Who Holds the Pen?

photo-2Who are you?  How will you navigate this pain-filled, over-sexed, addicted, spinning world you were born into?  What tools do you need to  assuage pain, rejection, identity crisis, and fear of the future, and more than that the fear of dying? Some would say “Just look within yourself, and there you will find all that you need to overcome.”  Others say, “Just resign to the fact that you are who you are, no matter how broken, tormented, used,or confused you feel.” The favorite:  “Just follow your heart.” can become just a short path to your chest; not the great journey you hoped it would be.

There are voices.  Plenty of voices.  Some that see your potential and call you out to greatness.  Some that see your flaws, and torment you mercilessly.  Some that call you to join them in their dark closet identities, and others that are calling out for help.

Maybe you realize you are one who needs help.  Maybe you are wounded, full of regret, shame, disillusionment, and anger. Maybe your closet identity has taken its toll on your personhood and you really don’t know who you are.  Who is going to tell you?

You see, your story will be written by whomever gets to hold the pen.  If you give that pen to yourself, it will likely be filled with pain, regret, disillusionment, struggle, survival, and resignation. If you give the world your pen they will fill your stories with neurosis, addiction, perversion, and more confusion than you started with.  Or maybe you, like others, will conclude your book with these words, “I am what I am.” Resignation.

“But that’s not resignation,” you say.  “It is acceptance.  It is being okay with the person I am.”  Here is the test:  Does your lifestyle continue to wound others around you?  Does your lifestyle continue to wound you? If so, you have resigned.

People carry more baggage than they were ever designed to have.  The product of a fallen world–every man for himself means that everyone will choose their selfish pleasure, no matter what it costs.  A world of “me’s” holding their own pens, gratifying themselves, rewriting their character flaws and naming them something heroic.  With their pens of selfishness they end up tattooing others around them.  I’ve seen the permanent ink on the faces of many.  Some inscriptions say “worthless”, “available for use”, “forgotten”, “unlovable”, “alone”, “dirty”, “for sale”.

What can wash away the stains?  What power can redefine our identities? Who knows how to write our story better than us that we could entrust with the pen?

Your Creator.

You are not a product of human passion simply.  You are a treasured possession of the Creator, God who, when knitting you together in your mother’s womb, made a plan to give you a life full of grace redemption, healing, and victory. This God would watch your every step from your first to your last.  Would count every breath you take, and never lose sight of you…not for one minute. He would call to you in the sunrises.  He would speak to you in the sunsets.  He would invite you to know Him in the melodies of music.  He would fight for your redemption and ultimately your adoption. He would do and has done all of this.  Why?  Because you don’t know who you are.

How could you know, though, when you looked to the broken world to give you your identity?  How would you know your story could be beautiful, if you never gave Him the pen?  You didn’t know that grace would give your book a new page to write your life on.  You didn’t know that mercy would be the pen that writes your name.  You didn’t know that the blood of an innocent man, Jesus, would be the substance that washes away your stains, your sins, your regrets, your guilt.  You wouldn’t know that unless someone told you.

But you’ve been rejected by your own father. Why would God want you? The wounds of your childhood haunt your identity now.  By now you’ve made enough mistakes to send yourself to Hell without a judge to tell you.  You don’t think your story can become anything other than what it is…pain, failure, survival, resignation.

You are wrong.

You don’t believe God can help you, so you have never asked.  You don’t know that there really is a God, and so you’ve never sought.  You believe that if there is a God, he wouldn’t want you.

Too late.

Your thinking is too late.  God already has help and hope waiting for you, so start asking.  God is your Creator and the sustainer of your life, so start seeking.  While you were in the midst of your sin, pain, rebellion, confusion, and autonomy, God sent His Son Jesus to earth, to bear your shame, and pay the penalty of your crimes by putting Him to death through a crucifixion designed for shameful thieves and murders. He did this because He wants YOU.  He wants to take your story and redeem it.  He wants to give you forgiveness, grace, mercy, and a new identity.  He wants you to become what and who you were DESIGNED to be.  He wants to write your tattoos….”beloved”, “accepted”, “forgiven”, “worthy”, “blessed”, “beautiful”, “son”.

Give Him the pen.  Surrender your story…every broken, bloody, messy piece of it…every dark page, and scratched out sentence, every doubt and hollow hope.

Meet your Redeemer.

He will write your story with hope–  not just for today, but for eternity.



Begin the Journey

God, I am angry with you.  You let me go through a horrific ordeal.  I prayed and prayed and prayed that the madness would stop.  Every morning, for years, I woke up wondering what evil would befall me.  There seemed to be no end to the torment.

