Wednesday, March 21, 2018

the sorrow of a tired woman

unchanging tomorrows
©3-21-18 hannah mclean

my fight is over
drained of perseverance
i gave my all
and came up empty
every last hope laid out
and i have gathered in
only empty sheaves

my head hangs
my feet drag
my knees bloodied
from feeble, staggered steps

there is nowhere to sit
no comfort on which to lay my head
and so i limp slowly on
in the sloughs of my discontent

how do i stand
without hope for my present pains?
on what can i lean?
where can i rest
to regain strength to face my
unchanging tomorrows?

i am too tired
to look upon this journey
another day

You call out
to preserve
to keep
to guard

psalm 145:20
“the Lord [shamar]s all who love Him”

in this promise
i close my eyes

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Insecurity and Impending Freedom

I’ve been feeling really insecure lately. This is unusual for me; I have found that if I know where and how I stand before the Lord, the things around me that could have the capacity to make me feel insecure lose their power to press me down. So I have been eager to identify the source of my faltering and to reposition myself on the Rock that doesn’t waver when I do.

I started reading a book the other day about freedom in Christ, and felt the urge to stop and share with you my insecurity. It’s something I have struggled with off and on for years, and perhaps now--if I will let Him--God wants to uproot the lies that feed it once and for all.

I am a very intense person; I feel things deeply, I process things deeply, I articulate things deeply (and oddly...sometimes everything comes out in the form of poetry because, let's be honest, I’m sort of weird), and I have no qualms about sharing openly all the things I am walking through AS I am walking through them whether they are good, bad or terribly ugly. For better or for worse, that is how I am built. Correction: All but the last one fall into the category of "how I’m built," the last one showed up after I started following Jesus.

My biggest insecurity is that I overwhelm an unwelcome hurricane crashing into a coffee drinker while they are relaxing on their peaceful patio, or a massive gust of wind rushing on an unsuspecting picnicker just wanting to take in some fresh air. As I just wrote them, I notice that these analogies both produce the same result: Their nature and presence push away the things they meet.

So when I go through seasons of being bombarded by this insecurity, I find that I shut up, and I shrink down, and I withhold my thoughts and myself because of my assumptions of how I will be received.

I think somewhere at the core of my fear is the familiar pain of being alone. I grew up alone; the environment I was raised in was super exclusive, I was very cut off from people and developed an identity of being a misfit in the world around me. No place to belong, no people to belong with. When I discovered fellowship in the Body of Christ, I delighted in it like no one else I have ever met...I grabbed ahold of it SO hard that the lies that could have kept me from it didn’t stand a chance at holding me back. And when I learned how to build friendships in my mid 20s, I relished the privilege of walking through life with others; shoulder-to-shoulder, learning from each other, helping each other, weathering life in the intimacy of the highs and lows we encountered. I love people; I love getting to know who they are and how they are built and what makes them tick. I love watching them change and grow and remain. I love discovering their unique quirks and getting to understand them. I love learning from them and getting to glean from their presence and purpose in the world. I love connecting to and with people from any age or walk or place.

All that to say, I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to return to the loneliness of my past. I don’t want to miss out on the people around me (because let’s be honest, people are the most important thing in this world). And so, when my insecurity rears its ugly head, it holds a lot of power over me because it calls out to me that the cost of my voice and my presence and my nature is too will simply push away the opportunity for relationship or fellowship. And I find myself back in the familiar (yet painfully uncomfortable place) of being an observer of life, not a participant.

So there it is. I haven’t processed and prayed my way out of this and into freedom yet, but step one is to bring it into the light, right? I hope I will get to share with you the end of this journey, not just the beginning. :)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

the mercy woven within us

©12-25-17 hannah mclean

oh glorious longing
image and likeness reaching for their Source

raging fires cannot burn away the ache
nor cries of pain drown out the harried whisper
joyful celebration can do nothing but join it in the air
and pleasures only point heavenward as they pass

oh glorious longing
image and likeness reaching for their Source

made to draw us
lest we never meet 

only when our souls touch
when the arms extended before us
enfold our fragility in unbending strength
will we finally rest

and then
this glorious longing will lead us
into depths of wonder, love and worship
meant to whet and satisfy
when image and likeness reach their Source


Genesis 1:26–27
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Angels Response

The girls and I have been going through a scripture reading plan this advent season called God With Us. We’ve looked at things like the promise of His coming and reason for His coming; this last section leading up to Christmas Day is surrounding the response to His coming. We’ve looked at Mary’s response (“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior...” Luke 1:46–47) and at the shepherds’ response (“And they went with haste and found the baby...they made known the saying that had been told them concerning the child...the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God...” Luke 2:8–20).

Today we looked at the angels’ response. I don’t think I have ever really sat down and considered specifically how the angels responded to God coming to earth and becoming human. What a striking meditation, and I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts.

The angels had a very unique perspective: They knew the glory of God; they had seen Him face-to-face and actively live to work out His will--They knew His holiness, His power, His beauty, His wrath, His love, His worth...His undeniable deity. And they also knew humanity’s lack of all of the above; they saw our rebellion against God, our hatred for His ways, our denial of His being. They saw the vastness of the gap between God and man.

And then they watched as the One True Living God stepped across this vast chasm and became a man to save us.

