When Things Seem Desolate

So I think I have a pattern established.  Since being on some new medication, I feel like I can do life 75% of the time.  But “that week”…you know that week.  The one where you want to rip out the throat of everyone that dares to disagree with my all-knowing, all-powerful word.  Needless to say, that’s about where I’m at this week.  I immediately regret my hasty words.  Words that tear down and bring tears.  No thought given beforehand.

I want to feel an extreme besides extreme sadness and extreme anger.  I have a desire to lie on the ground in the woods as the wind whips through bare trees and the sun sinks, when everything in my common sense tells me it’s time to go inside.  Perhaps I want to stay just to see if the laws I assume in my mind have any logical premise.  If there is any truth to the notion that dark and cold produce desolation and danger and destruction.  What if I’m already feeling desolate?

There are parts of winter that I love.  Curling up on the couch in the evenings with a book and a blanket.  Watching Cardinals and Blue Jays scrounge for food.  I feel like the Cardinals in that I am scrounging for nourishment.  For any sort of refreshment.  Because the days and nights are feeling a bit less cozy and more and more desolate.  Empty.  Void.  And I wonder things like, “What if the bleakness of the days go on and on forever?” and , “What if I never get to feel the warmth of the sun on my face again?”.  Some of you know what I’m talking about.  That niggling fear that lends itself to questions like, “What if this becomes my life?”

I enter my yard from my dutiful run.  Exercise is supposed to help, although lately every joint in my lower body has been rebelling. I look down into a drift of leaves and there is a birds nest.  Empty of course.  I examine the intricate weave of the pine needles and string.  Birds are instinctually beautiful.  Even their scrounging is beautiful.  I don’t feel beautiful in my scrounging.  I feel hollow and haggard and clumsy and stupid.  Unworthy of love.  Maybe that’s a huge part of it.  How unworthy I feel sometimes.  Oh, to make the head knowledge, heart knowledge.  To transcend the monotony and glimpse eternity.  I’m convinced that’s all it would take.  One glimpse.  Like lying on the carpet of crunchy leaves in the woods in the dark.

The chickens haven’t laid in months.  I just bought 3 dozen eggs at the store.  An act of resignation.  Their inability to produce also reminds me of myself.  Like I have nothing to give to anyone.  Barrenness.

Something prompts me to look in the laying b0x.  I somehow find myself looking expectantly.  And there…there in the middle of that rounded, worn, sat-in nest are three, perfect, little, brown eggs!  This means the chicks that were born in late summer are starting to lay!  I am so delighted as I carry them to the house.  I can’t wait to show the kids.  Those long months of just being an eater.  Not seemingly contributing.  Not earning a “keep”.  Now she is producing something beautiful.

The next morning, Graham goes out into the woods right after breakfast.  Partly because that’s his favorite place in the world and partly to escape the surety of school work.  He comes back in a few minutes later with a smile beaming from his face and two yellow tulips clutched in his hand.  “Look what I brought you and Aubrie!”, he says, clearly delighted with himself.  We put them in a blue glass vase because I love yellow and blue together.  I ask if there are more and he says, “No, just those two.”

I’m sitting in the hallway outside her room…listening.  It’s late and she’s coughing. Another cold turned respiratory.  We made the decision to take her off her steroid last month because she had been doing so well.  My heart pounds with anxiety as I quickly  run through my available resources with no possitive results.  Are we going to end up back in the emergency room?  I wonder.  I selfishly dread the disapproving comments we will more than likely receive from the allergist should we have to go.  Somehow, someway, I start to practice gratitude.  I start thanking Him for His care and ability to see situations in ways I never will.  I ask Him to forgive my doubt.  I told Him that, yes, I believe, but help my unbelief.  I asked Him to heal my baby girl.  To touch her lungs and throat and make her airways clear.  Then, I also told Him that I will praise Him whether He takes this cup from us or not.  I told Him I would celebrate His faithfulness whether we got rest tonight or not. Because I will not allow this situation to turn into a battle of wills.

I listen to her cough gradually become more intermittent.  When I crawl into bed, I am prepared to get up again.  I am willing.

She sleeps straight through from 1am to 9am.  No coughing.  No throwing up.  No breathing treatments.  She greets me with a smile in the morning light and I tell her what I asked of the Lord.  She smiles, unsurprised.  There’s that faith and expectancy.  Not just because she has child-like faith, but from personal experiences that make her wise beyond her almost 7 years.

And I think about my desolation and my barrenness and how He never really sleeps like spring does in winter.  He is always working.  Sometimes just under the surface where we can’t see.  And we shouldn’t be surprised when miracles spring up.  We should expect them.  And we shouldn’t think it trivial or miniscule when He uses 3 little eggs, 2 tulips and one healthy, smiling girl to teach us something about Himself.

December 24th- Our Gift

 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Romans 8:32-34

Jesus is our gift.  He is the gift of life, joy, and right-standing with God.  No more offering sacrifices, no more “doing our best and hoping for the best”.  He paid it all in full.  There are no other actions necessary but for us to accept it.

