I woke up late this morning (which you know, if you follow me on Facebook), and, instead of my usual routine, I had to throw myself together quickly and head out to a doctor’s appointment. While I was hurriedly applying makeup, I realized that I was humming a tune.

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all.

Yes, Joni Mitchell hung out in my brain between foundation and mascara.

Life’s illusions. I think that’s the way we all want to look at life. We want the fairy tale, we want to see the castles in the clouds and the happily-ever-after endings, and sometimes they actually happen, and the illusion becomes a reality. Other times, though – most, if we’re honest – the castle really does turn out to just be a cloud, and a rain cloud, at that. Sometimes endings are just endings, and filled with more tears than happiness, and our life’s tale doesn’t have any glow of pixie dust to be found.

I think when we do look at life from both sides, from the up and down, we realize that we’ve put an awful lot of expectation on the illusions, and when we see it’s what we’ve done, we can be really disillusioned. Like Joni, we might feel that we really don’t know life at all.

But, you know what? I disagree.

I think it’s in the stark, plain-truth, reality of life – the no candy-coating, no prince-on-a-charger, mud-hut-on-a-blazing-desert, slap-you-upside-the-head reality – where you find that you do know life. Through it, you discover that you are made of more than you thought. You realize that you aren’t alone through it, and your ability to trust is being grown and stretched, moving your focus off your circumstance and onto the blessings in it.

Yeah, I’m thinking that, if you’re viewing life from a sturdy Rock, no matter which side you’re looking from you’ll see hope, and a bright future on the horizon. The terrain may be rocky and treacherous leading up to it, but you needn’t worry. You won’t be alone in the journey, no matter how harsh the reality, and, if you look really closely, you might just see a castle in the distance, complete with Prince and happily-ever-after ending. Don’t second guess what you’re seeing though, because that whole scenario?

Well, that’s not an illusion, at all.


For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1 ESV

When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’

“But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.” Luke 15:20-24 MSG

God, my shepherd!
    I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
    you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
    you let me catch my breath
    and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
    Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
    when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
    makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
    right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
    my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
    every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
    for the rest of my life.”

Psalm 23 MSG