A Psalm For The Drought

A psalm of rest seems mocking me
No flock upon this path I see
My shoulders ache beneath my load
So weary is the soul

When have we lain in pastures fresh?
For many a mile, I must confess
My lips could not your promise vaunt

I shall not want
I shall not want

What comfort is a beating rod?
Your staff around my neck oh God
No, every blow was meant to heal
And by your staff you guide

Through snares and pits I failed to see
Your discipline has sheltered me
Distrust shall not my courage daunt

I shall not want
I shall not want

If I, the only wounded sheep
The shepherd’s lonely footsteps lead
Shall I turn back for want of streams?
Or pasture golden dry?

Or shall I follow faithful
Though you spread an empty table?
Shall I stay though deathly shadows haunt?

I shall not want
I shall not want

For from the cracked and splintered board
Shall spring a feast—a fountain stored
Yes, quiet streams shall sing again
And pastures come alive

Your mercy I shall ever know
My cup at last shall overflow
No more shall foes or feelings taunt

I shall not want
I shall not want

Faith and Emotional Honesty

*This particular post is intended for Christians*

Independently, I have always been an avid student of psychology. Yes, even from my earliest memories I’ve found myself analyzing the internal processes behind words and behaviors—intrigued, and a little obsessed with understanding everything within and beyond my intuition.

The mind, like all of nature, is a complex and beautiful thing. And like all of nature, both it and our understanding of it must be in harmony and balance.

Because beliefs play such a vital role in mental health, it can be fascinating to observe the interaction between various aspects of faith and psychology. And by the same token, at times it may be disturbing to observe the effects of religious misbelief on the mental and emotional health of individuals. Prone as we are to extremes, we humans tend to carry ideas far beyond the context of their intended application; in consequence obliviously teetering on the edge of a subtle zealotry and madness. (I’ll throw in here that zealotry is by no means confined to those of conservative persuasions.)

For unnumbered years, biblical principles and instruction have enabled believers to stay (in some ways) ahead of the science of psychology, yet ironically some people’s misapplication of religious maxims may perhaps keep them somewhat behind it.

I have observed that relatively new scientific ideas such as post traumatic growth, truth therapy, and many aspects of positive psychology, are actually popularizing a biblical philosophy/experience. And that, at times with a balance that some Christians seem to have partially lost sight of. My pet theme for today: talking faith.

Scores of Christians have heard the phrase “talk faith” but is it an empty cliche, a baptized repressive mechanism, or a powerful transcendent strategy? I propose that depending on how one applies it, it may become any of these. In my experience, our understanding of the relationship between faith and emotion does not always turn out to be in balance.

Sometimes we think that talking faith means denying reality. I’ve fallen into that trap before: the “things are great” facade when I’m really not okay, because I want to “talk faith.” Or the self talk resolutely stating to myself the opposite of what I’m feeling in an attempt to make it true. But that’s not talking faith, that is declaring a lie. Which is not to say that we should bare our souls to every stranger who says “how are you?” There is a way to be positive without being dishonest (as I will discuss), yet it has been my observation and experience that conservative Christians can tend to shun their emotions. And whether conscious of subconscious, this fear or aversion often leads to manifold psychological and verbal gymnastics in an attempt to put the “appropriate” face forward. In reality, it is the same emotionally detached, socially acceptable avoidance tactic that all people tend to employ. The only difference is that we as Christians plaster the justification of “faith talking” on it, effectively placing ourselves further from the possibility of recovery because we have now re-labeled the behavior as the “right” thing to do. Yet just like the child who is forced to say “I’m sorry” when he is not, this piling on of insincere positives not only teaches us to lie to ourselves and others, but it creates a psychological turbulence of unresolved emotional matter stuffed deep down under the surface.

Everyone recognizes when a person uses alcohol or partying to repress and avoid issues. We know that these are superficial anesthesias that can never promote true mental and emotional health. But what if we as Christians are trying to use something mis-labeled as “faith” to gloss over our struggles and make our feelings go away, neglecting to actually work through them and achieve true resolution.

