Monday, January 11, 2016

My Story For His Glory: After The Fire There Is Hope

I continue the journey begun a year and a half ago but spanning every day of my life. It's the profound truth of knowing and sharing my story. And nothing is deeper in our stories than hope...except the love that fuels it.

I am lying on a hospital bed in a strange, new room. It is lighter and brighter than the institutional white walls which greeted me when I was first admitted. But, I am here, in this new room because I am sicker than I was.

I am in the ICU. All kinds of tubes are attached to me. I spend three days here. My only remembrance of this time is how I cannot breathe. I wonder if I will live.

They say I have had an allergic reaction to all of the sedatives they gave me the first day I was here. After two attempts to escape and in my then-warped thinking be 'taken up to Heaven' they shoot my leg with shot after shot.

When I awake in the ICU, it's as though an oppressive cloud has been lifted. It is a Sunday morning. Hundreds, maybe thousands, have prayed me to this morning. Some awake in the middle of the night with a burden to pray for me.

As I look back at these dark parts of a dark experience, I ride the coaster of emotions. Most often these days leading to the hospital and in the hospital are the charred remains of what once was. After they were over, we abruptly packed up and left the life we had.

I want to grind these days into fine dust and let the four winds take them away forever. I want to wipe them from my memory and live like they never happened. I want to say it was someone else there, in that bed. Helpless and frail. A shell.

In many ways it was.

I am far from reconciling the spiritual, emotional and physical levels of battle, struggle and pain which happened in these days. There are things I will not understand until I possess the eyes of Heaven.

But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed. 
His compassions, they never fail,
His mercies are new every morning.
Great is Your faithfulness, Oh God. 
'The Lord is my portion', says my soul
'Therefore I will hope in him.' 
Lamentations 3:21-24 (paraphrased from memory) 
This hope, it is the anchor of the soul. When our stories seem charred remains, hanging onto Him, holding onto hope, we stand.

Sometimes we find ourselves strapped to machines, fighting to breathe, in a foreign hospital, our mother's fifty year-old engagement ring stolen off our finger, the life we had disintegrated. Yet, we possess the solid thing called hope. Even here. Especially here.

Sometimes we find ourselves in the midst of sudden loss. A loved one. A marriage. A career. A friendship. And here too, is the substance of hope. Its appearance as the warmth of the sun whose persistent force breaks through to a new day.

Determined and true. Hope will not be turned away.

The question to me (and you) is will we take hope on its terms or demand our own?

And here, we look to our stories to shape our perspective.

Within all of our stories there are dark, marred and misshapen things. They lay many years hidden, buried. They are stuffed into too-small boxes. They find paper-thin worlds of platitudes. It is all an attempt to create a life, a story, according to our own standards.

But this lacks the integrity of the kind of story God writes. He keeps the dark, marred and misshapen things in His own story. He lets the idolatry, adultery, murder, tyranny, exile and captivity take center stage. He breaks the heart of the reader until we understand it is the human story; our story.

Until we are all ready for a Savior. Until our great longing is for the full redemption of our lives and this whole wide world. Until we want nothing more than to see His Glory revealed and restored for the healing of the nations.

This is where my wandering soul finds rest. I watch those days burn up and leave the charred. I comb through with trembling fingers as my nails turn black. And then I see it. A golden thread. An undeniable reminder which says 'God is here.' The imperishable substance of hope--a faith refined by fire. One emptied of self so that I might bring glory to Him.

And a story. My story. It will never be the same because of what I have lived. Especially these days which altered the course of my life and the life of my family. In the nearly year since then, I have had the faintest glimpses of answers to 'why's', but often they flutter away like bright blue butterflies.

Yet, this hope, the anchor of my soul, is what remains.

*photo credit via fotolia.com
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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

My Story for His Glory:: The Eternal Weight of It All





And so I continue my slow process through the things I shared nearly a year ago on 'My Story for His Glory'...

We see our stories are continuous, eternal. They encompass every moment of our lives. And God promises to redeem it all and utterly transform everything into something beautiful. Nothing is excluded from this, and as we see so many places in our stories where God has brought good, we affirm the promise of Romans 8:28, ‘all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.’

When we open our mouths and speak the Truth, it becomes the living reality that sets us and others free.

I spoke these words on a late January day in a faraway place to 500 women gathered from many nations. I was shaking as I stood there. Both from nerves and the weight of import. I meant every word I said that day. Every word. 

I also believed the truths were tried and tested through what I had experienced in life. 

And they were. 

But God had something more to plant within my heart. He was about to show me through the pain of my brokenness and the brokenness of others just how deep His truth goes. He was preparing to change me from one degree of Glory to another. He was readying my story to receive the weight of eternity.

It is like this with all of our stories. We are living life one moment and in an instant it all changes. Tragedy. Sickness. Death. Loss. 

