Word of the Week

There are some words in the English language that are used more often in slang. In the case of our word this week, cracked, informally, it might be used as expression of "crazy." Haven't you heard people say . . . she just cracked . . . she couldn't take it anymore? It might feel derogatory to use cracked in a description of a person.

Yet, recently I've been thinking about how beautiful cracked can be.

The dictionary offers us this definition of cracked: showing lines on the surface from having split without coming apart.

Because here's the thing, being a human being on planet earth is an experience of being cracked. We will loose what we think we can't loose. We will have taken from us what we don't want to give. We will all have lines on our faces and on our hands that tell the stories of what been spilt a part in our lives.

Yet, somehow through it all, you are still here.

Several years ago, I was talking with a friend who was going through a difficult time. She was struggling to “move on” from what everyone said she should have been over months before. A whole year passed. She kept showing up to do her own life to learn and grow bit by bit even as sad as she was. Then, one afternoon she told me: “I feel like my heart has been broken deeper than I’ve ever known, at a deep, deep level. But at the same time, I’ve felt more seen and loved by a few of you than I’ve ever imagined either.”

She went on: “So, I’m thinking that sometimes the only way that real love can deep down inside of us is for our heart to be cracked open."

And the more I thought about it, I knew my friend was so right! It is so easy when life get stuck in rough patches to focus solely on what is going wrong or what used to be.

But with time and patience, there is another way. And songwriter, Leonard Cohen lays it out for us.

“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

Today I believe you can do this hard thing: allow the light to get into the places in your life you fear are most cracked.

I call this light God.

Because as we keep going, step by step, and keep ringing our bells, God surprises us! Shining beam by beam. Illuminating stride by stride. Radiating moment by moment. Peace comes.

This is what I most want for whatever is heavy on your heart this week. It's ok that you feel cracked. Honestly, we all do.



In so many communities, there’s a “How are you?” “I am fine” sweetness in the air. We don’t say that we’re having trouble paying our bills this month. We don’t say that our relationship is in a rocky season. We don't say our child is having behavior problems at school.

There’s so much we keep to ourselves. Shame gets the best of us.

Now, I know I’m stepping on toes as I say this, but from my pastoral vantage point, I’ve seen folks preferring a vision of reality rather than their actual reality. Appearing put together while truthfully falling a part on the inside. . . .

To this situation enter this week's word: talk a word that means to speak in order to give information or express ideas or feelings; converse or communicate by spoken words.

Sometimes leaders are the WORST when it comes to authentic talking.

In my first book, Birthed, I wrote about what it was like to be the pastor of a congregation while also going through the deep heartache of child loss, infertility treatments and adoption failure. I wrote about what it was like move to a part of the country where I couldn’t find work and for a time lost all sense of identity outside my husband’s. I also wrote about the days when I wondered if anyone would miss me if I were gone how I succumb to a lot of nothing and eating popcorn in bed.

I know at the time, I was probably the last possible person anyone would imagine was so low. I seemed put together from the outside. I was traveling the world supporting an important mission alongside Kevin. There were pretty pictures on my website. But all of that stuff, didn't mean that internally I couldn't be struggling. The recent news of the suicide of this celebrity was a case of pain he never talked about either.

And though I am no longer in this place in my life (thanks to therapy and other people in my life who made me "talk about it"), right now, our faith communities and schools and neighborhoods are full of these folks going through difficult experiences just like this. And they are silent.

So do your neighbor a favor this weekend (however you define neighbor) and TALK to them. Find out something new about them that you didn’t know. Invite someone over for coffee. Text someone you haven't heard from in awhile. Check in with the leaders among you too. Ask questions and just listen with an open heart. You'll never know how close you might feel to someone after a simple conversation.

Life can be so terrible. But, life can also be so beautiful when we learn to lean on one another. Who do you need to talk to this week?



P.S. I asked the question on twitter what is a song that you feel is spiritual but would never show up in a religious playlist. My friend, Rob, sent me this one that I have on repeat. It has reminded me once again of the power of talking about life and being community!

In the fall of 2021, my family and I were involved in a car accident in one of our first weekends in Athens. The airbags went off. But we were all ok. We had insurance. We walked away with only minor bruises and aches. The urgent care doctor I saw after the accident told me I would be sore for a bit. He called it our word of the week: whiplash.

Whiplash: to jerk or jolt (someone or something) suddenly, typically so as to cause injury.

