Saturday, October 12, 2013

What's Your Calling?

In my line of work, I regularly interact with people whose gifts and callings from God are highly visible—well-known pastors, authors, speakers. These are people whose names you recognize. They’re writing books, starting ministries, speaking to crowds of thousands, changing lives and changing the world. 

They’re blazing a trail for the kingdom in very public and significant ways.

I love working with these amazing men and women. I’m deeply honored to be part of the team helping them communicate the messages God has entrusted to them. 

In case you are wondering what these well-known Christians are like, let me assure you: they are regular people—just like you and me. They are humble, gracious, and servant-hearted. They’re the kind of folks you’d love to invite over for coffee. These men and women just so happen to have received and embraced a calling from God that is huge and significant.

But you know what?

You and I also have callings from God that are huge and significant. They may not be as visible as, say, a top-billed speaker or best-selling author, but that doesn't make our callings any less significant for the kingdom.

Let me tell you about another group of people I get to interact with regularly.

*   A man who enjoys doing yard work. He doesn't have a two-piece suit and a pulpit, but he has two strong arms and a green thumb. When he noticed a single mom who desperately needed help with her lawn he showed up, offering to mow and weed and even do some landscaping. His “platform” is his pruning shears, and he has spoken Christ into my family’s life as much as any preacher.

*    A young mother who loves to bake. She’s chasing around two small children and barely has time to take a shower much less speak to crowds, but she makes amazing cookies—and she loves to bake for those who need to know someone cares about them. Her “platform” is her oven, and she shares the love of Christ with a smile—and snickerdoodles.

*    A grandfather whose house is one of the main attractions in his neighborhood at Christmas. His collection of holiday decorations grows every year. And when he saw a newly single mom who didn't have the ladder—or the levity—to decorate her home, he showed up with a truckful of lights and gave her and her kids the brightest, happiest Christmas house they’d ever seen. He doesn't write best-sellers, but he wrote unspeakable joy into our hearts with the delight he took in the simple act of shining the light of Christ into our Christmas.

I have a "gratitude journal" filled with precious memories of how people have ministered to the kids and me these past two years. Most of them are ordinary men and women who are doing small things—behind-the-scenes and anonymous things—that are huge and significant callings. 

Indulge me in giving you a few more examples, in case you can see yourself in any of these:

·         The woman whose gift is her presence. She stuck by my side through the worst hours of my life, literally walking beside me when I could barely think or speak or breathe. Her gift is her friendship—and her simple act of being there has blessed me more than I could ever describe.

·         The young mom whose gift is her prayersShe came to my home and prayed over each room, filling each corner and crevice of our home with the light of God’s love.

·         The many, many people who gave us financial gifts.Encouraging notes that would arrive in our mailbox, on our porch, or in person with a gift card… a check… cash… all accompanied by, “I just felt like God wanted me to send this…” or “Praying for you and the kids…” Sometimes a significant amount. Sometimes a small amount. Yet always exactly what we needed. Always exactly when we needed it. All these people, receiving and embracing God’s call to share every good thing to those in need. 

·         The young couple whose gift was their service. They gathered some friends, did some shopping, and showed up with Christmas gifts for all my children.

·         The men whose gift is handyman workThey have fixed cabinets, moved furniture, changed light bulbs, set up electronics, and have taken care of all my honey-dos—with gracious and willing hearts.

·         The friends who gave the gift of a family photo sessionThey wanted the kids and me to know that our family was not broken but whole. Their gift of a family portrait finally helped us see ourselves the way others—and God—see the four of us: as complete, healthy, and whole.

·         The friends who gave the gift of mealsThey knew that delicious cuisine is best served with delightful companionship, so they brought us meals—and then sat around our table and ate the meals with us, filling not only our tummies but our hearts with their love.

·         The women whose gift is childcareThey would invite my kids over to play with theirs so I could work or simply have a moment to myself to breathe.

·         The grandmothers whose gift is their time. Oh, how my mom’s sweet Bible study ladies have blessed my socks off! They flocked to the house when I needed help. They inventoried and cleaned and purged my home, taking care of all the details I couldn’t bear to deal with at the time. They show up at a moment’s notice whenever I need anything.

·         The people who gave us the gift of a safe place to stay.I have keys to their homes and an open invitation to come on in if the kids and I ever need a safe place. Their gift is their hospitality—and their home.

·         The friends who gave the gift of what they had—graciously passing down clothes and shoes and movies and toys for my kids. I cannot tell you how much this has blessed us!

