Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘sorrow’

Broken

brokenWe have all seen broken things: dishes, computers, lamps, toys, and even limbs. But the broken heart is a trickier observation. I thought I knew about this kind of brokenness. After all, my past is littered with old boyfriends and missed opportunities and disappointments. I thought I knew.

But no. Now I walk within a crushing brokenness that has no comparison to anything I have experienced before. The outer ranges of who I am continue, that daily self still rises and makes breakfast, still feeds the dogs and picks up the mail: she is still functioning. Apparently I look fine; after all, I have been complimented on my strength and poise. The irony of observed strength compared to the life beneath is not lost on me.

Here’s what I know so far: I am not broken in a way that super glue or duct tape can repair. That woman self, the  one before losing Mike, cannot be reconstructed into herself again. Instead, the inner shards must morph into a different construct. Grief of this kind adds colors and shapes that were unknown before. This is change of a monumental variety, yet hidden behind the cloak of function.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit. [Psalm 34:18, NIV]

And for this reason, it is really a God kind of time for it is only Spirit that can reshape from the inside out.

Read Full Post »

Psalm 143 is filled with urgency and no less in these two verses:

hidingplaceLet the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
    for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
    for to you I entrust my life.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,

    for I hide myself in you. [Psalm 143:8-9 NIV 2011]

I don’t know this kind of urgency very often. From day to day, I live a life of relative ease. There might be emotional upheavals and drama (after all, I have two young adults still living at home with us), but none of these cause me to burrow into the hiding place of God. I do not live in a foxhole as many people do throughout the world today. Instead, for all I know, I may be luxuriating in pot of water on the stove, getting warmer and warmer, but not realizing I am actually dying.

Well, we all are. From day to day, closer each day to some inevitable transformative moment that will take us out of our bodies in an instant or on a journey of pain and disease, a slower but nonetheless equally lethal end. This is part of living, the dying.

There have been several deaths around me of late: husbands of friends, old friends, passing acquaintances, relatives of colleagues, and on and on the list seems to get longer each year. We have a patron who comes into the library every week to look at the local newspaper for one thing only, to check the obituaries. There is always someone she knows, she has lived in this same community all of her life.

Is the shadow of death the only real urgency in a life? Or, is that merely self-serving to the end?

Or, are we to live with empathy for others in their crisis?

No one can sustain the stress of true crisis for an extended time. The body cannot generate enough adrenalin. I could help by if I knew how to envelop this person in need with the love of God, with the touch of authentic human, with the promise of rest. But then, I must really know what it means to shelter in God before I can bring someone else into the hiding place.

Back in my childhood, I was never very good at playing hide and seek. Either my hiding place was too good (and no one could find me so I would come out – who wants to be alone in a hiding place?) or the spot was too easy and I was found right away. Often, I would keep peeking out just to see what was going on around me. Just in case. And of course, this would be another way I would be pulled free from safety.

And there’s the problem, the human tendency to peek. To hide in God works better as a permanent solution, not just in a state of emergency. If I could stay in the hiding place of God, within the Spirit of Christ, my view of the world would be through a completely different lens. I would see more clearly; I would recognize needs in others; I could envelope and invite them in, for the place is large and plentiful. The hiding place of God knows no limits, nor does it include chains. It’s a choice to remain, just as it is a choice to enter.

So, does the hiding place mean I won’t experience urgency and fear and pain? On the contrary, those moments will still happen, I’m sure of it. The difference is in walking out trauma with an ongoing confidence in the Presence: “We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan” [Romans 8:38, The Voice].

And remaining “in” God. No peeking.

Read Full Post »

Painting by J.Johansen

“Mourning” by J.Johansen

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“Return to Me with all your heart,
And with fasting, weeping and mourning;
And rend your heart and not your garments.”
Now return to the Lord your God,
For He is gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness
And relenting of evil. [NASB Joel 2:12-13]

Yesterday, I returned from a weekend trip to visit a dying friend and I was humbled at her genuine faith and acceptance of God’s journey for her. She embraces each day. She is present in the moment. She is in the Spirit, having returned with all her heart. She is surrendered to God.

Tonight, at church, Pastor Jess reminded us that surrender means we are “all in.” I believe these forty days will be a true journey of repentance by relenting my willfulness and submitting myself to the Wonder.

I want to give “truth in my inward being” [Ps 51] to others. I want to be known and to know. I want to learn about my “secret heart.” And, I want a clean heart. I confess I have not been focused on these things in the past. But it’s time. Now is the acceptable time [II Corinthians 6:2b].

Read Full Post »

I understand the command to pray, or to “call out” to God; I understand “asking” for help; I understand the concept of blessings and the intent of intercession. I know there are answered prayers and there are unanswered prayers. I know it is implied and implored. It is a discipline and a state of being. It is a foundation of faith. I know these things. And yet, my prayer life diminished. I am hollow in prayer. My prayer has become relegated to the emergency and no longer the essence of my day and breath. I was there and now I am not. I was deep and now I am shallow again.

I was floating in the deep waters. I am back in the sand and it is low tide, the water of life seeming to retreat.