Beyond a physical experience of pain in an accident, whiplash is something we can experience as an emotional or spiritual condition as well. The pandemic. A life-threatening diagnosis. A death. "I don't want to be married to you anymore."

All whiplash moments.

Whiplash leads you to question everything you knew as true. Whiplash keeps you from making many plans for the future. Whiplash can bruise you in places you didn't know could hurt so badly.

I have friends-- and maybe this is your story-- who grew up in very rigid faith traditions yet later find themselves deconstructing their faith as part of their healing journey. It's great, but the process often comes with the feeling of being tossed to the wind, questioning everything, not knowing what is "home" anymore. Whiplash is so unsettling.

Where is the good in whiplash you might be wondering?

Well, like any experience, whiplash also has its gifts.

For whiplash can be THE jolt you need to get to the place where you need to be.

Maybe, just maybe whiplash is the only way you could get there. Your life is just too stuck otherwise. Your living with whiplash teaches you much about where you want to go and what is more important to you-- what you want to put your energy toward creating when you find solid ground again.

If you are currently experiencing whiplash, this is what I most want to say to you: keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Do the next right thing. Go through the pain. And do all of this with HOPE!

I want you to have hope that even though you might feel lost or alone or overwhelmed in the whiplash of now something else is also true. Your spirit, your heart, your soul KNOW the way to healing. They just do. So give yourself some time. Rest. Be around people that encourage you. Goodness will find you again.

Whiplash never lasts forever.



The past week, how many times have you had to change your plans? Or put a hope for the future on hold?

In the covid-19 world we are living in, we are constantly pivoting, aren't we? We never really know what is going to happen or how long some bit of freedom might last. Control of our circumstances - what's that?

These are the facts. But I'm wondering today how can you respond to all of this constant change?

Well, our word of the week might be one option:

Nimble: to be quick and light in movement or action.

Being nimble speaks to the HOW. How do you respond to every cancellation, delay, or disappointment? How do you lean into wellness when the constant changes make you feel so out of sorts?

Being nimble offers us this gift: gratitude. Gratitude for whatever moments of joy present themselves. Letting go of what you do not know (like when this will be over). And simply being present in the life you DO have.

Easier said than done, right?

My husband often makes commitments with the caveat: "Lord willing and the creek don't rise." I admire how he leaves space for what might be outside his ability to control. (And makes us laugh in the process).

In your life right now, the "creek rising" might be a positive covid test or a school closing. It might be a loved one in the hospital or stuck in seemingly unending quarantine. Or it might even be the absence of simple pleasures like your favorite item not being available at the grocery store or your favorite shop closed due to lack of staffing.

But even when these things happen, you can be nimble in your re-direction of your energy toward what actually serves your well-being.

Will you let go of your illusion of control? Or will you hold on tighter and let bitterness eat away at you?

I know you are tired. OVER. IT. Covid fatigue, we all have it, right? But, with a nimble disposition you can keep going. You can! You can move toward rest, play, connection and joy when it finds you (even if it doesn't come in the way you might have originally planned).

There is a Shaker hymn that is one of my favorites: "Tis the Gift to be Simple." (The Yo Yo Ma and Allison Krause version is my favorite).

I love the line that says, "To turn, turn will be our delight, Till by turning, turning we come round right."

This is is where we are as spiritual beings right now-- we are being asked to nimbly turn, turn so that we come round right.

My friend: you may not always know where you are turning, but that's OK. God is with you, guiding you, and nudging you along in the paths meant just for you.

Cheering you on in your nimble ways this week!



A Sermon about Exodus 17:1-7 preached at The Federated Church, Weatherford, OK

Do you remember the last time you were really thirsty? Parched mouth? Dry tongue? Dreaming of water flowing from a faucet?

In our water bottle, water fountain and Sonic on every corner culture, it’s unheard of that any of us would ever "die of thirst” as we are all known to dramatically say from time to time.

Water is something we have enough of, almost always in this part of the world. Unless, of course, a tornado threatens to come through or an ice storm hits and our neighbors hoard the bottles of water off the shelves at Wal-Mart leaving nothing for the rest of us . . .

In Old Testament reading for this morning, Israelites found themselves with one very big problem and it had everything to do with water.

Two weeks ago, we left the Israelites on the their journey out of Egypt as the miracle of the crossing of the Red Sea just happened. With joyous celebration they exclaimed the amazing provisions of their LORD leading them on their way into the Promise Land!

Just three days after crossing the Red Sea-- the big and dramatic-- experience of faith, the group was short on water. Scripture tells us that God led them to a spring where their thirst could be quenched. All was well. God was mightily at work among them, providing for their every need.