·         The man who is a computer whiz. He took care of my computer issues, even removing and safely storing files I didn’t have the emotional strength to open.

·         The woman whose gift is thoughtfulness. She helped my kids to buy a Mother’s Day present and still sends me flowers on my birthday, knowing that every girl loves to have flowers. Her thoughtfulness fills my home with the sweet fragrance of Christ.

·         The man whose gift is numbersHis sweet spot is spreadsheets—so he came over and sorted through all my paperwork, getting my bills and budget in order.

·         The women whose gift is room in their car. Every school day, their kids scoot over and let my kids join them on the way home from school, giving me the precious gift of extra time to work and provide for my family.

I could go on and on and on. (Like I said, I have a whole journal full of these!) I haven’t even begun to list the many people who serve us through various ministries at our church, including Sunday school, the single parents’ ministry, and our community group, as well as friends who have simply welcomed us into their homes as an extended part of their families. 

But hopefully this brief list is enough to demonstrate that no matter how God has gifted us—as an author, speaker, photographer, accountant, or carpool mom—our callings are essential to the body of Christ.

Whether our names are on the cover of a book or merely in the pages of someone’s gratitude journal, God has given each of us a calling that is huge and significant. 

So has God called you to write a book? Then write it with all your heart! (And I'd be honored to help polish it.)

Has God called you to preach or speak to crowds? Then preach and speak boldly and faithfully the Word of God with all your heart!

Has God called you to mow lawns, or bake cookies, or visit nursing homes, or care for children, or move furniture, or crunch numbers, or carpool? Whatever your sweet spot that God has given you to serve others, then respond to that calling with all your heart!

May we be faithful to receive and embrace our callings, no matter how big or small they may seem in our limited perspective. Because in God's eyes, there are no "small" callings.

One day, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with celebrities and unknowns, each of us will hear our same Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”


Christ gave gifts to people—he made some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to go and tell the Good News, and some to have the work of caring for and teaching God’s people. Christ gave those gifts to prepare God’s holy people for the work of serving, to make the body of Christ stronger. This work must continue until we are all joined together in the same faith and in the same knowledge of the Son of God. We must become like a mature person, growing until we become like Christ and have his perfection.

—Ephesians 4:11-13 NCV

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Why I'm No Longer Praying for My Kids to Be Safe

Marlin: I promised I'd never let anything happen to him.
Dory: Hm. That's a funny thing to promise.
Marlin: What?
Dory: Well, you can't never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him.

Today, I joined the ranks of all the other parents launching their kids into a new school year. The girls were up extra early, donning new outfits and curling their hair and filling their bathroom with a swirl of Pink Chiffon body splash and hair spray and lip gloss. (Oh, this whole new world of preteen girls!)

Little guy was also up early, but with only one thing on his mind: did the Tooth Fairy come? (He lost his OTHER front tooth yesterday!) I actually had to remind him it was the first day of school, so he threw on a T-shirt and shorts and sauntered out to breakfast. (Obviously, boys are a LOT easier at this age.)

Over breakfast, we read our daily devotional and then I prayed for them as they begin this new adventure.

But this year… my prayer for them is different.

In years past, I've prayed for God to keep them safe. To protect them. To make sure nothing happens to them while they’re away from home.

There’s nothing wrong with praying for your kids’ safety, of course. The Bible is filled with prayers for God's protection. 

However, I've learned something very significant this past year.

In order for us to grow and mature and become the people God wants us to be…

* We have to fail. And learn from our mistakes. Then we can give ourselves grace and move forward with the wisdom that comes only from experience.

* We have to get hurt. And learn to get up again. Then we can experience the freedom of forgiveness and develop a tender compassion for others who are hurting too.

* We have to experience hard things. And learn from the struggle. Then we can deepen our strength, courage, tenacity, and character.

* We have to be challenged in our faith. And learn that God sends us as lights in this dark world. Then we can see others from God's perspective and depend more fully on God every day.

So if we want our kids to grow into the men and women God designed them to be, something has to happen to them.

As Dory pointed out in Finding Nemo, if your goal as a parent is not to let anything happen to your kids... well, then nothing will ever happen to them. They'll be stunted in their growth. God can't sculpt our kids unless we step back and allow Him to get out His chisel.

So this year, I'm not praying that God would keep my kids safe.

Instead, I'm praying that God would do whatever it takes to shape my kids into mature Christ-followers.

I'm praying that God would give me wisdom to guide them through their failures, pain, and challenges and keep pointing them toward the Cross.

