Hope Rising

Monday, June 4, 2012

Accepting whatever the Giver chooses to give.

 I looked up at the bulletin board over my desk just now.  It brims with quotes and verses that have spoken promise to me over the years, and my eyes rest on a scrap of paper that says, "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living..." (Psalm 27:13) My mind wandered back to the day, the time of life that I wrote it down, when the words seemed new, and gave me life and hope.  I was recently divorced, devastated, and grasping for straws.  I read that passage, and the "in the land of the living" part stuck out.  Like a thunderbolt, it hit me: the phrase "in the land of the living" means while we're on earth. Down here. Not just up in heaven some day.  It must mean that I don't have to hang on by my fingernails until Jesus comes back to get good things.

I know that this verse is often quoted.  Maybe even over-quoted, if Scripture can be such.  I also know that for the passage to grab me in that way--to jolt me back to a reality where God does allow good things while we're on earth showed much about my view of Him...perhaps I felt that I had done something wrong, and now, for the rest of my life, I'd just cower in my corner, try not to upset Him, and experience the blessing when I finally made it to heaven.

But, then, at the time I wrote the verse down and pinned it on my bulletin board, it felt like a promise.  Fresh. New.  I could hope, I could wish, I could breathe.  For me, that meant that maybe, just maybe, I could hope for a new life.  Another try. For me, that mean that I thought of the blessing of a Godly husband and more children.

That was over 6 years ago. Those dreams haven't come true (yet). 

So you may wonder what I think about God's promises now--when my dreams from that time have not come true.  Whether I still  have nights when I lay in bed and wonder why I haven't measured up to someone.  Why I wasn't good enough or pretty enough. Why so many women complain about their faithful husbands while I no longer had one.  Why I, who only ever wanted to be a wife and a mother, must be a single mother, albeit with one beautiful precious child.  Where is my God now?

I would be lying if I said that there aren't nights of loneliness or struggle.  Days when it surprises me still that this has been my lot.  But in these 6 years, I have found a wonderful secret: God is always good.  His character has not changed simply because I am not experiencing the fulfillment of my deepest dreams.  In His goodness, sovereignty, and wisdom, He still asks me to wait for those things, but in the waiting, and even still in the longing for those things, I can still live--with fullness, thankfulness, satisfaction, and joy.  I may never see my dreams fulfilled--but I know that will only be because His dreams for me were better.

The key to real life is to continue, to be faithful, and to remember what verse 14 of Psalm 27 says: 


Wait for the LORD;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD.

Ann Voskamp says, "The quiet song of gratitude...lures humility out of the shadows because to receive a gift the knees must bend humble and the hand must lie vulnerably open and the will must bow to accept whatever the Giver chooses to give..."

"Humbly let go.  Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control...let go of my own way, let go of my own fears.  Let God blow His wind, His trials, oxygen for joy's fire.  Leave the hand open and be. Be at peace. Bend the knee and be small and let God give what God chooses to give because He only gives love and whisper surprised thanks.  This is the fuel for joy's flame. Fullness of joy is discovered only in the emptying of the will. And I can empty.  I can empty because counting His graces has awakened me to how He cherishes me, holds me, passionately values me.  I can empty because I am full of His love. I can trust." (One Thousand Gifts)

I heard Brother Andrew tell the story of visiting Corrie Ten Boom after she had purchased a beautiful stately home in Haarlem where she displayed her clocks that she loved so much. While visiting her and admiring her house and the lovely gardens, Brother Andrew commented, "Corrie, what a wonderful home. God is good to you."  Corrie's face fell, and almost crossly she said, "Andrew, God was also good when Betsy died. God is always good." Brother Andrew went on to say: "Corrie taught me an important lesson that day-- easy times and prosperity are not the signs that God is good. We know that God is good, which makes the hard times easier to bear because we don't face them alone."

So can I still say He's good now--nearing 7 years down a road I never dreamed I would travel? Yes, yes, and ever yes. 

He is good. Always and forever good. 

This journey has taught me so much about His character, about who He IS--and maybe that was the point of it all along.


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