“God invites us to turn to each other as ones in whom Christ dwells as living homes of God to confess His goodness until we begin to believe it.”
~ Emily P. Freeman
I’d loved lifting the blind each morning and taking a peek at the new sunrise breaking across the dawn of sky,
What had the artist heart of God painted this morning?
But now the simple delights of days seemed hidden. I still gave gratitude, but everything felt shadowed and teary. It seemed the joy was hiding.
Oh, yes, I’d tried.
I’d thrown my efforts, shoulder-dig-in hard at it, trying to muscle my way into delight and happiness.
It wasn’t working.
I had head knowledge.
I knew, I know, my peace, my hope, my happiness is in my Jesus alone.
Knowing it and feeling it and living it are three different things.
I couldn’t find Him. Couldn’t find the steadfast place to stay.
There are a million and one YouTube messages and Christian songs telling us where our help comes from and proclaiming the power of God.
There’s many a self-help book and positive proclamations.
A row of lovely devotionals formed a quiet row along my bookshelves.
Do I believe in the importance of positivity and putting the proper message in my brain?
I also equally knew the frustration of the messages of HashtagBlessed and FaithOverFear and the People Who Seem To Have It All Figured Out.
I profoundly believe in the power of lament and grief and questions. I admit my tendency toward other people is to want to cheer them up. Offer advice or encouraging quotes. Find the happy.
It’s not always equation simple. Emotions and dark places are more complicated.
Swiping open my phone, I tap-tap, click and the music begins again.
I’ve listened to the melody and lyrics countless times.
It speaks to the place I’m in.
The song reminds me I’m not alone. We’re all familiar to this human experience.
Andrew Peterson sings it to me again:
“And if a man has got to listen to the voices of the mob
Who are reeling in the throes of all the happiness they’ve got
When they tell you all their troubles have been nailed up to that cross
Then what about the times when even followers get lost?
‘Cause we all get lost sometimes…”
“We all get lost sometimes.”
It’s how I felt. Where I was. Lost.
Jesus speaks about lost things and the rejoicing in finding them.
He shows up as the Good Shepherd on a quest to seek the lost lamb.
I feel the deep, deep love in this.
Wouldn’t it have been so much easier to stay back with the flock-not-so-lost? Snuggle up in comfort. Stretch out. Lay down the staff. Exhale a relaxing sigh. Settle in for an evening of lazy enjoyment. Kick sandals off of weary, aching feet. Find olives and cheese and a bit of wine for refreshing.
I admit this would be my perchance. I admit my annoyance at disturbances and the demand to heave myself up and propel aching bones out to help the current need.
But there He is.
Emmanuel. God With Us.
He came for us. He comes for us.
My mind runs to a favorite character in the Bible. She’s nameless. She’s poor. I think there’s a good chance she’s lonely.
We know so little, yet it portrays so much.
She loves God.
She trusts Him.
She offers what she has.
Jesus is watching her. He tells His disciples she gave the greatest.
Small in monetary value, great in simply giving of what she had available.
Her story confesses His goodness to me across time and history, lifetimes apart.
Perhaps if this widow could keep grasping after God, I could too.
Perhaps I could keep quoting two of my all-time favorite verses.
Words to remind me where my joy is rooted, even in the days of darkness, loneliness, silence.
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Jesus ~ We cling to you even in the silence. We cry out, ‘We believe. Help our unbelief.’ We listen and lean in to what we know to be true about you amid our piercing loneliness. We remember that You of anyone knows what loneliness and pain and rejection feels like. You suffered on the cross. You did it willingly. Because you saw US.
Each and every person throughout history, created in Your image. It’s magnificent. Mind-boggling. Beyond human imagination and capacity.
We behold you, Jesus. Thank you for how profoundly you see us and intimately know us.
Heal our hurting, aching, tender hearts.
Use this to produce a hundred-fold-abundance of compassion + kindness + empathy + tenderness.
For your Glory.
In Your Name Only.
Amen and Amen