Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hope for the Waiting Place

Hi Friends,


Today I wanted to share an except from Waiting for Wonder for anyone who finds themselves in the Waiting Place. When it seems as if nothing is changing despite prayer; when life seems stuck in a painful place, when it feels like God is absent and silent ...

EXCERPT:

There is something about waiting with our God. He is the God of waiting. Waiting is hard, but somehow it’s what God asks of us.
            Daniel and the exiles in Babylon were promised they would return to the land of Israel. They waited seven decades. A lifetime. In Babylon, Daniel served four foreign kings who believed themselves equal with God. His friends were thrown into the fire; he was thrown into a den of lions. He remained in exile. Daniel learned to wait.
            Mary received the promise about her son from the lips of an angel. It took over thirty years for that son even to begin his public ministry. All that time she waited with the promises of an angel still unfulfilled. Waited, while nothing happened. No Roman overthrow, no popularity, no growing force. Even his ministry looked nothing like what she may have expected. Mary learned to wait.
            Jesus’ followers received the promise of his return. They expected him to come in their lifetimes. But even through persecution, Roman arenas, and the stoning of saints, Jesus did not return. They died waiting for his promise to be fulfilled. We still wait.
            We wait decades, centuries, millennia.
            Because for our God, time is not a constraint. This is the God about whom the psalmist said, “In your perspective a thousand years are like yesterday past, like a short period during the night watch” (Ps 90:4) and Peter wrote, “Don’t let it escape your notice, dear friends, that with the Lord a single day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a single day” (2 Pet 3:8). 
            He is the God of the wait. He is the God who calls us to wait in faith. He says to us:

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20)
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him (Psalm 37:7)
It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:26)

            When hope seems gone. When ten years have passed in Canaan and there is no promised son. When the cold, empty chill of desperation becomes a heavy weight in your gut, remember that time is God’s servant. He holds it in his hands.

The Lord is waiting to be merciful to you,
    and will rise up to show you compassion.
The Lord is a God of justice;
    happy are all who wait for him.
Isaiah 30:18

Thursday, May 11, 2017

When Christ Offers More Than Healing...

Hi Friends,

I'm working on my next book, Reaching for Wonder, and wanted to share this little bit with you to encourage you when you're facing doubts, or fear that God may not hear and act.

This is from the chapter about the leper who comes to Jesus and says:

“If you want, you can make me clean.”
Mark 1:40-45


And Jesus answers him ...

EXCERPT
In the face of doubt and fear, Jesus speaks not a condemnation, but instead two simple words (in the Greek) that dispel both doubt and fear. This first is, when translated, “I am willing.” And the second is, “Be cleansed.”
         When we are at our lowest, when faith fails, when it hurts to try to hope anymore, God’s answer to us is not disappointment or guilt or shame. His answer is, “I am willing.”  He is willing to make us whole. He loves us enough to not just heal, but to make clean.
         I love the deeper meaning of the word “to cleanse” in the Greek. It not only means to cure a person from an “unclean” disease, but it also means to free from faults, to free from the doubt we see in “if.” It means to consecrate, to dedicate, to make complete for God’s use.
         That is what Jesus intends to offer us. Not simply a cure for the external need, but a deep soul cleansing that takes our “if” and transforms it into wonder.

         He is willing. The question is, are we?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Good News! Reaching for Wonder ...

Hi Friends,

Some good news today ... I'm signing a contract for my next book, REACHING FOR WONDER, Encountering Christ When Life Hurts (that's the working title so far). I'm very excited to delve deeply into the one-time encounters with Christ in the New Testament and see what it really means to come face to face with Jesus in the hardest, most painful moments of our lives.

Here's a little excerpt from the beginning of chapter one, about one leper and his big "if."  So, for anyone who has ever said "if" to God, you aren't alone ...

