Significance

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Okay, so it’s the middle of the night. I should be asleep in my bed getting much needed rest but instead I’m sitting here, jumping out of my skin with excitement. Why! Because God speaks!

Last weekend I went to a conference (not normally my bag of tea). The speaker asked the question “What is your deepest root? Down deep… what is it at the very, very deepest place?”I really wasn’t sure how to answer that question. I had vague impressions but I couldn’t put words to them. I did manage to write one word in my journal though- fear.

But fear of what? 

I would not consider myself a fearful person. Honestly, I’m quite a reckless person. My children climb crazy high in the trees, I eat food that’s been left on the counter all night, you know- that kind of hard core rebel living. No, but seriously, I’m not afraid of much, speaking, heights, snakes don’t bother me (in fact I love them). But I could tell that there was something down there. Something I was afraid of.

Isn’t it interesting that we don’t always know our own hearts? We act like we’re so powerful; like we’re so wise but we can’t even explain how our major body functions work let alone our complex emotional make-up. I think it’s hilarious how much we don’t know our own selves most of the time. BUT GOD DOES!

The last couple days a tension has been brewing. A heaviness in my soul and it started to zap my strength. Last night it came to a head and I retreated to my side of the bed where I spent to evening exhausted and quite unsure of what I was feeling. I wish I could tell you that I stormed the gates of heaven and pleaded for my victory. I didn’t. I finished the second Harry Potter (for the second time) and rolled over to go to bed. Still, I knew that He was the answer and so before falling asleep I said “LORD, I don’t know what’s going on. I need you.”

“Twas grace that taught my heart to fear. And grace my fears relieved.”

Have you ever thought about that line before? I didn’t think about it till just now  but last night as I was still trying to pretend I had strength (this was before I resigned to my bed) my husband was playing some worship music. I noticed he didn’t know the above lyrics and they stuck out to me. Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved. And that’s exactly what Grace did as I was sleeping last night.

I had a dream. I’ll spare you the intricate details because honestly dreams never come out the same when you try to repeat them. However the point of the dream was this I was questioning if I was really special. As I questioned that I opened my bible and right there, in a strange section between the Old Testament and the New Testament I found an account with my name. I woke up wondering if I should write down the dream. As I debated there was a small knock on my bedroom door. Number four was up. The cat had not been taken out of his room and he needed my services to remove her. I knew it was God getting me out of bed so I could write down my dream.

And as I wrote it down it all started to click. THIS IS WHAT I’M AFRAID OF! I’M AFRAID I’M NOT SIGNIFICANT!!

At my deepest place, is the fear that I’m not special. It was like a light switch went off. So many of the unhealthy things I do and feel started to make sense. The need for constant affirmation (way more than normal). The discomfort of being in a crowd (not in front of). The need to be the best at everything. The hatred of “fitting a mold”. The chronic self-awareness. The chip that I carry on my shoulder. So many things in my heart went PING! Oh my Word! This makes so much sense.

But here’s the gold star sticker!

He didn’t leave me there. My dream didn’t just expose what was wrong. Grace my fears relieved. He exposed the root by speaking to it. He CHANGED IT. I could see it as I was laying there trying to go back to bed. The long tap root going down the page. The words on the root first reading “Am I Significant?” then shifting and rearranging to reads “I AM SIGNIFICANT.”

Why? What makes me special?

His love! He knows my name. There is a record of me in His Book! It is not because I’m talented, or successful, or attractive, or of great character. None of those things determine my significance! Right now I am 40 lbs overweight, have some goofy, red, box-dyed hair and have spent the last three months laid out with major depression so bad that my husband has had to completely take over running the house. I do not have an active ministry. I am not doing a very good job educating my children. And in general I’m not making a lot of useful contributions to the world.

IT DOESN’T MATTER! Not in so far as my significance goes. I am loved by Him. I am treasured enough that He speaks to me in the night watch. When I don’t even deserve it because I was off binge reading Harry Potter while my husband tucked five children in bed. He loves my because of His goodness. Not mine!

No, I don’t want to slum it. I’m not looking for an excuse to stay in my bed for another three months. In fact I’ve been trying desperately to get out of bed. I’ve been taking pills, and supplements, sitting in front of light boxes, cranking out all sorts of classical music, watching my diet (I eat flax seed on my toast now- yes, I eat gluten. Stop. Don’t go there right now. Stay with me). The list could go on. I have spread sheets and apps to track all my steps, moods, bodily functions, water in take.