But, of course we know that their water jugs did not stay filled for long.

In chapter 17 verse 2 they said to Moses again: "Give us water to drink."

And, such was a good, normal, everyday, essential need, right? Of course they had a right to ask this request of God.

H2O, we know, is critical to our very existence: the definition of a need. Most medical professionals will say that a human being, in reasonable to good health can only live between 3-5 days without water before suffering from extreme dehydration and shock leading to death.

So, while, we might read Exodus 17 with thoughts in our head like "here they go again complaining,” simply the Israelites sought to express a deep need. They needed to say to Moses, their spiritual and administrative leader, "We must have water now!"

In the meantime, however, what were they to do? How were they to wait?

How were they to respond to an unmet need that they were powerless to fix?

Did it mean that their need was not really a need?

Did it mean that God had abandoned them and truly wanted them to die, as they feared? It sure felt that way . . .

It's easy to kick the dog when you are down right? And, so, went the days of the lives of the Israelites and their relationship to Moses.

As they perceived God not giving them the life they wanted, they took out their pain on the easiest next best thing: Moses.

Voicing their frustration to the point that we hear Moses fearing for his life in verse 4-- believing that in their extreme thirst the crowd might stone him if they didn't get a drink and fast.

Moses' natural response to the crisis as a leader was fearful of the crowd's response, but tempered. We hear in the words of this text, Moses saying to the crowds: simmer down stop bothering me and simply trust in God’s provisions-- as this was God's job to meet their needs.

I can imagine, if I were a member of the crowd, I would have found Moses' calm as a cucumber leadership style really annoying. Wouldn’t you?

Trust that God would provide?

"Oh, Moses," I would have said. "It's so much harder than that. When, tell me, when God is going to get God's act together and find us some water!”

For, secretly they hoped that in Moses' bag of superpower, bring on the 10 plagues kind of tricks, he could lead them by another spring and they'd worry about water no more. But, such was just not going to happen.

They needed to wait. They needed to wait to see what could become.

A friend of mine shared with me this week a similar frustration with the world and with God.

After being out of work for the past nine months due to a company downsizing in these difficult economic times, she is currently at the end of her rope.

After sending out over 500 resumes, doing everything she can to do what experts say to do when you are looking for work: networking, staying on a schedule everyday and trying not to get down on herself even as the funds in the bank account slowly begin to run down, she says the best parts of her life are dying more every day.

After interview after interview, rejection letter after rejection letter, and sleepless nights and pleas for prayer to any religiously minded person she knows, my friend shared she was beginning to think that God had forgotten her.

No one in her life seemed to care that she was out of work and without a job coming her way soon; she might lose everything she's worked so hard for including her modest home. She hears her pastor say often at church that “God is going to work things out” but to her God is a distant figure that doesn’t seem to care about her pain.

But in the spirit of these same frustrations, the Israelites were asked to have ACTIVE faith in their waiting.

They were asked to believe that God was still at work, even if they couldn’t recognize it in the moment.

And so, these were Moses' instructions from God: "Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile and go. . . . Strike the rock,” God said, "and water will come out of it."

It was a simple as that. Strike the rock with your staff.

I can imagine that laughter erupted from the crowd AND anxiety of what might be next (if this didn't work) from Moses. This God they were serving was just getting crazier and crazier all the time . . .

But, Moses did as instructed by the LORD. And to the amazement of all, it worked. Sweet God Almighty brought them water from a big ole rock!

Let’s stop here and note that this provision was nothing like they expected. NOTHING. But yet it was water nonetheless and EXACTLY what they needed.

The water came not from a spring (as it did before) nor from going back to Egypt (as they had suggested), rather, it came from something that was dead.

Though it would have not been a word they used at the time, the best way I know how to describe the scene is by calling it resurrection! That out of something that seemed life-less and certainly not life-giving, out flowed streaming of living water.

Professor Amy Erickson sums up what happens in this way: "It strikes me (pun intended!) that God choose to bring water-- and the life it symbolizes and will impart-- out of something that appears to be lifeless . . ."

But, this my friends is exactly how God works.

Dead is never dead in the kingdom of God.

Lost causes are never really lost.

And the broken down and washed out are really never without hope.

When I was serving as an associate pastor at Untied Methodist congregation while in seminary at Duke Divinity in North Carolina, I told it was my job to make most of the pastoral visits.

