Gordon-Conwell Blog

He’s Here! | An Advent Prayer

December 25, 2012

Amy Gilbaugh

All the waiting,
All the longing,
All the seeking,
All the looking,
Culminates in the One who was promised.

And He’s here!

You’re here!
You’re here!
We want to scream and clap our hands!
We want to run and shout aloud!
“You’re here! We’ve been waiting!
And You’re here!”

But that doesn’t seem quite appropriate this night.
Not here in this stable.
The teenage mother motions for quiet,
And motions for us to come nearer still.

And kneeling on this hay,
We sit in silent awe of the way
You keep Your promises.
We wonder at the way
heaven has broken into earth.

This isn’t what we expected …

but here, beside the manger,
we are well assured,
it is all true.

It is all true!

All the stories of old,
All the mysteries unknown,
All the ways unseen,
Are more than true.

They’re here.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: advent devotional , Author: Amy Gilbaugh , student blogger

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Your Coming Act | An Advent Prayer

December 24, 2012

Amy Gilbaugh

King Jesus,

It's a stunning and shutting thought, the reality of Your birth. We cannot conceive that You would come as an infant, lowly and childish, immature and undeveloped.

So when You said You confined Your sovereign Self to an infant boy, we made You cute, white, and cliché.

Your deity wrapped in flesh, we could not imagine. So we formed You with plastic instead, making You easy to display and pack away.

See Your manger? It's as clean as we could hope. And that stable? It's tidy and smells like cloves. We cleaned it all up, You see. Because we cannot bear the reality of cold winds and dirty barnyard floors for the Messiah we forgot we were waiting for. We've recreated Your birth. Because the way You did it was too radical, too scandalous, too riveting for our comfortable traditions.

We bustle around and make conversation and sing about silent nights because we could not tolerate Yours; the silent and the night enduring for years.

Your presumed absence, we filled. We stopped waiting for Your voice. Stopped listening. Stopped watching the skies for a hint of Your affection, presence, movement, vernacular.

And then You came. Not as we expected. Not as we had hoped.

Silent, but wailing because You were hungry and needed the nursing of the young teenage Mary. Beautiful, but only in ways we could not see. Serene, but only because Your Father sees the days for which "The End" were inscribed.

With these words we are aware, again, that the end is drawing nearer.

And You have promised to come.

And we forgot we were waiting.

Rebirth us on Christmas Day. Do Your Christmas act in us once again. Be Emmanuel now, and in Your doing so, birth in us the ache for Your final Emmanuel day.

As we lay our heads down to sleep this Christmas Eve night, would You stoke our weariness again. Because we are wanderers, Lord. We grow faint, even as we fight to ignore our fatigue. And we need You. In Your Incarnated glory. You.

We pray in the name of the Christmas One. Even Jesus.

Amen

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: advent devotional , Author: Amy Gilbaugh , student blogger

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Little Town | An Advent Prayer

December 23, 2012

Amy Gilbaugh

O little town of Bethlehem, you look so tiny on that hill. The way you’ve tucked yourself round with grassy hills reminds me that you are the young one among these little towns. With small stars and still air, all is silent this night. Each baby tucked in bed, every parent resting their heads; every eye closed, every shepherd dozed off. Even the sheep are asleep.

But while you’re lying there in the dark, there’s a star that stands among the rest!

While you’re lying there in peace, the black expanse is ripping open like a piece of cloth. There, against the night sky, light-filled figures bellow, “Don’t be afraid! Don’t be afraid!”

But you’re not.

You’re not afraid.

You’re not even awake.

They say, “He’s here! He’s here! He’s finally here! The King of heaven has come to earth and He has picked you, O little town! He’s sleeping in your manger tonight; right there, right over that hill, right beneath your stars! You don’t have to wait anymore!”

But you’re not.

You’re not waiting.

You’re not even awake.

O little town, you’re missing it! God wrapped Himself in the flesh of your kind and stepped down onto your turf tonight. Little one, wake up! There’s another Little One here among you tonight and He is the One you’re heard of, the One the stories are about, the One who will be your Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace!

O little town, you missed it.

You missed it.

The honor of host was yours, and you couldn’t stay awake. It was once written of you, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” (Micah 5:2) But the pen must now continue: “there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)

You missed it. …

Tonight is a silent night.

The sky is black and speckled with little stars. The air is cool and still. The hills are covered in frost and each blade of grass stands motionless in the winter air. We’ve tucked ourselves in once again. Knees pulled to our chest and blankets wrapped around, we can’t help but think on your night of slumber. In our tiny rooms, in this little town, this silent night is much like Yours. These eyelids of ours are heavy, too, and the pointing finger lowers.

