Tuesday, March 25, 2014

straining for Spring

The snow that fell overnight is disappearing quickly in the spring sunshine. Great icy gray and black mounds, leftovers from the past umpteen storms, gradually vanish, leaving messy debris in their place. We’re emerging from the coldest winter in Chicago history (i.e., the most days with sub-zero temperatures on record), as well as the 2nd or 3rd greatest snowfall on record for this area. Like the climate, the spiritual and emotional toll of this past year has broken personal records. I feel like a bear emerging from her den after a long winter, groggy and blinking back the brightness. I long to re-engage “life as normal” but my brain is still in slow motion. A chill still hangs in the air, and I don’t quite dare believe that this endless winter is over.

Spring does not come by straining, and joy is not restored by trying harder. Nothing I do can guarantee that this was the last snow of the season or that the bulbs hidden underground will bloom again. I must simply wait and receive what is given. The Lord of the Seasons promises spring will come eventually. For now, more tiny snowflakes drift earthward, and I wait. Even here—in this prolonged winter—he is with me.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

when words flee

Here I sit, on the other side of a Great Disappointment. It knocked the wind out of me. For weeks I have been trying to find words, but they have evaded me.

As a verbal processor, I think best out loud, or at least on page. The act of writing liberates captive thoughts, gives them shape, gives me wings. I write to survive. But in this new valley I lack the courage to speak, and therefore to think. I walk alone with Jesus in the mind-numbing stillness of loss. I wake to it, sorry that night has ended. I fall asleep to it, wishing it were not so. I wonder -- what now? -- not sure I dare to hope.

And I wait.

And I listen.

In my wordless waiting, others speak. I have not met them, but their songs fill my languid hours with prayers, articulating what I cannot.

I am trying to understand 
how to walk this weary land. 
Make straight the paths that crooked lie 
O Lord, before these feet of mine. 
When my world is shaking, 
heaven stands. 
When my heart is breaking, 
I never leave your hands.*

I'm not who I was when I took my first step
And I'm clinging to the promise you're not through with me yet
So if all of these trials bring me closer to you
Then I will go through fire if you want me to**

I still believe in your faithfulness ...
Even when I don't see, I still believe ...
In brokenness I can see that this was your will for me***

You make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of the dust.****

In their voices I hear traces of suffering, and I realize that I am not alone. God will redeem this loss. Brokenness deepens rather than disqualifies us, especially when we share our journey with others. The refreshing honesty of these songs and many others calls to me.

And so I write.

* JJ Heller
**Ginny Owens
***Jeremy Camp
****Michael and Lisa Gungor