When the woman reached out to hug me just before I got to the door, she whispered it in my ear and I barely heard it through what was leaking down her cheeks, “I don’t know if I’m going to live through this.”

She pulled back and looked me in the eye:

“How do you keep taking one step after another — when you want to be on another road?”

“Maybe it’s — I just don’t know how — to live through this?”

I read her eyes and she reads mine and how do you hear the voice of the Shepherd still calling your name when the lies from the pit keep calling you names, and you can’t breathe for the shame?

How do you live through this hard thing — that’s effecting everything? How do you keep finding a way forward — without losing your hope along the way?

How do you keep taking one step after another — when you want to be on another road?

Resource: our heirloom Lenten Wreath
Resource: Our heirloom Lenten Wreath
Resource: Our heirloom Lenten Wreath

The woman brushes her cheeks with the back of her hand.

And I don’t know what grief that’s got her cornered at every turn, or if it’s a prodigal child she’s begging to make a u-turn, don’t know if it’s a mountain she’s got to take, or if it’s something that’s trying to take her — but I know that I know that overwhelmed look in her eyes and I feel the cracking ache in her brave voice and the details of our hard may be different, but all our need for courage is the same.

“The details of our hard may be different, but all our need for courage is the same.”

The prodigal has gone off the rails, but your love isn’t going anywhere. 
The situation just keeps going south, but you aren’t taking your eye off He who is your North star. 
The job offer doesn’t come through, but you don’t offer to back down from life one iota. 

The scale doesn’t move a digit, but your determination doesn’t budge an inch.

The letter doesn’t come in the mail, but you don’t accept that this any dead end.

The knot in your gut that was there last night, is right there strangling you a bit tighter as soon as you open your eyes this morning, but you grab hold of that rope and you just tie it to the next thing and the next thing and you make that knot in your gut into a knotted lifeline from one moment to the next.

And I cup her face in my hands. And I nod, because I feel it too:

Everyone is fighting a hard battle — but there are a whole lot of us fighting hard battles, after losing a whole string of other battles. Sometimes it’s not even about battling to win, or about battling forward. It’s about battling to breathe.

“Life is one hard battle — and there’s no walking off that battlefield called life.”

We’re bone tired. And the truth is: Life is one hard battle — and there’s no walking off that battlefield called life. 

You have to keep hanging on, when you don’t know how to go on.

I look her in the eye and only want to tell her:

You’re winning the battle — when you stay in the battle. 

And I tell her that I’m with her, with her, and I nod and I mean it.

And she nods and squeezes my hand.

Because what all our brokeness needs:  we all need in our battles is with-ness and witness. 

Brokenness needs with-ness and witness — someone to stand with us and someone to see us.And as the days move us closer to Holy Week and Calvary, we all have SomeOne who stands with us and SomeOne who sees us. God’s wrath become nail-scarred hands that wrap up our wounds, and God’s bare given heart becomes the beauty that heals us, and God’s witness of our brokenness, and His with-ness in our brokenness — breaks our brokenness.

“Wherever we feel too far gone, there is One who is the Way who comes and finds us.” 

Wherever we feel too far gone, there is One who is the Way who comes and finds us. 

Your hard place isn’t beyond God’s tender heart and there is no place that you’re ever left alone. God is with you in your darkest pit, your loneliest corner, your deepest need, your greatest failure. Grace wouldn’t have it any other way.Grace would have it no other way — but to come find you when there seems to be no way. 

And the outreach of the Cross reaches you no matter the mess of things, and if He has removed your busted sinfulness as far as the East is from the West, you aren’t beyond the love of God — you are called the Beloved of God.

Grace would have it no other way — but to make a way.

And how can grace not choke the busted up — because who can swallow the audacity of a love like this?

And she smiles the bravest and I whisper right there close to her ear: “You will live through this.

Because the truth about every blasted battle is:

“Grace would have it no other way — but to make a way.”

What you don’t know how to live through — Jesus died for.

Where you don’t how to go on — Jesus already went through.

What feels hopeless — is where you meet more Jesus.

And that’s what ended up following me all the winding way home under a smattering of spring stars. What they call the dark night of the soul may feel as endlessly black as the limitless cosmos — but darkness isn’t God, darkness isn’t infinite. Darkness has limits, darkness has an end, darkness has borders.

Resource: Our heirloom Lenten Wreath
Resource: Our heirloom Lenten Wreath
Resource: Our heirloom Lenten Wreath

“All darkness has shores and there is always laughter on the other side. You have to believe this.”

And sometimes you exhale like the expanse of a night sky, like even your breath calls your Father’s name, YWHW.

And you breathe: All darkness has shores and there is always laughter on the other side. You have to believe this. 

And when you can’t believe— just breathe. Next breath, next thing, next step — and you will get through now.

He knew: He made your every breath to be the sound of His name, the endless song that comforts your only soul.

Just before dawn this past week, we wake early to stand in the dark and witness the Lyrids, part of the comet Thatcher, shower across the night sky. We have to wait in the dark, wait for our eyes to adjust to the pitch black, wait to see the cascading light.

And when it comes — there is this catching of breath:

Nothing is ever too far gone for hope to come find you. Grace would have it no other way — but to make a way.

And we watch how the meteors live through the dark. And win the night. And on the other side, there’s the rising dawn.


Resources for your Lenten Easter Season:

Pick up our story of The Broken Way and in a broken world, with a whole bunch of broken dreams and busted plans  — discover the way through a brokenhearted world.

This one’s for the brave and the busted and the real and dreamers and the sufferers and the believers — and the ones who desperately need real hope. 

This one’s for those who dare to take The Broken Way… into abundance

Keep company with Jesus with a
 Lenten to Easter wreath… 
and keep company with Jesus by turning the pages of these
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