I have not recovered from the ending of my project in study and prayer and writing. That held me close but once the regimen was removed, my house collapsed. There is a sorrow now in me. And flagging sense of loss once more. An attack of remorse and disappointment that is hard to shake.

I skied up and down some great mountains and hills and my momentum kept me going for a long time. But now, I am on a wide plateau and there is no motor, no synergy, no muse, no battery pack. There is only the craggy rocks before me with no guide wires. I am looking for the first hand hold, the first leap, the first small goal to reach in order to begin with a sense of possibility.

To do first. . . to pray . . . to read . . . to serve . . . to wait . . . ?

Like an alcoholic who was doing so well and then drinks again, so have I been. There is nothing left but to slog back again to authentic sobriety, which for me, is authentic spirituality.

I took a vacation from my inner self, expecting the connection to remain open and instead found my inner spirit roaming like my cell phone, and now, out of power. Plug in, sure. But to what first?

I think it’s prayer. I think it’s stillness. I think. Breathe. Breathe.

Just a little worried. This time.

Read Full Post »

From this point in the book of Revelation and forward, there is a flurry of activity, none of it good. But the “white robed ones” are the survivors. Like most God events, I believe this tribulation multitude stands outside of time.

Revelation 7:14
And he said to me, These are they who have come out of the great tribulation (persecution), and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
[Amplified]

My slow walk through the book of Revelation is becoming more and more difficult. Yes, this book is rich with symbolism but it is also filled with confusing texts and “timelines” that have been peeled apart by the most studious of scholars. As noted before, I am totally out of my element. And yet, I want to get something from the book that I can use and apply to my life, that I can engage in my heart and embrace. I am not interested in the controversies of pre-millennial or post-millennial; pre-tribulation or post-tribulation. I just want a nugget of understanding, a glimpse of truth.

The multitude referenced in verse 14 is huge, uncountable. This is no special group of 144,000, but another collection that represents the peoples of the earth. These are people who have known deep affliction, persecution, and sorrow. Are the tribulations or grievous trials referenced here, are they the ones to be described next (linearly). Or, are we simply seeing the “survivor benefits” on the front end, or, is this some huge group of people that has already had enough pain and are being given a reprieve? I don’t know. Does it matter?

In my “earthly time,” I’m not in this group on either score.

But there is an inherent promise to the verses, 15-17. Extrapolating from the description, I see these promises:

  • to experience close proximity to God;
  • to have opportunity to serve and interact with God;
  • to be protected from any subsequent dangers;
  • to be satisfied and all needs met;
  • to be comfortable;
  • to be guided and have clear direction;
  • to be filled; and,
  • to be happy.

Some people have taken these promises as the state we will enter in “heaven.” And perhaps that’s true. These are the goals that most humans seek in their corporeal lives, aren’t they? Isn’t everything we do, particularly as believers, built on these long-term objectives?

Life is hard. Whether people are rich or poor, healthy or sick, there are challenges and tragedies which cross most human lives. Why do we bother to keep living? Because we believe in life. We believe in the evolution of the soul; we believe in the presence of the Holy Spirit; we believe in a purpose.

Or, we die. Those who have lost sight of the “golden ring,” no longer believe in human, in God, in a future, often give up and choose death over suffering.

People who dissect the book of Revelation believe the worst is yet to come. And that may true, but that should not discount the sorrows, the wars, the persecutions, the deaths, the miseries, the tortures that have already happened to many parts of the world, to many people through human history.

In or out of time, there is still the promise of the divine.

Read Full Post »

Godly sorrow is different from the mouth saying “I’m sorry;” it’s from the heart. How can we tell which is which? We can’t tell by words alone. Only actions express sincere contrition.

II Corinthians 7:10
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

I remember a friend of mine who had been devastated by her husband’s infidelity. He had expressed sorrow for his poor judgment and betrayal. She never believed him. He asked for total forgiveness. She could not give it. She confessed to me that she wanted him to suffer (as she had suffered). But what was she really saying? I believe she never saw “Godly sorrow.”

But I wonder, would she have recognized Godly sorrow in his behavior? If actions are the reflection of authentic regret, it’s important to know which actions would speak that truth. What does repentance look like after someone has hurt you?

Read Full Post »

Matthew 7:7
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

Which door will I choose if these three are before me:

  1. Behind door number one are all the experiences that God has for me today. Some may be wonderful but some may be difficult. There will be both sorrow and joy.
  2. Behind door number two will be only the experiences that I want to devise. I can have total control over them. I would know before I opened the door what to expect.
  3. Behind door number three would be the experiences that someone else would select for me. I could choose the person who would pick them out for me. I could probably guess what would be there based on the person who I select to design my day.

We all know what the answer should be. If only we could trust God with our lives each day. Sometimes, I trust God enough to open door number one, but then, when I peek inside, I slam it shut.

Today, I have a follow-up appointment for my teenaged daughter who, apparently, has inflammation of the spine (rheumatoid arthritis). Today, we will hear what her prognosis and treatment plan will be. As much as I would like this part of the day to be behind door number two or even three, I must open door number one in faith. Give me the grace I need. Give her some too.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: