For weeks I have been doing what Joe advised Kathleen in You've Got Mail (one of the few movies I can watch over and over and still catch my breath in the end when love comes walking up over that hill with Brinkley barking ahead.) In a war for what's right, Super-book store-owner Joe tells little-shopkeeper Kathleen to "go to the mattresses," to be brave and "Fight. Fight to the death."
In my quiet, I have been fighting a war with God.
History and Scripture are crammed with stories of normal people like you and me who wrestled with The Almighty, who battled in words and dreams, daring to push beyond the limits of human understanding and rend the veil of Divine Mystery, hoping to catch a glimpse God in His beauty. Hoping to make some sense of earth's ugly.
These, the brave and bold and hungry, all desperate for The Holy, all coming away limping, broken and marked forever in their weakness, these are my heroes.
I think of Moses and Jacob and Joseph. Deborah and David and Gideon. Hannah and Samuel and Joshua. All the prophets--Isaiah, my favorite. I have romanticized them, wanting what they gained without counting the cost.
I think of John in the New Testament and Job centuries before. I read his story. I weep his pain and devestation. I ask his questions, agree with his reasoning, the unfairness of it all. Why would a good God give Satan permission to steal, kill, destroy?
Why does He allow it today?
Why the death, the poverty, the suffering? Why the global unrest and economic collapse? Why the abusing and losing of loved ones, children and parents and friends, to disease and murder and suicide?
Why did Jesus have to die, naked and despised on a cross? Why God? Why?
I struggle with my own cross--the assaults against my living, breathing, needing to taste joy. The battering and bruising of my friends and family, all things good. I waste away in hunger, longing for God to come near, desperate to see any evidence of His beauty, His love, His salvation. I cry out for ears to hear a word, for eyes to see His glory, for a heart to catch a spark of understanding, for some sense of knowing my place in this world, some sense of significance as His child.
I wrestle for peace in the midst of storm.
But Peace eludes me. Instead, I reel. I wobble. I sway and sink beneath dark waters of pain and silence and the worst sense of nothingness I have ever known. I struggle to hold on, to not lose sight of the hope-glimmer, to keep reaching and believing He will come. But I am weak. I am dust. I am seconds from giving up, from drifting away and disappearing into the depths of a sea of forget. Am I dying?
God, why won't you save me?
I am like Job. It makes no sense to me. Is God not good? Are serpent whispers true after all? All the pain. All the ugly. God can't be here. He is beauty. He is light. He is life full to brim and spilling all grace.
I reject the dark depths that come to swallow joy and steal my breath. I fight hard against the drowning. I am determined. I WILL survive. Jesus loves me, this I know. Jesus, the One who calls me friend, little child, beloved. He will rescue. He will save.
I get a package in the mail, the one I have been watching for since before Christmas. I ordered it months ago, eager to drink from its pages. Ann's book--I will read it today. I have plenty of time. My family is used to coming home and finding me still in my pajamas. Still hurting.
I hold it reverent, this gift with my name and address printed across the label, unearth it from the corrugated brown and smile at the cover, two blue eggs in a bird's nest, turn it over and read the back, hushed. I know I am touching holy. God comes in waves we can't explain.
To be continued...
(To read Part 2, click here.)
~ Zecheriah 2:13 (NIV)
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
~ Psalm 37:7 (NIV)
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
~ Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
Be still before the LORD, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.”
The photo I used above by Kelsey, You are Good, reminds me of the simple prayer I prayed over meals as a child and with my own children. God is Good. We must proclaim it! If we don't, the rocks will cry out.
Today I join Ann Voskamp and the community of gratitude-givers in continuing my list of appreciation for God-graces. (Click on the button below to read other lists of gratitude.)
God is good. God is great. Let us thank Him for...
181. Ann's book--fresh manna
182. Friends that love and pray
183. God's healing--spirit, soul and body
184. God's deliverance--my mom pulled safely from her crumpled Jeep
185. Husbands who cook breakfast
186. Beautiful brown farm eggs, sunny-side up
187. The farmer's wife who shares her heart
188. Daughters-- flowers blooming
189. New eyes to see
190. Sun shining all glitter on snow
191. Hope sparks like the fire in the hearth
192. Overripe bananas and the bread they become
193. A call from one giving thanks
195. Grace to change yet again
195. Grace to be me
197. Storms that rage
199. God's plans
200. This isn't the end of the story
I am sharing this post as part one of two with Bonnie @ Faith Barista in answer to her prompt, "Is joy easy or hard for you?" Come read what friends have shared.
And with Jen @ Soli Deo Gloria. You are invited to join us as we spill grace and give God the glory.
I am also linking with L.L. Barkat and other ready writers who share their stories of place at Seedlings in Stone. Please join us!
Click to read more about my Journey of Gratitude.
Photo Courtesy: flickr - Kelsey @ lovefusionphoto