We need to understand that faith is not to be a means of escaping emotion, though it does serve as a means of transcending it. There is a significant difference between the two. In order to transcend, one must still pass through. Faith does not involve denial. As the Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias says:

“Pain is a process. Don’t try to shortcut it.”

Nevertheless, surveying the landscape of believers, I cannot help but wonder if we are creating a Christian culture of emotional repression.

From creation, all of nature was designed for harmonious balance with laws to govern every dimension: the physical, mental and spiritual. The laws of the mind must be observed just as the laws of the body must be. If we find we hold beliefs that do not harmonize with these laws, it would behoove us to re-examine them. There are consequences to an incorrect application of faith talking, beginning with the reality that emotional-psychological tension remains unresolved, and cognitive dissonance is added to that tension.

“(Leon) Festinger’s …cognitive dissonance theory suggests that we have an inner drive to hold all our attitudes and beliefs in harmony and avoid disharmony (or dissonance)…An important factor here is the principle of cognitive consistency, the focus of Festinger’s (1957) theory of cognitive dissonance… A powerful motive to maintain cognitive consistency can give rise to irrational and sometimes maladaptive behavior.”
McLeod, S.A. (2008). Cognitive Dissonance

There are several ways this might play out. An individual may experience difficult emotions alongside the belief that as a Christian they should not feel a certain way. They might attempt to reduce this dissonance by adapting their words and behavior to reflect what is appropriate in their belief system. As their words or behavior clash with the reality of the emotional experience, they may further attempt to reduce the compound dissonance by “reducing the importance of the cognitions”(Mcleod). In other words, leading themselves to believe that their emotions are not important or relevant or (in extreme cases) even real. For some this may perpetuate a state of internal turbulence, while for others it may lead to partial or complete dissociation from their emotions. This does not mean they will not experience emotions and the adverse results of irresolution, but they may not be consciously aware of them. They will essentially lose touch. And this not only causes disharmony in one’s own mind, but also dysfunction in one’s most intimate relationships.

So where did we get the idea that we should deny our emotions? Quite simply it was by taking instructions out of balance and out of context. Folks, this is not a biblical philosophy. The Biblical system is in all respects, one of truth.

O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart.”
Psalms 15:1-2

One cannot be fully honest with others before he is fully honest with himself. We have so many examples of transparency in scripture and yet so many of us still have not caught on. Honest expression is a human psychological need and essential for emotional health. God has not asked us to be something other than human. He has asked us to be holy humans. Let me offer some examples.

Job
Just read through the book of Job and you will see the intensity and transparency of the man God says was perfect. This man was real. He was real in his devotion, he was real in his anguish and in his expression of his spiritual and emotional experience, both to God and to his friends. Job did not understand the dynamics of what he was going through, but in spite of his raw and extensive verbal processing, scripture says that he passed the test. In all this Job did not sin, and at the end of the book God says that Job had spoken the truth!

Jacob
The one who in his youth tried to secure spiritual blessings through deceit, is the one whom we find wrestling with God and in his brokenness overcoming. We can never have the victorious experience of transcendence before we get real with ourselves and with God. Too many times we want to avoid that, but it is through the struggle that restoration comes.

David
Another stunning example of emotional honesty is the psalmist David. Let’s be real, some of his Psalms are actually a little frightening in their intensity. Particularly ones such as 109, where he passionately wishes calamity and death upon even the parents and children of those who have done him wrong. But these things are examples for us of how transparent the prayer life should be. It legitimizes the processing out of our deepest emotions to God. After all, He already knows it all, yet we need to acknowledge and express it. Obviously, death wishes for others may not be the appropriate thing to share with our friends. Some things are better only shared with God. But several other biblical examples show us what a large percentage of transparency we should also foster with each other.

