Tag Archive: hope

The stars have dimmed

The stars have dimmed.


The keepers of the house,

formerly formidable in dexterity

and deft in independence,

now tremble.

Bested by silver spoons and forks.


The stonemasons and grinders

are troubled by spelt bread and marmalade;

The watchmen at the windows

find the familiar now foreign and indiscernible.

The maids eavesdropping at the door

are frustrated, forced to lip-read instead.


The stars have dimmed.

But they still twinkle.

Twinkling with the knowledge

of that which is to come.

Of he who is to come.


He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3.11

We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 1 Corinthians 15.51-52

If I can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. Love never fails. But where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 1 Corinthians 13.2


On paper it seems like an indie cliche. It ought to be, really.

Delicately picked guitar riff, banjo instrumental punctuated with a choir of clapping hands, the beautiful mingling of (her whispy & his willow-tree) voices propped up by the delightfully meek accordion…

The thing is, it is the furthest thing imaginable from a cliche. I spent seven hours with it on loop last year (the year before?) to sustain my writing of an essay. No one can tolerate seven hours with a cliche.

See, this song is like the stranger on the street whose crinkled, warm eyes dance with hope. A knowing hope that imparts a self-forgetful smile as you keep walking.

The chorus of stomping young folk imports you into the middle of a pub of friends, old and new, voicing a familiar song you’ve never heard before. Mister Willow Tree paints vivid images in the mind’s eye. He paints with words that speak with both precision and  ambiguity of longings residing deep in the common reservoir of human experience. The shape and movement over the course of three minutes and twenty-seven seconds is perfect. Its texture is captivating. Understated, but with a twinkle in its eye.

It would seem I’ve descended into sickening hyperbole. If only I were not so sincere! In short: this song is a delight. It comes from a band whose latest EP, ‘kingdom of your own’, is an impossibly beautiful heart explosion. If only there were words for those four songs! Words are so clumsy. But suffice it to say that the progression evident in this band’s sound over the past year is so exciting!

Their name is ‘Matthew and the Atlas‘.

The song is ‘I Will Remain‘.

From 4/7/10. It’s funny how forgetful we are.

Distrust is a stubborn root to weed out of a heart. I think it’s nurtured by wariness of people and the ways they can hurt us; also by a reluctance to ever be in situations of vulnerability. It’s the negative extreme of guarding your heart, in that it is preemptive and suspicious to the point of cynicism.

And cynicism cripples hope and limits possibility.

The other thing about distrust is that it constrains the heart to fear, and disallows stepping out in faith. If you’re constantly over-analysing every interaction with a person, or every situation you’re in, and safe-guarding yourself against any possible infliction of embarrassment or wounded pride, then you immediately shrink your life down to what is safe and predictable.


But on a deeper level, and one more fundamental to the human experience, is our distrust of God.

Uncertain situations tend to breed a few responses: fear, distrust, excitement, faith. I’m sure there are more.

But I was just reading an article called, ‘Can You Bear Uncertainty?’ by Jon Bloom and I thought it was particularly insightful. Maybe you’ll agree…

He was looking at the story of Jesus’ reply to the confident assertion of the eager would-be follower of Jesus that they would follow Him wherever He went, in Luke 9:

So when an adoring fan announced his desire to follow him anywhere, Jesus deglamorized things a bit by replying, “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:58).

Bloom continues from here with some thoughts which I think I agree with:

God doesn’t tell us how that person responded because what’s important is the implied question: can you bear uncertainty? Can you bear not knowing how God is going to provide for your most urgent needs and still trust that he will?

It is a question that Jesus wants all of his disciples to wrestle with. There are simply going to be times when we don’t know where the provision is going to come from. Circumstances will look precarious, sometimes foreboding and threatening. Plans are going to fall through. People are going to disappoint us. They may reject or misunderstand our mission. If these things happened to Jesus, we should not be surprised when they happen to us. And we are not to become angry when they do. Note that Jesus rebuked James and John for their response (Luke 9:55).

Jesus does not want us to be governed by fear at such times. He wants us governed by faith. The reason is that the uncertainty is only apparent uncertainty. Our future and our provision and our ultimate triumph are certain to God. He has all the foreknowledge, power, resources, and desire to turn everything for good for those who love him and are called by him (Romans 8:28).

Apparently uncertain seasons are usually the most powerful God moments we experience. They often put God on display more than other seasons, demonstrating that God exists and rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6).