And I'm praying that God would use their experiences this year to make them dangerous--to stand up for what is right regardless of consequences, to show unflinching compassion, to take risks, and to share with boldness the good news of Jesus Christ with those who desperately need hope.

Whether you are sending your kids off to school on the bus, in school uniforms, or to the kitchen table, I urge you to join me in praying for so much more than safety for our kids.

Let's pray that something will happen to them.

Monday, April 15, 2013

What Should You Tell Your Kids about the Boston Marathon Bombing?

Sometimes I wish I could just bubble-wrap my kids and protect them from all the sad stuff.

Like most parents, I try to make wise choices about what my kids are exposed to. I monitor their entertainment and their activities. I want them to be cultured, but not corrupted.

Yet I also want our home to be a safe place where they can wrestle with the big questions.

When they're having conflict with friends or frustrated by school, I want them to talk about it at home.

And when they're worried or sad about something, I want them to talk about it at home.

So I told them about the Boston Marathon bombings.

My 11-year-old had heard of the tragedy. We don't have the TV news, but her friends had texted her about it.

My other children are 9 and 6. At first I hesitated.... Did they really need to know about something that happened all the way across the country? Something that might really upset them?


Because I know good and well that my kids are eventually going to hear about it. And I wanted them to hear it from me--and not from another kid at school.

They needed to hear it at home.

So over our family dinner, we talked about it. They asked questions. I answered honestly. We prayed. When it was over, the kids were fine and all slept soundly last night.


I'm a far cry from a parenting expert, but I know what it's like to break bad news to my kids.

Here's what works for us:

1. Be honest about what happened.

Don't try to gloss over the tragedy by saying, "Well, honey, there was this kind of sad thing in Boston, but it wasn't that big of a deal, so don't worry, okay?" Be honest.

I told my kids: "A really sad thing happened today. A lot of people were running in a great big race called the Boston Marathon, and there were two explosions near the finish line. Lots of people got hurt, and a couple of people were killed by the blast."

NOTE: You don't have to go into gory or horrific details. (Please don't!) But do state the basic facts. Your kids are going to hear the facts of the tragedy from someone--it might as well be you.

2. Point out the goodness wherever you can find it.

Take Mr. Rogers's famous advice and "look for the helpers." Point out something--anything--to teach your kids how to stop focusing on the negative and look for something positive. Not all tragedies have an obvious silver lining, of course. But there is always a glimmer of goodness.

I told my kids about a picture I'd seen on Facebook: "You know what was interesting, though? I saw a photo snapped immediately after the first blast. All you could see was smoke... and about six first responders rushing into that smoke. In a split second, they all instinctively ran INTO the danger to help other people." Then we talked a bit about what it takes to have that kind of self-sacrificing love.

NOTE: It's not always easy to find the goodness in a tragedy. Sometimes it might be as meager as "she's no longer suffering" or "it could have been worse." The point here isn't to try to be Pollyanna; it's to show your children how to adopt a different perspective.

3. Remind them that God is always in control.

As Christians, we know that God is sovereign. He is always in control, even when things don't make sense to us. "The secret things belong to the Lord" (Deuteronomy 29:29). If God were small enough to be understood, He wouldn't be big enough to be God.

I told the kids: "It was really awful what happened today. Setting off that bomb was an evil thing to do. But God is bigger than evil. In fact, since there is no one and nothing bigger than God, we don't have to be afraid. God is for us. What's the worst thing that could ever happen to us?" (My oldest reponded, "We'd die and go to heaven." My youngest sagely pointed out, "Well, we might be in pain for a while and then go to heaven.")

NOTE: Don't change the subject when your kids ask questions about God. Let them ask--and then listen to them. Kids old enough to grasp abstract concepts need a safe place to ask their questions. I had a great discussion about heaven (and even the biggie: "How do you know there is a God?") with my 9-year-old last night. Give your kids the freedom to ask. And then calmly help them think their way through it. Don't be too quick to jump in with answers.

4. Assure them of God's peace.

Wrap up your discussion by assuring your kids that nothing will ever happen to them outside of God's hands (John 10:28-30). Every single day of their lives has been written in God's book since  before they were born (Psalm 139:16). As my mom says, you can't live one day longer or one day shorter than God has planned for you. God's plan for your kids (and for you) is perfect, so they can live in peace--and not fear.

As the kids and I polished off the pizza and wrapped up our dinner discussion, I reminded them of several verses we memorized during a particularly trying time in our family:

"If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)

"The Lord Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you" (Hebrews 13:1).

