Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

Today I am getting married, but I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that today is also the nine year anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting.

Nine years ago, I was eating lunch in the cafeteria at Evangel University when I heard there had been a shooting at Tech. I only knew one person at Virginia Tech at the time: today he serves as Best Man at my wedding. As soon as I could, I headed back to my dorm room and messaged the only person I knew who would know if he was okay: today she is one of my bridesmaids.

I began praying for Tech, for this one Hokie I knew, and for his friends. I was very relieved when heard that he was safe and okay.

Not long after that, my great grandmother passed away. I arrived in Virginia the weekend after the Tech shooting, to a state that was orange and maroon. It was a somber sight to see flags, ribbons, and signs everywhere I went. As we mourned and buried my great grandmother on a sunny April day, my state and my country mourned as well.

In Romans, the apostle Paul writes, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

On our third date, Jordan and I went to a national park for a simple hike and a lot of conversation. It was then that Jordan told me about his experience at Virginia Tech on that horrific day. It was then that I realized that when I prayed for Tech all those years ago, I had prayed for this kind, goodhearted, peaceful man.

It was also on that day that Jordan told me that if we were going to date, he wanted it to be a serious relationship. That he wanted more than just someone to hang out with. He wanted love and he wanted marriage.

And on that day, as I was still full of the uncertainty and giddiness that a new relationship brings, I heard a still quiet voice say very clearly, “This is for you, Beloved. This is My gift to both of you.”

For He makes all things good.

So today I’m marrying a Hokie, a Hokie I didn’t know nine years ago, but for whom I prayed and for whom today I thank God that he was kept safe. Today I get married in a little country church to a Hokie in front of Hokies. Today God will continue to fulfill his promise to make all things good.

 

But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose…

[I]n all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:24-28, 37-39

The Return to Eden (And Now There Are Stars)

Two years ago, I wrote a poem I entitled “Unsettled.” Even though I enjoyed writing it, and even though several friends, family, and even strangers responded positively to it, there was a part of me that was sad to write it.

The problem with living an unsettled life is that it can be very tiresome. And lonely. But it was my life, and I was content.

I once asked God if I would ever meet a man who would woo and pursue me, and He reminded me that He had pursued me all my life and would continue to do so. I was content with God, but God wanted more for me.

So this poem is a response to “Unsettled” and to how much my life has changed in the last two years.

Continue reading

Identity

How do I know what I think until I see what I say?

E.M. FORSTER

When I was in college, I went with some of my classmates and professors to the Festival of Faith & Writing at Calvin College. While there, I had the chance to hear many authors speak about their books, about writing, about adapting books into movies, and many other wonderful things that writers like to discuss.

One of the writers I heard was Francine Rivers. Now, I am not a big fan of Ms. Rivers, nor am I a fan of her corner of the writing market: Christian romance. However, I have to say that her novel Redeeming Love was one of the best Christian romance novels that I have ever read.

I went into her session without much context and background and walked away with respect and admiration.

Francine Rivers said that when she writes a novel, she picks a theme or an issue that she is trying to learn herself. As she writes, she is able to work through that issue within herself and within her characters, and once the novel is finished and published, she puts it behind her and moves on with her life.

I liked that.

Now, fast-forward four years later, and I’m writing a novel. My novel is still a growing thing. It hasn’t matured yet, and I’m still working on it. Originally, I had wanted to discuss love and hate within my novel, but I’m seeing as I write that there is another issue that is taking center stage:

the search for identity.

I think that our identities change over time. With every milestone, success, failure, risk, and pause, we change. I am not the person I was four years ago, nor ten years ago, nor fifteen. In fact, when I think about my past experiences, I often feel like I’m reading a book about someone else who is just a little relatable.

I’ve discovered recently that in our world, the search for identity is epic and dangerous, under attack from all sides and scrutinized by the media, by our peers, and magnified by the internet.

In a world dominated by tolerance and the information age, it is still severely lonely.

My novel has become a story about identity.

And in many ways it does reflect my desire for identity.

I have an idea.

I want to learn more about myself and who I am, but I also want to learn more about who I am to God. I believe that no matter who the world says I am and no matter who I say I am, the best version of myself is the one that God wants me to become. Everything else is second best and forgettable.

And so I have an idea: I have begun to study several Biblical characters that I think can tell us a lot about how to find the identities that God has in mind for us. What I would like to do is to share what I’m studying with you. A sort of online Bible study, if you will.

And I would like your input. I don’t want to just contribute white noise to the internet. I would like to know what you think.

If you would like to know what characters I want to talk about, then please read Hebrews 11. It’s my favorite passage in the Bible – in fact, I have all but memorized it. There are many people who for many reasons followed God and were commended as righteous.

I would like to have that faith.

So if you’re interested, I hope you’ll stick around for a while.