I do not dare to convey that we've walked through the worst of times. We have not. In fact, most of my days have been easy. I was twenty-six when I lost the first person I was close to, a grandparent. Granted, I would lose two more over the course of a couple years, but that isn't the intention of this story.
You see, I wasn't naive. You can only be a Christian so long - well - you can only be a human being, really, to know that life isn't always easy. We are all on this ride together and inevitably pain, hardship, and unfavorable circumstances will greet us all, often unexpectedly. I was keenly aware of this fact. I often had lie awake at night wondering if this would be the last 'normal' night of our lives.
"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you." - 1 Peter 4:12
Maybe I am a pessimist and a worrier, and maybe I am just a realist, but when our current trial came I was in no way expecting it to look, feel, or effect us as it did. By the grace of God, my family is intact, we have our health, and we have seen true friends that have stood alongside us, but the level of surprise, hurt and anger felt over the past many months have been exhausting. Literally, a good portion of our days, most waking moments, are lived in some way dealing with the aftermath of it all. I understand now when people say an experience is 'all consuming'. It is not only in thought, but in deed.
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." - Matthew 11:28
I have not blogged much in the last four years. I haven't neglected the blog due to lack of desire... rather, lack of inspiration. The Lord has been so good and so faithful in our lives over the last four years. In many ways, these have been some of the sweetest moments of our lives. The husband had been more satisfied in work and ministry than ever, our sweet babies were growing through what I believe may always be the most precious moments of life (not that they don't have many more to come), and we have made incredible friends, many whom feel like family. My relationship with the Lord was real and vibrant, and the Lord showed me things about Himself each and every day, but the desperate need that I'd once felt for Him was not as prevalent amongst the roses.
"If you want God's grace, all you need is need..." - Timothy Keller
"When the righteous call out for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all of their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:17-18
And then the bottom fell out. The storm rolled in. The rock gave way. The fire came. And so did pain. And so did anger. And so did doubt. And so did Jesus. Jesus came.
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." - John 10:10
Abundance. It doesn't always look how we expect it to appear. Abundance for me right now has come in many ways. It has come in the music and talk radio to and from school each day. It has come in the church service we choose to visit each week. It has come through the words of friends and family. It has come through scripture posted, well, just about everywhere. It has come in the devotional books of my children, and it has come through the most unexpected sources... and though we have great need... we have an abundance with Jesus.
For two weeks I've felt the Lord impressing on me that at this moment He may be less concerned with our upcoming destination and more concerned with our journey getting there. Maybe God's intention with this season in our lives is not to see us in a particular place, but to see us grow in a particular way. For we are not there yet... we are here, and it is in this present moment that He desires to meet with us, to grow us, to firmly foot us deep into the foundation of this faith He has birthed within us. Today, today I was led into this scripture at church:
It is the culmination of the Lord's whisperings in a big, loud yell. He isn't only walking with us through this wilderness, He is orchestrating it. Every nook, every cranny, every extra step and restep. Sure, it'd be shorter to go from here to there, but the long way leads us nearer to Jesus. The wilderness may be the most uncomfortable, but Jesus is near to the broken-hearted. He is near and He is protecting us.
Lauren Chandler says, "sometimes He wrings the worship from our hearts."
I believe this is such a time. The unbridled, unkempt, raw worship being wrung from within us to the very throne of God. It isn't fancied up. It isn't rehearsed or planned out... it's brought forth in tears and praise in the same raspy breath, "Jesus."
So though I would have never chosen this path for our family, though I would have never wanted these trials, I am so very thankful for Jesus... the one with us in the roses and the trenches, the one with us on the mountain and in the valley, the one with us even in the wilderness.