On a Monday afternoon only a couple of months into my second year at the church, I found myself sitting in a rocking chair on the back porch of Mrs. Melba’s house. She offered me some iced tea—as good southern women do. We began chatting about life. She wanted to know how my classes were going.

Mrs. Melba, a spunky woman in her early 70s, tried to keep a brave face for this young pastor student. But soon she was fighting back tears as she began to recount to me details about her husband’s recent death. He’d died of cancer recently.

She misses him more than she could even say.

She had trouble, she said, finding the energy to get out of bed in the mornings, many days still.

She couldn’t seem to find her purpose for living life anymore, she told me.

I remember this afternoon so well because in the moments that followed, I broke what I had learned only a few days earlier in class, some of the “rules” of pastoral care. My classmates and I were told to not show too much of our own emotions when we made visits. But, I cried too. Melba and I sat and rocked on that porch and cried. Her feelings of this great “dead end” sign life had handed her felt just as overwhelming to me. Sadness felt thick in the air.

Because most of all Melba felt like God had forgotten her. Everything around her felt dead. She felt dead without her beloved, even though her pulse told her she was still living.

A few years later, a man in mid 30s sat in my office. We were chatting about life. How crazy the amount of snow that winter had been.

But soon, Tom began telling me about how he felt his life had hit a dead-end too.

Tom was the father of three kids, but none of them were living with him at the time. His ex-wife had sued him for full custody of the kids, and had won because of the hot-shot lawyer she’d hired.

Lies had been told about him court.

Though Tom had made some mistakes in life—been a big fan of drinking too much in his younger years—he’d cleaned up his act and there was no good reason why he couldn’t even see his kids on the weekends.

To make matters worse, at a church Tom had previously attended, he was told by an associate pastor that he was no longer welcome to worship at the Sunday services. The pastor, it seemed was the reason his marriage broke up in the first place. His wife and the pastor had a long-term relationship on the side that he was just now finding out about.

Tom felt let God was as far away as possible. Everything around him felt dead too. No wife, no kids, and no church family to help him through this hard time in life.

But—and there is always a BUT in the kingdom of GOD—these feelings of deep despair was not the end for Melba and Tom.

Though in these moments they faced some of their darkest hours, God was still at work.

New water was about to come out of rocks in their lives.

As Melba continued to put one foot in front of the other, getting out of bed every morning, slowly she began to see that life wasn’t finished with her.

Through the loving embrace and watchful care of her church family, she started moving toward service of others once again. Melba started singing in the choir. She involved herself in the mission projects of United Methodist Women and she took her turn leading the lessons in her Sunday School class—using the lessons she learned about finding God in this hard place with other widows like herself.

And Tom, as he took the risk of being a part of a new church community, putting aside the hurt of his previous church in the past, began to see new life spring up around him too.

Tom’s secret passion for writing became a real gift to the church’s communication ministry.

And with encouragement from some new friends and the recommendation of a new lawyer, he was able after 5 long years of separation to spend weekends with his kids again.

Both Melba and Tom learned through their pain that this exactly how God works. Dead is never dead in the kingdom of God. Lost causes are never really lost. And the broken down and washed out are really never without hope.

So, my friends, I tell you today, the God of Israel, the God of Moses who struck that rock that day to watch water flow from such a dead place is alive and wanting to be at work in your life too.

Let us be active in our waiting.

Let us not grow weary in doing good.

And let us surround ourselves with loving community to remind us of the Lord’s goodness if we forget.

And in fact, this is what we are about to celebrate in a few minutes as we come to the table of God—we’ll taste and see that what was once dead has come to new life. We’ll taste and see the sweetness of resurrection called the body and blood of our Lord. And we’ll celebrate together that anything, yes, anything is possible in the kingdom of God. God is always at work!


[If you missed Elizabeth's post on "Love That Groans" check it out]

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

For a woman expecting but not yet expecting a baby, Advent can be a miserable time.

While songs of “peace on earth, goodwill to men” and “joy the world, the Lord has come!” are being blasted on the radio, this time for the wait-ers among us can often feel more like Holy Week than it does Advent.

But it is the holiday season, and most of us want to be happy. We want to be able to put whatever is bothering us aside and rejoice as the scripture exhorts us too. We want joy—even as much as our life circumstances aren’t naturally joyful.

I would love to offer that joy is a formula that can be followed as many preachers offer: Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last. I’d love to suggest that joy is an emotion of the will that we can just pray harder to make happen. Or, if we force ourselves to sing one more Christmas carol or bake one more sheet of cookies, the joy of the Christmas spirit will find us.