EXCERPT:

“If you want, you can make me clean.”
Mark 1:40-45
(also Matthew 8:1-4, Luke 5:12-16)


         If. A tiny word. And yet it holds the world in its hands. If you want. If you are willing. You can make me clean. If ... that single word echoes in my soul, and I know we must start the journey here at if. Not if you can. Not if you have the power. Not even if I do it all right. If you are willing. Lord, are you willing to make me whole?
         I look at the question spoken by this man with a skin disease, a disease that ostracized him from his community, that made him an outcast. I gaze at it long and hard and find there a mirror to my own doubts, my own fears.
         I know God has the strength.
         I know he can do anything.
         But is he willing? Does he want to?
         That’s the question that steals my breath, scratches at my faith.
         So with trembling I begin this journey of encounter. I whisper, “Are you willing, Jesus, to heal me too? Even me, even now. Is your love enough?” Is it enough to conquer my “if”?
         And the leper’s story calls out to me, beckons me closer, whispers of a hope in the storm of doubts, of despair, of disappointments.

         I take one step toward the leper. I take a step toward his fear. In his healing, can I find my own? Will I see that the question is not so much if Christ is willing, but if I am…

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Beauty of Good Friday

Hi Friends,


As I ponder the beauty and wonder of the horror of the God of all the universe hanging on a cross to die for me, I am reminded of something I shared in Wrestling with Wonder ...

EXCERPT:

Can you imagine it? Watching your son arrested, beaten, spat upon, and then nailed to a cross to die? The son you loved, the one you nursed and tickled, the one you cuddled, whose boo-boos you kissed. The one who you gave up all your plans and your former dreams to bear and to raise. The one who was supposed to make all things right again.
            Can you imagine it? What it was like to watch him die?
            Where is mercy? Where is favor? Where is blessedness? Where are all these promises now?
            They are fulfilled.
            Fulfilled!
            In ways Mary never could have dreamed, never would have expected.
            That is the strange dichotomy of the cross, and of our lives. Here, at the cross, in his death, it all comes true. Here, when she is shattered, crushed, broken, is the moment when God is doing something so amazing, so incredible, so wondrous, that she could have never imagined it.  
            In the moment that encapsulates the very epitome of what it means for plans and hopes to go awry, to diein that moment we find the most incredible, wondrous, breathtaking act of God of all time. It is the moment of redemption, of glory, of splendor, of the answer to all the prayers and hopes from the beginning of time until now. It is at that moment that we find the salvation of humankind. The moment that all our dreams came true.
            Jesus cries, “It is finished!” In the Greek, John uses the perfect tense to show that it is completed, for all time, forever, perfectly whole and finished. Christ had finished the work he was sent to do. He had, in that moment, redeemed us all. Forever.
            In the worst moment of her life, when God seemed absent, when all hope had died, God did his most glorious work.
            Commentator R. Kent Hughes relates this story: “A small boy was turning the pages of a book of religious art. When he came to a picture of the Crucifixion he looked at it for a long time, and a sad look came to his face. Finally he said, ‘If God had been there, he wouldn’t have let them do it.’ So the Crucifixion seems—until we understand what it really meant. Then we learn that God was there on the cross. We learn that he willed it. We learn that because of the cross, grace flashed in the lives of Simon the Cyrenian, the daughters of Jerusalem, the crucifying soldiers, the thief, the centurion—and thousands upon thousands since that day.”[1] Because of the cross, grace flashed into the life of Mary herself. Yes, the precise moment when all Mary’s hopes died, when all her plans came to nothing, became the moment of answer. Because of the cross, all generations have called her blessed. At the cross, the Mighty One did the greatest thing he could have done for us. He died for us. Through the cross, his mercy extended to all generations. It was his mighty deed that scattered the proud, lifted the humble, filled the hungry, helped Israel and all the world. In the cross alone do we find ultimate mercy. Just as he promised ... Just as he always promised.
            I think it may often be that way for us as well. That there, at the very place where our dreams don’t come true, where our hopes are shattered, where all we see is deaththat is where God is standing in the greatest power. Those are the moments, the places that change the world, where we find a depth and wonder deeper than we ever dared to dream.



[1] R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word, Luke, Volume 2, That You May Know the Truth (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998),.395.