And beautiful things too! Dreams come to life. Love is born. New things come to be.

And our stories are made to bear the weight of it all. That is where their power comes from as we believe in the redemptive hand of God making it all good.

This verse, Romans 8:28 cannot be the platitude of the Christian. It is meant to be spoken with the full eye on our stories. Either we will speak through tears, or the cracked voice of the humbled, or the small, sacred of the servant.

Because we remember. We remember what it cost God in the lifeblood of Jesus to declare this His Truth sealed in His word. We remember that the full reality of a risen Savior is meant to shine upon our stories relentlessly. We remember that deeper than despair, darkness or doubt is hope.

We remember this is the character of our story.

There are still many moments when I feel weighted down by grief and loss. There are acute places of pain that I cannot see how they will become uniquely good. If someone tossed Romans 8:28 my way in those moments...well, you can imagine what I would do with it ;) 

But that is not what God intends with so precious a promise. He intends for us to trust in Him as the Great Author. He wants to surprise us with an eternal weight whispering all about the strands of our stories. He wants us to hear the roar of mighty waters rushing with a great flow toward Heaven. He wants us to speak it from deep and deeper places until we know.

And this is my testimony. There are whispers of good coming...I cannot see much of it yet, but it IS coming. There is the distant roar. At times I fall to my knees and it deafens my ears to all but the singular sound of His majesty. 

And all this aching, groaning of these past months? 

It's deepening, widening, heightening and lengthening the contours of my story. It's making room for glory. It's strengthening the fabric to bear the weight of His story.

*photo credit

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

My Story for His Glory:: I Am the Only One Who Can Take This Journey #TellHisStory




The surrounding walls are chalky-white on cement. The kind that cover your hand in fine dust if you run your finger over them. It's a transport to the 1940's. There are screechy, squeaky wheels of the medicine cart or is it the taller cafeteria cart?

A meaty hand raps hard on the door. My roommate has been crying off and on, in and out, for the last three hours. She rises from her bed and lays back down for the tears and torment are the same.

I have little to offer but a hand to cheek and sweetly saying 'Jó lesz, Viktoria. Jó lesz.' I don't know that it will be okay, yet I hope and pray so. They inject her with a sedative so she can rest. 

And how am I here? That is a part of the story I hope to put to page...one day. For now, it is enough to say my mind couldn't be trusted for a while. This has brought me here. I have had my own injections, one and then another, and they were too strong for me. So there have been three days in the ICU as I am unable to breathe.

But, I am coming through to the other side. 

And I will One Day be safely on that shore, forevermore. The one with sparkling rivers, seas of glass and streets made of gold that glistens. Where all tears have dried but the emotion is heartfelt. Yes, One day, soon, I will be there.

But, now I live here. And the story can be told all full of making it through and the final victory of Heaven. It's an amazing reality that awaits and I cling to it with all I most deeply am.

But, I live here. And my story is not one served best with its neat stack, pat of butter and real maple syrup poured just so. No. This is not the story I must journey to know, live and speak.

For now, at times, the sea of glass cuts flesh all shards of what is broken. The river runs muddy with its debris crashing over and making dirty. And the streets? Rutted and potholed and the falls are many.

And this authentic journey of my story is one only I can take. I would most want Mama to hold my hand, but it's more than thirteen years since she went to Heaven. My twin sister, too, but we each have our own lives and far apart besides. Sometimes I soul-beg for my husband to make it all better or for my kids to fill in all the cracks.

Then it all starts to hemorrhage. And I know.

I am the only one who can live my story. I must face each wound or pain. I must receive each joy or gift. Many hold my hands along the way, but they have their stories. At times our paths intertwine so fiercely, but no, our stories are not the same.

It is so important to see this. Because sometimes the hardest, bravest thing to do is live my very own story. I can live the past, what-I-was-or-did story, whether good or bad. I can live the victory story where it is all better. I can live the fearful-anxious story, hemmed in and hiding. I can live the future story where glory is all I see.

But can I live the 'I am in a broken world yet being made new' story? Can I live redemption? Where I am present to acute pain and torment such as I never want to live again? And I don't deny it nor does it have power over me? Can I live with unwavering, resilience where each piece of my own unique story has a beautiful weight that far outweighs its ugly?

It is a huge task to live my story so. Yet, when I commit to such living I can never be satisfied with less. I grow so weary of the pretending and take my stand for what is real.


It is also a treasure to live my story so. Because only in Jesus can I. Only through His perfection wrapping me tight and secure, can I share any bit of my story. Only through Him can I lay down the acceptance of others or their understanding and simply...be His. Only through Him can I know a courage deep enough to walk this journey. 

As his beloved, this story--my story, is the only one given to me before time as it lays out before me, weaving its hand through the days of my one little life.

So how can I choose anything but to live it?

Sharing with SDG and #TellHisStory
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