Beyond Words and the Longing of All

 

The Immanuel-Word, the pure speech of ‘God with us’, is always moving us beyond.

Beyond our words in any language. Beyond the systems of traditional cross-cultural teachings. Beyond the accustomed methods through which we enter societies, people groups, and countries. Beyond the parsing of passages and texts amidst the many words themselves of the Bible.

Immanuel, God with us, pushes us beyond every word in every language to the Word. The Word made flesh and dwelling among us. Radiant glory coming in the fragility of tender babe. He who was formed by the very God he was in his fragile, human mother’s womb. The Word who dwells resilient in the strength and beauty of the highest heaven as the exalted and perfect one who unites God and humanity.

This same Word is also the one we know through each step walked in dust and dirt. The Word whose every breath spoke the essence of the only eternal fullness of grace and truth. The Word who made earth his dwelling in 33 years of time, yet throughout an eternity which housed the ultimate sacrifice of God. The Word wholly dying to redeem the unholy and make all whole and holy forever.

This is the Word.

Because the Word is a person.

This is my last piece in this hallowed online space. It may bear little of the lightheartedness encompassed in that first string of words published here. In these years my heart has not shifted from light to heavy. But I am bearing down under the desire of hearts that this one Word formed in me be my final word here.

At the time of that first word-story, it was the fall of 2014. Now 9 years ago, I wore fresh eyes of hope sparked to new life after much sadness. Finding itself not as a shallow hope, it rooted deep and perched me on the cusp of fresh dreams coming to life as a missionary. My then 40 years of life had all the makings of a satisfying completion to be celebrated.

But it was not to be.

Tragedy and life-gutting trauma nearly destroyed me. Soon, I found myself amid ravaging mental instability, an exile hollowed to a mere shell. Betrayal, insomnia, mental and spiritual terror seemed certain to haunt me forever. Many of you have found that story, which would become one of overcoming, in my book A Million Skies.

It feels like beautiful work to vulnerably, yet confidently, testify to all that is the redemption of God.

Yet, today, I bear witness to the reality that those 55,000 words of that story, along with my nearly 50 years of gritty living, have led me full circle. I am coming home to this One-Word lyric of song central to each of our stories, and the story of God.

The Word is our story. The Word is our person. All of our darkest fears are defeated and brightest hopes are realized through this singular Word.

Although the actual living of a life ‘overseas’ is a precious jewel in my very own story, the brightest star has become fully housed within this one Emmanuel-Word.

In this set-apart online community, we have been gifted with the deepest truths of lives marked by the same broken-beauty of this Word-person. May not a single gorgeous piece which has created the mosaic of this found-home be lost in our busy, prolific world.

As for my part, I continue to journey in my own altered, yet united story. It’s this redemptive glory I pray lives on through anyone who has been touched by that humble, faltering yet crafted testament of this One Living Word.

And though this is a bit of a goodbye like the ones we have all come to grieve so many times over, won’t our forever be gorgeous? We will know one another beyond virtuality in eternal reality. We will become of the sea of face-to-face glory where we lift up the broken-beauty of each of our unique-yet-united stories in worship to the Great Story of God.

I encourage you to embrace the joy and laughter of that first piece centered on language learning. It has become one of my Ebenezer stones. How this cross-bearing, overseas life is meant to be both beautifully holy and unmistakably hilarious. We are invited to become like little children in language and life.

Our sacrifice becomes lighthearted praise because though we are not nearly perfect in any of our clumsy ways, this one Word is in all the ways.

For there is a beautiful freedom to become small in a world of missions which can call you to ‘BE BIG’. This bigness-call leads us all to places where we find ourselves in the ill-fitting mask of needing to be so altogether big before others.

Yet we come here to honor the grace and truth of that wholly humble Word. We remember we are together in this Word’s sacred yet silly.

