Choosing Brokenness

From the world’s perspective there are only two potential responses to trials-better or bitter.

I can either use the struggle to strengthen my resolve to take charge of my life or I can give up and give in, wallowing in self pity.  

If I embrace popular culture as my guide, the best outcome I can hope for is that I grow as a result of sorrow, pain, conflict, tragedy and hardship.

But Scripture tells me that there is a third option:  I can choose brokenness.  

I can choose to submit my heart and my life to God and His purpose.  

I can lie prostrate, unprotected, impotent and trust that the One Who made me will ultimately remake these shattered pieces of what’s left of my life into a masterpiece, declaring His faithfulness and goodness.

“But enduring deep pain and unchangeable circumstances requires continued commitment to face the fork in the road over and over, and to choose well each time.”

It is A Daily Struggle

 

Waiting on Sunrise

I realize that some people reading this can’t imagine a scenario where Google Maps won’t guide them to the nearest Starbucks.

But I’m old enough to remember when paper maps were all we had, cell phones were science fiction and Interstate exit signs didn’t include helpful footnotes to tell you what restaurants and gas stations were just beyond the tree line.

Even further back in time, people traveled with only the sun and stars to mark their progress.

The rising sun was a sure and faithful witness to which way was east.

Every morning a wise traveller took note of where they had been and made sure that they were headed in the right direction to get where they wanted to go.

Grief often feels like I’ve been picked up by a whirlwind and deposited in a country with no familiar landmarks and all the signposts are in another language.

If I try to depend on my own sense of direction, I’m condemned to walk in circles, wind up lost and never find my bearings.  I will not be able to point myself toward home.  .

For my hurting heart, God’s Word is my morning sun.

I orient my thoughts to His truth and walk on, even when I’m unsure of the road, because I can trust His promises.

Each day, I shake off slumber, open my eyes and look for the infallible Guide that can lead me in the right direction.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and with hope I wait for his word.
     My soul waits for the Lord
    more than those who watch for the morning,
    more than those who watch for the morning.

Psalm 130:5-6 GW

 

 

 

Still Wrestling

If you’re looking on from the outside you might well think that I’ve laid most of my questions to rest; that I’m no longer wrestling with trying to comprehend both the sovereignty of God and the goodness of God;  and that I’ve figured out how to reconcile verses that seem to promise protection for those that love the Lord and the reality of death and destruction of some of the very same people.

But you would be wrong.

I do experience the peace that passes all understanding.  I do rely on Jesus to be the Arbiter of Truth and the Umpire of my questions:

Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always].

Colossians 3:15 AMP

.I am trusting fully in the ultimate redemption of my pain.

Yet there are moments when I am overwhelmed by the “whys”. Thankfully they don’t come as often as they used to.

Still, I refuse to pretend that I have it all figured out.  Five months later I continue to identify with what I wrote here:  Wrestling With God

 

When it Doesn’t Feel Like Grace

It’s been said that everything this side of hell is the grace of God.

But burying my child doesn’t feel like grace, it feels like punishment.

Or abandonment.

Or forgetfulness.

I cannot add my voice to the modern Christian chorus of “Everything happens for a reason”.

Is this my tree, set in the midst of my garden?  The one about which God says, “Trust Me”?

I am tempted to argue, tempted to try to frame the meaning of my test in terms my human heart can understand.

“God must not love me.”

“He must be hiding something.”

I am faced with the same question that mocked my first mother, “Did God really say?”

And, like Eve, I am tempted to give in to the fear that draws my soul to doubt the wisdom and goodness of God.

Why would He bring me to this place where I am forced to walk obediently in trust and without light?

But these are whispers of the enemy of my soul, luring me away from the only Source of hope and comfort that there is.

And he is skilled at turning my feelings against the truth.

I am powerless to fight the serpent in my own strength, too weak to answer what seem like reasonable questions.

So I throw myself on the mercy of Him Who made me, of Him Who brought me to this point of testing.

In my weakness I rest in His strength.

and finally He said to me, “My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness.” So ask me about my thorn, inquire about my weaknesses, and I will gladly go on and on—I would rather stake my claim in these and have the power of the Anointed One at home within me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 VOICE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oaks of Righteousness

We love to see majestic oaks and drink in the beauty of the curving branches and sit beneath the shade of their spreading canopy.  It takes decades for these mighty trees to grow large enough to command attention.  Harsh weather forms the branches into lovely shapes pleasing to the eye.

They stand as a testimony to endurance and strength.

Thirteen years before Dominic’s accident and death, God gave me this scripture when naming our farm-Isaiah 61:1-3:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

At the time, I focused on the glorious picture of finished oaks of righteousness.

In these months after our son’s death, I have begun to understand that the path to displaying the splendor of the faithfulness and father-heart of God is one of mourning, ashes and despair.  Unless I am willing to die to my idea of what life should be and what God should do, I can’t be transformed into the fruit-bearing vessel of grace He intends me to be.

It isn’t easy.  I’m still working to embrace this every day-I continue to rail against the fact that this is my life-but grace is seeping into the broken places.

I trust that God will continue to sustain me by His unfailing love and that one day I will be able to stand as a testimony to faithful endurance and the power of His strength.

A Single Candle

 

Death is surrounded by ritual and sharing.

Friends pour in and bring food, church members call and drop by, cards arrive in the mail to express sympathy and solidarity.  We compose and publish an obituary.  We choose the songs for a funeral.  We stand and greet the mourners who file by the casket, shaking hands and heads and sharing stories and sorrows.  Together we lower the casket and eat a meal.

So much activity.

So many people.

But then you go home.  To the empty room.  To the empty heart.

Funerals are public, but grief is solitary.

The comfort offered by others sheds light on my path, but in the darkness of night it’s only the light of a single candle that helps me find the way toward sunrise.

When Jesus prayed in the Garden, He asked His disciples to keep watch with Him but hey fell asleep.  He struggled alone to embrace and accept the will of His Father.

I think often of His pain and find it easy to understand that He sweat blood.  

The light that gave Him courage to face the grim task before Him was the promise of the unfailing love of the Father and the trustworthy character of His God.

It was the only hope for victory out of seeming defeat.

Sometimes I struggle to find courage to face the task of grieving my son for a lifetime.  I cling to the promise of God’s unfailing love.  I trust that He will redeem and bring victory.

This is the Light I cling to in the inky black of sleepless nights:

“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more, neither shall there be anguish (sorrow and mourning) nor grief nor pain any more, for the old conditions and the former order of things have passed away.”  ~ Revelation 21:4