Saturday, May 16, 2015

My Story for His Glory:: Love is writing our lives (Part 1)

In January, I helped to lead a time for our Area Staff Conference with hundreds of women serving with Cru across Eastern Europe and Russia. The theme was 'Our Story for His Glory'. I introduced the time with a short talk.

I talked about each of our stories as a 'thread'. And then the threads of our stories are woven together in one glorious tapestry of redemption which reflects God's glory. I shared how our threads at times appear brilliant, like gold, and are full of hope. Other times the thread may seem broken, tattered or a jumbled mess. Still other times our threads seem dark and dull.

I would have said then that my thread seemed brilliant. I was excited about my life and the possibilities before me. I felt great hope. I had compassion for those in other places, but I knew where I was.

A month after this I was in the hospital and my thread was shredding and kept shredding. I had no idea about my story and if, when it was all over, I'd have anything left.

Recently I read the whole talk to my husband and he said:

 'Did you write all of that for yourself?'

I said, 'well, I didn't think so, but I guess you're right.'

So, over the next few weeks I am going to spend time with each point of that talk.

This week I want to look at this quote related to knowing and telling our stories:

"We embark on this journey because we believe that Love wrote our lives despite what it might seem at times. We choose to believe that our lives consist of more than simply a series of events. Underneath and through each scene lies the hint of a larger story God is telling through our lives."
 ~ Dan Allender, To Be Told - Workbook, p.3

If love is writing my life, which perspective do I adopt? 

On one side, when the thread is full of hope the heart is full of thanks and outpouring love before God for His gracious writing. 

But what about when the thread is crumpled, broken, tattered, even shredded?

I am learning, learning, learning, even more so there is a thankfulness for the Love that is writing my life. When it all seems to fall apart, this is where weary, battered hearts can rest. 

Love is writing my story. 

The pen is out of my hand. The illusion of any control I think I have is being seen for what it is. I am being led where I do not want to go, yet,

Love is singing over my life.

Root issues I could spend a lifetime running from in marriage, motherhood and ministry are being revealed. I am a mess of a child crying before my Abba Father day and night, but even more,

Love is embracing me heart and soul.

I know my frail, made-of-dust frame in deeper ways. The yearnings to run after lesser things are coming to full light. The tininess of my trust in the God who died for me is humbling me to know, there is no other hope except that

Love holds me now and forever.

Take heart, my friend, in the broken and tattered. Be encouraged in the dark and dull. Love is real and He is writing something glorious to One Day be revealed. Cling to Love. See the darkness flee. Find hope in your story in the light of His. Surrender all fear and run to the arms whose hands write it all beautiful. I am your friend right there with you.

Tell me what Love is writing over your life, or how you are trying to believe it is true.


Monday, May 4, 2015

DAYS of Grief and God is Enough

My wise friend Mary, who also happens to be a counselor, is helping me work through grief. For those of you who don’t know our circumstances, we had to leave our life overseas suddenly and unexpectedly. It was a life that we loved and where we and our kids were established.  We left because of concerns related to my overall health (not life-threatening, but serious nonetheless).

So here we are and I don’t like it. I have real grief and I think it is really important to call it what it is. (Any time there is a loss there is grief. So it can come in many forms and ways)

I think the other side of I Thessalonians 4:13 ‘we do not grieve as those who have no hope’ is also true. This means when we grieve we have hope. We gain understanding and perspective on life that transforms us in deep ways. And along with our own anchor of hope, we gain strength of empathy that is present amidst the grief of others.

So, I am walking right through it. As I do that, Mary gave me this helpful acronym, DAYS:


Acceptance (as we cycle through DAYS this is where we come to...eventually)

This looks and feels a bit like a sea-tossed ship. The denial is hard for me to have, since I wake up daily in Pennsylvania ;) but it has surely been present. The yearning is strong, especially when I think about all we love still there existing and happening, but without us. The sadness is real too and perhaps the hardest one to feel as it is acute, but it is still important to go there.

Yet, it's the anger that is taking me where I really need to go. The anger? I know. I am surprised too. The first time Mary and I talked about this, I said, 'I don't think I have much of the anger.' But as I have continued to be honest with myself, I have found it.

I am angry about everything that we/I have lost. Relationships. Stability. Security. Purpose. Name and Place in this World. And there are relationships and things our kids have lost too. And if I really acknowledge it, I want to rebel and stomp off from God's presence like the wayward child I so often am.

And this is where the anger is good. Yes, good. Because it forces me to ask this question: How can I ever, ever let go of God? I know He will not let go of me, but would I ever want to let go of Him? All of the things I am grieving are just things, even if they are abstract. And even if it is a person, like when I lost my mother, how could I ever let go of Him?

The truth is that I can endure anything in this life because it has already been endured by the God who has gone before me. 

 He was despised and rejected by men;
    a man of sorrows,and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.

~ Isaiah 53:3-4
(emphasis mine)

It's not easy to walk any of this grief because the anger, pain, yearning and sadness are all real. And yet I come to God and we take the journey together.

I come with all the ragged edges of my heart. I come with fist balled and ready to take out my anger (yes, on God, better him than my husband;). I come with all of the justification to feel the way that I do. I come certain I can have my own way if I complain and rant enough. 

I come because where else can I truly go? I come because He is enough, way more than enough, for the angry mess of me. I come knowing that here is my refuge this long road of grief; this exile; this stretching land that leaves hungry and parches. 

I come because I am made for Him. I come because no matter what this life brings, this is the only place I am truly loved, known, cared for, embraced, delighted in, fought for, guarded, guided, strengthened, prepared and much more.

I come because to do this gritty grief, I have to. I come because there is no other way that heals, sustains, makes whole and leads Home. And in the Beauty of such a Friend, I come because He is truly enough.

What about you, friend? Are you grieving? Are you coming to God in the midst of it?

Sharing with SDG and #TellHisStory


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