"The Lord is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1).

"When I am afraid, I put my trust in You" (Psalm 56:3).

5. Pray.

We closed the conversation by praying for the victims, for their families, for everyone involved. We asked that God would grant them health and peace and that He would shine His light into the darkness of that tragedy.


I don't know the specifics of your family--maybe your kids are too young to understand any of this, or maybe you're not ready to tell them about it yet. (Obviously, you can't help your kids be at peace if you are fearful.)

If that's the case, may I leave you with this sentiment?

(Photo Credit: Bob Goff and @Nella365)

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Mess That Makes It REAL

I own 46 Bibles.

But only one of them is REAL.

Now, I don't mean that the other 45 are fakes. Obviously, the other Bibles are equally God's Word. Many are study Bibles I use for teaching and for personal devotions. Others are various translations I use for work.

(NOTE: whenever you're reading a book with Scripture quotes, know that an editor has verified each scripture word-for-word against the cited translation. Back in the old days--before the Internet--we had to do this with hard copies.)

Each Bible in my library is valuable and serves a purpose in my spiritual and professional life.

But only one is my REAL Bible.

My grandparents gave it to me for Christmas when I turned 13. I don't know if you can read the inscription in the picture, but my Grannie wrote, in part:

"We have no other gift to give you that would contain all the answers to life's challenges the way this beautiful word of God can and will.

Keep very close by at all times, searching the scriptures for all the great truths and promises that will give you the strength and grace to face and overcome each disappointment and temptation that comes your way..."

I've carried this Bible for more than a quarter century.

It's been beside me through middle school drama... high school ups and downs... youth camps and sleepovers and Dawson McAllister conferences. (See that page number in the upper right corner? That's the starter page for the "Romans Road." Before I learned the books of the Bible, I used page numbers as reminders.)

It traveled with me to college--my faithful companion in the dorm room... college Bible studies... road trips... mission trips. (Oh, how I remember those early mornings in the dorm, wearing my fuzzy pig slippers and PJs, carrying my Bible and coffee maker to the end of the hall and setting up in one of the study cubicles.)

It was at arm's reach after college--beside me all those years I lived alone... on my desk at Word Publishing... eagerly studied at Dallas Seminary... and then Southwestern Seminary.

It came with me to my honeymoon... to the hospital rooms when I had my babies... to the six different churches we served and the seven places we lived.

It was clutched tightly when my marriage fell apart... when my world came crashing down... when I had to start all over again.

Its pages are crumpled, yellowed, smudged, taped back together, filled with underlines and notes and highlights. Its bonded leather cover had to be replaced several years ago when the stitching fell apart.

It's a mess.

But that only makes sense, because there's so much of ME in there. And I'm a mess too. ;)

It's the mess that makes it REAL.

All those notes. The tear stains. (And yes, coffee stains.) The underlines and the questions in the margins. Cross-references and comments on things I struggle with. Highlights to remind me of God's promises.

Let me say this again: this Bible not technically "more real" than any other version of the Bible.

But it's REAL to me.

In this messy Bible, God has met me on every page.

For more than 25 years.

The same God.

He met me in my middle school drama. In my high school grief. In my college questions. In my married issues. In my sleep-deprived mothering. In my middle-age anguish.

Every time I open this Bible, and I see all the mess and marks from all these years... I remember:

[God] Himself has said,
I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you."
(Hebrews 13:5)

This Bible is a tangible reminder that God is always with me.

No matter WHAT.


In much the same way that the mess of the pages makes a Bible REAL... the mess of our lives makes our faith REAL.

It's a long and painful process, to be sure.

You get marked up and tattered and taped. You get stained and torn. Sometimes your stitching completely falls apart and you have to get sewn back together.

But through it all, you are deeply loved by the Author of life.

And in the end, your faith becomes REAL.


“What is REAL?" asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day... "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.

"Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand... once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

--Margery Williams, "The Velveteen Rabbit"

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Our Normal, Crazy, Fun, Adventurous, Everyday Life

So... it dawned on me the other day that the only time I sit down to write a blog is when I'm feeling reflective AND when everything else on my daily list is done.

Which, obviously, isn't that often. :)

I mean, I often feel reflective. And I enjoy writing--it's cathartic and fun. But to be honest, blogging isn't super high on my to-do list right now.

