acoustic guitar. Raising their hands, closing their eyes, lifting their voices as one before the Lord. It was lovely, peaceful. A time to take in a great gulp and air and pause. A time to notice God and seek Him, ignoring the bustle and push, resting in His power and love.

What about you? Do you take the time to pause, to rest and seek and be restored? It was a pleasure to see God at work, with nothing but a handful of teens and the blinding glory of His creation all around us. As ever, that is enough for God. He doesn’t need much to do great things.


Boo Boo