Lenten Reflections: Letting Go of Avoidance and Choosing to Engage

Uncertainty is quite revealing. The unknown triggers different reactions in different hearts and exposes our souls’ defaults. Ambiguity reveals where we instinctively go to feel the illusion of security again.

Alicia Britt Chole

Wow! Can I identify with this!

One of the things I’ve learned in this life I didn’t choose is that the earthquake of child loss revealed all the weak spots in my character and my faith.

When faced with uncertainty and lack of control, I desperately want to bring order to my wildly disordered world.

But faith (real faith) requires I be willing to embrace mystery.

I have got to face the FACT that I do not understand everything God is doing or allowing. I can’t pretend it’s not happening.

I can’t ignore the discomfort the unknown births in my soul.

Avoidance is never a long-term solution in any relationship-not my relationship with the Lord or my relationship with others.

Today, pay attention to avoidance mechanisms that surface when you face the unknown, unknowable, uncomfortable, or unavoidable…Ask God’s Holy Spirit to sensitize you today to the existence of avoidance defaults in your life. Prayerfully consider what beliefs might underlie any avoidance that emerges when you are facing uncertainty.

Alicia Britt Chole

**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience.**

Lenten Reflections: Embracing Mystery-I Don’t Have to Understand Everything

There have always been those who tried to reduce faith to something completely comprehensible.

But even a cursory reading of God’s Word and a casual experience with His ways makes that laughable.

When Jesus began teaching His disciples more and more about the Kingdom of God and His role as Christ, they were confused and dismayed. When I read His words they are still challenging and sometimes obscure even though I live on the other side of the resurrection.

Not everything can be explained.

When I insist on living life fully within the edges of rational thought, I not only miss out on many wonderful and inexplicable experiences, I also reduce my relationship with Jesus to rules.

If I am to fully embrace and inhabit the Kingdom life He has for me, I must be willing to embrace and inhabit the mysterious space between what I can know and understand and what I must trust I will one day know and understand (perhaps not until eternity!).

Thankfully, human reasoning neither leads nor limits God’s love. Consider passages in Scripture in which God’s words escape your understanding. What would it be like if God withheld His voice until humankind could fully comprehend it?

Alicia Britt Chole

Today’s fast is rationalism-letting go of a need to understand the mysterious, to insist on circumscribing God’s work in the world by human understanding and dismissing anything I can’t comprehend as immaterial or inconsequential.

How have you limited God’s love and work in your life by clinging to rationalism?

How can you let go and “let God”?

Take ten minutes to sit quietly with the Lord and allow Him to fill you with His Presence without demanding explanations.

Rest in Who He is and let His love overwhelm your heart.

**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience.**

A Modern Lament: A Reason Can’t Wipe Away Tears

I have lots and lots of questions.

And I don’t think ignoring them or shoving them in a chest and sitting on the lid is helpful.

But I’m far enough along in this journey to admit that if I let my heart and mind focus on the questions I’ll drown in sorrow and despair.

Read the rest here: A Reason Can’t Wipe Away Tears: A Modern Lament

Living Between What I Know and What I Can’t Comprehend

It’s easy to imagine when sitting in a safe place surrounded by other believers that if tragedy should visit my home, my faith would remain rock solid and unshakeable.

After all, I stuffed my head and heart with truth, kept a prayer journal, wrote out Scriptures and jotted notes and dates in the margin of my Bible.

I put on the full Armor of God and raised my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Our family didn’t just attend church, we served the Body of Christ inside and outside the four walls of the building.

But when the knock came and the words from the deputy flew at me and pierced my heart, I unraveled.

Not at first, mind you.

Oh, I screamed and couldn’t catch my breath. I fell to my knees and barely made it to the sofa where I had to make phone calls. I was shaking and crying.

Still, a blessed numbness fell over me and my first Facebook posts and my first words to friends and family affirmed my belief that God was still in control and we would somehow make it through. It was reflex to lean in and take hold of the faith that had carried me that far.

I clung to the only life raft I could see in that awful storm.

It really wasn’t until a few weeks later, when my heart and mind began to fully comprehend the neverness of Dom’s return that the questions started.

I soon realized that if my faith was to endure, I had to examine everything I thought I knew about God and how He worked in the world in light of child loss.

Platitudes and hand-me-down interpretations of Scripture were not going to be enough.

So I brought the questions to God Himself in prayer and pleading, in whispers, shouts and writing. I sat silent waiting for His response and I searched the pages of my Bible looking for new insight into old, familiar passages.

I got some answers.

But not all of them.

And I had to decide what to do with that.

My heart is utterly, absolutely convinced that God is a good God, a faithful Father and the trustworthy Savior of my soul. He is all-knowing, all-powerful and ever-present. He knows the end from the beginning and I can trust Him to work all things (even child loss) for good.

So I’ve learned to still my spirit, to quiet my heart’s restless quest for answers and abide in the arms of my Shepherd.

I will live in the mysterious space between what I know and what I can’t comprehend.

I will wait patiently for the answers or until eternity when my pain is redeemed and what is lost restored and the answers won’t matter.

Because they who wait on the Lord will never be put to shame.

A Reason Can’t Wipe Away Tears: A Modern Lament

If it’s random or providence neither are a comfort to me

Are You cruel if You planned it or weak if You allowed it to be?

Half of me is still believin’, the other half is angry and confused

Oh, but all of me is desperate and longing to be held by You

Jason Gray, “Remind Me You’re Here”

I have lots and lots of questions.

And I don’t think ignoring them or shoving them in a chest and sitting on the lid is helpful.

But I’m far enough along in this journey to admit that if I let my heart and mind focus on the questions I’ll drown in sorrow and despair.

Because whatever reason I might come up with or answer I might get from God will never feel like it’s enough to wipe away the tears and satisfy my mama heart.

So I’m learning to live with mystery.

None of my pain has ever caught You by surprise

Still it’s hard to trust You when I’m lost in the wondering why

But I’ll trade every question just to lay down and rest in Your heart

And I’ll reach for Your hand, though You led me here into the dark

Jason Gray, “Remind Me You’re Here”

I love this new song by Jason Gray.

“Remind Me You’re Here” is a beautiful and honest lament before the Lord.

And like all good laments, it ends with asserting the truth about our faithful Father, His everlasting love, and the promise that I am never, ever alone.

So I won’t ask You for reasons

‘Cause a reason can’t wipe away tears

No, I don’t need all the answers

Just be here beside me

Father, remind me You’re here

Jason Gray, “Remind Me You’re Here”
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