It's not that I don't adore all of you lovely readers! I do!!!  It's just that, with rare exceptions, I'm a 24/7 single mom and sole provider. So when I do have quiet moments, I usually spend them in personal devotion or squeezing in some extra editing to provide for the kiddos.

Or, you know, sleeping.

I Heart Sleep.

Anyway... there's a LOT more going on in the Stair house than what you see on this blog!

Since I don't have time to write about it now, let me just show you a few snapshots of what life is like in our home these days.

Obviously, we do all the regular stuff like homework and chores and showers and bedtime routine. But I don't have pictures of that. Just imagine your family and all its regular everyday stuff. Yep, us too.

What else do the kids and I do these days?

We dance.

We play outside.
We feed the ducks at the pond by our house.
We go to the park.
We have picnics and fly kites with my sister and her family.
We go to school events.
We hang out with friends.
(Do girls ever grow out of the "dress-up" phase? Hee hee)
We celebrate half-birthdays.
 (Ack! J.J.'s next birthday will have DOUBLE DIGITS!)
We make dorky, themed holiday meals.
NOTE: what I lack in baking stills, I make up for in food coloring.
Valentine's Day breakfast...

[[NOT PICTURED: our green St. Patrick's Day dinner, and the "resurrection rolls" we made for a sleepover on Easter weekend. If you ever make that recipe (widely circulated on Facebook), please note: Jesus-as-marshmallow tends to escape from His crescent-roll grave, so make sure kids know the Bible pretty well or they'll be concerned...]]
April Fool's! Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans are actually Cocoa Krispies treat, ice cream, and fruit roll-ups.
These are just some of the pictures I had on my phone. But I wanted you to see that we don't just sit around and pontificate and wax philosophical over here.
We watch too much TV. We tickle. We giggle at our ever-expanding repertoire of family inside jokes. We get cranky at each other. The kids fuss. (I take deep breaths and remind myself of the immortal words of the Dog Whisperer: "Calm, Assertive Leadership.")
We eat breakfast for dinner. And sometimes, dessert first. (Who made up the rules, anyway?)
We sing. If you drop by pretty much anytime, we'll have Toby Mac or Chris Rice on Pandora (any guess which is my favorite and which is the kids'?). I have a habit of singing to myself--more of a "joyful noise" I guess--and the kids have picked up on that.
Sometimes I'll pause my editing, listen closely, and realize all three kids are singing three different songs to themselves.
I Heart Earbuds.
I'm not a very good cook. I'm terrified of crafts--glitter gives me hives. And I had to ask Miss B to explain the newfangled way the elementary school teaches math.
But the one thing I'm good at? Finding creative ways to have fun.
We have a lot of FUN.
So, that's pretty much our life. Regular stuff. Chaotic stuff. Messy stuff. Fun stuff.
Family stuff.
Because that's what we are! We're just a regular family. Doing regular family things.
Loving God.
Loving each other.
Doing our best to make the most out of our days. :)
Okay, that's all, folks! See you the next time I'm caught up enough on editing to blog!!!


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Why is there a Holy Saturday?

Today, I woke up early—while my house still sighed with the rhythmic breathing of five sleeping kids, exhausted from late-night sleepover giggles. While I tiptoed in the kitchen to make my coffee, it was quiet, and it was still dark.
 And as the excitement of yesterday melted into a silent morning. . . I realized:
Today is Holy Saturday.

I didn’t grow up in a liturgical tradition, so I haven’t contemplated the significance of Holy Saturday. Honestly, to me, it was just a bonus day sandwiched between Good Friday and Easter Sunday—a day to grocery shop for Sunday lunch, to take the kids to local Easter egg hunts. And for the thirteen years I spent as a pastor's wife, Holy Saturday was a hectic day, the final push to invite people to our Easter service (i.e., the Super Bowl of the church)—passing out flyers, doing some kind of community blitz to get our name and service times out there.

Never before has Holy Saturday been a quiet day.

For some reason I’ve been feeling especially reflective this Holy Week. So as the sun peeked over the rooftops this morning, I wondered, Why do we have Holy Saturday?
Why did Jesus stay in the grave an extra day?

I mean, I know the seminary answers: Jesus was fulfilling prophecy of being in the heart of the earth for three days (Matthew 12:40). Jesus was staying in the grave long enough for people to know He was dead, but not long enough for His body to decay (John 11:39; cf. Psalm 16:10). And some Bible scholars believe that on Saturday, Jesus preached the gospel in hell (1 Peter 3:18-20).