But this! This right here! This has me wanting to run into the bedroom and shake my husband awake and say. AH! I GET IT! I am LOVED BY HIM! That is enough. I never need to stand out in a crowd again. I never need to be the best at anything. I never need to make sure my voice is the one that’s heard and that everyone is giving me my due recognition. I’m FREE! I can just be loved!

You know, if you get hit by a car tomorrow; if you’re a quadriplegic for the rest of your life and the only contribution you make is to your adult diapers that someone else has to change… you are still special. You are still unique and wonderful to Him. The world may never see it. Don’t require them too. The one person who matters most; the grandest, highest, most omnipotent and sensational Force in all the universe (or multiverse if you roll like that) made you. He looks at you with intrigue and numbers the hairs on your head. He even rescues you from your own rebellion because “He delights in you!” (read Psalm 18)

I am so blown away right now. So giddy with the love of God. I am just shell shocked that He takes the time to tend to my little dysfunctional heart. Not in begrudging obligation but in patient delight. Not because I’m worthy but because He is! I just can’t get over it tonight. I hope you won’t be able to either.

 

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Touching God

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Today my son and I took a walk. The arboretum near my house is gorgeous, even in early spring. We worked our way along side the little stream that cuts through the prairie grass with him usually lagging a step behind me.  At one point I felt his fingertips against the small of my back. They lingered until finally I asked (not being able to see him) “what are you doing?”

“Walking with my eyes shut. I know that if I am touching you I can’t go off course.” 

So it is with God. At times, the season is blinding. We neither know the path, nor can see ahead to anticipate it. But if we reach out and touch Him we will never lose our way.

 

 

*Image Available At https://pixabay.com/en/michelangelo-abstract-boy-child-71282/

 

 

Hope and the Word

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But he knows the way that I take;
    when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold…

Job 23:10

In an instant there was Hope.

Hope has been a fleeting friend this season. It seems I only catch frantic glimpses of her through the emotional bracken. I almost see her but then she’s gone in the mist and bog. It’s been ugly (real ugly). We’re happy to say God is faithful, but I sometimes find  faithfulness means bringing to head circumstances that force us to deal: deal with our pet lies; deal with our cowardice; deal with the sicknesses we’d rather ignore.

Why does He go after this with such violence?!

Because they keep us from seeing Him; and when we don’t see Him- we die. Like a patch of grass that never sees the sun. There’s just mud when it rains. No growth. So, right now that’s where I am. In the muck and mire of a mind and heart that has large patches of permanent shade. And (I reiterate) it has been ugly.

I don’t think the ugliness alone has made it so hard to hope. Rather it’s the fatal equation of (ugly hard) + (significant time).  A surgery can be done in hours, but it takes weeks to heal. If it’s a major surgery it takes months. And sometimes after “healing” there is still rehabilitation- like physical therapy. For full health to return you’ve got to go through all the little steps of retraining muscles and stretching and all that… stuff. The soul is as much (if not more) the same. God can come in and do a major work, but that’s often the start not the end.

He is in both the wounding and the healing… but it takes time.

Time can make it hard to hope. Past failures can make it hard to hope. Fear can make it hard to hope. It is simply hard to believe (at times) things are going to be different on the other side of all this pain. The good news is the faithfulness of God doesn’t just manifest in confrontation but in comfort as well.

That little verse sitting at the top of my browser window was a sweeping windstorm of comfort. And with it Hope came into view. Her beaming face glorious with the promise of a better day on the other side. Her strong arms braced for the war to get there and her hands, without callouses, wiping the grime from my face. Onward. Keep moving forward.

This is really hard (most worthwhile things are). This is tedious. This is ugly. At times it even seems ambiguous but just one word from His mouth can soothe the pain. Words as simple as “He knows…” He sees this hard way and “hard” isn’t where this story ends. He is doing something and when it’s all done I will shine. It is for my good. It’s going to be okay.

Father,

Thank you for your Word. Thank you that it isn’t just information in a book. Thank you Holy Spirit that you take this Word and you speak it afresh to our hearts when we need it the most. That you comfort us in the confrontation. That you are a living God. Not dead. Not dormant. Not stagnant. You speak. You work. You listen. You rescue. You know. Thank you. Help us to hold on through the weary seasons. Help us lift our eyes and see Hope standing there in the midst of pain. We’re never alone in this way we go. You see us. You are watching. We will come through when You are finished having your way. Help us to trust You and surrender. Amen. 

*Photo Credit: Rewat Wannasuk