So if you are in one of those seasons, take heart. You are likely experiencing what it means to have a God “who acts for those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4).

I feel the pain of uncertainty. It would almost be more tolerable just to KNOW, unequivocally, whether life will go one way or the other. Even if it means staying sick forever, it removes the tantalising semi-hope, in which you half-wonder about what might be, rather than dwelling fully in the provision so graciously given in the present moment. Uncertainty can make us off-balance.

The thing is, I feel that uncertainty actually blesses us, because it shows up our spiritual health in a way that we could probably mask otherwise.

It shows up the presence of any distrust still lingering in our hearts. If times are uncertain, and we don’t trust God, then it’s as obvious as a fake tan.

Uncertainty forces us to deal with distrust. It forces us to wait on God, to lean heavily on Him in faith.

What a blessing it is!

It reminds me of Andrew Murray’s thoughts:

Even in the regenerate man there is no power of goodness in himself: he has and can have nothing that he does not each moment receive; and waiting on God is just as indispensable, and must be just as continuous and unbroken, as the breathing that maintains his natural life.

How I wish that I would wait so heavily on God that with each breath I would acknowledge my dependence on Him. Uncertainty, in its principle preoccupation with what is to come, would lose its hold on my heart, because with waiting on God, communing with Him with each passing breath, my focus would no longer be on trying to control the future – it would shift to dwelling in the present with the One who holds all things in His hands.

It is, then, because Christians do not know their relation to God of absolute poverty and helplessness, that they have no sense of the need of absolute and unceasing dependence, or the unspeakable blessedness of continual waiting on God. But when once a believer begins to see it, and consent to it, that he by the Holy Spirit must each moment receive what God each moment works, waiting on God becomes his brightest hope and joy. As he apprehends how God, as God, as Infinite Love, delights to impart His own nature to His child as fully as He can, how God is not weary of each moment keeping charge of his life and strength, he wonders that he ever thought otherwise of God than as a God to be waited on all the day. God unceasingly giving and working; His child unceasingly waiting and receiving: this is the blessed life.

“Truly my soul waiteth upon God; from Him cometh my salvation.” First we wait on God for salvation. Then we learn that salvation is only to bring us to God, and teach us to wait on Him. Then we find what is better still, that waiting on God is itself the highest salvation. It is the ascribing to Him the glory of being All; it is the experiencing that He is All to us.

May God teach us the blessedness of waiting on Him.

Ascribing Him the glory of being ALL to us. All. Not holding back an ounce of self-control. Rather than dealing with uncertainty by hoarding control and shrinking life down to the confines of fear-driven security, waiting on God and leaning on Him in faith lays that burden down at the feet of the most trust-worthy Person, who holds all things together.

“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1.17

What security there is in laying down all things before the One who holds all things together. What a person to wait on!

Romans 11
33Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34″Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
35″Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?”
36For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.

“My soul, wait thou only upon God!”

Lunchbreak Musings

How does one wait?

More to the point, how does one wait well?

It is one matter to be patient, content and faithful when the period during which you wait is definite; you can envision the realization of your hope, the thing for which you wait.

It is another matter entirely when you are waiting indefinitely, not knowing when your hope will be sight. If your hope will be sight.

It is one matter to be faithful in your waiting when you are sure you can trust the one who has made the promise, the realization of which you anticipate, you hope for.

It is another matter entirely when there has been no concrete promise made. When your hope is tethered to ambiguous expressions of intention or design.

What I mean to say is that does waiting well, even waiting faithfully, does that mean waiting expectantly?

Does expectant hope in something other than concrete promise resemble something like self-deceit, albeit perhaps more benign? Is it more benign?

It is far easier to disengage. To not expect. To trudge on, head down, not allowing the heart to hope that the heavens are on the brink of bursting forth with the relief and joy of longed for rain.

To protect the self from the pain of disappointed hope.

How does one wait well when they are weary?

I think the answer is, through the invigoration of a fresh vision of the One for whom they wait.

How does one wait well for something they cannot be sure is coming?

I think the answer is best expressed in the words of the old hymn, which is stuck on my computer at work:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Edit: ‘… and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.’ (1 Peter 1.13). Maybe, actually, the answer is to not set your hope on the things of this earth. But to set it fully on Jesus.

But is there a difference between hoping for something and setting your hope on something?