Almost a month ago we (Woodmen) hosted the Leadership Summit at our church. It was an intense two days filled with amazing words, inspiring ideas, and talented individuals. It was such a honor to sit and listen to the stories and passions of so many unique personalities. Various people caught my attention in various ways, but there was one person that has long resonated with me. Jeff Manion of Ada Bible Church in Grand Rapids gave a sermon called “The Land Between.” He spoke on the period where the Israelites were no longer in slavery but they were not yet in the promised land. They were in the land between. The teaching was powerful for me and I remember looking at my friend Stephanie with tears in my eyes. It took me awhile to process through much of that. The tag line of the teaching (and what I later found out was also a book) is Finding God in Difficult Transitions. What a way to sum up the last two years of my life. One of the most interesting parts of the book is looking at the difference between the way Moses threw up his hands and pretty much gave up being the leader of the Israelites and the way the Israelites threw up their hands and told the Lord they were better off without Him. Moses chose to turn TO God and confess that he couldn’t do it anymore. He was done. The Israelites said they were better off in slavery – essentially committing what Manion calls “cosmic treason.” The other night I woke up suddenly from a terrible dream and encountered a full on panic attack. I tried reading Scripture on anxiety and worry but this oppression would not be tempered. In frustration I stomped out of bed and started cleaning my room – anything to distract my exhausted and anxious brain. Meanwhile, tears started streaming down my face. I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t stop weeping. The gut sobs. The ones that were so loud I thought I was going to wake up my entire house. I felt so alone, so empty, so abandoned. Quickly after I began weeping, I desperately reached for the book to try and once again distract myself. Instead what ended up happening was a full on confession between the Lord and I. I don’t know if He woke me up because He needed to get my attention, but it sure worked. Once again Manion’s words rang true to my torn spirit. “We live a life of troubled anxiety when we forget that God is the God who sees, the God who knows, the God who cares. Our Father loves to provide. Providing is what He does. He sees our most intimate needs. He knows our hearts. Knows our suffering… They had known of God’s faithfulness is theory, but now they would be called upon to know through experience.” Holy. Crap. Not only did I need to be reminded of that but I needed to be reminded of that exactly in that anxious moment. I have known of the faithfulness of God since I was a little girl but now, now for the first time, I am walking through the fire of His faithfulness. I know I’ve alluded to this many times and I’m sorry I’ve always been so vague, but once again, I have been faced with two more situations that call to mind a deep wound. It’s so ironic to me how the Lord uses identical situations with different names. The most recent and painful wound has literally been called up to the day. The people are a little different but I feel the same. The Lord asked me the other night as I was walking through some of this, what would it look like if I really believed He was good and that His good is better than mine – regardless of the outcome? For me the scary part is not facing the wound, not facing the demons and walking through the situation again. The scary part is that last time it almost destroyed me. Literally. I ended up back in my parent’s house, unemployed, and heart broken. The scary part is that even if He brings me back into the situation to face it again, there is no guarantee the outcome will be any different. He has made no promise that this time my heart won’t shatter into a thousand pieces. My only promise is to trust that He is good and won’t give me anything beyond what I can bear. I didn’t think I could bear it last time but this time? Surely this time I would lose myself, I would recoil so far into my spirit I don’t know that I would ever come out.
But then, there’s that question again. That sweet, strong voice that asks – Do you believe I am good?
I want to have the right answer. I want to say with unwavering confidence that yes, even if my world implodes and I’m right back where I was so many tear filled days ago, you are still good. Yes, let’s face this – head on, let’s beat it!
But honestly, I don’t know that I could say that.
I fear that I’m so breakable and so quick to denounce Him that I’m not worth fighting for. And yet the most amazing, mind blowing thing about of this is that He still thinks I am. I’m amazed at the way He loves.
How long, Oh Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? …
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
for He has been good to me.
psalm 13: 1-2, 5-6.