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Waiting out the Confusion

To steal from Data, “It has been quite a day.” Or more like quite a year so far. My worst fears are that I’ll turn my back on God and that I’ll grow stagnant. So my husband and I pray regularly that God will keep us close and keep us growing, even if it takes being dragged along. God is so faithful to do that. I hunger for His best with every fiber of my being, but sometimes the pain of growing is overwhelming. There has been many a year where I feel like I’m barely surviving. I have to admit that this year is giving other years a run for their money. I haven’t slept more than a couple hours/night in longer than I care to remember. My heart hurts and I feel like I can’t catch my breath. I keep having that line from Sleepless in Seattle running through my mind “I’m going to get out of bed every morning… breathe in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won’t have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out…” I find myself wondering what I did to get myself into this spot and wanting to do something, anything, to get myself out of it. But I have no idea what the right thing to do is. I feel like I’ve taken up permanent residence in confusion.

And then Isaiah 50:10-11 comes to mind. It’s one of those verses I’ve been hanging onto for a very long time, so it whispers through my soul most times I’m confused. Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on their God. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment. NIV

I want to do something. But do I want to light my own torch? Do I want to make my own path? Some people, especially people who have the same type of personality as I do, think they know what they’re doing. I know better. I know from bitter experience that anything I do on my own is destructive. I know that nothing good can come from me acting alone. Nothing. So my options are limited: “Trust in the name of the LORD and rely on my God.” Relationships are so hard. People you love can slice you wide open and then leave you bleeding. Abandonment is rampant in our broken world. But God is always still there. Still ready to “bind up the brokenhearted” (Is. 61:1). Still ready to “increase the power of the weak” (Is. 40:29). Still fully capable of changing hearts. Still worth trusting.

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psa 27:14 NIV

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Psa 37:5-6 NIV

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The Mountains

We just spent 9 days in the Smoky Mountains. I had never been to them and I have to admit that this Colorado girl was a little disappointed. Right now I live in the middle of flatville and I wanted rocky crags and incredible views. I wanted the gleaming deep blue sky you only find at higher elevations. I had thought that going to the Smokies might soothe my homesickness for Colorado. However, our attempt to sightsee from any high points were pretty much like standing in the middle of a cloud. And, evidently, they’re having an unusually rainy season, so I didn’t see much in the way of blue skies. It was hard to enjoy our vacation, just because nothing was like I expected.

But once I was able to look at the Smokies for themselves, I found myself allured by their mystery. There’s something so beautiful and haunting about the perpetual mist that covers them. And they’re very green–as in the green of deciduous trees and vines exploding everywhere, not the green of coniferous forests. It was a nice change.

Thinking about the mountains and how I so longed to hike in the Rockies, but found myself in the Smokies, I started thinking about how God knows the trials I need. It’s easy to look at other people’s lives, or even my own past, and wish I had that instead. I think my life would be better if the road was less rocky, if I was less sick, if things were smoother in various relationships… but just because this isn’t the mountain of my choice, it doesn’t mean it’s not the best place for me to be right now. Where I’m at has a mysterious beauty–the hand of God lurking in the unseen (and sometimes seen).

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Robbers or Reapers

I’m slowly working my way through Beth Moore’s study on James right now. I so love doing studies in a small group! You get the benefit of accountability, but if you do it with someone else who also is short on time, you can stretch the study out.

James 1:2-3 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kind because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work in you so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

I love this perspective! Trials result in us being mature and complete, not lacking anything. I don’t know about you, but I seriously need some help. Immaturity and brokenness have been some of the hallmarks of my life.

In the study, Beth compares trial to robbers (p. 45). They steal things like our peace of mind, our hopes, our dreams, sometimes even just plain old things, like our time. But in Christ, they don’t have to be. As she puts it, “Trials don’t get to steal from followers of Christ, unless we hand over the goods. In fact, they’re commanded to give goods to us if we’re willing to receive them.”

It really puts a whole new spin on “sucking the marrow” out of trials. Lately as I’m re-writing, I’ve found myself meditating on old wounds and old shame. But I don’t have to be haunted by those things. I can go through the process of mourning, but also examine them for what treasures I left behind. I can change the past and walk away a victor. Robber or reaper . . . it’s up to me.

God, help me to reap maturity and completeness out of the trials I’ve been through. Don’t let me hang onto them pointlessly! Grow me, God! Show me what treasures I left behind. In Jesus’ Name, amen.