When most days, most activities, most everything has become a dramatic struggle; a confused search for what we don't have; a thing that you can't identify but know it's missing. So you pray and pray and pray and stay up long into the night praying and talking and the next morning there is vision to see that all the stuff has kept us from really seeing. Then before school you all join efforts and move all of their stuff, toys, books, everything, into the den, and as you are pushing it all up, dragging it up out of the rooms and down the hall, the weight begins to lighten despite the struggle and you lock the door with all the stuff held captive. And one child asks, "Why are we doing this?" and you can finally start speaking truth, "We've got to change and get a new outlook on life" and the oldest is finding his piece, his peace, in all this, "We can only change with God's help."

And you would lay all of this junk on the altar to be burned with the sacrifice to God, if it would fan the flame of your life's focus.

When, after the long day at school, you come home through the first real rain storm of the season, with lightning flashing and thunder rattling the acres of farmland you pass, and you get out a board game and everyone plays together and there are no words about what was lost because you still don't quite have enough wisdom to talk it forward, but you walk in the Way anyway.

Because, though you're surprised to have kids who have changed their crummy attitudes whole-heartedly and dramatically and suddenly, you are very thankful for the supernatural something that has taken place in this space. And kids discover that they can play with couch cushions and chairs with wheels and make up silly games with each other and laugh loudly with no hesitations and no insecurities because, it seems, as though you've all found your secure foundation once again.

And you see your own heart represented right here in front of you in these kids.

When you wash the dishes and watch the kids play in the backyard and you pray and think and talk and listen to god and he gently whispers this familiar old song, "when the music fades, and all is stripped away, and i simply come...back to the heart of worship". And you see your sin for what it is...a step away from worship, a step away from God, a step out of his loving embrace, a step into self-sufficiency and insecurity and disobedience and weakness.

And this is the truth: God doesn't want the sacrifice of your stuff. he doesn't need your things to ignite the fire of his love. He doesn't want your orderly life or children that perform all their best manners when out in public. What god wants from you is your humanly weak faithfulness in obedience and in worship mixed with his holy perfection alive in you. because any good that you achieve isn't really you, it's him in you. So love the lord with all of you. Do love. Don't just talk love. See love and do love and be love and walk forward in love of ONE.

And this whole huge week of tearing back and cleaning out and starting new gets marked with a seal at church on Sunday morning when god reminds you of this...his love for you was grand and intentional before you even knew it, and even when your life and heart and soul are distracted from that focus, his love remains. And he is there, like he's been from the beginning, knocking on the door of your heart, asking for an invitation in, willing to climb over all of the junk that blocks the entry in order to share a meal together.

When all the stuff has been put back in it's rightful place and hearts have turned to hear again and perspectives are calibrated and there is all kinds of thankfulness because all joy, all righteousness has it's foundation on the Messiah in the things that don't ever go away: faith, hope, and love.

let love and faithfulness never leave you. bind them around your neck write them on the tablet of your heart