Site icon Grace for the road

A season I didn’t ask for.

We fight for the ones we love.

Where we fail … there is plentiful redemption.

And where we hope … there is a story with an ending worth the fight, a story worth staying in the race for, a story bigger than the one that ends with a headstone.

And there’s a God who’s worth our unwavering gaze.

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*****

It’s early. It’s dead silent.

And it’s colder than I was ready for.

The first slightly chilled breezes of autumn are curling around the house in the dark this morning, and it’s enough to make me reheat my coffee twice before 6 a.m. just so I can curl my cold fingers around the warm mug.

I run a little cold most of the time. I’m a fuzzy socks in July kind of girl. I’m a sweater-in-August kind of girl. And once autumn starts tumbling into winter, I’m a write-indoors-in-fingerless-gloves kind of girl.

And as my fingers wrap around my coffee this morning, I think, it’s coming.

And I think no … I don’t want it.

That’s dramatic, I know. But it never fails that when the very first signs of winter’s cold, dark tendrils start to curl around my life this time of year, I start to cling to the sun like it’s the provider of my every need.

Sunlight seems pretty basic.

But even it isn’t everything.

And if God thinks I need something different than what I think I need, then I have to unclench my fingers and let it go.

This past season — the year I was 35 — a lot of things have happened that I’ve had to gather up in my heart and think about, pray about, cry about with God. Fighting without, and fear within. It’s felt at times like the enemy came rushing in like January, ferociously cold and unrelentingly dark.

There’s been Syria, presidential candidates, hurricanes, children set on fire.

I squeeze my eyes shut. How long, Lord? The whole earth groans.

And even in the battlefield of the few square miles I walk around, there has been hurt so far above my capacity to understand or fix, coming at a speed I haven’t been able to handle. I’ve laid awake at night wondering how much more, Lord? and what in the world do I do? Why do the problems the world dishes out just seem deeper, more brutal, more far reaching these days?

At times my humanity has slammed up against the brokenness of this world like plates at a Greek wedding. At times I’ve made things worse when my intentions were to make them better. At times I simply didn’t have enough to give.

It’s a season I didn’t know was coming, but if I had, I’d have said the same thing to it that I did this morning to winter.

No … I don’t want it.

Yesterday afternoon at the park, I was reading up on the hill above a tennis court, and I watched as a coach stood on his side of the net with an entire cart full of tennis balls, hitting them at the student on the other side as fast as he could pick them up, sometimes while she was still swinging at the last one.

And I thought … I feel you.

Our enemy doesn’t play fair. And there have been times lately I feel I’ve crumbled under his volley as things have come my way that I didn’t know how to deal with.

But there on that hill, hearing ball after ball hit the racquet, I sat in Psalm 130, breeze rustling the pages.

“Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!”

The people who walked before us, they’re no stranger to the depths — the psalmist, who wrote this as he was walking up to meet God from the low places; the men and women of Hebrews 11; Corrie Ten Boom, who of her time in a German concentration camp wrote:

“I’ve experienced His presence in the deepest darkest hell that men can create. I have tested the promises of the Bible, and believe me, you can count on them. I know that Jesus Christ can live in you, in me, through His Holy Spirit. You can talk with Him; you can talk with Him out loud or in your heart when you are alone, as I was alone in solitary confinement. The joy is that He hears each word.”

He hears.

I read on.

“If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.”

He knows we all fail, that to this tangled, broken mess of a world, I daily contribute my own brokenness.

“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.”

But that … that line. Twice.

My soul waits for the Lord, more than it waits for the sunlight. More than it waits for the thing that I think will scatter the dark, warm the cold, bring relief.

“O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.”

Because in Him, there is steadfast love. There is plentiful redemption.

There is hope.

While we wait, we pick up a racquet and keep swinging. We talk to Him, like Corrie Ten Boom did. We tell Him how much this hurts, but how much we want to keep our eyes fixed on Him. We fight for the ones we love, the ones who don’t know Him yet, the ones who don’t have the strength to fight for themselves. We fight to do right by everyone, to pull those back who are rushing headlong into death, to comfort the hurting.

But where we fail … there is plentiful redemption.

And where we hope … there is a story with an ending worth the fight, a story worth staying in the race for, a story bigger than the one that ends with a headstone.

And there’s a God who’s worth our unwavering gaze.

With our eyes fixed on Him, it won’t matter if the morning ever comes, if the sun ever rises. I dare say we won’t even notice.

The sun can’t even begin to compete.

*****

“I Don’t Wait Anymore” the book, now at Barnes & Noble and other retailers. Check it out here.

It’s the story of shaking off broken dreams and expectations to follow God to something better — to a far better story.

You want in? I’d love it if you’d come along.

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