Jesus
If you’re still unconvinced about emotional honesty, look at Jesus. Christ, while ever dignified, was transparent as the sun. He did not hide his sorrow or his joy. He wept openly. He poured out his heart in prayer aloud. As God and man he acknowledged his human emotions as well as his transcendent faith in the Father. Look at Psalm 22, a prayer that begins with the words that Jesus shouted publicly in the hearing of his whole nation (though penned by David, the psalm is Christ’s experience at His crucifixion).

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning… I am a worm and not a man, a reproach of men and despised by the people…”

He goes on to graphically express the reality of his situation. And also, the feelings—the emotions he is experiencing.

“My heart is like wax; it is melted within me… And You lay me in the dust of death.”

But he doesn’t stop there. He expresses and acts on the promises of the Father. He looks beyond the present circumstance, talks faith, and while passing through it, transcends.

“I will tell of Your name to my brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You. You who fear the Lord, praise Him… For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face from him; But when he cried for help, He heard… The afflicted will eat and be satisfied; those who seek Him will praise the Lord… All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord… It will be told of the Lord to the coming generation. They will come and will declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has performed it.”

Christ remained honest throughout His experiences. He cried “My God, why have You forsaken me?” And yet He grasped the promise and prayed “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.” His final dying words were words of victory—of transcendence. Even as His heart split forming streams of blood and water, he trumpeted the cry of victory, “It is finished!
But we are uncomfortable with such transparency. Many of us prefer the facade. We forget that what makes the psalms of triumph most powerful is having seen the psalms of despair.

Christ has called us as believers to a community of truth—a community of sharing. We should not be so concerned about keeping up “the right face” that we are ashamed to be transparent. The ground is level at the foot of the cross, and unless we nurture such relationship amongst ourselves, we will never become the community that Christ intended. We are encouraged,

“Confess your faults to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”
James 5:16

I have a best friend who I thought for years was on a certain “level” where she could never understand or relate to some of my deeper, darker struggles. There was a whole side of my experience that I never shared because I was ashamed, and I felt she would see me differently. So I suffered alone. I felt it was my duty to always be a bright influence, a shining beacon of faith. I remember clearly one night, my best friend really opened her heart to me regarding a struggle she had been having for years. She wept and told me she hadn’t shared it with me because she was so ashamed, and she feared that I would see her differently. Shocked, I realized that we both suffered in silence, keeping up an appearance, an “appropriate Christian face” when what we really needed was transparency. That night we became closer than we ever would have become otherwise. We prayed for each other and encouraged each other, and the fellowship was sweet indeed. This is what Christ wants in the community of faith. Though manifested in different ways, we are all in the same condition, though we realize it or not. And God places us in community because we need each other. Please don’t misunderstand me, I do believe that we should be a bright influence on others. Yet many times we can be a much greater encouragement through our shared struggles, than we could ever be through feigned sublimity.

How many children of God feel as though they struggle alone, ashamed to share their experience with those who have been placed around them for mutual encouragement in the faith? Many, many. Even when people do share their struggles, encouragements can seem very empty to someone who does not truly believe you can relate to them experientially. Oh what lost opportunities for fellowship, due to our valiant facades!

I used to try to only put my best face forward, always the “faith” face, always the “joy” face. But now I make an effort to show my honest struggles and bare humanity. I can’t say I know the perfect balance. Yet I pray it might help other strugglers not to be so ashamed of sharing their own, and I hope, add credibility to the encouragements I offer.

One thing however is certain: we need to stop stuffing ourselves into the socially acceptable mold of avoidance. Instead we should acknowledge, “I feel like this, but God will do such and such. I’m waiting expectantly for it. I’m praising Him before it happens, so that it will happen.” That is talking faith. We should only contradict our feelings when our feelings themselves are a lie. For example, if I feel like I am no good and will never amount to anything, I must contradict that feeling! Yet even so, I should acknowledge that I feel that way, and then tell myself the truth: I am valuable, and I can become anything I work hard for. This creates not dissonance, but liberation.

