He Who Sustains

There’s this screaming chasm within me. The size of it and volume of it depends on the day, the conversation, the circumstance. But it’s there, as part of me as my lungs or kidneys.

It’s not the day itself that’s hard. I can allow myself to cry and feel sad and find comfort in scripture and then tuck myself into bed. It’s when the day becomes days. It’s when all I see before me is reason to weep and ache for a Father who I can’t really feel.

And maybe that ache is a gift. I pray it is. How could I ever credit myself with a hunger for the Lord? It has to be Him in me, working and moving and taking my hand and leading me deeper.

Helping me to know and love Him more.

Who am I? Beloved, sure. But nothing more than a speck in this world- composed of the breath of God. I am not a mystery to Him, this God who spoke light into existence and calls Himself Love.

This screaming chasm scares me. But it doesn’t scare Him.

In between the screaming is the whisper: “Is it worth it? What’s the point?”

But the Fearless One also whispers.

And I have the power to choose what whisper I listen to. Because there’s the whisper that tries to steal life from me, playing on my emotions and circumstances as if they are the truest thing. But more than what I feel or see, there is a Truth that cannot be argued with. And this voice, the voice of Truth, speaks loving, hope-filled things.

It’s like clinging to a flotation device in the ocean. At night. In a horrible storm. And I’m choking on water and fighting not to let my grasp slip. Where is my rescue boat? Where is land? How long will I be out here? I don’t know. And I feel fear gnawing at me: What if this is forever?

And so I’m holding on, fighting to maintain my grasp on the one thing that’s keeping me afloat. I refuse to give up. I refuse to let go and let fear win. Because my God doesn’t speak fear, so I know it’s not Him.

And I’m looking up- at the stars, the heavens, all held steady by His limitlessly powerful hand.

And I’m struggling to fight for truth, for life. I’m being tossed in this ocean and I don’t know when the storm will end. But above me, heaven is unmoving. The stars look back at me and blink their comforting assurance that I am seen. And I thank God that He gave me something to cling to- a way to keep my head above water.

This chasm within me screams. And only now do I recognize that scream for what it is- it screams for Him.

I don’t know how to take Him and fit Him into the holes within me- packing Him in like cotton in a wound to stop the bleeding.

“You’re more than enough!” I yell at heaven. And I demand the scream within me to accept that and grow quiet. But it doesn’t.

Because I remember.
I remember being someone’s child.
I remember falling asleep at night hearing the gentle breathing of my family, the stillness and puzzle-piece feeling. And I remember thinking, “This is how my days, no matter how bad they are, end. And it is so good.”
I remember waking up in the morning with my mom in my bed, whispering to me about the sunrise or bird songs outside my bedroom window.
I remember belonging to someone.

And so I ask God, with more than just a hint of anger, how He could take all that from me (or let it be taken) and then stand before me big but untouchable, invisible, often seemingly distant, and claim to be more than and better than anything this world could offer.

“All good things are from Me,” He whispers.

And so I look back over my list of what I had that was good that I no longer have. And I ask, where was He in all of that? Have I really lost it all in its entirety? Because if all good things are from Him, and He never changes and cannot be lost, if all good things reflect Him, then the truest essence of what we experience that is good cannot be lost- because it’s Him.

Right?

“Show me,” I pray.

And I know. I know beyond what I saw or experienced, the comfort of being someone’s child was meant to whisper to me how my Father loves me.

Feeling held safe as part of a family? That was Him too- my biological family a representation, a mere a shadow, of the spiritual family to whom I really belong. And where love is, He is. He was there among the slow and steady breathing of my sleeping siblings and parents. He was there, sustaining all of us through our sleeping hours, singing over us, protecting us. And maybe that’s what I really heard and found comfort in as a child- not the breathing of my family, but the breathing of my ever-present, trustworthy God.

And while mine is the only human head that rests on a pillow and surrenders to sleep night after night in my home, He is still there. He is there, loving me fiercely. Sustaining me. Singing over me. Protecting me. Reminding me that it is He who holds not only me, but those on whom I had so long depended. “And indeed,” He whispers as I pull the covers up to my chin at night, “I AM holding you.”

He is the reason for the sunrise, the chirping birds. He is the reason my eyes open in the morning. He was the one gifting me for so many years with waking up and having someone ask me how I slept. But I still have that, right? Not the physical presence or eyes that look at me with love, but the sunrise and birds and a brand new day each morning. And I still have Someone who cares how I slept.

The God who breathed me into life. Who holds hold the oceans in His hands. Who orchestrates the dance of the stars and planets above us.

He’s a big, big God. Way bigger than any ache or emptiness within me.

He IS more than enough.

And I don’t know how to get there- how to grasp on to a God I can’t physically hold. I don’t know how to silence the scream when I can’t bury my face against His chest. I don’t know how to let all within me grow still when it’s just–to my physical eyes–me. And the scream. And no one to hold me.