Because we’ve heard stories as well; stories of a night when He will come again. We’ve heard the sky will slash, the King will come, and His will join Him! These tired pages in our lap on which host your narrative remind us

to be ready, to be waiting, to be awake.

And we are.

Everything in us cries out for our Love to come! To rend the heavens, to come down! To burst through the sky with authority and promise and pull us toward the sky to His side. Our hearts ache, our eyes squint, our mind longs
in
waiting.

Silent night after silent night.

And from the dark stillness

of this midnight hour

comes the hopeful whisper

“perhaps tonight is the night.”

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: advent devotional , Author: Amy Gilbaugh , student blogger

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A Prayer from an Unbelieving People | An Advent Prayer

December 22, 2012

Amy Gilbaugh

We are not a people of easy trust.
Our vernacular is not embedded with belief,
And kept promises are a foreign culture.

Broken promises have been our lot;
Daddies who hurt,
Mommies who leave,
Friends who abandon.

Even we Christians can name our own;
Churches that split,
Pastors who keep secrets,
And others who don’t keep ours.

We are fragile and unready to believe.
Promise broken after promise broken,
Believing seems a fool’s pursuit.

But …

We have heard You called
The Promise Keeper.
And we’re desperately curious to know why.

We have heard of a promised heir lying on the altar,
And the sacrifice You provided instead.
Promise kept.

We have heard of a promised rescue of a believing whore,
Hanging on a scarlet chord from her window.
Promise kept.

We have heard of a promised land flowing with milk and honey,
And the desert-worn path that led Your people home.
Promise kept.

And …

We have heard of another promise.
One we hardly dare whisper,
For fear it will slip from our lips with a shatter.

But it is a promise that You—
You, Yourself—
Will come.

And in the dark night of waiting,
Against our best logic and with our last shred of hope,
We whisper, “we believe.”

We still,
We are silent.
Lips pursed tight,
Eyes squeezed shut,
Ears pressed to the ground.

Night is all around us,
And we’re waiting for Your great Dawn to come up on us.
The darkness has been our dwelling place,
and we need Your crashing light to come and break through.

And we wait.

We gather ourselves and shuffle over to see the horizon.
Peering into black, there is no telling
If we see the distant line,
Where heaven meets earth,
Or only five feet from our faces.

And we wait.

Would you come, O Light of the world?
Would you cut through the black mass we know as night?
Would you break in, break through,
Our darkness,
Cut through our silence,
And come?

We wait.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: advent devotional , Author: Amy Gilbaugh , student blogger

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Edelweiss Hope | An Advent Prayer

December 21, 2012

Amy Gilbaugh

The world is somber and cold, lying beneath the heavy blanket of white.

Nothing moves, nothing stirs this December midnight.

The little light outside my window is stale, a shroud hanging on each building overpass.

The world is bland, frozen, black and white.

And then there's me. And there's You.

Despite the dark, dank night,

Like an incessant Edelweiss, You provoke desire in the night.

And hope that spring will come.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: advent devotional , Author: Amy Gilbaugh , student blogger

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While the Trees Sleep | An Advent Prayer

December 20, 2012

Amy Gilbaugh

Candle lights flicker and soon dim.

Cold air through the window cracks, presses against the heater's labor.

Frigid white takes life.

Takes life.

It comes down softly, enchanting and killing.

And while the trees sleep, I whisper to You that I'd like to swing again.

Not today, not today.

Today the earth is content in death.

A beautiful death, but death nonetheless.

The bud droops under icy weight, and relents it cannot keep its petals.

The bird returns with no worm.

The sky fakes no comfort.

And we wait...

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: advent devotional , Author: Amy Gilbaugh , student blogger

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A Waiting People | An Advent Prayer

December 19, 2012

Amy Gilbaugh

We are a world of waiting people.

Waiting for the bus.

Waiting for the next available teller.

Waiting for them to find a cure.

Waiting for the light to turn green.

And we are not a patient people.

We tap our feet

fumble with our keys

and roll our eyes

to hurry you along

because on the other side of this wait

is more waiting to be had.

There is another line

another appointment

another train to catch.

And in this quiet morning moment

we know

we have had

enough.

Enough!

Enough days unsatisfied

undefined

unfulfilled.

Enough with the waiting for the next better

bigger

grander.

Our longings are of a different breed

and

we wait because we do not know what else to do.

We’re waiting for You.

And no amount of foot tapping

key fumbling

or eye rolling

will quicken Your steps.

We’re just waiting.

Longing.

Hoping.

Watching.

Would You please come soon?

We’re waiting.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: advent devotional , Author: Amy Gilbaugh , student blogger

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Home | An Advent Prayer

December 18, 2012

Amy Gilbaugh

Home is the horizon I am chasing,
the Wind that will take me there.

It's the sunrise in the distance
and the rhythm of its setting.

