Courage. That’s what I need.
And comfort. My heart hurts.
And rest. I’m soul tired.
Courage. Comfort. Rest. Where do I go?
I went to the lake—to our cottage on Lake Michigan, just ten miles north of our home. I went alone after church on Sunday because I craved solitude and quiet more than I’ve ever craved food. I needed to walk in the woods with my Lord and God. My heart and soul needed deep refreshing because sometimes we don’t just have a hard day or week or year. Sometimes the hard goes on and on indefinitely and we keep coming up dry and empty, begging for a new filling of courage and comfort and rest so we can keep going on and on.
So I spent my Sabbath day traipsing through fallen color, reminded of how leaves must dry and die to keep the tree living through harsh months, knowing spring WILL come again. Branches will bud again. But now it’s shedding time.
What must I shed? Everything. I must shed everything to which I cling if I want True Life. I must shed everything to find my Life, my God. I must KNOW He flows through me in all seasons and that He will keep me alive. I must KNOW this.
So I’m clinging to His promises while my leaves are shedding. I am feeding on His Word. I am asking for what I THINK I need, waiting and watching for His gracious, generous, perfect provision of what I REALLY need.
And what do I THINK I need? I THINK I need rescue from this on-going fire in my life. But what I REALLY need is His presence with me IN the on-going fire of my life if He chooses not to extinguish the fire or pull me out. Because when He is with me in the fire, I will not burn up nor burn out. When He is with me in the fire I am not destroyed, but strengthened. When He is with me in the fire, I come to know Him intimately.
And don’t we all want intimacy? In these days of superficial and quick, don’t we long for deep and meaningful?
I walked out from the woods, over the creek, back to the cottage, up the steps, down to the shore, and watched. I got down on my knees and watched surf coming in frothy bubbles. Wave after wave bowed, moving forward, thinning on sand. How I feel bubbled up and crashed and crushed and brokenhearted, over and over like surf waves. But I will not be dismayed. Because I will not let my feelings rule. I will feel them because I’m supposed to. God gave us feelings! To deny or stuff isn’t of God. To fake with others isn’t of God. Jesus wept openly. His God heart—His human heart—it hurt and He never feared showing others His grief. So I will not mask mine either. I will keep it real.
I am grieving. What mother or father would not grieve shattered hopes? And yet, grieving is good. Grieving is stripping me bare. I am stripped raw naked of everything so many cling to for happiness. And I cry hard—sometimes alone—sometimes with a God-gift of a friend who understands and is not frightened—often with my husband who walks with me through our days. And our days are not all grief. We have great joy too.
But grief is a most surprising companion—a gift I would never choose—a rare and precious and dangerous gem.
Because alone, grief can break and destroy. But with belief, grief can bring joy. Because Grief is our escort into the arms of God. Yes. Grief is our escort into the arms of God. Beautiful!
Guess where I heard these gorgeous words painting serenity in my soul this week? From the young lady I have prayed for and mentored for the past five years. And how can such wise words come from her? Because she knows on-going fire. She knows on-going pain. She knows God’s faithful provision in the furnace. SHE. KNOWS. GOD. And she reminds me. Because I reminded her! How sweet are the ways of our LORD! How perfectly complete! And don’t we all want our hearts to melt in love? Yes. And right now I need my Love to feed me truth to sustain in the hard. He IS truth. He IS life.
So He and I walk together because I need Him with me in this furnace stripping me bare, to melt my heart with His love. So He speaks to me. His words cool and soothe and strengthen in the midst of my fire.
Who realizes the deepest truth—who feels peace that passes understanding—unless stripped bare of everything our flesh tells us we must have to be content?
And so I prayed for God’s will to be done in me, because His will is better than mine. Let the waves crash over me. Let me find myself bare and bent. Because, in days and weeks and years like these, I find that all I ever really want or need—I already have—in God alone—who is with me always—even in the fiery furnace of life. And I will come through—changed for the better, giving glory only to the One and only—the only one—who can save—like—this.
Need some seeds of courage today? Plant these:
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Psalm 62:1-2
I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalm 40:1-2
The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. Psalm 34:18
All things work together for the good of those who love the LORD. Romans 8:38-39
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8
One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. Psalm 27:4-5
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way. Daniel 3:28-29