My fingers have been still for the past few weeks as I have been so raw and broken I felt it best to let words fall silent. Life is one big sucker punch to the gut sometimes. The thing about a “sucker punch” is that by definition it comes when you’re not looking. When you absolutely don’t expect it.
I have been vulnerable with you before. My promise to each of you is that I will always be real but tonight I am inviting you in further. I’m asking you to meet me in the dark, shadowy corner in which I am currently residing. At this moment I am stuck somewhere between “your praise will ever be on my lips” and “I’m still alive but I’m barely breathing. Just prayed to a God that I don’t believe in.” Have we all been there? My guess is, probably. Should I say that I have full faith and that “it is well with me?” Probably. That’s what a “good” Christian would do but I’m not sure it’s what a “real” Christian would do. It’s probably what a pastor’s wife should do but I am more compelled now than ever before that truth telling is vital. And this, my friends is the corner I am sitting in. It’s not a corner overflowing with faith or hope. It’s a corner filled with doubt and confusion. The dusk I am shrouded in has left shadowy figures dancing all around me that are telling me all kinds of things that cause me to doubt what I have determined for so long to hold close. It has caused me to doubt the goodness of my God.
I have felt comfort in the words of J.I. Packer as I often do, “Did you ever wonder why you still believe…after all you’ve been through, after all your facing, after you’ve failed at temptation, after all the heartache and disappointment? You are not strong enough to fall away, while God is resolved to hold you.” His resolve is bigger than my dark corner. Praise be to him that while so many things feel like falling, falling away from his hand is not something I’m strong enough to do. For that I am exceedingly thankful.
As has been the case lately, I have fallen into a deep, sad sleep with tear streaked cheeks wondering what it would be like to wake up on the other side of this life; to finally be home because only “home” seems to be the place where the muck and the junk will make sense. But my Kingdom home isn’t where I am right now. Last night after I had, once again, cried myself to sleep, my husband sent me a text. I was too numb to digest his words for a while. But the more I have read them the more they have washed over me. He took the following quote from C.S. Lewis’ The Magicians Nephew:
“Up till then Digory had been looking at the Lion’s great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself. ‘My son, my son,’ said Aslan. ‘I know. Grief is great.”
Then he said, “Like Digory, I’ve been looking at God’s claws wondering why they haven’t been defending us like we think they should. And it is only now in my despair, as I lay here next to you watching you sleep with tears running down my face, that I looked up at the face of God and saw the tears in his eyes too. And those tears are more powerful, more fierce, and more protective than his claws ever need be. I had not until this moment considered our circumstances to cause Him more pain than it has us, but as you are teaching me, He IS fierce and emotional and raw. He cares for us and will take care of us. I believe that… no, I FEEL that more now than I ever have in my life. Right now, is a time to be angry, sad, and anxious. But as we experience those things know that we are wrapped up in Aslan’s mane with his bright tears washing over us. Grief is great, but He is so much greater! I love you”
Grief is great! There is no doubt about it but God’s greatness will shine through, even in my dark corners. Right now I can’t stand, but that’s ok because I can fall on him. Right now I don’t understand, but he does. Right now, I don’t fully trust him, but he’s bigger than that and his plan is already finalized. The final say is already spoken. My heart hurts like it has rarely hurt before and for reasons that just seem to be about everything but God’s glory. I’m too weak for the battle right now, but he’s not. I am benched for the time being but he isn’t. His grace is sufficient even when my faith isn’t. Jesus loves me, this I know and that’s all I know in this moment. He’s showing me his love through his sweet body around us and on this year at Thanksgiving time, this is something that I am indescribably thankful for. God didn’t say be thankful for all things, he said be thankful in all things and inside one of the most raw moments of my life, his body and my family, sustains my thankfulness.