In 40 days from now I will be 55 years old. Who am I now and how did I get here? My extroversion’s introverting fast, the space around me shrinking to this screen where I examine all my thoughts, express my words. I’m probably shutting ‘real’ people out – not everyone of course, but not many make it across the lines these days; perhaps not many have the courage to approach the wounded tigress, except through this one-way peephole I provide. These days I’m not a very social animal by choice, I don’t like parties anymore – perhaps because I have no small talk, only huge, enormous talk that bursts out of all polite restraint; who wants to discuss death and suffering over a glass of wine, even if I have found it a helpful anaesthetic for the necessary exploratory operation?
So back to my communion with the books – notebooks of my scrawled prayers, outpourings and autonomous debates, rather than any clever tomes by learnèd theorists. I’m not an academic, I’m a mother. All I have is a well-developed inner life – that’s even more expansive than my uber-blessed and multi-coloured outer one – but not primarily a well-trained intellect fed by knowledge that I’ve read in books, as much as by a journey of the soul. The Spirit took me by the hand and led me all the way, growing the small seeds I sowed into large trees: putting one foot in front of the other I tried to keep my eyes on the Guide until I reached the Ebenezer stone.*
I think with my heart, not my grey cells – and Spirit does Her job well in me, “bringing all things to my remembrance.”† I reach for love and seek to give it – wanting to obey the Word of life and please my Father/Mother God. I’m just a little girl inside, still looking for her healing and a hug from Jesus and any of His representatives who may attempt to fill His shoes. But Deborah arises strong in me whenever I’ll allow the flow of God – the life-giving river that has carried me this far. For me, my faith is best expressed in this abandonment – though sometimes to the point of foolishness – while carrying an alert attentiveness as the key that opens up the doors of life to all God is, His glory everywhere.
My battle is to stay at peace, to overcome the inner squeeze of fear through trust and bathe my failure and my wounds in the balm of perfect love. It isn’t easy – often 3 steps forward 2 steps back – but through it all my patience muscle is developing and character grows through perseverance; may ‘strength and dignity be my clothing’††, wisdom and authority be the gifts and weapons in my hands. It may be pretty hard to recognise these glorious traits, as most often you’ll find me lying on my face before the Lord – but that’s because everything I’ve done, He’s done for me. Perhaps you’ll lose me as I disappear into the secret place – I certainly want to lose myself far more, within the glimpsed interior garden of beauty and space… but I’m distracted by so many things.
I am courageous, faithful, servant, woman, broken – “made to give and flow” (so I’ve been told) “a catalyst,” “a voice, a light, a spark.” I am a daughter, sister, wife and mother in the land – SAD but content, submitted not resigned. As Catherine of Siena said, “Be who God made you to be and you’ll set the world on fire.” That well could mean a martyr’s death, but meanwhile I’ll sparkle and provoke my friends, and write and say what no-one else will say: I know my voice is loud and carries far, my song is heard in heaven.
I’m feeling rather old and tired now, but that’s because we carry such a load. I’m bearing with a buried pain so deep it can’t be put into language – but, knowing Christ has born this all the way, I’ll keep trying. I’m more than pleased with all the memories that replay themselves in moving pictures in my mind, collected photographs of many happy and significant days gone by. With so many stories to tell and aware the time is shorter than it was, I desperately want to pass my treasure on to many children.
Apart from holding God to that great promise that ‘all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose’,††† my prayer is that, with all the hidden influence of yeast, I’ll be effective, bear much fruit, impart encouragement and hope… and that Scripture’s promise will come true because my testimony is clear, that ‘many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord’•
We’re not at the end just yet, but looking back I can declare, “This far has the Lord helped us.”*
*1 Samuel 7v12: ‘Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far has the LORD helped us.”‘
†John 14v26: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you”
• Psalm 40v1-3: ‘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. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord’.