And All At Once….

And all at once denial just gets up and leaves. Not even an excuse me I must be going. Denial just gets up, brushes the crumbs off his lap and walks out as if he never knew you.

There you are sitting and staring at an empty chair and your breath goes out of you and follows denial to the door. Then you feel the contents of your stomach trying to follow the breath.

That’s when you really know that denial is not coming back and in his place is his opposite….reality.

The reality of aloneness, of unsureness, of all the things you find yourself a lot less willing to say goodbye to than you thought. The reality that there are more goodbyes than you planned for.

The endless questioning of is this really the right way to go, what if we are wrong, what if doing this messes up our life beyond repair, what if in making the wrong decision we mess up other peoples lives and hearts, what if we made the right decision but someone is still hurt by it ??????????? Can it be fixed if we are wrong? Can it be fixed if we are right?

He won’t live here anymore, she won’t live here anymore, we won’t be a family in this house again…..I thought I was ready for that but I, in fact, am not. I thought I could deny myself through the ouch part of this, but I can’t.

But, I am still here and there is no end date to being here. No start date for when we can begin building our new life together and start being a family in a new home.

This place is our life. It was and is a good life and I don’t want to be here and not live that life together. The only things I have loved about this place are the things I lived with my husband and kids. I don’t know how people going through divorce and the death of a spouse do it. I don’t know how they get up every day and carve a new reality into an old life. But I have a new found respect and heart of compassion for them.

Thankfully and so gratefully I am not looking down a road of forever. My husband is going to prepare a new home for us in a new state. How grateful am I for a husband who is willing to go out on a limb to love his family and to do it without me? Because personally, while I may willing to hold the fort down here I am not sure I am selfless enough to go build a whole new one by myself.

So this weekend and the next few months are going to be rough, and without denial around to take the edge off I will probably cry a whole lot. But in the end reality is a truer friend and lasts a whole lot longer, and promises to bring some sun along with the rain.

So see ya later denial, reality, we have work to do.

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Trust God?

Hmmmm, trust God. I know it and I get it, but I can’t do it. At least not in the way I am told.

Trust God? I do. I trust that He will lead me down the most difficult paths. I trust that He will lead me through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I trust that my feet will slip on the rocks. I trust that the storm will come. I trust that there will be fires and floods and I trust that Satan prowls around like a lion trying to devour me. Trust me, I trust God.

If it really is a matter of trust….well I got trust galore.

But I don’t really have belief. I don’t really believe that all of this is somehow going to glorify God and be worth it in the end. I don’t believe……much. Except Him. I believe God is God and that I am not.

You would think that they are the same thing…trust and belief…..but they aren’t. At least not to me. I trust what God will or will not do, I believe who He is or is not. Nope, it probably really doesn’t make sense…..but then it’s me we’re talking about and my convoluted brain.

I so often get thrown at me the scriptures that condemn lack of faith, belief, trust as sin. God forbid that you should experience a human emotion……that God created in you…..for a reason. At this rate I will never make it into heaven with all my trust issues really being sin………Or if I make it I sure won’t have any jewels for my crown.

Or maybe, just maybe in my place of fear and lack of trust I am exactly where God needs me to be. All of my former supports have been kicked out from under me. The platform of faith has crumbled. My dock sank into the ocean. I am sure of nothing anymore. Not one thing. I have no crutches, I have no handrails I have nothing to lean on. I don’t trust my mind and my thinking, I don’t trust my wisdom or my knowledge, I don’t trust my own past to point out what direction I should be going in. I am stripped bare of any pretense that I know, trust, believe anything……except that God is God.

And just maybe God is saying….”FINALLY”. “Finally you can get to know the real me. Finally you can see me through eyes and a heart that expects nothing. Finally you can get to know me, not for what I
can do and what you can trust and believe in, but just because I am God”. Finally.

Joyce Meyer said something years ago that has stuck with me. “Sometimes you just have to do it afraid”. Some days when it seems like nothing is going your way, sometimes when you are afraid of getting hurt, sometimes when you feel like you know God a little to well, sometimes when you fear the worst…..you just have to get up and do the day afraid. Like yesterday….and today…..and maybe even tomorrow.

Corrie Ten Boom related a story of her father. They were talking about death, and Corrie told her father that she was afraid to die. He asked “Corrie, when we go somewhere on the train when do I give you your ticket?” she said “right before I get on the train”. Her father told her that is how God is, He gives you what you need right before you need it.

I don’t think when God parted the waters of the Red Sea that He parted it all the way through so that the Israelites could see for miles ahead. I think maybe the Israelites were probably only able to see a few feet in front of them and nothing behind as the sea simultaneously parted in front of them and closed behind them sealing them to a fate that they knew nothing about. I can bet that there was probably some terror involved as they watched and walked. Everything they knew, thought, trusted in, leaned on gone in an instant. No going back, no standing still, they just had to keep walking toward a wall of water.

I think God is in the business of knocking everything out of our lives that we think we can believe and trust, I think He is in the business of letting us be afraid until all we have left is to believe Him, to believe that He is God. Period.

I don’t relish the thought of going around with fear in the pit of my stomach for the rest of my life. It is not a thrilling fear like being on a roller coaster. I don’t look forward to suddenly feeling overwhelmed with anxiety ……. but maybe as my fears unfold and all my pre-conceived ideas of who God is start to unravel, maybe I will find just God……and then maybe…..my fears will be relieved.

Insurmountable Evidence

I used to pray with expectancy. And hope. And belief. And faith, faith that God will be moved on my behalf because I am His child, I deserve it, it is my promise, I earned it by getting my grace for free.