Oh, for eyes to see what’s REALLY happening and how near He REALLY is.
For faith to find comfort in the truth of His nearness, even when I can’t see it.
Even when I don’t FEEL it.

But He gave me this hunger for Him.

And He’s a good Father.

And He is near.

And I am not a mystery.

Somehow, it’s all going to connect. And when it does, I’ll praise Him for every single decision He made in my life, even when it hurt.

Because He knows what I don’t- these waves I cannot see over, they are carrying me to shore.

One Word

It’s the time of the year when everyone’s claiming a word.

And I–lover of words and growth and claiming something as mine, given to me by God Himself–have always found that to be a sort of exciting way to begin the year.

Pray.
Ask God.
Grasp tight to a word.
Keep that word in the back of your mind (or the forefront of your mind, depending on the kind of day you are having!).
Let it be the filter through which you see your life.
Let it magnify the sound of God’s voice as He speaks into your circumstances.
Watch what He does with that word.
That simple word.
Watch how it doesn’t have the same meaning at the end of the year as it did when you first claimed it.

Last year surrender seemed to be my word. I didn’t choose it, it just became the word forever repeating itself in my head.

Surrender- the resting, the trusting.

Not surrender in the sense of coming out of battle, hands raised, turning yourself over to the enemy,

but surrender as in wrapping Him like a blanket around yourself and whispering “I trust You.” Letting His holiness and love soothe and comfort and be the thing that pulls you through even the most seemingly hopeless circumstances.

Surrender can feel like giving up or losing or resigning yourself to a less positive fate. And sometimes in this broken world, that’s exactly what it means.

But not when we surrender to our loving Father who is infinitely bigger and more capable of turning “hopeless” situations around than we are.

And this year? I am thinking my word might be light.

It has been the new word in my brain lately. The significance of light coming against darkness. How God is light. Light and love and life- all somehow, magnificently the same thing in the character of our Creator.

It has been seeping into my life for a while now, this word, as evidenced by my blog posts of late.

Light. Pressing in. Gradually.

Not a sudden, dramatic: “Let there be light!”, but a gentle glow, slowly warming its way into my life. Illuminating everything.

Light. Sunbeams stretching and spilling into the darkness.

Dust particles floating in the stretches of light as they reach towards me like arms.

And I close my eyes and pray to understand in a way bigger than my consciousness how this light is the Jesus I ache for so fiercely.

 

“Then spoke Jesus again to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.'” -John 8:12 

Worth The Risk

There is a bruise under my left eye.

It hurts when I smile or touch it, and it is raised up just enough that it interferes with my view.

And I love it.

Because this bruise, the one that’s always visible to me, even when I am not before a mirror, it reminds me of a certain full-of-life little ten-year-old boy who loves me. A child I love who is comfortable enough with me and happy enough to be around me that he regularly spreads open his arms to offer me something that’s a cross between a bear hug and a tackle.

And I’ll take it- a bear hug, a tackle, and even the occasional bruise. Because of love. I love him. And he loves me. And love is bigger and bolder and brighter than any bruise. It’s worth any risk. Every. Single. Time.

Not that long ago, I found myself realizing I couldn’t remember the last time someone hugged me or touched my shoulder or rubbed my back. And as a person whose primary love language is touch, that was excruciating.

And so I started hugging. I started giving what I needed.

There are parts of my heart being mended and made whole. I can feel it happening.

I can counter everything I don’t have with this truth: I have so much more than I did this time last year.

I have people to hug me. People to call when I’m sad or happy or have a question about insurance or baking. I have people to laugh with and be myself with. People who have seen me at my worst and still say “I love you.” People to look up to and admire- people to reflect Jesus to me. And people to whom I can hopefully be a reflection of Jesus. I have people to come over when my cat dies and they know I’m sad. I have people who think of me as a daughter, a sister, an aunt.

And even though the list of what I don’t have is there, pressing in on my thoughts even now, following the points on my above list with sentences that begin: “Yeah, but…” I still have the trump card: GOD IS.

My “yeah, but’s” can take a seat because GOD IS and HE IS NEAR and MY HEART MATTERS TO HIM and I AM HELD.

And I wonder if it’s harder for those of us “physical touch” love language-rs to feel close to God than it might be for those who can feel loved through other less tangible ways. I wonder if I’d feel less grief about being unable to hug Him if I was wired differently- if it was most important to my heart to soak up His words, or spend time with Him, or serve Him, or be aware of the ways He’s acting in my life.

I don’t know why God made me the way He did. But this God, this God of infinite power and wisdom, this God who calls Himself Love, He doesn’t make mistakes.

And in all of this–in the people on my speed dial and the birthdays I make a point of remembering and the bruise under my eye–I hear God whisper: “I’ve got you.”