Maybe you’re better at joy than I, but it has been my experience that seeking joy in the midst of waiting for children does not come through formulas and cookies. Throughout my journey to become a mother, I’ve waited through some of the darkest days of my life.

I’ve had to cry until I’ve run out of tears.

I’ve had to sit among the rocks and dirt in my backyard.

I’ve had to pull myself out of bed, brush my teeth and go to work without clean socks.

And this is all I’ve done and then repeated. I needed to attend to my own grief. There was just no other way to get through the day.

And slowly my spirit began to move just a little. It moved toward hope—that the next day would be brighter than the one before. It moved toward love—that someone needed me to notice their pain so getting out of bed was, in fact, a really great idea. And finally it moved toward joy—that though sorrow lasts for the night, in the morning joy comes.

Light came forth from the darkness. And this light was called joy.

And every time it happened—joy happened— it has surprised me. Every time over these past five years when I’ve found a smile on my face (when I had every reason to keep crying), when I’ve found a desire to make dinner (not just have take-out for the 10th time), and when I’ve called my doctor and said “Let’s try again” (when I could have easily given up), joy has become one of waiting’s greatest gifts.

Joy, I believe, is completely nonsensical.

How could a grieving mother-to-be like me smile on a week when her doctor gives her some worst-case scenario news?

How could a grieving mother-to-be like me laugh when a toddler dances around the church parlor, a little one the same age as a child who could have been my own?

How could a grieving mother-to-be like me delight in a childless season of life, even when what she wants more than anything is to mother one particular child?

I’ve done these very things, and it’s joy, I tell you. Pure joy.

Joy, as we discover it in our waiting seasons reminds us of this: we can be happy even in imperfection. We don’t need a “due date” for the work of our callings to be in motion. Jesus brings us true joy. The kingdom of God may not be in its day of fulfillment in our lives, but joy is still ours for the taking as we wait.

Let us pray:

Lord Jesus, today we wait on joy. We wait for its movement to come into our lives to fill up the loneliness, the heartache and the disappointments that loom around us and in us. We wait today for your coming. Amen.

ElizabethHaganElizabeth Hagan is an ordained minister in the Baptist tradition, a freelance writer and a social media consultant who divides her time between Arlington, VA and Oklahoma City, OK with her husband Kevin. She blogs regularly at “Preacher on the Plaza” (this site). This Advent Elizabeth is hoping for the gift of being present in the moment.

 Yesterday, I began a series of messages sticking close to the I Samuel lectionary texts-- a series which hopes to expand the Biblical literacy of the congregation-- really getting into the stories about Israel and come to understand more of the character of God.

Here's an excerpt from yesterday's sermon which focused on I Samuel 8:4:4-11, 16-20, the time in the life of Israel when the elders came to Samuel asking him to appoint for the nation a king. Here's some background: 

... If we read earlier in the book of I Samuel, we realize that the nation of Israel is not in a time of complete peace and prosperity. No, their arch enemies at the time, the Philistines have been at it again.  And the Israelites face much defeat.  So in an effort to be on the winning side again, Israel's commanders think that if they just take God, literally with them into battle that they will finally will be victorious, the ark of the covenant goes with them. But, the precious ark is stolen. Though later returned, this whole experiences leave the nation as a whole feeling unsecure and afraid. But, most of all, feeling disappointed.

God let them down.

Truly, where was this God-- who was supposed to be their ultimate leader, their ultimate protector, their ultimate king-- where was this God when they needed help the most?

Sure, the people of Israel were known to make mistakes from time to time, but weren't they doing the best they couldn't? Sure, they weren't perfect or claiming to be, but why was God acting this way?

And, at this juncture of the story, you and I, all know this pain all too well. We have too felt disappointed by God in our lives, if we aren't feeling that way even right now.

We've been disappointed at God as we've prayed and prayed till our knees have grown weak and weary about a real need in our family, and still seemingly nothing changed about our situation.

We've been disappointed by God when we thought we heard God speak to us at some point about a very specific thing that would occur and we are still waiting 10 years, 20 years, even 50 years later with nothing seeming to ever happen.

We've been disappointed by God as we have found ourselves in situations that have made us feel like we unfairly drew the short end of the stick in life's lottery-- we are 45 and still single without a desired life partner; we are 55 and have no savings for our retirement after experiencing lay off after lay off in our younger years; Or, we are 75 and widowed forced to plan our retirement years we once looked forward to alone.