Faith has nothing to do with how I feel, but I still must acknowledge my feelings before faith can take action.

We need to stop using pretty words to gloss over our issues and instead face reality head on, working through our issues intelligently and trusting God to accomplish our transformation.

In an earlier example I used a child who is forced to say “I’m sorry.” Instead of parents forcing insincere apologies, they would better require an acknowledgment that what the child has done is wrong. This is an objective truth. Then the parent should help the child process through the issue that has caused the misconduct until hopefully, an apology springs naturally. If one does not come, that is not their responsibility; the heart condition is God’s sphere to work on. But we need to teach and practice truth.

It’s about time we threw out the empty cliche, and dispense with the baptized repressive mechanism. Let’s embrace the powerful, transcendent strategy.

The steps to transcendence as modeled in scripture:
1. Acknowledge your present reality – internally
2. Express reality – externally
3. Acknowledge the promise – internally
4. Express the promise – verbalizing really helps. Genuine faith talk does change things! Much as the psychological tool of telling yourself the truth does in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
5. Act on the promise – this varies in application depending on the particular circumstance
6. Let God instate your new reality – as humans we cannot really change our emotions, we can only choose what to do with the emotions we have. But God can change our emotions. And we must wait for Him to do it, not try to force a change ourselves. Fortunately, God has offered a divine exchange:

“To comfort all who mourn,
to provide for Zion’s mourners,
to give them a crown in place of ashes,
oil of joy in place of mourning,
a mantle of praise in place of discouragement.”
Isaiah 61:1-3

Don’t try to shortcut it. Detours end in dissonance and dysfunction. Be transparent. Acknowledge emotions, face issues and work through challenges. Only in this way will we in each circumstance achieve transcendence.

Many years ago, with the characteristic insight of a child, I wrote this very simple rhyme:

I can hide how I feel
But I’ll still feel the pain
You won’t see on the outside
The tears I refrain
I can make up my face
So I look good to you
But at home in my mirror
I’ll still see the truth
I can fool my own self
If I lie everyday
But the truth of the matter
Will not go away
Being honest with me
Is the safe thing to do
So be honest
And I will be honest with you

 

 

Morning

I walked between the moon and sun
Before the break of day
And watched the painted sky converge
As starlight faded gray

The light of night and morn had met
Within the silent wood
Upon the river’s gilded face
Their light I first mistook

The rippling current twinkled boldly
But her song was mild
And so I paused, absorbed, entranced
And all at once beguiled

Poised on the brink of time I stood
Beneath the stellar dome
And pondered the eternal world
I pondered there alone

The newborn day had come to play
With shadows of the trees
Yet found nocturnal glowing eyes
Still peeping through their leaves

Anticipation quickened then
As time beyond me slowed
Still, drifting on a borrowed muse
With wandering step I strode

Still on and on
Beneath the mystic riddle of the sky
For nature ever stoops to teach my spirit
Through my eye

And often, as the morning breaks
I slip away to hear
I hear the song of final dawn
Where night will disappear

IMG_5842

Everything For Everything

*This post has a strong Christian base from a biblical worldview and is not for the casual readerIMG_5838

Seasons of life have time and again brought to me the winter of loss.

Perhaps you can relate?

If loss itself were not harsh enough, it often seems that crises come upon us in an unrelenting blizzard, with one following close after the other, and many, all at once. We know that this is the nature of life (vexing as it may be) yet for those who’ve surrendered to God, this phenomena can sometimes, in a way, lead to even more confusion and turmoil than is otherwise common.

