Life is good. Silver light refracting in little Xs on the window. An ages-old sun still rolling and rising, like the stars never get tired. I just ate something with peanut butter in it and am now seated, at rest.

It’s good to be breathing. Clouds of cold breath, cotton candy floating in the freezing air.

One heart beats one heartbeat. Then another.

One breath, which by its very nature needs be a song to the Giver of breath, whether we chose it for so brave a task or not. We might breathe in tune with the harps of heaven if only we’d stop to listen.

The very trees are grace. And think of all the trees whose shade we’ll never feel, whose roots we’ll never know.

Our very breath, a sign.

And in all the simple goodness of life, nothing could ever be so wrong as to take away the light and the air and the heartbeats, until the Giver says so, and welcomes in a greater grace.

So life is good.

But it doesn’t always feel that way.

To be honest – which is what we should always be – 2014 felt off, like living through a long dreary day and thinking, It’s got to stop raining soon, but it doesn’t.

This year, so much felt so stagnant. Sometimes I actually went backwards. Promises fell through. Some things I thought were promises turned out to be just maybes, and those are almost never kept.

I felt sick for a long time. Sometimes I was, and maybe sometimes I wasn’t. But when you believe there’s something wrong, something is wrong.

A dear friend – and father and husband and brother and son – passed away. And there seems nothing anyone could do.

There were missed appointments and allergic reactions and time wasted. There were polar vortices – plural – swirled near a frigid May.

Fires in Venezuelan streets, coup in Thailand, retrograde motion in Egypt, the stealing of Crimea, death in Syria, ebola in West Africa, Malaysian planes gone missing and shot down, ISIS and Boko Haram, Hong Kong politics and Eric Garner.

Words were said that should not have been. Good deeds left out that should have been of first priority.

There are beautiful people I know, and maybe I should have been different toward them.

Mercies withdrawn. Grief withheld.

Hardships, snakebites, and shipwrecks. Wars and rumors of wars. A country divided over dead bodies, sent backward in time.



All told, 2014 was rough.

And that’s okay. Not only because it must be, but because it really is.

Because what seems like the worst thing ever can also be the best thing of all. Doesn’t every tribe and country have a proverb that says it’s through the darkness that we best see the light? Didn’t Paul go blind before he saw Glory? And don’t we Christians know that we die to live?

In thy service pain is pleasure.

With thy favor loss is gain.

I will tell you, even in this oftentimes trying series of 365 days, the sun rose on every one of them. Behind miles of clouds or hanging open in an azure sky, something warm was warming. No year has been more sanctifying for me. Never more time spent in prayer and in communion. There was less laughter, but there was still a lot of laughter. Fewer smiles, but I still smiled far more than anything else.

It’s a tragic reality that it takes going numb to appreciate warmth in all our senses. That it takes failure to learn the better way. Would that all the bitterness could be forgone, and still the sweetness come. But what sort of wise man ever rose who did not first fall?

So I would not bid for myself another year like this one, but if there is no better way to grow, then give me another. But I’m hoping for a better season – for you and me and all of us – and one in which we don’t forget all the low places we’ve ever been, nor neglect all our friends and stranger who linger there.

Posted by Griffin Paul Jackson


  1. Thank you for always honestly sharing exactly where your heart is, at the moment, even to the perfect strangers in your audience. It is too easy to be a “Beth Moore”, seemingly transparent, but notice how she always speaks of her struggles in the past tense? Keep writing your blog, and someday you can turn it into a book!

    Having grown up in a non-reformed background, the truth of God’s sovereignty is a precious comfort to me–all the horrible mistakes I made with my kids, all the ways that my sin is perverting everything I do even now, even today, is all under His control. His voice rings out like a trumpet, with joy, maybe a little bit like Gandalf in the book, after Frodo wakes up after his ordeal: Do not be afraid! I am the First and the Last! (sovereign over everything) I am the Living One! I was dead, and behold, I am alive for ever and ever! (Rev 1:17)


    1. Griffin Paul Jackson December 31, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      As always, thank you for the encouragement. One day there will be a book, God willing! I couldn’t agree more about God’s sovereignty, what a comfort it is in the good times and especially the bad. Rough patches are for our refining. And I was inspired to read again Gandalf’s interaction with Frodo! Not sure if this is the one you were referring to, but it struck me:

      “‘Still,’ he said, standing suddenly up and sticking out his chin, while his beard went stiff and straight like bristling wire, ‘we must keep up our courage. You will soon be well, if I do not talk you to death. You are in Rivendell, and you need not worry about anything for the present.’
      …… ‘I haven’t any courage to keep up,’ said Frodo, ‘but I am not worried at the moment. Just give me news of my friends, and tell me the end of the affair at the Ford, as I keep on asking, and I shall be content for the present. After that I shall have another sleep, I think; but I shan’t be able to close my eyes until you have finished the story for me.’
      …… Gandalf moved his chair to the bedside, and took a good look at Frodo. The colour had come back to his face and his eyes were clear, and fully awake and aware. He was smiling, and there seemed to be little wrong with him. But to the wizard’s eye there was a faint change, just a hint as it were of transparency, about him, and especially about the left hand that lay outside upon the coverlet.
      …… ‘Still that must be expected,’ said Gandalf to himself. ‘He is not half through yet, and to what he will come in the end not even Elrond can foretell. Not to evil, I think. He may become like a glass filled with a clear light for eyes to see….'”

      That last line is wonderful. We are not through yet, and we don’t know what our end will be, but it would do well if we suspected we might become “like a glass filled with a clear light for eyes to see….”


      1. Yes, I actually have a hard time watching the LOTR movies, because the books are so precious to me. In my opinion, Tolkien’s fiction hits a truer note of spiritual realities, than CS Lewis’s more two-dimensional fiction (although most other fiction pales in comparison even to Lewis). Perhaps it is only my personal bias, but I feel a hint of what angels are like in the elves, a taste of heaven in Rivendell, and even a peek of our True King in Aragorn and Gandalf. I feel we are plodding along like Sam and Frodo, in what sometimes seems like a hopeless quest, but what will make all the difference. The actual passage I was thinking of, is after Sam and Frodo have completed their quest, and Sam wakes up to see Gandalf alive, and Gandalf’s laugh was like music, or water in a parched land, and it fell upon his ears like the echo of all the joys he had ever known.

  2. Thanks for writing, Griffin. Here’s to another year.


    1. Griffin Paul Jackson December 31, 2014 at 1:22 pm

      And to you, Nard, a very bright year!


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