But even if Jesus “descended into hell,” as the Apostles’ Creed says—why did He need a whole day to preach the gospel? Jesus’ longest recorded sermon is the Sermon on the Mount, which can be delivered in only eight minutes. So Jesus could have been taken off the cross by sundown, made a quick trip to hell to preach the gospel, and been back in an hour.
Why is there a whole extra day?

I thought about what the disciples must have been feeling on that first Holy Saturday. They didn’t know it was Holy Saturday. To them, it was just another day. The day after their Master died.
The day after everything they'd been living for was snatched away in a matter of hours.

The day after their entire world fell apart.

Now THAT I can relate to.

About a year and a half ago, my dreams died. The tragedy shocked my faith like nothing I’ve ever experienced. He not only broke his vows with his marriage and his ministry, but he told me he was “tired of pretending.” Then one chilly morning, he chose another life and simply walked out.
Everything I had lived for was snatched away in a matter of hours.
I was devastated.

My faith was shaken to the core.
I had put all my eggs in this Easter basket, so to speak.

My life had been centered on the church from children’s choir to youth group—and then college Bible studies and mission trips. After college I worked for a Christian publisher and went to seminary, where I met and married a preacher. Together we planted churches and led ministries—all while I edited hundreds of Christian books. It is not an exaggeration to say the church was my entire world.

Everything I had been living for was saturated in the faith.

And then one day . . . it was gone.            
So I can relate a bit to the disciples that Saturday.

Maybe you can relate, too. You have your own story. Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one. Or gotten a phone call with devastating news.
Perhaps your dreams died with the words “cancer” or “infertile” or “runaway” or "downsizing" or “There's been an accident" or "I just don’t love you anymore” or “Your child needs some tests” or “He’ll never walk again.”

Or maybe for you, it was a crisis of faith that came out of nowhere. You were sitting on a pew or serving in church, when suddenly you were seized with doubt and thought, "What am I doing? Is this even real?"
Have you ever faced your own "Holy Saturday"?

Has God ever disappointed you? Not met your expectations? Been silent when you desperately needed Him to speak?

The disciples didn’t know that all their doubts, aches, and disappointments would be answered on Sunday. To them, Saturday was a dark day. A day of grief and anguish. A day of God's echoing silence. A day of enduring pain in the raw, empty place where their dreams used to live.

Everything they had believed in was buried in a cold, dark tomb.

God could have reassured the disciples by giving them some handwriting on the wall or a burning bush or something as a sign to let them know that Jesus was coming back. That their emptiness would be filled in the morning. That their faith was NOT in vain.

But He didn’t.

He let them wrestle in the darkness of that wide borderland--between anguish and hope--for a full day. Aching. Waiting. Grieving. Fearing. Wondering. Too shocked to pray. Too shattered to trust.

Why did God let them wrestle?

Why does God let us wrestle?
Why is there a whole day when God is silent?

When you're in your "Holy Saturday," faced with pain and doubt amid the silence of God… what do you do?

Do you turn and walk away from your faith, trying to fill the emptiness with something else?

Or ...
When you’re suffering in the silence, wracked by the feeling that God has abandoned you, do you notice that tiny, flickering, almost imperceptible spark of hope? The hope that makes no sense? The hope you cannot prove, you cannot see, and you cannot even quite say for sure is actually there?
Did He really say that He would rise again? 

Is there a chance that maybe He hasn’t abandoned me? That there is a future I just can’t see? A hope beyond this barren borderland?
It is today, Holy Saturday—the in-between place where we cannot see or sense God—when our faith becomes REAL.
If you are wrestling with your faith today, let me encourage you that there are thousands of other strugglers like you and me. We are the ones who know what it's like to be shattered by pain, assaulted by doubt and fear, and yet still desperately clinging to the hope that just barely throbs beneath our heartache.

Don't give in to the grief of your Holy Saturday. Don't run away from the One who alone has the words of eternal life.

Wait in the emptiness.

And watch.

Embrace the sacredness of your Holy Saturday, whatever it may be. Allow yourself to wrestle and to ask and to grieve and to fear and to doubt and to ache. Cry and pray and struggle. And through it all, pay attention to that tiny flicker of hope that just won't go away.

Then, as your heart is made tender by pain and your eyes softened by tears, the stone of doubt and emptiness will begin to roll away and reveal the transforming faith and fullness and glory of a Resurrection Sunday like you’ve never known.

 Where reasons are given, we don't need faith.
Where only darkness surrounds us,
we have no means for seeing except by faith.

--Elisabeth Elliot