We have been or are now disappointed with God because we've expected more from God than God has ever provided for us. We begin to wonder if God is not so great or good after all.

"Aren't I a good person?" We wonder. "Don't I deserve some of life's greatest blessings like everyone seems to get so naturally?" We shout at the sky. "Don't I deserve a life better this, come on God, really!" We proclaim.

 And, as usually is the case when we are disappointed with life-- we do two things. We either grow bitter adopting a permanent woe is me look on our face. Or, we try to fix the problem ourselves. We move to action-- asking for a completely different course of action.

In the case of the Israelites, we don't see them rolling over to play dead in their disappointment, we see them moving to action-- going to Samuel and saying in verse 4, "You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like the other nations."

"We're disappointed in God, Samuel," they say. We've had a good run of things with you, but let's face it, God is about to completely let us down, even more so than we experienced while in battle with the Philistines because your sons are corrupt. So, fix it, Samuel. Make it better. Give us a king. Give us a king so that we can be like everyone else. Give us a King so we can feel better once again."

And while commentators of this passage often disagree on who's right and who is off base in this passage (after all, you always have to read Old Testament narrative through the lens of yes, we are hearing God speak, but he is speaking through human voices)-- was God being unfair OR were the people being completely disobedient?

But no matter what answers to these questions-- it doesn't change the experience of deep disappointment with the divine that Israel faced at this time.  After all, don't they say in business management courses that perceptions of people are reality?

But, this is what we know as we look at the long view of Israel's history though at this moment, the people might have felt abandoned, left alone and failed by the One person who promised never to leave them, there something else that is true. And that is that God has not left them or forgotten them.

One thing that my spiritual director says to me all the time as I am wrestling through a particular issue in my life is that while I may be fixated on one thing it doesn't mean that something else is not simultaneously true as well.

That, yes, it is true that in many situations of our lives we might feel lost; we might feel abandoned; we might feel disappointed in God.  (And, all of these are valid emotions full of grief that it is ok to feel and to sit in for a while if we need to). But, such does not change the fact that it is also true: God has not now nor ever will  forget us. While we may feel like God is distant, God is still present among us. "God will never leave us to face our perils alone" says the theologian Thomas Merton.

If we see how God continued to work in Israel's life as a people, we know that the ups and down tales of disappointment continue, but never less, God never gets to a point when God says, "I'm just finished with you. I can't take it anymore. I'm through with you. I'm throwing you away"

No, like a loving, patient parent, God continues to abide, surround and love this people, even when they face difficult situations where their expectations aren't met-- even when they get that king and another one after that and another one after that. And, having a king really never solves their problems. God is still there.

When God disappoints us, what then are we to do?

When in college, I sang with a gospel choir with a student director with as much enthusiasm as Whoopi in Sister Act movie. Though I don't remember a lot about the songs I sang after all these years, I do remember one song that was a crowd favorite anywhere we went called "He's Never Failed Me Yet."

The climatic ending was repetitive chorus of "He's never failed me; he's never failed me (with a dramatic) yet." Our choir director was always about a strong staccato ending so much so that this line has always stuck with me. Though the rest of the song contained beautiful lyrics like:

I will sing of God's mercy,

every day, every hour, He gives me power.

I will sing and give thanks to Thee

for all the dangers, toils and snares that He has brought me out.

He is my God and I'll serve Him

no mater what the test.

Trust and never doubt

Jesus will surely bring you out,

He never failed me yet. (x2)

It always seemed like such a strange ending to a song that was so confident, so faith filled, and then we had to go and throw on a "yet" at the end. I've often thought about that yet, wondering about why it was there. Seemed disrespectful or as if we were putting God to the test. As if asking the question if one day God was going to start failing us.  Wouldn't that be against everything we believe about our Christian faith?

But since then, these words come back to me sometimes in the shower or in my car and I've lived more life, felt more of life's pains and life's deepest wounds, I'm so glad that the "yet" is included. Yes, it is good in our most disappointed moments to acknowledge that God has never failed us, but we are human after all so if we need to add the word "yet." And I think this is just fine. Part of living the life of faith is staying with the "yet" long enough to let God be God and all that this mystery means.

In our disappointment history with our God, sometimes, I know it is hard to keep believing again and again to trust that all will be different as our story goes on.

But, this is our hope for today. This is our hope to claim. There is a long view to our life's story. We may be disappointed with God, but we are never, never alone. Today I claim God has never failed me. He's never failed me yet. What about you? . . .