I prayed with entitlement.

Before that I prayed with the hope that the desire of my heart matched God’s desires for me. I believed that whatever happened God would see me through…..believing that true faith was believing God and not believing God for something…….

When I was introduced to the Word of Faith crap and learned I could get what I wanted……well you know I have a very selfish heart……so I prayed and believed hard for things, declaring things that weren’t as if they were, speaking things into existence. But I was a pretty bad sorcerer. No matter how I chanted the promises of God many prayers went unanswered.

My faith took a beating after that. Most days I am not sure it has recovered yet. Most days I am not sure it ever will.

Every day I am faced with the insurmountable evidence that peoples prayers that are heartfelt an pure are not being answered, at least in the way we hope. No matter how hard I prayed for my friend to be healed of cancer, she died. No matter how many years I prayed for steady employment for another friend, no matter how many years I have prayed for the hearts of the people I love. No matter how many prayers and chants I say……or anyone else says, God is going to do what He wants to do and what He knows is best.

The news is so full of terror for God’s faithful. It is so full of innocence being ripped away with no end in sight. Even God’s chosen Israel is in a constant fight for their very existence. And I know that I and thousands of other are praying for these things….

And please, I really do know all the right things to say about How God answers prayers, I know all the catch phrases that are said to make others feel better….I have recited them more times than I can count……

I don’t know how to pray anymore. I don’t know how to come before God with my requests that He bless my life with the desires of my heart knowing that others are praying for their very lives and the lives of the ones they love. Others are asking God to be delivered from horrible men who are selling their bodies and souls. Or for their babies who have cancer or husbands who had a heart attack and then a stroke.

How do I come before Him and even begin to think that I have a right to my answer? or to even ask?

I think I pray more humbly now. The insurmountable evidence of the hurt of the world, of the prayers that go seemingly unanswered have tempered my entitlement. I find myself sometimes wanting to pray for others before I start in on my desires. I find myself speaking to God with less confidence of how things should be.

In light of the evidence I cannot pray and believe for ANYTHING anymore and it frightens me. It frightens me to see heartbreak up ahead and not being able to stop it by chanting the promises of God. I know that in the end it will all make sense and every good thing and every hard thing will have been worth it.

So I pray the best and fear the worst and hope for something in between. Not just for me but for little Hugo and Pastor Saeed. For my friends and my family. For God please not to break my heart. I don’t necessarily think that is a great way to pray, but right now it is all I have.

I had a pastor once who lied like a rug. I am not sure that much truth ever came out of his mouth. But one thing he said over and over that was truth went something like this; “when all else fails, when everyone has let you down, when you have NOTHING left you have nowhere to turn but to Jesus because He is the only one who will always be there. In the good and the bad and the hard and the ugly and the wonderful there is no hope without Jesus”

What is amazing and humbling in all of this is that I can even come before the throne of God with my requests. What is so wonderful is that the Lord stops what He is doing to listen to my heart with all of it’s crap, all of it’s inconsistencies, all of it’s division. He doesn’t tell me to take a number, He doesn’t tell me that my call will be taken in the order it came in, He doesn’t deem what prayers are more important than others.

What is most humbling is that my tiny little requests for pretty flowers in my life are as important to Him as Pastor Saeeds prayers for his life are.

I am grateful that He hears me. I am afraid of what He will say, but somehow it makes me love Him more. It makes me cling to Him more, it makes me more aware every day of what a gift His grace really is.

God is good. I believe God. Even in the face of insurmountable evidence that believing God doesn’t always look like I would like it too. Hopefully I will let these things continue to humble me, continue to soften my heart towards God……and in my selfishness I kind of hope that if I get it right things will be granted. Just being honest here. But God knows and He hears and that is what matters most.

I believe God

I was always taught to come to the throne “expecting”. Expecting God for something, or about something. Come with your big dreams they said. Every preacher from every pulpit I ever listened to exhorted us to ask God ANYTHING!, after all we serve a big God. He wants to give me the desires of my heart….

……oh but wait, there is more. he is a cash machine…..he heals everything……he gives every good gift……

oh but I forgot to tell you that you better have just the right amount of faith, just the right amount of purity of heart, just the right amount of forgiven sin, just the right amount of selflessness……because your yes answers to your requests may be delayed and all the angels of heaven are fighting to get your promises too you.

Truthfully there is a part of me that misses that giddy kind of confidence in my ability to move God on my own behalf……

Because what I have learned and what I have seen is often the exact opposite. I have seen and heard of men and women who love God with everything they have in them, lose everything they have. I have read about the persecution of the children of God. I have experienced losses of my own, though not as devastating.

And so I can’t pray. I can’t ask God for what I want. I can’t do war in the heavenlies for my yes answers, I can’t declare God’s Word over this thing. I can only beg silently. Not with hope of what I want but somehow with a knowing that despite my answer God is good, and clinging to that fact. I just want Him to be good my way….I can’t ask God for my “sun stand still prayer” because I can’t find the words to speak.

I feel like all I can do is wait for my heart to break so that God can put it back together again.

Mostly though I am tired. I have so much to be grateful for and I know it. But it seems that some of the bigger things, the longer things, the more heartbreaking things have been the prayers that hit a brick wall before they reach up to heaven. So often lately I feel knocked back down again before I even get back up from the last one.

And I don’t feel courageous or confident.

I know that God is good, all the time. I know that His goodness doesn’t make sense to me. I know that I can’t depend on circumstance to define His goodness. I know that I can’t trust anything that happens in the physical world to prove whether or not God is real and good. I know that God is good…..

and…..

…….I believe God.