I've felt like being silent lately. Churning thoughts and letting seeds find purchase and make their way from my head to my heart and from my heart to my head. I have felt the way this song sounds, if that makes any sense. I feel a strong sense that God is working in me, revealing things that hurt to look at, making old things new just as He promised. Recently, I had the privilege of attending a luncheon where my pastor's wife was speaking on prayer and fasting. I rarely go out anywhere without the kids and as I sat down my pace slowed and I listened to her. I felt myself well up and I realized that the Spirit was speaking to me through her and it was like rain to my thirsty soul. She spoke of the things we use to fill up our longings, our pain, our needs other than God. It could be anything really that gains a power over us; food, sex, drugs, perfectionism,the need for approval etc. Things that give the illusion of fulfillment but never give it, things that we think will anesthetize ourselves to the hurt but that interrupt communion with our Father. She read this quote from A Hunger For God by John Piper, "If you don't feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. God did not create you for this. There is an appetite for God. And it can be awakened. I invite you to turn from the dulling effects of food and the dangers of idolatry, and to say with some simple fast:'This much, O God, I want you."
Such compelling words.
I live very much in the present. I love this earth, people, nature, the sights, sounds and smells. I drink deep of the blessings that surround me, music that stirs me, art that leaves me wistful, my kids laughter, the arms of my husband, the whispers of the ocean, the storm and the mellow skies. There is so much good, so much beauty. And it is good to glorify God in all these things. My joy in loving Josh and my children is deepened in my dependence on God to fulfill these roles. My writing reflects soft faces that I love, sweet things they say, and conversations that move me. But sometimes I fear...with so much blessing, and ease, is there a danger of becoming too comfortable, or prideful to where I don't have as much of a felt need for God? I have my set of wounds and scars that run deep like anybody else, but circumstantially I enjoy far more than I deserve. And it is easy for me to praise God for my family and the joy I've found in motherhood but the reality is, that many are in circumstances where it is not easy to understand what God is doing in their lives.
Their is such sorrow and brokenness that exists simultaneously.Sometimes I feel like May, in need of a wailing wall. I think about a woman I've known all my life that prayed to Jesus every night with her little ones, and years later one by one they developed heroine addictions. I thought about how she watched, as if in a nightmare, the sight of her daughter detoxing. I thought about the day she came home to find her first born son, dead on the floor of the bathroom from an overdose. I thought about parents that lose their babies. I thought about places around the globe where the daily task is to survive.I thought about an interview I listened to the other day about a little girl who suffered sexual abuse for years by a family friend. She had been helpless and angry and alone and cried out to God. Where was God when she was held down and helpless? In the midst of injustice and suffering does He abandon us?
These thoughts alone are enough to make you sink into a black hole you can't get out of...were it not for hope. I don't think for a second that I have all the answers but I do know He has not abandoned us. I listened to this little girl, now a woman, talk of how God had taken her on a long road of healing. At one point she said that God spoke to her saying that He had not left her and that there was a time when He was held down. Her tears were His tears. He suffered indescribably because he loved us and wanted to heal our wounds and save us from all the sin and evil in our human hearts. I thought of the power of God's love to redeem tragedies.
I pondered these things and listened for God's voice while walking through the time of year to remember His death on the cross. Every year I'm gripped with sorrow at how my perfect Lord suffered for us. Never have I felt such an overwhelming sense of His un-ending love than this year as I sat with Juden and read this on Good Friday:
"They nailed Jesus to the cross.
"Father, forgive them ," Jesus gasped. " They don't know what they're doing." 'You say you've come to rescue us!" people shouted. "But you can't even rescue yourself!" But they were wrong. Jesus could have rescued himself. A legion of angels would have flown to his side - if he'd called. "If you were really the Son the God, you could just climb down off that cross!" they said. And of course they were right. Jesus could have just said a word and made it all stop. Like when he healed that the little girl. And stilled the storm. And fed 5,000 people. But Jesus stayed. You see, they didn't understand. It wasn't the nails that kept Jesus there. It was love. "Papa?" Jesus cried, frantically searching the sky.
"Papa? Where are you? Don't leave me!" And for the first time-and the last- when he spoke, nothing happened. Just horrible, endless silence. God didn't answer. He turned away from his Boy. Tears rolled down Jesus' face.
The face of the One who would wipe away every tear from every eye."
~The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones~
There are no words I can offer that can capture a glimmer of the miracle of His incarnation, death and resurrection. But I know that He knows our suffering and shares our sorrows. My heart is so prone to wander from the God I love. I am so easily distracted from Him who paid my debt.But I have a growing hunger for Him and I hope it stays. My spirit willing, my flesh so weak. He loved us enough to die and the tomb is empty. I want to shout it from the hilltops.
Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.