And why? Because the wholeheartedly surrendered Christian has a habit of seeking God’s guidance in everything. Praying and continually surrendering their own will, they seek only the will of God: pleading that He guide in every particular, and in all things, turn their choice into the path which His omniscience sees is best. This course at least has been my habit in my current walk with God, and because of this, I have often found myself perplexed at the curious unfolding of the things I have surrendered. Beyond that, as I’ve studied the lives of others, I have found that some are excessively punctuated by losses while for others such pains remain quite foreign. Certainly, I do not claim to be among the world’s greatest sufferers, yet the observance of this phenomena, whether personally or otherwise, has always led to some degree of consternation. For while we are counseled to expect trials as Christians, there is little that can adequately prepare some of us for what seems to be an incessant theme of disappointment and loss.

One day some years ago, I came to discuss my thoughts with God as follows:

“At the outset, when You ask if we are willing to give up all for You, even to our very lives, we promise that we are. Those are Your terms after all—everything for everything. You gave all, we must give all; even to the loss of all things if it should come to that. Yet once (if perhaps it should occur) everything begins to be stripped away, suddenly we draw back in confusion and alarm. ‘Do You intend to take everything?’ Well, those were the terms, weren’t they?

Perhaps we had thought of other things, but what if You must require our cherished hopes, longings, or earthly companions? I do not know. Truly, it is not the lot of many to lose all. Yet for some, yes, for some. And shall we then break our vows? Of course You intend to take everything! The question, futile to even ask, is will You give any of it back? If we knew the answer, perhaps it would be no true surrender…”

Remember it? We stood at the marriage altar with God and declared that we would give our entire life to Him and for Him. Yet perhaps we thought of other things: the giving of our time and energy for His work, the yielding of our self destructive habits, and on and on. But what about the other parts of our lives? What about the material things, the perfectly honorable temporal ambitions, the relationships?

You think it is severe—if God should take everything. Yet this is not some kind of arbitrary power play or test. Whatever God gives or withholds in this life, is for the purpose of our salvation and reunion with Him. Whatever is given is therefore necessary, and likewise, what is withheld.

There are some things that must be removed because although they are not bad of themselves, God sees that our attachment to them would hinder us in our progress heavenward. There are even things that seem good to us that God knows would actually turn out for our harm.

“But I can’t see how this could ever lead to that!” we say. Yet that’s the point of course, that God can see, and we can’t. That’s the difference between finite knowledge and infinite knowledge. But we want to see everything and understand everything now—or at least within a “reasonable” timeframe. Like Thomas, we want to see before we will believe. Like Saul, if we can’t understand, we want to rebel. It is hard when in spite of all efforts, we seem to be punished at every turn.

Yet many things that we take as losses are really God’s mercies. They are not to punish us, but to spare us from greater suffering. But we, like petulant children who cannot see beyond our simple wants, so often grieve and oppose the Father’s wisdom, and fail to appreciate the Father’s sheltering love.

There are also trials that we must pass through in order for certain indispensable traits of character to be developed in us, even though we may be completely unable to see how it could be so. Only God knows the particular fires that will refine our dross. In our suffering, we tend to search for a reason or purpose outside of ourselves, or for some measurable result within us. Sometimes, there is no purpose in our pain, other than to purify and exhibit our faith. And this is a result that is measurable only by God.

“Many who sincerely consecrate their lives to God’s service are surprised and disappointed to find themselves, as never before, confronted by obstacles and beset by trials and perplexities… Like Israel of old they question, “If God is leading us, why do all these things come upon us?”
It is because God is leading them that these things come upon them….
He who reads the hearts of men knows their characters better than they themselves know them…Often He permits the fires of affliction to assail them that they may be purified.
The fact that we are called upon to endure trial shows that the Lord Jesus sees in us something precious which He desires to develop. If He saw in us nothing whereby He might glorify His name, He would not spend time in refining us. He does not cast worthless stones into His furnace. It is valuable ore that He refines.”
-Help In Daily Living p. 9

It is only the all-transcending love of God within us that can free us from the presence and the power of sin by displacing the hidden selfishness within us. If you take something from me, my soul rises up against you. It is natural, and it is not wrong for the soul to cry out against loss. But can I then accept it graciously? Or will I let those losses fester, provoking resentment and destroying peace?

