So – here I am being weak and pathetic, learning to rest and wait. Actually today I don’t feel too bad… maybe last night’s deep, zopiclone-induced sleep has persuaded my muscles to stop hurting. That would be good! L-o-n-g may it last 🙂
We can hope, but we can never know what tomorrow will hold – can never presume it will be the same as today – in fact the chances are it will definitely not be the same and nor would we want it to be…as they say, ‘constant change is here to stay’! Whether that is for better or worse remains to be seen – the roller-coaster of life doesn’t guarantee that things only get better. Yes, one of my favourite comforting things to say to my kids is, “It won’t always be like this” – because there must be the hope of pain receding and joy returning… But the reply to that could equally well be, “No, because one day, undoubtedly before we are ready, our mortality will catch up with us!”
Which way is it going to go – and how to cope with the uncertainty that brings? Well, perhaps in this family we think about that more than most people do! Faith in Jesus and the love and goodness of God enable us to face eternity knowing we will ultimately be ‘alright’ but it doesn’t automatically make things easy on the journey – sometimes the challenges and choices can make life harder!
A week ago, on return from holiday, I set my focus to seek the Lord. In the middle of all our uncertainties I gave myself a goal – to pray, to open my heart, to lay my burdens down – to somehow make this an offering because I don’t know how else to pray anymore. Every day has been so different – believe me, I have been taking notes, listening to my life, awake to however the Voice speaks. Just like the difference between the bright sunny days and incredibly heavy rain of April, I have had to adjust according to the climate; I am learning again that life is not about working my way through a ‘task list’ – all the ‘ought to’s’ for today – nor is it even taking exactly the same pre-planned approach every day, but being led by inner peace to do whatever is ‘the next right thing’.
This seems to be what ‘walking with Jesus in His easy yoke and learning from Him’ (Matthew 11v29-30) means. Just as the Son of Man responded to what happened around Him out of His closeness to Father it’s all about relationship and grace. And the grace is for now – today, this minute – because there is no grace for tomorrow… In fact, when we seek to feel reassured about the future outside of simply trusting God to take care of it, it usually just leads to worry. On the other hand, ‘be led by the Spirit’ means flexibility to just keep listening and obey the still, small voice within – along with sticking to the good choices and disciplines He’s already helped me set in place!
As I did this last week I found real joy! Although to part of my mind it seemed like ‘organised chaos’ – it was an outworking of ‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths’ Proverbs 3v5-6. I thought ‘this is how I should live all the time’! But distractions always come in when we set ourselves a goal and temptations come to test our hearts and throw us off course as they did Jesus in the wilderness. Perhaps these days of weariness and struggle are actually another part of this ‘being led’ journey?
It’s not surprising if you think of the Spirit as ‘wind’ and ‘water’ – the most common metaphors used in Scripture – elemental, uncontained, immeasurable – and in the case of air or breath, invisible! They are images of power as well as beauty; they surround and hold us and give us life. Jesus talked about those who are born of the Spirit being like those who hear the sound of the wind and are carried by it, who knows where… ‘The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit’ John 3v7.
It’s like that river in Ezekiel 47 – I wrote about it recently. As we get in deeper we find there is no controlling the flow, telling it what to do; you can’t even follow the flow of a river – you just have to jump in and be carried by it. We don’t own it, but it owns us. I couldn’t even ‘hold onto’ what the river was giving me last week, but instead had to choose to keep living in it, moment by moment. It’s as if I was in a small boat being carried along and scooping up mug-fulls of water to drink – all these precious ideas and revelation I was getting – but wow – there is so much more out there! I can never know it all! It is all wonderful and vast when the sun is shining on the water, but when the black clouds gather and the wind picks up it becomes rather more overwhelming. No one of us is ever meant to have it all anyway – it takes a whole universe in harmony to display the glory of God. If I haven’t been able to keep up, blog on it all, whatever, I am just going to have to trust the the Lord will ‘bring it back to my remembrance’ (John 14v26) when I need it.
Just like with wind and water, there is a yielding to the ways of God that just picks you up and takes you somewhere… and there is no other way of getting there other than self-denial and surrender. Now I have been feeling unwell it is as if my boat has turned turtle: I think I must have gone over a waterfall or been swept out to sea! All control is lost and it is no longer pleasant… I’m holding on to the boat as it runs the rapids!
Images are fun and to be honest, the only thing that helps is seeing it this way – giving it meaning: I am in a storm – I will be rescued; the water goes over my head… but I will not drown.
Scripture is full of such pictures. As in so many of David’s songs to God, Psalm 42 sums up the cry and the hope of the suffering body and soul – and mine too.
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.