Home is the space between longing and happiness
and the place the two make peace.

It’s where You are
and where the monsters are gone.

It's the land we call Emmanuel,
it's already and not yet.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: advent devotional , Author: Amy Gilbaugh , student blogger

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Silent in Night | An Advent Prayer

December 17, 2012

Amy Gilbaugh

The sun has set on our day. Our best ambitions are now to be put to rest. All is silent in night.

No sun to reveal. No warmth to calm. No rays to brighten.

Nighttime is proof that we are human—alarms are set, doors are locked, covers are pulled over our heads. Questions mark these dark hours: who’s there? what’s that? did you hear? We turn on the fluorescent lights, the music, the TV, but none can be the sun to us.

We remember we are fragile

feeble

frail.

The shadows outside our windows are all too familiar. They house the unknown, the uncertain, the unpredictable. Their dark shapes linger around our well-protected lives and cross our thresholds dismissingly. We find them crouched under our beds and as monsters in our closets. When we lay down to sleep, we find the worst of them have waited for us there. And so begins the long night within.

We remember we are temporary

tired

terrified.

When will the sun rise again? When will all be brought into the light? We strain to keep our eyes open, fixed on that horizon. We wait for just a hint of a single ray. And we know You’ll come! And in that confidence we curl up our legs and pull our knees tight against our chests. We will wrap ourselves in these covers and wait. We will watch. We will hope that dawn will soon be ours.

You will be ours.

The Son will be revealed. All will be calm. All will be bright.

We wait

as all is

silent

in

night.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

 

Tags: advent devotional , Author: Amy Gilbaugh , student blogger

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We Need Saving | An Advent Prayer

December 16, 2012

Amy Gilbaugh

This world of ours is pretty and predictable, and we like it that way, God.

We wake when we want, we eat what we want, we wear what we want, we do what we want. We have our way without thought or care and call it the "American Dream". We've built this kingdom, and isn't she a beauty?

It took years to form her—decades of work, miles of land, and just a little spilt blood. And we said it was "good". We are self-proclaimed, self-secure, self-reliant.

And we've forgotten…

That just outside our windows, just outside the door, just across the street, just across the pond

Lingers the residue of that which brought us here.

The stranger spurned, the outsider rejected, the poor taken advantage of, the foreigner killed just in case.

We are a creating people, and what we have made with our soiled hands is certainly, certainly not good. We've made a mess of things, haven't we.

And we need saving.

We've heard some stories, old ones, dear ones. Ones that make us wonder…

Could You come? We've heard some call You a re-creating Creator. We've heard of One born to make things like us into things like You.

Even our little, grimy hearts have hope.

O come, oh would You please come, Emmanuel.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: advent devotional , Author: Amy Gilbaugh , student blogger

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Thank You, Alumni!

December 11, 2012

We're grateful to God for the work of our alumni on behalf of Christ and his Kingdom. A heartfelt "THANK YOU!" from our community below:

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Struggling to Struggle | Seminary Student Blogger

December 06, 2012

Dim Alldridge

This morning I read 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10…

“God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.”

Paul writes those words as an encouragement to Christians who are facing persecution. God is just and justice will be done.

Perhaps some of you need to hear that today? Undoubtedly there are Christians around the world today who need to be comforted by these words. Brothers and sisters of ours who are facing terrible opposition for faithfully cherishing the name of our Lord Jesus Christ need to be reminded that God loves them and he will see that justice is done. The faithful will be saved, the guilty will be punished.

There is a time for that truth to be a message of hope.

But that’s not what struck me as I read 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 over my bowl of cereal this morning. What struck me was the sobering truth that one day…

“He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”

I struggled to read those words this morning. I struggled after reading them to pray with my wife and give thanks for those words. I struggle to accept them. I struggle to believe them. I struggle to understand them.

And here’s why I struggle.

Because I know God, and I love God with all my heart. Because I know that He is love and is the God of grace and mercy and forgiveness and justice beyond anything I can fathom.

And because I also know my family and I know my friends who don’t know God. And I love them with all my heart too.

And so I struggle, and I will continue to struggle.

But here is the question that I must ask myself, and I’m asking you. How are you struggling?

Are you struggling with the concept or the truth that…

“He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”

Or are you struggling to tell people that truth? To teach people that truth? To pray for people and to seek every opportunity to share that truth and the glorious hope of the gospel of Christ with them?

What good is it for me to struggle to understand and accept the truth of heaven and hell, which I truly believe, if I do not struggle all the more to tell people that truth?

I am sitting in Goddard Library with papers to write and exams to revise for. That’s ok, there is a place for papers and for exams. They are important. But let me remind you of something that I have forgotten too often over the last few years…they are not THAT important.