It is love—perfect love that must be made complete in us. Not love that is wimpy and weak. Not love that may change with the seasons. Not love that lies down like a doormat, but love that is so powerful it cannot be overcome. Love that is more powerful than suffering or loss. Love that is more powerful than selfishness or hate. Love that is more powerful than death or than the grave.

Those who joined the early church expected suffering, they expected the loss of all things. We know how to apply the verses on suffering to classic persecution, but most of us in the western world don’t have our government or family members seeking our life. Strangely, we find it easy to forget that being a disciple still means forsaking all, and sometimes, being forsaken by all. Sometimes we, in twenty-first century, western world ways, are still called upon to suffer great loss.

So let us be reminded of those common verses again:

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”
Matthew 16:24-26 ESV

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37-38 ESV

This is not because of some arbitrary, almighty test, but because it is only that powerful, reciprocal love for Christ that will transform and save us. If we embrace the refining, each and every trial may at last bring us forth with purer, stronger, and more indestructible faith and love.

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”Romans 5:3-5 ESV

I do feel that I need to insert a disclaimer: I am not in any way suggesting that every negative experience is from God. God allows does not equate to God caused. We are all the subjects of enemy attacks. The Bible says that every good and perfect thing is from God, and that the Enemy is the one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But every attack has been weighed out in advance, and a divine strategy is already in place for both our deliverance and our betterment. Beyond this, we need to also realize that painful doesn’t necessarily mean bad. Like the birth of a new baby, there are many good and perfect things in this life, that can only come through pain. We also must be born again—not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit of God.

“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1Thessalonians 5:8.
This command is an assurance that even the things which appear to be against us will work for our good. God would not bid us be thankful for that which would do us harm” Ministry of Healing p. 255.

It follows that whatever comes upon us, if surrendered to God, and received with faith’s thanksgiving, will be turned to our eternal benefit. Nothing then, however evil intended, can ultimately harm us. We rest beyond any true harm, for in His hand, the curses hurled at us are turned to blessing. For God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him; to those who are called according to His purpose, whose purposes are always kind. Simple, unconditional acceptance of whatever God allows—through trust in His farseeing goodness—is the ultimate freedom.

So will He give anything back?

“Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” Mark 10:29-30 ESV

Whatever we lose in our journey with Christ, we have the promise that we will receive a hundredfold. We do not know in what form these gifts may come in this life, but we know by faith, it will be worth it.

One day it occurred to me that the word “thing” does not appear in the original language of scripture in Psalm 84:11, and I had this epiphany:

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11 ESV.

“But as for me, the nearness of God is my good…” Psalm 73:28 NASB

Meaning not that He may not allow things or people to be withheld, but that He will not withhold Himself. And in the gift of Himself, I will lack nothing; but He will be all, and in all.

So there you have it. Everything for everything are the terms. Everything you now have, in exchange for more than you could ever imagine.

“…As it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”” ICorinthians 2:9 NKJV

But are there really people who lost everything and still thought it was worth it? Sure there are. And I assure you there are modern examples, but I think no one can beat the apostle Paul, declaring:

“Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:7-11 ESV

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18 NASB

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV

No matter how great the losses suffered here, or the pain endured in this short life, we are assured that it will fade in comparison with the glorious reward that is to come. So although it tarries, wait for it. It will surely come. The “everything” on this side is not even a grain of sand to the endless beaches of the everything we gain through Christ’s inheritance.

So my journal entry ended that day some years ago:

“Here I am. Willing to be made willing. With trembling, yet what is to be desired above Your peace? I do want You more than all. So quiet me with Your love…

I think of the words of Jesus, ‘Behold the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave Me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.”John 16:32 ESV

I am not alone, for You are with me. I knew that of course… I know You’re always with me. Yet now, at last, for this moment, I am also with You.”

*All italics supplied