It seems to go without fail that every new season brings with it new ideas, new thoughts to enchant me and catch my attention repeatedly. These are the words capturing my heart right now.
Thankful: feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.
I'm thankful for freedom. For the kind that comes from living in a country where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are protected and defended daily. For the kind that comes from being washed in the blood of a sinless Savior who died to release my chains and draw me close to His side forever. For the kind that lets me worship, lets me write and speak and publish, lets me love, lets me live as I do.
I'm thankful for grace. For the undeserved gift of extravagant, amazing grace that washes over me and floods me and changes everything about me.
I'm thankful for family. For all the people that have known me from my first breath and support me unconditionally. For the memories, the traits and the traditions we all share. For the times we can all be close even though we all live far.
I'm thankful for community. For a church that is vibrant, alive, welcoming, growing. For my small group and how we've grown as believers, people and friends over the past year. For my circle of friends who laugh with me, eat with me, adventure with me, do life with me. For the Rethink guys and The Rising team and all of their persistence and dedication to changing the world through their words and their art. For the #fireworkpeople who light up every day with beautiful encouragement and passion and fire.
I'm thankful for change. For a different life and different goals and different dreams today than I had last year, because that means I'm growing. For new circumstances and new challenges, because they mean that life is moving onward and I'm not stuck.
I'm thankful for technology. For being able to make friends all over the world through Facebook and Twitter and blogs. For a platform I can use to share my heart through my writing with anyone.
I'm thankful for creativity. For museums full of art from centuries past to remind us where we came from, what we saw, what we found beautiful and meaningful. For websites full of words that challenge and inspire and connect us. For crafts and for dance and for murals and for music.
I'm thankful for joy. For giggles from children discovering new things in this world. For laughter shared with friends that brings tears to our eyes and aches to our stomachs. For a deeply rooted freedom that bubbles over in trusting faith and lasting happiness and unwavering belief.
I'm thankful for forgiveness. for redemption. for healing.
I'm thankful for unity. for shared meals. for solitude.
I'm thankful for the unexpected. for provision. for protection.
I'm thankful for Jesus. for the resurrection. for salvation.
I'm thankful for life.
I'm thankful for love.
This week, you won't find the usual Story Seeker post. This was the story burning on my heart, and this is the story I needed to share. The typical Story Seeker series will continue next week!
There will be people you get to hold, ones you get to hug tight, heartbeats drumming together. Hearts that will crack open so you can slip inside and get comfortable. Homes with open doors and a spot on the couch ready for you, a big blanket nearby so you can stay warm and cozy. There will be hands that fit in yours, filling the cracks between your fingers in a way that just feels right. There will be happiness that crackles and sparkles and shines, lighting up the darkness and igniting joy.
There will be summers that seem everlasting, sunshine soaking the earth for hours on end. Adventures will whisk you away to new places with new faces. You'll blaze new trails and capture new memories of these moments in time. Coffeeshops and cool breezes will carry your conversations well into the night, the stars keeping you company as you wish on each one. Romances will blossom, straight out of a fairytale or a country song, and you'll feel like this is invincible.
There will come clouds and change, shadows and storms, darkness and discouragement. The season of sun will seem far away as the sky stays gray and the beauty falls from the trees. You'll become obsessed with time and the ticking of each second as it echoes in your ears, a countdown looming in front of you to remind you this season will be a long one. Coffeeshop conversations will take a turn down a new path, with questions that make your heart wrench and the tears well up in your eyes. Your pen will spill on paper words you never knew how to say out loud. You'll seal it and send it and then wish you could take it back.
You'll fall for someone who was somewhere else. You'll find yourself stuck in muddy waters where you can't find your footing, and you'll struggle to see how you could ever wash this away. You'll fight it and you'll force it. A text message will come like an interruption, and everything will change. You'll feel every emotion and you'll tell every friend and you'll feel the world spinning out of control for a moment. And then, you'll feel free.
Then clarity will come. Relief will flood you. Peace will surround you. And you'll feel good again. You'll finally feel free. Your hands will relax from the fists they've been clenched in, and you'll realize how sweet surrender can be. You'll know this is an end, but oh, how much more this is really a beginning.
You'll feel the stress slip away, the grip of anxiety release, and the light seep back in again. The feelings that held you down and kept you back have been kicked to the curb, and nothing stands in your way now. No doubt, no worry, no fear. The road was once daunting, and now it beckons to you with the promise of goodness to come, the hope of what's next around the bend.
