Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Exile / Two Songs

Two scripture passages spoke deeply to my heart today. After debating which to write about, I settled on both. May the Lord use them to minister to you today.

“…returned from exile.” Ezra 2:2, 36, 40, 43, 55

Returned from exile. Sometimes it’s the exile who appreciates home more than those already on the inside. The desire is different. The longing more intense. Those on the inside can become complacent or critical, but the exile returning has a fresh appreciation.

There are those who are exiled by force, and those exiled by choice. A self-imposed exile, often during desert times, pulls us away and isolates us from God and others. Alone was never God’s design.

Whether the exile is by deportation or personal decision, there is separation. Distance divides. The disconnect isn’t just physical. In fact, quite often location isn’t the issue. Hearts go into exile. Walls are built. Defences strong. Exile becomes a protection.

Someone very dear to me is choosing a life of exile. Cutting all ties with friends, family and God, they are turning their back on everything and everyone. Each day another step is taken in the wrong direction. Their mind is held captive by evil. Only God can return this prisoner of darkness. The situation looks impossible right now. Praying that someday they too will be returned from exile. Father, turn this runaway toward home.


"The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance." Ezra 3:13

In just a few days we will welcome Fall - although to look outside the window as I type this now, at flowers blooming and feel the warmth of the sun, it's hard to believe that cooler weather is actually on the horizon. Seasons in our world flow one to another. Our calendar each year records the first day of Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. Each one begins on a designated day, coming expected, unchanging and predictable. The seasons in our life are not as reliable. We experience spring's freshness, summer's warmth and rest, autumn's cool winds and winter's harsher climate at any time of the year. We can even live with the elements of two seasons running parallel across our lives at the same time.

The other morning I was awakened by the sound of nature outside my window. Two birds were welcoming the day. The little songbird's melody was breathtaking. The trills this little bird sang as he cascaded up and down octaves was a glorious song of celebration. Yet, joining in this duet was the mournful cooing of a dove. How sad this song appeared in comparison. Both were singing the song the Lord had given them. One sounded as if it was overflowing from sheer joy, the other offering a sacrifice of praise through pain.

How often in my life two songs are being played. I'm rejoicing because of God's goodness in one area, yet fearful and doubting in another. It's like looking outside right now and knowing summer is here, yet feeling approaching winter winds on my heart. Summer's joy is bridled by winter's pain. What I know to be true in my head, yet only seeing the reality of circumstances surrounding me. Living in the now and the not yet. Having the joy of one situation clouded by the trials and hardships of another. One brings laughter, the other tears.

I think of laughter as a gift. I often rejoice in laughter, yet hide my tears. Tears, too, are a gift from God. They do not go unnoticed by Him. Both are wordless emotions that express so much. I read recently that tears caused by laughter are very different than tears caused by sorrow. Their composition is different. Tears caused by sorrow matter so much to God that they even have a different consistency than "happy tears". That's how He designed us.

Ken Gire writes, "The closest communion with God comes, I believe, through the sacrament of tears. Just as grapes are crushed to make wine and grain to make bread, so the elements of this sacrament come from the crushing experiences of life."

It's so hard being caught in the middle of one piece of music. The treble part is victorious and lilting, while the bass accompaniment lingers long, low and harsh. Inside, my emotions are torn. The arms of my heart are stretched out. Each one is being pulled in the opposite direction. A battle is being fought. Joyful shouting and weeping mingled together. The journey of life brings the Road to Emmaus, but also the Via Dolorosa. Two paths. Two seasons. Both leading to the same Savior.

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Danielle said...

Joy, wow, oh wow, OH WOW! This post is so beautiful. I have a friend in another country who's going through some really hard times right now, and I am going to share this with her.

Thank you for posting this today. She needs to hear this. I needed to hear this!

Lutiemom said...

Sometime's we don't appreciate what we have until we loose it. I love the verse that spoke of the "older priests..who had seen the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple's foundation." As you spoke of the composition of tears, I couldn't help but wonder and think about the tears we express when we are filled or overwhelmed with the Holy Spirit. I am sure the compisition of even those tears are different than other times.

Beautiful thoughts, Joy. Thanks.

Actually the verse that stood out to me today was different yet it all ministered to my soul. Have a wonderful day!


~Grace and Peace said...

What a double blessing today!

I pray for your prodigal runaway as I pray for mine. Doesn't it just make your heart sick seeing them run away from the One who can help them the most?

And the seasons, yes, I can relate to those two early birds. Like a mournful dove, I cry out to the Lord in the midst of my circumstances. Yet like the joyful one, I sing praises to Him for what He has done and continue to do for me.

May God doubly-bless you today.

Colleen said...

Beautiful post. Love the gifts of tears and laughter. God bless.

Laura said...

These are beautiful reflections, Joy. I'm praying for your friend, and straining my ear to hear the song He sings for me...