We too are often misunderstood like this Word. We too make other-worldly journeys to unique and strange places we come to call home. We cling to his hope of the power of this God-Word, in all of its profound and enduring simplicity. We tenaciously hold to the belief that eternity will be different because we have let this true Word become the only Word we ever want to live.

The fullness of the Word’s grace and truth, no matter where we are, or who we are, necessarily places us in this two-fold tension of the messy glory of being human.

For we are all-of-us. We are the same frail, frightened children. We become as this one Word whether sender or those sent or yes, sent-one-become-sender. We are of all of God’s children being gathered Home from north, south, east, and west amid plains, mountains, valleys, rivers, and seas. We move in the ways of city, country, or in-between. Yet, it is within this one Word we are called to dwell.

Therefore, the only hope of our journey, is to servant-lead as we embody the Word of Emmanuel.

God who is with his very own beautiful, ravaged daughter.

Known from eternity and chosen as beloved from within the folds of his heart, she yet suffers as forsaken, unwanted, humiliated, as she lives in desecrated waste places. To live the one Word from both the far reaches of this earth and into the internal wounds of our homes and hearts, our hope is built on nothing less than the Emmanuel-Word.

There is no other way, dear ones.

For we are the ones who bear, in all places, the longing of God for God.

We are the ones who long for the exiled beauty of every language and people we have come to call our own to become the home of all. We long for the kindred family of all nations and tongues arm-in-arm forming the unbroken circle of beauty and glory before the King of Glory.

We are the ones who long for the one Word to be the only word heard, known, seen. We long to behold this word in music, story, laughter, play, as an all-of-creation praise. We long for all the fallen to be raised holy. We long for time to cease and eternity in our hearts to become our forever reality.

We are the ones who long for our lives, overseas or not, to hold no regret. We long for none of our own, whether linked by blood or spirit to be left outside of the welcome of God. We long for everyone to be fully known through the eyes and heart of this divine and singular Word.

We are the ones who long for the one Word to unite all into Life as it was meant to be.

We are also the ones who don’t long for these things.

And so we must be the bold ones who long with base yet holy jealousy for the spirit of God to raise us up into such longing. For we are the ones who become this holy Word through the deepest groaning of our desperate cries to the God who draws us into the skin of his tender Abba-arms.

Oh may we forever long to be the fully broken ones. The ones whose longings are realized as we cease from bearing the weight of our own fading glory. The ones whose longings are realized in laying down every crown and its jewels at the sandaled feet of this Final Word. The ones whose remorse-filled grief over failure to live as we have longed to becomes pure joy before his dear face, the face of the Lamb.

May we be those whose longings are for tears dried before this With-Us Word. May we be those who behold forever he who has fully carried our every sorrow, pain, fear and the wreckage of our hell. May we be those who long for the refiner’s fire to burn through every useless word before The One-Word’s Day comes.

May we become as one longing to live the person of the Word as we join the longing of the faithful of every generation. May we become as one holy longing in a stunning, all-of-time chorus. May we become as one longing, aching hope for the glory and beauty of the God-Word to be written across every sky. May we become as one longing, unyielding, intercession for this Love-Word to forever overcome the evil of every war, death and hideous distortion of beauty.

May our every holy longing make us one here and now.

And, so soon, may every longing, piercing cry reaching the heavens become but a far away echo. For eternity will reverberate the only forever Word, the only lasting Word, the Emmanuel-Word of a God forever come to dwell with us.

Go in peace, dear ones. Boldly, uncompromisingly live the person of the Word, and long…

Abigail

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Abby Alleman

Abigail is a lover of life and story--the ones God writes and calls us to write with Him. She knows that no matter what tragedy comes, our stories are not over. Her newly released book 'A Million Skies' demonstrates the power of God's love and redemption over all of our lives. Having previously served overseas as a missionary with her husband and three children, she and her husband now touch the lives of refugees through the ministry of the Welcome Network. Learn more about Abigail at her blog and website (abigailalleman.com) or follow her on Instagram @abigail.alleman

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