There will be people you get to wish well as you part from their side, ones you know will go places you were never meant to be. Hearts will heal and hope will be restored. Opportunities will arise as if out of thin air, and you'll find that purpose was behind it all. Friendships will solidify and you'll know undeniably you were never alone.
Your soul will find freedom. Your soul will find rest in this. Your soul will find joy everlasting, blessed assurance, glorious restoration. You'll find yourself full of gratitude. You'll find yourself feeling alive. You'll find yourself worshipping and celebrating and rejoicing. And you'll realize in all of it, you're finding yourself.
The season changing gives us freedom to change too.
The leaves falling from the trees they’ve clung to for so long free us to give up our grip on the life we’ve been holding on to so tightly. The vibrancy of their colors reminds us that beauty comes even in the breakaway, even in the falling down, even in the change. The remnants scattered on sidewalks and streets show us all things must come down and find the ground. Nothing can stay the same forever. No life can go on unmoved as time carries onward. We can’t cling to what we know and think we’ll be safe there forever.
The season changing gives us freedom to change too.
No, we must come down, we must let go. We must trust that even though this looks a lot like the end and a death of something that once was alive and beautiful, this is just the preparing for a whole new life that will come again soon.
The winds are cold and seem to get under our skin as they chill us to the bone and steal our very breath. The warmth of summer is long gone, the heat and the sweat a vague memory our layered bodies can hardly recall, but this cold is good for us.
When it’s cold, we gather together. We gather by fireplaces and on couches and around long tables. When it’s cold, we come inside, we sit down, we stay awhile. We have time to pause, reflect, breathe. When it’s cold, we slow down. Our souls have time to rest.
The winter is coming, and it will be gray and barren and seem lifeless outside our foggy windows. But winter is necessary. The cold gives us and the land a chance to just be, to stop trying so hard, to stop growing new things and focusing so much on activity. Winter says, rest, all who are weary. Winter says, stay, be still, just wait.
We weren’t meant to bloom in every season. We need the seasons of letting go of what we worked hard to grow, trusting in faith that we won’t stay barren forever. We need the seasons of vibrancy, of beauty bursting forth, of great and creative art coming out of us, but we need the seasons of stillness, silence, solitude just the same.
The season changing gives us freedom to change too.
That’s how many men, women and children are in slavery. Right now.
Can you picture what 27 million of anything looks like?
Only 2.1 million people fit tightly squeezed on the National Mall in DC. So fill that up with people 13 times, and you have 27 million.
Only 8 million or so people live in the entire state of Virginia. So three times the entire population, and you have 27 million.
The Georgia Dome (and the place where the #enditmovement launched at Passion) only holds 71,000. Fill the dome up 380 times, and you have 27 million.
Can you wrap your head around those numbers? Can you fathom that slavery exists today, in 2014, to that magnitude? If you can, or even if you can’t, can you stomach that? Can you be okay with that?
I can’t. I want it ended. I want my generation to be the one that ends slavery.
Today, February 27, red Xs are on the hands of thousands of people around the world. It’s a sign that we are in it to end it. But it isn’t enough.
#enditmovement is trending on Twitter in the United States. But that isn’t enough.
Freedom fighters and IJM and other justice initiatives are standing up and raising awareness and dedicating their work to breaking chains and bringing freedom, but it isn’t enough.
A Twitter trend and a red X on your hand and a hashtag alone won’t save 27 million people from bondage.
But Jesus can. And Jesus will. And He needs us, all of us. Our hands, our hearts, our resources, our passions, our creativity, our prayer.
Together, with the Prince of Peace and Redeemer of the Universe, with all believers and brothers and sisters and humans on this earth, we can end it.
It’s more than a trendy cause. It’s more than that #enditmovement hashtag. We can’t sit back after sending out a tweet and just hope it ends itself. We need to join in. We need to fight the good fight.
I believe God’s heart is for justice. I believe His heart is for mercy. I believe He wants to hold his beloved children close, free from bondage and free from chains and free from slavery. And I believe we, as His people, are His hands and His feet and the ones on this earth to bring His kingdom to every end of it. May today be a day of awareness, but may it be more than that. May this be a launchpad for a generation of freedom fighters committed to doing whatever it takes to end it. May this be the start of the end. May this be a day where we unite and open eyes and hearts around the world, and may it be a day of momentum pushing us forward to end slavery once and for all.
I’m in it to end it. Are you? learn more here