“I just heard the sweetest sound,” she sent in text. I’d been praying with her for weeks, since her body first revealed signs of new life, inside. On the heels of two miscarriages, this mama walked headlong into her fears, declaring into her heart a different word.
And, this time, what her heart believed, her body lived. This baby was alive.
What a nuanced situation for me. I celebrated the news. I’d been praying for this baby’s breath to subsist and for this mama’s belief to only grow, against the statistics. But minutes later I felt the gut-punch of grief.
Would I ever hear that sweetest sound?
I dabbled there again, with the place I most dread. But this time it was different.
Being one who has spent years fraught with fear, mostly subtle in flavor, I’d created exit strategies for avoiding the feelings that came when I was face-to-face with my fears. I didn’t go to baby showers to protect my heart from staring into another’s blessing that I didn’t yet have, I bought chai’s on the day of my monthly reminder that my womb was still barren.
This is 21st century coping, even for the most sure-footed believer. Survival, right?
We live in a world with padded floors and walls. We inhale self-protection without evaluation. We work hard to live safely, away from discomfort, because somewhere along the way we have formed a paradigm of pain and discomfort that isn’t His paradigm for pain and discomfort.
This particular day, and this particular text, would be different. He had work to do and my often-cold heart needed a circumstance to prod me. My pain was an opportunity to have His soft words, His mending over my deep chasm.
Most days it doesn’t seem deep, it lies dormant, but this day the fault line split. And the gap it revealed said: you get to know another side of Him here.
It plays itself out in the same way with my children. I have one who slides into grief’s abyss — “I want to go back to Uganda!” she declares to her siblings — and another who’s slow to absorb all of our training in self-control. When will we ever get past this, I think, unfettered. My frustration reveals a fissure.
Opportunities — that’s what these are. I have a day full of them and a family, prolific. The things I’m tempted to brush past, move through and on to something else which I’ve deemed bigger and better, are the blisters He Himself has formed.
The rubbing of life against my wounds is holy, because God wants me to find Him. Here.
And as long as I nurse these cracks in my understanding by the hundreds of props (even good ones!) at my disposal to avoid the discomfort — which is ultimately avoiding the God who is comfort — I miss the One true thing that can make me whole.
Our lives are one grand set-up. Yes, the great-big-pain you are walking in right now, or the little annoyances you can’t quite get away from, or even the numbness that works its way into your joints and allures you into believing you are just “not that deep” — are all subject to the Restorer.
He is after the deepest parts of our hearts.
And adoration is the habit I’m finding and forming that says “yes, I accept that invitation.” Against the inertia of my life, which wants to find a hiding place in the lives of others on facebook or deep in the mug of a frothy chai (not all bad things, but not the best things for that moment of discomfort), adoration is a new way for me. Adoration is taking the moment where my pain or my dissatisfaction is most heightened, and applying the Truth of who He is over that moment. It’s greasing the skids, making it easy for me not to run away, but run in … to Him.
There’s a God-Man on the other side of this discomfort, waiting to meet me. And the greatest lie keeping me from Him is the belief that if my circumstances (big or small) would change, I would find the freedom I crave.
He is what I crave.
So, on this particular Monday, when the better-than-my-morning chai’s move front and center, I invite you to adore Him over one area of unrest in your life. Let His Word and His whisper re-write this moment.** What’s irritating you today? What hurt, which mostly lays buried-deep, has surfaced … for His authorship? Where do you feel lack?
To give some examples: if your chest feels tight at the thought of bills due this month, adore the God who is provider (Psalm 111:5, 1 Timothy 6:17). If you’re filled with fear, or you notice its subtle drip into the way you see life, adore the God whose perfect love casts out that fear (1 John 4:18). If your heart sits numb and you are one of those who’ve said “I’m just not that deep”, adore the God in whose image you were created, who reaches from His deep to your deep (Psalm 42:7, Genesis 1:27). If you’re bearing up under the lie that God can’t possibly be good in light of your circumstances, adore the God who is good (Psalm 100:5, Psalm 34:8). If one you love is stumbling and you can’t seem to get a vision for their road out, adore the God who is the overcomer (1 John 5:5, 1 John 5:4). If you’re tripped up by pride, adore the Jesus who was humility (Zecheriah 9:9, Philippians 2:8). If a recent conflict — in your home or outside of it — has left you feeling misunderstood and alone, adore the God who formed you and understands you (Psalm 139:1, 4-7).
Every pain point is a doorway.
Jesus hasn’t forgotten you, He is alluring you…
[you yourselves] have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created Him. Colossians 3:10***
Who doesn’t want new clothes? At even my very worst, You exchange me for You. In You, I am made new … over and over and over again. The wells of renewal never run dry, in You.
They were here yesterday and they will be here tomorrow. Every day I have a chance at new. No moment is dead in You.
I adore You, Daddy who gave me Your image. You didn’t just set a standard and create an unparalleled expectation, You gave me all of Your beauty and glory to try on for the fulfillment which my heart was made to crave. I can hunger for glory — Your glory in me — unashamedly, when I know I have your image to wear and achieve it.
Walking with You isn’t just seeing You, beholding You, but it is covering myself in all that I see. You give me an eye for beauty and then You offer opportunity for me to wear it.
I walk royal — with You on me, You in me.
No moment is lost under the grid of Your perfect leadership. I can see it differently because of Your knowledge, imparted to me, coursing through my life.
I adore You, Father who gave me the inheritance of an image I could never achieve and I so fail to understand, yet I will own. You share all of You with imperfect me and I live a second-chance. I am made new because of You. More than new, I taste knowledge my mind can’t conceive, when You impart You into me.
Every one of my minutes can be renewed by Your supply, unending. I love You, oh God who shares.
Photos courtesy of Mandie Joy.
**I absolutely treasure your stories. I love the memorials coming my way. What’s being erected over your lives is fuel in mine: He is good. With a life of four-being-restored and two of us not too far ahead of them, I don’t have as much time as I’d like to respond to every email, message and comment. Though the demands under my roof may not allow much time to respond to these, please know I am honored by what you’ve sent me and the time you took to tell me your story. They are gifts to me.
***For a context to this little space on my blog, read: Why I Adore. For a more detailed description of how to start adoring Him in your day-to-day, read: Showing Up. You can easily subscribe to these devotional meditations as they are delivered, by using this feed: http://www.EveryBitterThingisSweet.com/posts/chai/feed or by entering your email address in the second box on the right-hand side… (scroll up a bit).