“He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”

I’m struggling with that truth. Today my prayer is that my struggle would lead somewhere.

Dimitri (Dim for short) and his wife, Gayles, moved to the U.S. from England in 2011 to pursue a Master of Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell. He grew up in a little town in England called Sevenoaks and completed his undergraduate degree in Automobile Design at the University of Coventry. Upon graduation, Dim spent some time as a ski instructor, a church intern and an assistant pastor. When he’s not pretending to study, he’s usually dreaming about skiing.

Tags: Author: Dim Alldridge , equipping leaders for the church and society , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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Thoughts on Growing Pains | Seminary Student Blogger

December 04, 2012

Kate Hightower

When I saw it on Hotpads.com, I couldn’t believe it. I knew it was a gamble trying to find something in Atlantic Beach, Florida. But sure enough, there it was. On the higher range of the budget my best friend Alyssa and I agreed was appropriate for two college kids, but within our budget none-the-less. It was a lone listing, nothing around it on the map of places I was searching frantically in after God dealt me a hand in Orlando that I almost couldn’t handle. I drove two hours north to see if it was real, to look at the inside to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. It was a beautiful little town home, tucked in about two miles north from the main drag in a community filled with mostly retirees and new families. The community property itself sat right on the ocean. I was stunned. It was as if He knew I would need a place to pace, to wrap my head around the unwelcome and unbidden storm that chased me there.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but Atlantic Beach comes second only to the incomparable Paris in my book. It’s lush, loamy and green beyond the cool of the sand dunes and the immense stretch of ocean. But beyond that, there’s a deep richness abiding steadily there beneath the beat of the waves. This timeless quality of the atmosphere filled my journals and jarred me with creativity. I would go to sleep at night with my windows open, listening to the roar of the waves and breathing in the remnants of a nearby cookout mixed with the Jasmine vines in full bloom.

This house quickly became my home. The kind of home feeling that sticks to your ribs. It became that for a lot of 20-somethings around the area; given that I had recently discovered a long-dormant love for cooking, we could always be counted upon for a day at the beach, dinner and a midnight hang out around a fire pit in the back with laughter, wine and S’mores abounding. I wasn’t blind to the romance in it. There is no other way I would have preferred spending my mid-twenties. It was those nights that I felt, in full, the vitality of my youth pounding in my veins.

After three years, though, we had to move. God moved us both onward, closer to the seminary, closer to work. I obeyed with a burdened heart. So burdened that Alyssa, myself, and our friends would frequent the private beach access up there long after we left as if it wasn’t over. Savoring the memories. Like it was still ours.

It was. Until that one morning I decided to take my dog down to the beach for a walk, and the private beach access gate was closed and boasting a shiny, new lock system with a combination one couldn’t begin to take a guess at. It ended there. It had ended in a flash, like a brilliant shooting star that had broken the gluey darkness with monumental, momentary glory. I stood there, watching the ocean on the other side, surrounded in darkness once more.

I turned then, loaded Stella back in the car, and made the long drive back to the apartment.

I couldn’t deny God here. The whole, “closes a door, opens a window” cliché seemed appropriate after facing the locked gate. He can always be counted upon for many things, but in this moment it was a staunch reminder of two in particular. One: He truly is the great Provider. Sometimes there are beautiful, splendid blessings. Blessings that come exactly as you need them, when you need them most. For me, that little house was a refuge in those formative years of your early-to-mid-twenties. I needed a place, right then, where I could shake my fist, kick my feet, praise, extol, cry and adore Him as I grew and experienced my life. His presence was palpable in that place. But there was a time when it had to end, which led me to my final thought. He always keeps us moving to remind us we are constantly capable of more than we think. The closed gate was an open door to the rest of the possibility in my life that I am too tiny and insignificant to pretend to comprehend.

While the holidays are the hardest time to be away from the little beach bungalow, it is undeniable in me how true He is to what He says. How He promises He sticks with us. How I have true proof that no matter how far away He felt sometimes, He never, ever left.

And as for any lingering homesickness or anxiety about the future, His shoulders are broad. His arms are outstretched. His fingers counting the time to the next step in His plan when He can show me more of His wonders again.

Kate Hightower is writing to you in the midst of her Master of Divinity pursuit at Gordon-Conwell—Jacksonville where she is also a Byington Scholar. She is a debilitatingly right-brained, born-in-the-wrong-century, introspective pseudo-nerd with passions that range anywhere from writing, to French cooking to Bob Dylan. These days she resides in Jacksonville with one mental foot in the GCTS Library downtown, and the other is beach-side with her Golden Retriever, Stella… the world's first dog superhero.

Tags: Author: Kate Hightower , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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COMMENTS

Beautifully written Very relatable
Mary Shelton 12:33PM 12/05/12

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