People told me to find joy in the little things, but honestly, I couldn’t.  My whole world was crashing around me.  Everything I thought I knew was up for questioning.  Breathing became an act of my determination as my mind was willing to let the idea of living pass away.  I despaired of life.  I didn’t want to see the lovely anymore because I knew that all too soon it was passing away from me–out of reach.

God, it was horrible!  Were You not watching?  What were You thinking as I spiraled into a world of hopelessness and bewilderment?  Where were You?

I watched something happen though, that even now causes me to think.  I saw choices.  I saw human choices.  Those who could have helped stop the madness but chose not to.  Those who reached out for me to give me comfort and hope (even though I flatly rejected it), were many.  My rejections of hope’s offerings were choices.  My choices.

These thoughts bring me back to something I learned, “all men are given a gift of a free will to choose.”

But wait, I didn’t choose pain and suffering.  That was thrust upon me.  I didn’t ask to walk a long dark road with no end in sight.  That was not my choice!

Yet, even now, I am standing on the other side of that pain.  The long dark road gradually gave way to a light that warmed me back to life.  I am still alive.  I am still me, only much has been chipped away, and much is in need of rebuilding.  I’m still here–still here with choices to be made.

I read Your story about You and Job.  Job didn’t really seem to stand a chance.  But You said something that really got my attention.  You said to Satan,“Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” (Job 2:3).  You spoke highly of Job.  You believed in Job.  You had faith in him even though he was going to struggle to have faith in himself.  Do you hold faith for us even when we give it up?

Later in that story, You ask Job a lot of questions.  You ask him if he knows how the foundations of the world were laid.  (You know, we are still arguing over that question today.  Our science books are riddled with theories.) You ask Job if he knows who gives the morning it’s orders as to when it should begin and when the day is over.  God, You might as well have been asking questions of astrophysics, or quantum order.  Fifty+ or so questions later about darkness, light, snow storehouses, seasons, animals, and life in general, you leave Job speechless. (Job 38-40)

Job just wanted to know what the heck happened to his family, and why was he being tormented so ruthlessly.  He did nothing to deserve it.  Why did You ask him all of those big questions?

Okay, so You are God and we are not.  Your ways are not our ways.  That becomes clear enough in life.  But why the riddles?

Wait a minute…in the glow of the light that warmed me back to life I see something…if I drop my angry accusations for a minute, I get a glimpse of something…

Job wanted to answers for his pain.  He, like me wants to make sense of it before he can fully grasp Your hand, God.  Are you saying something in all of Your questions?  Are you proving to Job and to me that there are millions of mysteries in the universe that I do not have conclusive answers for?  Are you exposing my lack of knowledge for what it really is?

For years (40) to be exact, I have laid my head on a pillow to sleep at night never worrying if the sun would forget to come up in the morning.  Never in my seasons of stress and anxiety has the culprit ever been my concern for where the raven would get its food, or if the stars would stay fixed in their place in the heavens.  I have “trusted” for all of these things.  Why did I trust?  Well, there was nothing I could do about these things.  (It would seem that You were taking care of all of this.)  They carried on without me (with a precise order, beauty, and rationality).

The truth is, if I want to admit it, You have ordered the universe with such beauty, design, purpose, and faithfulness that I cannot escape the fact that my whole being and sense of  “life” derives itself from the peace Your handiwork affords me.  Are You saying that I don’t have to have conclusive answers in order to grasp Your hand?  Are You showing me that You are trustworthy in all of these things that sustain my life, and can be trusted with this pain that feels life shattering?  Can You bring order and beauty out of this too?

I guess it comes back to choices.  I have free will to choose to trust You or to choose to fight You for the rest of my life.  I’m reminded  of the lyrics from the song Rich Mullins wrote:  “I’d rather fight You for something I don’t really want, than to take what You give that I need.” (Hold Me Jesus)  I’m tired of fighting You, God.

What good will it do me to spend my life as Your judge?  What benefit is there in refusing to reach for You when You are the only hope there is in life? You are the only One who has promised that You will make all things new again.  Your plan doesn’t end with my pain, but continues with my redemption into eternity. (And not just mine, but the whole world).

Would You help me surrender?  Would You speak Your hope over me?  Would You hold me Jesus?

I become the product of my choices, but You redeem my choices and bring beauty from ashes.  Will You begin that work in me even now?


My thanks to Ravi Zacharias’ book “Cries of the Heart” for walking me through my pain in view of God’s goodness.  His chapters on the story of Job forever changed my view of God and helped me drop my defenses and let God into my wounded places.
Also my thanks to the late Rich Mullins whose words still challenge my heart, and draw me to God.