life preserver on land

“…the thunder and hail will stop, and you will know that the earth belongs to the Lord. But I know that you and your officials still do not fear the Lord…”

…So Moses left Pharaoh’s court and went out of the city. When he lifted his hands to the Lord, the thunder and hail stopped, and the downpour ceased. But when Pharaoh saw that the rain, hail, and thunder had stopped, he and his officials sinned again, and Pharaoh again became stubborn.”

-Exodus 9:20-30, 33-34


I tend to think it’s an Israelite trait to be stubborn and rebellious the moment I’m out of trouble; to require bailing out again and again. I tend to bemoan that I, too, am Israel: aware of You in my need, forgetful post-rescue.

But here I see that pattern in Pharaoh and his officials, and I see Moses calling them out on it before they even turned. This is what he noticed, even in the shining moment where they appealed to You for help:

their hearts did not fear You.

A heart that only sees You when it needs help but ignores You in the quiet and turns from You as soon as You answer, does not fear You. And it is not just an Israelite trait – it is a human trait. We’re willing to call on You when we’re in over our heads, but we don’t want to need You. We want to be able to handle it on our own. So as soon as we’re back on dry land, we turn. We humans are tragically alike in this: we do not fear You.

The other thing I noticed is that it is not only Pharaoh that Moses accuses. The officials also sinned. Pharaoh called the shots, but they were still responsible for their own hearts. While it was Pharaoh’s call, his officials did not get to hide blameless in his shadow. They, too, chose not to fear You. They, too, disregarded your words.

They, too, chose to turn as soon as the thunder stopped.


Soften my heart toward You. Build in me a fear of You that outlasts the storm, that lives in the quiet, and that remembers how I need You even when things seem under control.

A Side of You I Didn’t Know


“Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh. When he feels the force of my strong hand, he will let me people go…I am YAHWEH-the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El Shaddai – God Almighty – but I did not reveal my name YAHWEH to them.”

-Exodus 6:1-3

YAHWEH (יְהֹוָה)

“The divine name was increasingly regarded as too sacred to be uttered, it was replaced vocally in synagogue by Adonai (Lord)…Many scholars believe that the most proper meaning may be “He Brings into Existence Whatever Exists” (Yahweh-Asher-Yahweh)” 

-Encyclopedia Britannica

I guess there’s a lot about this name that remains a mystery. But what caught my attention in Your answer to Moses’ cry was this: You had more to reveal about yourself than he had seen so far.

His ancestors called You ‘God Almighty,’ but Moses was about to see how strong your hand was. His ancestors had known You as ‘El Shaddai.’ Moses was only now introduced to YAHWEH.

I’m not sure what all is lost in translation across the years, cultures, languages. It’s 2017, I am snuggled up in my recliner in front of an electric fireplace with a fake flame, journaling as I prepare to travel a hundred miles to go to work flying in a helicopter.

I am worlds apart. But reading this, this morning, the name struck me.

Moses came to You, upset at the worsening situation, wondering why You didn’t act, and You answered with:

Your fathers knew me as Lord Almighty, but I am about to show Pharaoh who I am with force. And you shall call me


Silence. Holy. That’s what the statement left resounding through my morning. You were about to unleash upon Egypt a display the whole world would recognize. You were about to reveal a side of you Moses didn’t know yet.

And then, thousands of years later, You did it again. You still had more to reveal about Yourself than Israel had seen so far.

“…and you shall call his name Jesus…”

Matthew 1:21

Savior. Rescuer. King.

Gentle. Feisty. Healer.

Man of puzzles. Friend of scum. Opposer of the Pharisees.

The One who forgives sinners.

So here I am, recognizing that in all of my situations, I must come to You, not only hoping to remember all I have learned of You before, but expecting to be surprised by a side of You I didn’t know yet. Always expecting that You still have more to reveal about Yourself than what I’ve seen so far. 

So keep my heart intrigued with You, Lord. Leaning forward, not knowing what to expect, not sure what side of You I will see, but settled in this:

You are so, so good, and the deeper I go with You, the more I want to truly know You.


The Middle


“Then Moses went back to the Lord and protested, “Why have you brought all this trouble on your own people, Lord? Why did you send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh as your spokesman, he has been even  more brutal to your people. And you have done nothing to rescue them!”

Exodus 5:22-23

On the other side of that statement lay plagues, sea crossings, and freedom. But at the time, Moses couldn’t see that. At the time, he wondered, Why did I even try? Why send me if I only make things worse!?

It’s the middle of the story. That frustrating place where all we can see is the destruction caused by things shifting without the reassurance of what they’re shifting toward. How easy, in the middle of the story, to get discouraged and assume You are not going to help us.

May I, like Moses, come to You to voice that frustration. May I be honest about what I’m feeling, but still direct my cry to You. And even better, may I learn to assume that it’s okay when things look like this. It is part of shifting, of growth, of change. Things gets ugly before what will be starts to take shape.