And for the first time, He was "made a little lower than the heavenly beings." (Psalm 8:5)

It says at the proclamation of His birth in Luke 2:13, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God...” And today as I considered this unique view they held I wondered if perhaps their understanding of the utter depth of the love and meekness and wonder of God opened up to them in an astounding way; if perhaps they had awaited with utter curiosity and awe to see what the fulfilling of this promise they had had the privilege of delivering to Mary would look like; and if perhaps before the songs of praise rang out, there was a gasp.

I bet the worship burst out of them with greater force than it does in Psalm 29:9.

I can think of no greater messengers to bring the good news to humanity.

Monday, August 28, 2017

“Sometimes it is good to be sad.”

I was talking to my girls about the flooding in Texas this morning. During our conversation, Audrey said to me, “Stop talking about this, it is making me sad.”

Her words struck me and I told her, “Sometimes it is good to be sad.”

I get where she’s coming from--What a completely human thing to say. It is a painful thing to look upon the suffering in the world around us; it is uncomfortable and confronting. It can accost the quiet peace of our day and force our mind to travel roads we’d rather not venture down. I used to cling firmly to a personal policy similar to her 4-year-old request, “If I don’t see it, I can’t feel for it.” And I squeezed my eyes shut, unwilling to let other’s pain into my little world.

And then I met Jesus.

I met Jesus, and everything changed. 

Everything changed because Jesus, He looks upon the suffering and He weeps with the broken-hearted; He stands before both the oppressed and the oppressor and invites them to eat at His table; He kneels down beside the sickbeds of those no one would dare to touch; He puts Himself in the dark places so that the ones who reside there could know light.

Everything changed because if I wanted to grow in likeness to my Christ, I had to entrust Him with my heart. I have to let myself feel what He feels, see what He sees, hear what He hears so that I can learn to bring His unwavering love to a world that desperately needs to feel the gentleness of His compassion, to be transformed by His burning affection and to bow beneath the astounding wonder of His delight.

And so, I look at my intensely emotional little girl and I pray that someday she would find the courage to open her eyes.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

the Kingdom of light

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to Whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him...And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end and it shall stand forever.” Daniel 2:20-22,44

the light dwells with You
©hannah mclean 4-25-17

blessed be Your name
remaining constant in the changing times and seasons
unhindered by the reign of wicked rulers
undaunted by the darkness that will not relent

blessed be Your name
the unending Source of wisdom and power
the Revealer of all that is hidden
the One with whom light dwells

no matter how my heart laments the ruling powers of my day--
kingdoms raised by hands dripping evil
i find myself uplifted by the Kingdom that is to come
Your Kingdom that will crush all others 
in a glorious rule of

blessed be Your name
may i stand within its unbreakable shelter
hemmed in by Your overcoming light
for You know all things
and if You bid me stand in the darkness
i will stand in it with You
finding delight in seeing
Your beauty, power, wisdom and light
topple kingdoms
that by any other means or authority
would not fall

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

"...for he is..."

The sermon on Sunday was from Acts 9, where the apostle Paul encountered the Lord on the road to Damascus, where he was going to gather the followers of Jesus to be brought back to Jerusalem and punished. And as we read about this confrontation and blinding by light, we read about God sending Ananias to Paul to return his sight.

ACTS 9:10–15
Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to Your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My name before the gentiles and kings and the children of Israel...”

And I just couldn’t get past those words from verse 15, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My name...”

I marvel at the Lord--the holy, mighty, merciful, righteous, perfect I AM; whose Name is great; whose authority is over all; who is unmatched in beauty, worth, glory and power. This One True Living God made Himself known to Paul, who describes himself and his way of life at the time in these ways:
ACTS 22:3-4 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women...” GAL 1:13 “For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it.” 1 TIM 1:12–13a,15b “I thank Him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He judged me faithful, appointing me to His service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent...Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”

This One True Living God looked upon Paul and called him His “chosen instrument,” deemed him “Mine,” and spoke purpose over him, “to carry My name...” How do I get past that? Here was a man hellbent of stopping the spread of the gospel and the furthering of the kingdom of God; he was violently and zealously persecuting Christ’s Church, killing and punishing God’s people; and he was doing it from a place of pride and insolence while waving the flag of religious righteousness and declaring the name of Yahweh. THIS man...THIS man God looked upon and said, “This one is Mine. I choose him. I am going to put My name on him and he will be My instrument to lead gentiles, kings and Israelites to salvation.”

When I read Paul’s words in 1 Timothy, I can hear the wonder and resinate with the magnitude of his gratitude as it drips from his testimony, “...He judged me faithful, appointing me to His service, though formerly I was...” There is much to marvel at here, and our marveling shouldn’t end with Paul. It should cause us to look beyond the pages of scripture and at ourselves--our failing, faltering, fallible selves; and it should cause us to wonder at the Lord who says to us, “You are Mine. Before you chose Me, I chose you; before you were a saint, you were a sinner, and it was THEN that I died for you. I will set My name upon you and My Spirit inside of you. You are My instrument to bring My Gospel, My light, My love to the world.” He deserves so much better; He deserves pristine, untarnished, whole, holy, beautiful vessels, and yet, He picks through the ashes and He takes us as His own.

And I can’t get past that...and neither should you.