It’s been a while.
There are a bunch of reasons why I haven’t really been able to write recently. One big one is I have my two littles home with me for the summer and, well, that takes most of my time. *smile*
But I have to admit, the biggest reason why I haven’t been able to write is because I’ve been walking through something really really hard. After returning from an incredible trip to Bhutan at the beginning of June, this hard blindsided me and I’ve been working on catching my breath ever since. The problem is, the hard is part of my daily life right now, so catching my breath is more of a gasping day-by-day nature. It’s one of those hard things you can’t walk away from; one of those hard things that doesn’t have a known expiration date.
So here I sit in the middle of my hard and I’m wondering what to write to you guys, because I feel as though there is so much burning within me waiting to come out, and I desire to write even though my heart is very heavy.
Here’s the thing – I’ve been talking so much about seeing eternity, about seeing the REALITY of God in the midst of the “reality” of our situations. A bit ironic I suppose to have that as the burning message in my soul as I walk through some of the most difficult weeks of my life. But maybe it’s not as ironic as I think. Because you know, God doesn’t inspire us with messages to share just so that other people will be encouraged to walk in courage and freedom. No, somehow – I am convinced – somehow every lesson He allows His mouthpieces to share are in fact lessons first and foremost for themselves.
I realize even right now as I write that His wisdom and His Love are extraordinarily intimate. He cares intensely about rescuing and healing the hearts of His individual children, about taking each face in His hands as if it’s the only face in the world and saying, “I Love you and I know what you need. Let me show you, Dear One.” And sometimes (oh isn’t He amazing?) He does that by sowing a message into a Dear One (like me) to sow into others. And while it may bless the others, it’s the Dear One carrying the message that Jesus wanted to heal and restore the most with that particular word.
Wow. This amazes me.
But I digress…
At this moment I am listening to a Sarah Reeves song, Just Want You, as I write. It’s on repeat endlessly. It’s been my anthem for a week straight and it’s causing me to look at everything through a new lens as I sing to Jesus again and again, “I don’t want it if You’re not in it! I just want you!” This truly is my heart’s desire. I don’t want anything if He’s not in it. I don’t. Somehow the pain of the hard that I’m walking through is making this even more glaring to me. Because right now is a time when I realize the emptiness and powerlessness of anything but Jesus to save me, anything but Him to get me through this, anyone but Him to give the grace to keep going, anyone but Him to deliver me from shame when I sin because the hard is overwhelming me.
He’s the only One. And even as I feel as though I am drowning in my hard and I have no idea how or when I will ever get out, there is one thing I cling to, and that is this: His promises are true. They have to be. How else will we ever get through the hard things? And I know – I know beyond the shadow of a doubt – that I have to raise my eyes and open the Word and declare the promises contained within its pages because if I don’t I just might die. So though my strength is gone, I open the pages and I surrender to His promises.
Did you know how hard it can be to surrender to promises when you are so very very tempted to stop believing them?
But here’s the thing: while the enemy of our souls will do everything in his power to use our hard times to destroy our faith by making us doubt the truth of what God has said; our great and amazing God uses the same hard to make our faith roots go down even deeper, causing us to become stronger and more assured of His Word and His character than we ever were before the hard.
COME ON NOW!! I’m in the middle of Starbucks writing this and I’m ready to jump up from my chair, throw my pen down on the table and shout, “Hallelujah!”, because if this doesn’t point to an amazing God, I don’t know what does.
And now I see this is taking me back again to the theme of my past 18 months – God is so incredibly good and sometimes we don’t really get to understand that until we are in the midst of something incredibly bad. Because it’s only THEN that we understand the power of: “God works all things together for good” (Rom. 8:28) and the beauty of “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus endured the cross, and scorned its shame (which, if you ask me, is the very worst thing that came upon us through the Fall), all for the joy set before Him. He endured the most horrific, unspeakable suffering because of promised joy. And do you know what that joy was?
US. You. Me.
His joy was restoration of relationship with US, for He longs for us with an endless Love.
Oh Jesus. I will walk through water and wind and shame and flame for You because this too is my joy – my relationship with You, which cannot be destroyed. I walk with You and choose to endure this cross You’ve given me and scorn its shame for the joy set before me, which is intimacy with You; it is walking with You side-by-side for all of eternity.
Yes I will fail. Yes I will cry. Yes I will feel the scourging and the mocking and scorning and the betrayal and the shame. But I will join with you as I, too, pray, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt. 26:39b)
Because Your will is perfect, and I have to believe that even when these deaths on earth feel final. Because they’re not. They’re not. So I cling to You. I cling to Your promises. I cling to my faith until I can’t any longer, and when I can’t, I know You’ll still be holding me. Because you promise this, too: “if we are faithless, he remains faithful.” (2 Tim. 2:13a)
I’m in the middle of my hard, but it’s here in the middle that I build my memorial, that I set up these stones of faith which You are building within me, a memorial to look back upon when I reach the other side of the hard so I can remember and realize that, even though it was hard, You were there. You were with me. You never let me go. You were developing something extraordinary inside of me. And Your promises did not fail.