From my posts over the years, I know my writing tends to focus on suffering/trust/sorrow/joy/etc. but that’s my thing. That’s where I have seen God meet me. That’s where God continually meets me. Perhaps that’s my special life song – to see the joy in sorrow, God’s love in suffering. So here I am talking on this same thing yet again.
In the basement of my heart, at its foundational structure, there are some fragile concrete panels (lest thou wonder if made up “concrete panels”, I didn’t. I googled: “how is a basement made” and learned that concrete panels can used – supposed to expensive but the best insulation method. I wanted to make sure I knew what I was talking about since otherwise I probably would have said, “there are some fragile liquid nails.”). Fragile in that they are so very sweet – almost sacred – that I hardly dare touch them at risk that they may lose some of the holy fragrance of what God taught through them. It is beautiful fragility that is actually more rock solid than anything. They are the concrete panels that turned my walk with Christ into everything it is today.
These panels weren’t just easily padded into my life. God took His knife and cut me to the core, wounding me to give me more of Himself. I know you can point to these places in your life, too.
On the tough journey-race- mountain climb of life, although I’m often tempted to tell God that all I need is Gatorade in my backpack, He has other plans. In giving us the treasure of Himself, He has a special set of tools He uses for each one of us. They look a bit different in each of our lives, but they are have names like “pain”, “violation”, “loss”, “loneliness”, to name a few. And these tools are used to break us, to wound us, and to mar us so that we can run the race, climb the mountain, and plumb the depths of who God is , grow in our walk of sanctification in Him, and bring Him glory.
More times than I can count I have asked God why He allows pain. If I could put my heart into words it would be saying something such as: “I know I know I know, Lord, that you have allowed our pain to draw me close to you. But certain pain still seems so mean, so pointless. I don’t understand. Could You not have rescued me from that one certain thing? That one was just too much! Of course I can pull up a great godly sounding intellectual answer about how You use pain to draw glory to Yourself. But, seriously, did You really have to do THAT?”
But then I discover again and again, that the “one certain thing” whatever that may be, is the specific pathway, the specific thorn, that can bring your and my life into all its radiance. It is suffering that brings His sweet aroma to our spirit. (True sweetness is not weakness, but the aroma of being crushed and finding God as our everything). And, in those thorns, we can find the insights into His Kingdom that we would never otherwise know.
These become the moments and seasons when the theology I have carried intellectually becomes the theology of my heart because I truly have gone from just hearing of God’s greatness to knowing it and dwelling in it.
So I look at those panels of marring in my life. And another way I see them is as little fragile packages. Again, they aren’t fragile like easily broken as if I’m insecure about them or they are filled with too much trauma. But fragile because inside these packages are whispers of God’s grace, the reminder of tears shed and my heart and will finally laid down, monumental moments. The moments that forever changed my life, when the bubble of earthly secure was popped and I eventually found the Author of Security. Sometimes, in the quietness of the night, I take one out and look at it, unwrapping very carefully because inside is the most precious treasure. Or it pours forth out of my soul as I sing Great is Thy Faithfulness in church. It is important to open these treasures up every so often because they remind me that my life is God’s, I can rest in His faithful and sovereign hand, my worth in Him is true, and I must seek passionately to live to know Him more. Remembering what God has done for me in the past also gives me direction for moving forward and living with my eyes on things of eternal worth.
And, although I speak often of these things, and love to share these stories at conferences, I am also very careful with the contents because not everyone understands these. Not everyone understands the all consuming heartbreak and delight of seeing God’s hand turn a life upside down in the blender and then pour out His sweet goodness. To life’s pain, many are apt to give answers that Band-Aid when no Band-Aids are needed. Or they think if a child of God speaks of a past sorrow that means she has never healed from it. But we know that, although certain memories are fraught with marring, we can embrace these memories in all their ugliness and beauty.
God brought me through those deep waters and out of it I found the wells of refreshment, the balm of His character. And that makes me want to sing (my dog has gotten used to my little ditties… poor guy… he hears them all day) and to proclaim His Kingliness over all reality. This is my song. The song God gave me to proclaim so that many shall see it and fear and put their trust in the Lord (Psalm 40:3). You have a song, too.
And we all have these secret places… these places where we saw God so powerfully be our fighter and hope and life and every breath. I don’t know your sorrow. But I encourage you to take out those little fragile packages in your heart, those concrete basement panels, and do some good looking at them.
Jesus, may we embrace the burdens. The marrings. The deserts and rocky cliffs. The icy rain and the storms when we can’t even imagine the next step in such a tempest path. Yes, may our affections and our mind be turned on You as You lead us to Your radiance, as You continue weaving Your tapestry of gold for our lives. Amen.