My heart pounded as I lay there in the dark. Two donkeys conversed outside. A rooster crowed. The call to prayer from the local mosque blared across the African desert.
And the sand didn’t soak up nearly as much of the sound as I thought it should.
“God, I know Your truth,” I whispered. “But I need Your truth to be loud right now.”
I trembled under the thin sheet, the remnants of a bad dream clinging to my skin like perspiration.
The darkness was heavy. Loud.
So loud that even the mosquito buzzing in my eardrum nearly drowned out the God of the universe for a moment.
I slapped at my ear.
I beat my chest.
Why is it that — while my God speaks with a still, small voice — the enemy is allowed to speak with such a deafening shout?
Why is it that I listen?
“Grace, you’re going to be so lonely …”
“You’re brokenhearted, and that’s never going to heal …”
“You should be ashamed of yourself …”
“You’ll never have the strength or ability to do this, that thing you feel called to do …”
Stop. Just stop.
I cover my ears. I block out the mosquitos.
“Father, please be loud,” I whisper.
I lay there on the bed, wrestling with the two-ton weight sitting on my racing heart. I try to throw it off like a hot brick, push it away like an elephant that’s parked its foot on my ribcage.
It crushes. And it won’t move.
“Father, the enemy has no right. No right to my heart. No right to tell me lies about You. Why does this hurt so much? Why does he get to speak to me like that when I know Your love for me is stronger?”
I feel my heart grasping for the Father’s love, the love I’ve crashed into in the past, the one that pursued me and began to gently strip away the things I thought I needed more.
The love that gave me life. The love that’s better than life. And He begins to remind my heart again.
I’ve never been alone.
In the most broken moment of my past, He was solid.
In my darkest pain, He held me.
When I needed strength desperately, He gave it.
In the middle of my shame and mess, He bent down, picked me up and offered me fresh mercies.
There in Africa — like Asaph in Psalm 77, when I found myself stretched on my bed, my soul refusing to be comforted — I asked God if His steadfast love had somehow ended.
And then I remembered His deeds of old. “What god is great like our God?”
As a sliver of sun peeked out over the sand, the truth was quiet but sweet.
He loves me like no one else can.
He seeps into the corners of my heart, turns over the stones, airs out the shadows and fills the gaps with His love.
Sometimes His love is buoyant. Sometimes it’s obvious and deliberate.
Sometimes it’s a slow and steady stream I have to choose to plunge my face into when the dark, heavy air I’m inhaling attacks me from the inside out.
Sometimes His love screams a battle cry and lifts me from the pit. Most days it just whispers a reminder of who I am. Who He is.
But it’s always there, packing the punch of a lion’s roar in my heart.
It’s won. It will win.
And today it’s winning again.
“For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)