Saturday, April 25, 2015

Variations on the Theme of Healing

I love the season of Lent. While my salvation is secured by grace through faith alone, I find that Lent affords me a period of time in which I have the opportunity to fast from the everyday in-and-out. I've considered setting a more frequent Lenten period for myself; why confine it to just once a year when every day I draw breath can be one devoted to fasting from the clutter and morass of all my life's stuff? 

But that is a level of commitment and discipline I've not yet reached. I'm great at ideas on paper but the follow-through needs work. 

I digress...Lent; a few weeks behind us now, though probably one of the most impactful I've experienced. I was looking for a different sort of abstinence. Rather than go without something physical, I wanted to fill up on something spiritual; abstain from the usual go-to wonts of the season. So I decide to memorize some scripture--one verse everyday. I chose the eighth chapter in Romans based on its having 39 verses. My choice was that simple. I figured chapter 8 had quite a few buzz verses already and if all scripture is God-breathed, then it was off to the races. Oh how much we underestimate the work of the Counselor in our hearts and minds!

I found the memorization process challenging and exciting. And it thrilled me when I would hear a sermon or lesson that referenced these scriptures. I even began to recall them as relevant and cross-contextual with other scriptures. He was sowing seeds in me and troweling out the next row for planting all at the same time. And at the end of Lent, I had a treasure that's still with me. For a season that's usually known for self-denial, it was an exhilarating indulgence.

On Easter Sunday, I was asked if I would be interested in participating in a Bible/book study group dealing with infertility. It seemed apropos; an answer to prayer. Yes, of course I would. Jumping before carefully discerning is a hallmark in my life so this wasn't any different. 

The week prior to the first meeting, God peeled back a layer of raw that smarted unexpectedly. The first meeting happened and with the journey begun I figured, well, a few raw nerves near the surface needed dealt with before the final healing. This "infertility struggle" was old news. I had found a peace about no more babies. I just needed to remember it.

After that first meeting, there was a tremor inside that I felt coming. I was unsettled and much to my horrific surprise, I felt the blaze of envy, jealousy, resentment, anger scrolling through the myriad of new baby pictures on social media. 
I say this in the spirit of explanation and transparency; I have wounds that need the light of day and deep cleaning by the Great Healer. I am ashamed of my flesh response. Please understand that this is not aimed at anyone in any sense of the word but rather a symptom of my own struggle. 

Like Eustace Scrubb, my dragon scales were being peeled away and it hurt. In my confused pain, comparison was all too close and venom in the form of selfish words poisoned an entire day. In the aftermath of that, I dove into my resources on infertility, finally recognizing the festering pain for what it was. And God, in His faithfulness, met me there with a Word; one that I already had germinating in my soul...
Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. -Romans 8:26:27
And again...
For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? -Romans 8:24
And again...
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. -Romans 8:18

It is a prodigious thing to stand in the middle of something God-planned. These ebenezer moments overwhelm me; the realization of how deep His mercy is astounds and humbles me. It is the moments that I've labeled as mundane, lately, that have been the most spiritually monumental.

I took a picture of a knick-knack in my friend's bathroom. I liked the little blurb in the frame. To be honest, I received it with the intent of passing it on to others who could really use it to learn something. Silly me.

And again, more God-truth met me in the stories of other women who have walked this same path...
Barrenness, like nothing else, reminded me how far I was from believing the truths about God that I proclaimed, how far I was from leaning against Him the way I wanted a baby to lean against me.*
One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.        -Proverbs 27:7
I don't want to be a hungry soul just for a season. I want to live hunger. This is what draws me to Him. This is what fills every single bitter circumstance with the opportunity to know Him more. This is what brings me to the sweetness of His presence.*
My wounds are pangs of hunger, God-hunger that will find its deepest satisfaction in Him.
Over and over I learn that I don't need a physical healing to receive a heart healing.*
My heart is the most desperate healing I need. His healing comes like the sunrise, full and bright, coloring the sky with the warmth of its rays. Let me trade in lamentation for the hunger-satisfying presence of my Savior. Let me reach for Him in my pain, famished for knowing Him more deeply. He will meet me there with the satisfaction of His healing.

*Quotes from Everything Bitter is Sweet, Sara Hagerty

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


It is a new day; new mercies, new opportunity to live and love for Jesus, fresh and clean. 

It feels like a breath of fresh air after the dank and stale of yesterday. As much as I restate and restate the importance of defining the goodness or badness of day, not by individual good or bad events but as a whole, I think I can say, pretty certainly that yesterday was bad. It was one of those days when bouncing back wasn’t in the cards.

Refining comes with its fair share of discomfort. Harsh words reveal pockets of bitterness, selfishness, ugliness--like fire reveals the dross in silver.
Oh, I don’t mean to say that I’m some precious metal…no, I’m full of impurity and desperate for the transformation that my God, well-versed in His perfect alchemy, can afford me.

Knowing, I’m told, is half the battle. So now I know. These pockets, dormant for a time, needed the fire, the pressure to be exposed and curetted. 

All of this sounds vague…I mean it to be vague. Details are trumped by the truth that I am imperfect, a sinner in great need of the Grace that only Jesus can offer. In my imperfection, I can hurt, maim, and brutalize with that double-edged sword to which we wives fall prey too often. "I’m sorry" doesn’t seem enough but it begins forgiveness and any person made in the image of a Holy God is worth “I’m sorry," especially the one to whom I've bound myself.

We ask “why” when bad things happen. There are three possibilities: consequence of our own sin, hardship of living in a fallen world, or the work of our Adversary. The key is discerning which of these best fits our situation. It is an easy cop-out to blame all on the third option. Many, many times—let’s be honest; we’re down to brass tacks here—the first quite often has a huge lead on the others. 

But God in His goodness, when we belong to Him, doesn’t leave our side even when we screw up. The consequences of my obliterating tongue yesterday, reached into the corners of the day, tainting it. But in His goodness, He showed me that the words were born from a festering pool of bitterness, resentment, hidden wounds uncleaned. So He exposed them to me through the course of a bad day. They needed cleaned and today, are bandaged by His extravagant Grace. I can admit they still need rehabilitation. He will bring that in good time. 

Picture credit:

I sit here in the freshness of new, grateful for Grace and Jesus in my life; for His refining and healing work in me. Where I was not sure yesterday how to keep clinging to my confession or how to move forward in my life, today, He reminds me. 

I’m far from poster child--so, so far. But I am beloved child; forgiven child. I can rest in that.