Transform my heart’s cry from, “You have done nothing! You’re not helping!” into  this:

“I don’t see it, but I know You’re working in this, I know You’re helping. It looks ugly and ruined right now, but I trust You to take this somewhere good.”

Help me to endure, hold on, and refuse to slam the book shut in the middle of the story.


beka's eye

The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. 

And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

-Matthew 6:22-23



I don’t remember when I started to lose my vision.

Little by little, my eyes stretched. They grew long instead of round. The curvature became more and more irregular, and more of the details I used to be able to see became blurry.

At ten years old, I started getting headaches in school. When my dad realized I couldn’t read the titles on the bookshelf across his office, he knew it was time to get me glasses.

At thirteen, we switched to contacts, hoping that placing correction directly on my eyes would slow the progression of my vision loss.

At fourteen, the eye doctors started recommending surgery.

At twenty, they stopped using the vision chart during exams of the naked eye. I couldn’t tell where it was.

Last month, a dilation test confirmed that my eyes have stopped changing and my prescription has stabilized.

I am left with three inches.

Three inches away, details are clear. It’s a small world without my glasses. Past three inches, there is a collage of colored shapes with smeared edges and poor definition. I lose facial features and can’t reliably tell who someone is unless they’re talking, and then I can’t always tell what they mean because I can’t read their body language. In a familiar setting, I do a pretty reliable job guessing at what things are, but then again, I did grab a set of earbuds from the nightstand this morning because they looked like glasses to me.

When I could wear my contacts I didn’t notice it that much. Now that I can only wear glasses, it’s more obvious. That square of clarity makes a big difference, but above, below or to the sides, I’m back to three inches. I can’t see down and ahead at the same time, and I have the bruises to prove it!

I lost my glasses in a lake a few weeks ago and spent three hours with my three inches while I waited for Cody to bring me a back-up pair of glasses. It gave me some perspective.

I am not blind. But I rely heavily on being able to either put on a lens or bring something closer to my face. If I can’t do either, I don’t rely on what I see. I know I’ve lost my bearings and, especially outside of familiar surroundings, I feel helpless.

It’s a silly illustration, but what if one day I woke up and decided to live like that? What if decided that what I was seeing was normal and didn’t adjust for it? What if I forgot my glasses on the nightstand and just went about my day guessing about what wasn’t clear?

What surprises would I bring home from the grocery store? What social cues would I misread? What if I decided to drive? Who knows where I’d end up and what damage I’d do on my way there?

I wonder if this is the concept Jesus was getting at when He described the deep darkness of someone who thinks they’re seeing light when they’re not. When you only have three inches, but you act like you can see miles ahead, you don’t recognize when you’re in deep trouble, much less see it coming in time to avoid it.

I would be in bad shape if I decided to ignore the fact that I have an eye condition that requires correction, so I don’t try to live without my lenses.

There is a Psalm that speaks of relying on God’s counsel that way:

“I have set the Lord always before me, because He is at my right hand, I will not be moved.”

Psalm 16:8

Always before me. Like a pair of glasses through which I see life clearly.

Always before me. Because I am near-sighted in more than one way.

Always before me. Because it’s not enough to have eyes that work; they must focus on the right thing.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

Proverbs 3:5

I don’t do anything I consider important without my glasses on. Why don’t I carry the same assumption toward my need for Him?

What if I didn’t start a single day without stopping to regard Him; to linger, to pause, to reflect, to remember that He is my confidence, that He is what I need for this day? How different would I be if I kept in mind that it is not something out there I must go after, that there is no higher pursuit than the God I kneel before in this moment? 

If I have not set my eyes on Him, I am walking out into the day without corrected vision, and my soul has an even higher prescription than my eyes.



I don’t trust my eyes past three inches; teach me to regard my heart with the same suspicion. Unaided, it is an unreliable judge of what’s truly important. It is near-sighted, and the way it sees the world is as small and suffocating as those three inches I lived in when I lost my glasses.

Me, my wants, my worries, my ambitions, that is all I see until I stop to gaze on You.

I don’t see the big picture without the adjustment of worship and the lens of Your words. They are as necessary to my day as any pair of glasses, and more so. In the midst of all the things that call for my attention with the first tone of my alarm clock, that urge me to rush out and meet them without pause, I must remember this:

I need to wait until I can see what I’m doing.

Lord help me to remember.

As I look to tomorrow, the day I hope will bring me to where I open my eyes in the morning and I’m not guessing anymore; where I see clearly, without the smudges and scratches and borders of glasses; I also look to the day where it takes no extra steps to see and recognize how central You are. The day when my heart’s vision is permanently corrected.

When You are revealed,

and I shall be like You,

for I shall see You as You are.

(1 John 3:2)

What a difference good vision makes! Help me to remember, Lord, that LASIK does not solve my daily need to correct my view of You.





*Photo Credit: David Heckman