We can’t out-give God, because He has already given the greatest gift of all.  LIFE.  Not just any life, but eternal life with Him.

15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Romans 5:15-17

December 23rd-Giver of Grace

It’s easier for me to listen to a sermon where the pastor is “stepping on toes” and really challenging me than to listen to a sermon on grace.  Want to know why?  Because those “toe stepping” sermons often times are about things we need to DO or stop DOING.  I can do something in my own strength and will to achieve the objective.  Grace sermons are on just that, grace.

Grace-the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.

We can’t earn it.  We can’t obtain it any other way than to admit that we can’t earn it and that we are hopeless without HIM.  Accepting grace is the most humble thing we can do.

We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved… Acts 15:11

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:9

December 22nd-Redeemer

O goodness, this may be my favorite.  God as our REDEEMER has to do with not only our souls being bought back and our hearts made into dwelling places for His Spirit, but also His unique ability to redeem any situation and turn it into an opportunity for…you guessed it…His glory to be displayed and our good to come to pass.  So that means, any mistakes you make, any plans the enemy has to snatch you from HIS hand, any ill gotten gain anyone else has concocted from your demise, it can ALL, 100% of it, be used by HIM.  He can redeem it.  That just took a whole lot of pressure off me!  He has me in the palm of HIS hand.  All I have to do is be obedient and repentant when I have gone against Him.

Sometimes it’s easier to follow a list of rules than to accept that it has so little to do with what I do and so much to do with what HE does.

But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself. Psalm 49:15

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5

18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 18-19

December 21st- HEALER

Yes, our HEALER.  The Healer not just ultimately in heaven, but here, now, in our lives.  He heals and turns wounds into double-plated armor.  Re-inforced with His healing balm that somehow causes us to end up stronger than before we started. He uses wounds and sickness and hurts to shape us to be more like His Son.

Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. Psalm 30:2

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

[ Israel Unrepentant ] “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. Hosea 6:1

12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,”[a] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Hebrews 12:12-13

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.  Revelation 22:1-3

December 20th- Provider

I recently read an article by Louie Giglio where he addressed the question “Does God promise to feed and clothe Christians?”.  It immediately caught my eye as a “must read” because that’s such a controversial topic.  There are people who hold fast to the idea that God will provide physically for those that are faithful to Him to the extent that those people will never be hungry or cold.  And doesn’t Jesus even say in Matthew 6 that we should not worry about what we should eat or wear.  That God knows we need these things and if we seek after Him and His kingdom then “all these things will be added” to us.  So how do we reconcile that there are Christians in the world that are starving, freezing, and being killed simply for doing the things that Jesus commanded in Matthew 6?

I think Louie Giglio explains it best as he looks at Luke 21:16-18:

“In Luke 21:16–18 Jesus is talking to these people who don’t need to be anxious about anything because every need will be met. “You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish.” So, Jesus promises that some of his anxiety-free people will be put to death. Now, these are people who in Matthew 6:33 have believed, trusting “all these things” will be given me that I need — and they are going to be killed…And then he says, “Not a hair of your head will perish” (Luke 21:18). Well, surely that promise is just as sweeping as “all these things will be added to you.” Not only will they be added to you, not one hair is going to be hurt. And he says that ten words after saying they are going to kill you: killed, but no harm done, no ultimate harm done. Now, that should give us pause if Jesus can say: Not a hair of your head is going to perish, right after he says: They are going to kill you. We had better be slow to say that all your needs are going to be met means you can’t die of hunger.

So Jesus doesn’t mean that what we think we need will always be provided for.  He promises that what we actually need to be successful in this life (which is not always what we think) will be provided.  Remember, it’s for His glory and our good.

We will be given the exact measure of what we need to bring Him glory with our lives.  He will make sure of it.  He is our Provider.

 

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

December 19th-Father

This has always been hard for me to grasp.  He wants to be my Father.  He loves me endlessly.  He cares for me impeccably.  He thinks I am beautiful and valuable.  He considers me worth giving His life in my stead.  He loves me too much to let me continue down self-destructive paths.  He puts truth into my life in the form of His Word and other people so that I will not continue to be deceived.  He weaves His beautiful story into my life.  He shares the deepest mysteries with me.  He desires to know me.  He wants me to be transparent, even if it means that we will have to work on some things.  No matter what I do, what I say, how far I stray from Him, He always wants me back.  He is never done with me.  He is always there, not just to help me pick up the pieces, but to put me back together, and this time, I’ll look a little more like His Son.

139-Gateway Worship

At the feet of Jesus, my world changed
Everything is brighter
I see a picture of what I can be.

My life will never flee from what I’ve seen
Your heart is my desire
I wanna know You like the child You see

Where can I run from your love?
You search me and know all my heart.
If I climb to the heights You’ll be there
If I make my bed in hell,
You’ll lead me home

Before the earth existed You knew me
You called me to be holy
I will praise You for the way I’m made

How precious are the thoughts You think of me
Could anybody count them?
They are greater then the sands by the sea

Where can I run from your love?
You search me and know all my heart.
If I climb to the heights You’ll be there
If I make my bed in hell,
You’ll lead me home