Thursday, February 2, 2017
Today I come to my computer simply to process.
Since the beginning of the year, I've been wondering why I blog. Why do I come back, again and again, to write where so few stop in to read? Why don't I take a blogging course and seek an audience? Or, if not that, why don't I pull myself off the internet and write in privacy?
I have no answers.
This past weekend, I cried a lot.
The weather has been gray, for one thing. I've thought, more than once, "This isn't even any better than Syracuse." But it isn't just the weather. It's a weariness in the battle for faith, gratitude, hope, joy and the salvation of souls I love more than life itself.
In the past couple of weeks, a young man, 18 years old, committed suicide. His brother found his body. This forces me to confront my deepest fears. It knocks the breath from my lungs. The gray sky looks grayer.
In the past couple of weeks, a young woman who was trying to conceive did conceive. Then she miscarried.
Does it ever seem like people are just dying left and right?
When it's cloudy, it often feels like God has turned his face away. I know this is not true. It's just a feeling. We can't trust feelings.
We are trying a new church. It has been a conflicted process. We loved our old church, but it was so small, so very small. I felt lonely there, useless. There were no children. It was easy; no responsibility, minimal disagreements. But oh how lonely it was. I've lived here for over three years now. I want some roots. I want to feel like I belong somewhere. I want to matter to someone.
This is all about feelings. Am I ruled by my feelings? I try so hard to be be good and base my actions and decisions on truth, not feelings. And yet, feelings are here, all around me. What am I supposed to do with them? How do I determine which feelings are from God and which are from the enemy? Sometimes I can tell, but often I cannot.
I have no answers.
Last Sunday, for the first time, we attended Sunday school at this new church. The class was about Job. Eight or nine years ago, I taught a class on Job. It was excruciating, not something I wanted to do. The process scared me. The topic scared me. Yet, by the grace of God I grappled with that book, and I learned. By the grace of God, we all learned. The intensity of the experience has never left me. So, when Shawn and I appeared in this Sunday school class about Job, for the very first time, to my horror, I found myself answering question after question that the teacher asked. I was mortified.
Dear God please help me learn to keep my mouth shut.
I have no answers.
Between the embarrassment of Sunday school, the grief of the suicide and the miscarriage, the weariness of seemingly unanswered prayers, and the grayness of the skies, I spent the remainder of Sunday sobbing on my family room sofa.
But Monday surprised me by being a very good day, filled with laughter, sunshine and precious family time. Dear Lord Jesus, how does it all work?
Today is also sunny, bitter cold but blue-skied. Today I finished a prayer journal. By finished, I mean all the pages are full of writing. This is a sadness to me, because I had hoped that the matter of prayer for which I began that journal would be resolved by now, over two years later. It is not. Admittedly, I had a premonition that this matter of prayer would require more than one journal. I wondered how many journals it would take. Two? Twenty? As I neared the end of this journal, I wrote less and less, hoping that I would not have to carry this matter into another volume.
It reminds me of our nightmare kitchen saga. When that began, the contractor said it would take 4-6 weeks to remodel our kitchen. To make a long story short, it took over four months, over 16 weeks. During that time, I measured the progress against the tablets I use to disinfect the retainer I wear at night to keep my teeth straight. Every morning, I pop the retainer into a container with 1/2 a fizzing tablet to disinfect and clean it. These tablets come in sheets, and you tear off the edges of the packets to get them out. Each time I got a new sheet of dental tablets out of the linen closet, I would think, "Maybe the kitchen will be done by the time this sheet of tablets is gone." Time after time, it did not happen. Eventually, it did. Oddly, I have no memory of where I was in the sheet of tablets on the day we gave the contractor his final check and he went away.
A nagging fear plagues me, that I will start notebook after notebook, and fill them up with prayers, and there will be tedious weariness and discouragement before anything happens. I could die before anything happens. Somebody told me that. I think the person meant to encourage me with the thought that there is still hope, even after my life is over. That is, surely, a point of hope. But I want to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13). I suppose the truly living ones are those who are raised to new life in Christ, and their land is heaven.
I want resolution, restoration, joy.
Joy does not depend on restoration. Joy is joy, with or without restoration. Joy is confidence that God is good. God is in control. God has good plans for me, and he will bring them to completion, according to his almighty power. Joy is being full of gratitude that God is faithful and good, and I do not need to worry about outcomes, because he is on my side, for me, fighting for me, and he is invincible. There will never be an outcome that is outside of God's control and God's purpose.
I will not give up. I will not stop trusting. I will not cease to give thanks to the Lord for who he is and what he has accomplished through Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection. These are two immutable facts: the existence of God with all of his attributes, and the victory of Christ, accomplished once for all.
Dear Lord Jesus, please tell the devil that I am your baby girl, and he needs to get his dirty hands out of my life. Dear Lord Jesus, thank you that you have already paid the price so I can be yours. Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for today's sunshine.
I will start another notebook.