" Six months ago, when you and I first met, I knew everything about myself -- what I would be doing for the rest of my life and even the person I would be doing it with. Now I know nothing."
- Kathleen Kelly in You've Got Mail
Going to the Mattresses, Part 2
(To read Part 1 of this story, click here.)
Ann's book is a God-send, welcome anchor in wintry storm. I read Chapter One quiet, let peace-waves wash gentle, smooth the fret, silence fear. I weep weeks worth of wrestle, feel hot release as stubborn questions ebb wet across my cheeks. Like Ann, I breathe. Let go.
Another breath. His voice: Be still and know I am God.
I look up Scripture, read familiar words. Be still. Rapha. In Hebrew it means: to be weak, to let go, to release...to surrender, even to the point of dying. Dying?
That I may know...God.
Isn't this what my famished soul has been crying, dying for? To know God?
He comes in ways I didn't expect. Hiding. Surrounding Himself with hardship, suffering, loss. Avoiding my questions, brushing them off. When the storm winds batter my skin harsh, and waters rush turbulent with unrest, He bathes my soul-ache with silent neglect.
I reel. I wrestle. I flail hopeless to survive. I don't see God, but one who wishes to do me harm. I fight. I beat the waves and feel my heart break at His lack of care. His lack of love?
In all this roar Spirit whispers soft in relentless question: Who shall separate from the love of God?
Ann writes, "All God makes is good. Can it be that, that which seems to oppose the will of God actually is used of Him to accomplish the will of God? That which seems evil only seems so because of perspective, the way the eyes see the shadows. Above the clouds, the light never stops shining." (p. 88)
I think of Christ on the cross, the ultimate evil -- killing God.
Jesus told his disciples they weren't worthy of Him unless they denied themselves, carried their own cross, followed. Jesus, The Way, Truth, Life. Jesus, I am not worthy--my heart leaks ugly. I am afraid to die. I hate being weak. I run from pain. I can't see to follow.
Ann again, "The ugly can be beautiful. The dark can give birth to life; suffering can deliver grace." (p. 99)
I chew God-words from Jesus, from Ann, from friends who post prayers and prophecy here, and light bursts. I have been fighting, not the enemy, but Sovereign-Strong himself. I have been beating fists, "going to the mattresses," spending all my strength for the right to hold on to me.
But I don't belong to me. I have been purchased with a price, the cost, treasure beyond what I can imagine. I am His, the One who gave His life, and the One who ordained these breakers to batter body and soul.
Can it be that God is in the whirlwind heights and depths that swirl sinister around me?
I let go. I yield control and my need to know why. I rest in the shadow. I come face to face with the saving power of I AM, the all-sufficient, all-glorious, Almighty One. In the dark, I give thanks and taste joy like sea-spray, salt upon my lips.
Surprise. When I admit my weak, offer it up to Sovereign, the One I seek desperate, when I cease flailing in cold waters' rage, I discover I cannot sink. Watery walls continue to slam and break, but I am no longer mesmerized by oily shimmer. I face them square, look deep into their depths and see God. In the dark, I breathe. Float. Soak light.
Ann's words draw my gaze to One who stands alone, majestic on rocky beach, all brave and beauty, shining grace on little ships like me, teetering on the brink, feeling lost at sea.
Maybe there is no making sense of all the world's madness. Maybe I don't need to understand. Maybe it's not for me to reason why. I admit. I can't.
But in the madness, I will drink joy. I will feast at a table full of bread. I will know God. My cup runs over.
Like Job, like Ann, like many friends, I find rest in this one truth, the one the serpent dares to twist with doubt and use to lure storm-tossed seekers to their deaths.
Yah is good. There is no doubt. Job saw with spirit-eyes and lived, blessed double for yielding and being willing to forgive.
There are always treasures to be found in dark swirl of ocean depths, in pain, suffering, death. Our God who blazes beauty, promises to work all things for our good.
And with Beauty in the eye of the beholder, we can't help but find reasons to praise. When my eye is healthy, my whole body is filled with light. I can seek and see beauty in the midst of ugly because God is always good. He is beauty, hidden at times, but always there.
Nothing. No hardship or trouble or persecution, no famine or nakedness or danger or sword, no power or angel or demon. Neither life nor death, nor height nor depth, nor anything created can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:31-39)
Our present suffering is not worthy of the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18) We are only worthy in Christ. He shines from dark places, gives birth to light.
Joy comes in the morning, after we have laid ourselves down for rest, when we have knelt on knees in thanks, and given praise to know His strength made strong by weak surrender.
I get still. I give thanks. I praise His holy name.
I will wait. Because He promises. Healing comes like the rain.
~ 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.”
I am sharing this post with Bonnie @ Faith Barista in answer to her prompt, "Is joy easy or hard for you?" Come read what other friends have shared.
Quotes taken from One Thousand Gifts , Copyright 2010 by Ann Morton Voskamp
Photo Courtesy: flickr - Kelsey @ lovefusionphoto