Nothing is colder than the winds of change
Where the chill numbs the dreamer ’til a shadow remains
Among the ruins lies your tortured soul
Was it lost there, or did your will surrender control?
Shivering with doubts that were left unattended
So you toss away the cloak that you should have mended
Don’t you know by now why the chosen are few
It’s harder to believe than not to ~ Steve Taylor
How easy is it for you to believe? I think we need to be honest with this question so I’ll ask it again. How truly easy is it for you to believe? Think about your last 24 hours and evaluate your belief.
Unbelief doesn’t have to be an all or nothing rejection of the existence of God. Unbelief is demonstrated far more in the little day to day areas where we grab control over issues and processes that God is walking us through. He is always in the details, but we don’t always see Him because we are focused on the hurt or pain that we are smack in the middle of.
The people of my little church know heartache right now. I know heartache right now. Yes, I’ve felt the despairing darkness of broken heartedness and anxiety over things I cannot change for nearly a year now. The Psalmist told us that the Lord is near unto the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). But do we believe that? All the time?
So many moments during the day, I take up my own burden. I throw it over my shoulder and I trudge on. I figure that it’s mine to carry and that I deserve it in some way. I’m not a good person you see. I’m wildly inconsistent in my moment to moment surrendering to Christ. As Pastor Don told me recently, I write the end of the story before it happens… and it’s always negative. That’s because I don’t believe. When that chill numbs my soul, I stop believing in the goodness, mercy and plans of God and start believing in my own coping mechanisms. Does this sound familiar to you?
I want to laugh out loud because I can just hear Pastor Don asking me that question… “Does this sound familiar to you?” – I’d say yes and he’d say “Well, S-T-O-P” as he elongated that last word. Is it that easy?
As a Monty Python skit once said, “I’m a completely self taught idiot”. But even I know how to search the Scriptures for promises God makes to the broken hearted. Do it yourself right now. I’ll wait… I’ve mentioned one already. How about Psalm 51:17 where it says that God will not reject a broken and contrite heart? Or Psalm 147:3 where it says that He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. And yes, I realize that I just included quotes from Monty Python and the Psalms in the same paragraph.
But David spoke of a broken heart quite a lot. The Psalms are chock full of his cries out to God. And David was called a man after God’s own heart. Yes, David, the adulterer… the proxy murderer… David. He was a man after God’s own heart because he was always quick to turn back to his belief and to his God. Certainly he was a wretched sinner. But he was in love with God and he understood that God wants to be at the center of the details of every moment of our lives.
Sin happens when we stop believing. Sin happens when my heart is broken and lonely and I take up that burden on my own. The results are hurtful to myself and to her. Why can’t I wait for God to orchestrate His plan? Because I lose focus on Him when I start focusing on my pain. That pain can be so much larger than life sometimes. I know. The hole left by Pastor Don’s passing is front and center right now. But we cannot lose our belief and our trust in God for temporary coping mechanisms. In all things, we must remember… I must remember that He is with me and that He loves me. I truly don’t believe that He wants us to stay in that heartache any longer than we have to. But there’s always a plan and a purpose. Seldom are we aware of it.
I am a huge Leonard Cohen fan. He writes some of the most amazing stuff. I posted this on Facebook, but I’ll post it again here.
“Please make me empty, if I’m empty then I can receive, if I can receive it means it comes from somewhere outside of me, if it comes from outside of me I’m not alone! I cannot bear this loneliness. Above all it is loneliness.” – Leonard Cohen
It’s such beautiful logic. But it starts with being emptied. Can we be emptied without it hurting? Without it being lonely? Isn’t that what it is to be empty? The real question is, can we trust God to fill us up and make us whole? In one of my favorite Cohen songs (If It Be Your Will) he asks God,
Let your mercy spill
On all these burning hearts in hell
If it be your will
To make us well
And draw us near
And bind us tight
All your children here
In their rags of light
In our rags of light
All dressed to kill
And end this night
If it be your will
It is God’s will that we be made whole. It is His purpose that we be reconciled to Him. It is His gift that we have mercy, grace and a relentless love infused in Jesus by the Father. And it is the Holy Spirit that was sent to us as the comforter so that we may never walk alone.
So I write this as a reminder for myself. My heart still aches… for the loss of Pastor Don… for unspoken things… My problems are still there. The anxiety lies just below the surface as a reminder of those problems. But in this very moment, right now… I believe. It’s a step forward.
peace and love,