For two years, God has given me the same passage to hold onto:
Don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new… It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.- Isaiah 43:18
In 2016, He gave me the word “trust”, to go along with it.
In 2017, he gave me the word “abide.”
a·bide: stand up against, put up with, endure, tolerate, endure
I knew almost immediately, what He meant- what God was asking of me this year: to remain in the struggle, to be constant without change in my circumstance, to stay in the tension (without running, without quitting, without demanding solutions or insisting things be black and white, all or nothing.)
These words- the single words God gives me each year- are like a theme. An overarching plan or purpose for the unfolding 12 months. They’re God’s focus for my life and my heart, should I choose to trust him and obey.
If you could see my last two years, you’d call it ridiculous- uncanny, the way these words have thread the 365 days they title; a bullseye to nearly every lesson and circumstance that follows…
almost as if God knew what He was talking about and was orchestrating the details of my days, right down to the final letter. 😉
Truth is, both years have been difficult- the most difficult of my life. And that’s an understatement!
Without Jesus, they would have killed me or at least, made me a mean, pessimistic, cold-hearted woman. Like the world and God owed me- big time, because of what I’d endured. Instead, they’ve remade me, through surrender and refined me in ways I can’t quite articulate in brief.
more compassionate and less judgemental, more patient and less frantic, more tender and less tough, more present and less busy, more confident and less doubtful, primarily in trust of God and His goodness.
Call it trite, but suffering has been the means to moulding and shaping me into the women He created me to be- the woman I need to be, to fulfill my purpose on this earth.
And for that reason, I’ve now count grief and suffering as gift.
Before you romanticize any notions of what that looks like, let me be frank:
I’ve battled this out on the front lines, hung in there by my teeth and nails. I’ve kicked, screamed and wrestled my way through- physically and emotionally. These two years have been the fight of my life!
A fight to stay, when all I wanted was to go.
A fight to feel, without letting it kill me.
A fight to be present and not numb myself out.
A fight to go on, when all I want is to quit.
A fight for peace, when I’m all out-of-sorts.
A fight for hope, when everything feels dark.
A fight to trust, when circumstance screams otherwise.
A fight for joy, when there’s little to sing for.
What once came easy in other seasons, has become my battleground to claim. And I’m weary.
I feel tired, beaten up and defeated- depression looming on the sidelines, as if to mock me with my former joyful self.
The girl who preaches joy, fighting for every moment of it- who preaches unconditional love, still striving to earn it- who preaches faith, fighting to hold on to hope.
Behind the pretty posture, I feel ugly- my heart heavy and full of darkness. I feel like a fraud.
There I am on resurrection Sunday (Easter)- the day Christ rose from the grave and defeated death, claiming victory over sin and darkness- and I’d rather stay at saturday thanks! I want to scream in frustration, remain in the dark and hang around the empty tomb weeping.
So, instead of singing, I remained silent- I resented the happy clappyness of Sunday! But why?! I beat myself up, asking…
Like Jesus’ friends on Holy Saturday- the day after his crucifixion- I wanted to sit at the tomb and wail in grief over a dead body… all the dead things in my life. I wanted to question why they were, despite being foretold they’d happen. Like them, I was wrestling for hope, trying to hold fast to Christ’s prophecy-His promise to rise again on the third day. Because my circumstances scream otherwise, just like Jesus’ did!
On Saturday, friends of Jesus waited in darkness. On Saturday they wrestled their emotions. On Saturday they fought to maintain hope.
And friend, that there, is me.
In church, I begged God to grab me and pull me out of my pit- I was too tired to help myself and quite frankly, I didn’t want to. I needed hope fast.
Back home, I grabbed my phone – an attempt to numb myself; a fact I’m far too acutely aware of. Why, oh why, must I recognize every nuance and defence I use to try and outrun the heaviness, dull the emotions or taste temporary happiness?!
It’s fleeting and I know this– it doesn’t fill my void. Only God can. But today, I don’t care.
I succumb and silently pray that Jesus would do it with me– that he’d show up in the midst of my mindless scrolling.
And he did.
Some things died this year – Friday. Friday requires faith. Then there was the waiting, the uncertainty, the messy middle- Saturday. Saturday requires hope. Then beautiful new things were born – Sunday. Sunday requires nothing but love. Faith, hope, love. First the pain. Then the waiting. Then the rising.
There is no glory but straight through our story.
There is no resurrection without the crucifixion. – Glennon Doyle Melton
Like lighting, it shocked my heart back to reality- my reality in Jesus and the promise he’s given me over and over and over again- every time I’ve asked him to remind me.
It was the first time I fully surrendered to God. I stopped trying and gave up entirely. I threw my hands in the air and said, “I give up!” In waving my white flag, I finally gave Him control.
God had to show up, because I was done saving myself – and everyone else, for that matter!
I learnt trust and through it, cultivated faith with roots down deep- faith build on a solid foundation, unshakable in Christ Jesus.
2016 was my friday; a death that required faith.
2017 has been my year of waiting and uncertainty- of wrestling the messy, awkward tension- of holding fast in the in-between. Of not anymore but not quite yet.
2017 has been my Saturday. The dark tomb of waiting.
As much as I hate to admit it, it’s cultivating in me hope- an unwavering hope, grounded in his promises. The one He’s given me, two years in a row, that he’s doing a BRAND NEW thing, building rivers in the badlands- Don’t I see it?! (no, FYI: I don’t see it yet!.. okay, maybe a little.)
Do you see what this means, friend?!
My sunday is coming and so is yours!
This hard and heavy season comes with purpose. It too, is part of the process- part of His plan.
It isn’t a result of anything I’ve done or failed to do- it’s not another thing I need to fix or “heal my way out of.” I can let go and stop trying to make it what it’s not- stop striving to fix my heavy heart and just trust God. Not my circumstances, or even myself, but GOD!!!
What has come to me, has come through God. This darkness is God appointed and it comes with great intent!
It also means my heart is still living in Saturday…. There’s a reason I want to stay there and honour it.
I’m all in it- fully immersed in Saturday, sitting by my tomb waiting, grieving and wrestling- all while fighting for hope.
And that’s very much ok. In fact: it’s necessary.
Because in order to experience the joy of resurrection, we must first grieve the death.
Both are an act of worship and surrender. Both an act of trust and faith. Because our hope isn’t in the tomb, but in The One who raises from it.
And He too, shall raise us to new life!
Our sunday is coming….
Wherever you’re at this Easter season- a painful Friday of death, a dark Saturday of waiting or a victorious Sunday of new life- be all in it, friend! God will honour and accept your worship, however it looks. He sees you and He’s proud of you- you’re exactly where you’re suppose to be…This season comes with purpose.