'This evening the clouds lay low on the mountains, so that sometimes we could hardly see them, and sometimes the stars were nearly all covered. But always, just when it seemed as though the mountains were going to be quite lost in the mist, the higher peaks pushed out, and whereas the dimmer stars were veiled, the brighter ones shone through. Even supposing the clouds had wholly covered the face of the mountains, and not a star had shone through the pile-up masses, the mountains would still have stood steadfast, and the stars would not have ceased to shine.
I though of this and found if very comforting, simple as it is. Our feelings do not affect God's facts. They may blow up like clouds and cover the eternal things that we do most truly believe. We may not see the shining of the promises, but still they shine; and the strength of the hills that is His also, is not for one moment less because of our human weakness.
Heaven is no dream. Feelings go and come like clouds, but the hills and the stars abide.'"
"Everyone is scared of something, Arica, and we all have to face it. Make sure you face your fear and work it out with God."
When I was in Hawaii at the beginning of March I found that the essence of escape wasn't elating me. Apparently it was a prime scenario for me to be taken away from every distraction and when left with no other option I allowed myself to dive into a depth with God that I had apparently been avoiding.
God, despite me holding Him at arms length, was pursuing my deeper trust.
"Why are you so distressed? Don't you trust Me?"
"Honestly? At this level? No, not really lately."
"I see. So give Me what you're withholding from Me."
"Yes. Let me take care of your life, your worries, your plans, your heart... your dreams. Give Me your love again."
Oh man, He was prodding at those sensitive issues.
"Seriously, God? You aren't going to convince me first?"
"I already have. And, Arica?"
"You can enjoy Me now, more than you ever have before. I will give you peace."
I am not a crier. I simply don't enjoy emotions being able to contort my face and bring on what feels like a full blown sinus infection. But last week has turned me into a lenient faucet as I watched God parade His testimony in Jamie's life, all the way to the altar as she got married to Sam, another amazing testimony, formed from His hand. If you could learn anything from their marriage it was that God is good and trustworthy. But all the while I kept worrying what would come next in my own life. Not because of any red flags, but simply because I was giving up on formulating life (because I suck at it). The week of meeting new people and laughing with new friends felt like Bodenseehof all over again and I knew, from hard learned lessons, that that wasn't a place that we could camp in. It was a pocket, a pocket of eternity, not a destination.
Because of the wedding life was so full and in the few moments I had when I was at home to switch out clothes and whatever else I needed I would catch glimpses of a sleeping waiting fear. I feared the flat after it would all be over and everyone would leave. I feared the life I'd have to face that I still had not got in order and all the growing up I had yet to do.
It was simply this. Was God being a tease... or was He going to be faithful?
At the end of it all, Jamie and Sam were married, everyone went home, and I experienced the full effect of not having really slept for nearly 3 weeks. This sleep deprivation came in handy for a good cry and my mom came in handy when she saw it coming from a mile away. She knows me so well. Between my toothbrush and tears she got every little confession of all my stupid little fears. Fear of disappointment, disappointing, my dreams forever beyond my reach, left behind, loss, inadequacy, stupidity, little, not capable of growing up... ah you name it and it was bubbling over. But the desire to feel your soul on fire, your heart healthy and alive, and your dearest dreams come true is a desire that I don't think it was ever in God's plan to have His children give up. Mom affirmed this and in the span of 15 minutes was able to enforce a fortress of truth that I couldn't build at the end of the month on my own. Since putting up no fight with her encouragement I soaked it in like a sponge and slept deeper than I had in weeks.
God was refining something, very patiently.
The next day when I was nannying a single quote from a movie stuck to my mind like a fly trap. "Never have I felt so alive, than when I was so close to death."
I don't know what it was but I attached myself to that concept knowing that that was exactly what I wanted. I wanted to feel alive in the midst of emotional death.
There is the safe life. The life that takes no risks, never goes river rafting, or climbs heights or enjoys getting lost to let adventures happen. And there is another safe life. The kind that hides in emotional fear. That keeps bold requests from God for fear that He won't supply. A safe life that hides from pain because the emotion is too strong or from a question for fear it can't be answered. So if there's a conquering rush from the obvious adventure in life of overcoming vertigo or the ocean, then isn't there also a rush that eclipses spiritual fear? There has to be life in the midst of the battle. And not just in the midst of it but life exemplified for what you are clinging to. I'm tired of the cowardice and I'm sick of watching years go by in an emotional bubble. Because I think there is a difference in joy from being fed with a received blessing and then conquering a stronghold and winning freedom.
Queue Leslie :) My absolute favorite person to dive that deep into a thought with for her ability to bring to light a solid tangible answer.
How can you feel alive when paralyzing fear, disappointment and emotional grief threaten hope? Where is the "alive" factor when you feel stuck and flat? The feeling of having cheated fear when you need it? So simple: Trust. Shut your ears to the discouragement, the worry, the possible disappointment and just jump into God's truth. Upon hearing her say it my heart skipped like I was looking over a cliff with a parachute strapped to my back. Peter Reid once said, "In order to trust God you have to know the God you are trusting." When you've been listening to nothing but enslaving lies you loose sight of who God is, and that leap of trust seems to test every fiber of your brave little heart. To give Him all control and pour my hope and dreams into Him without reservation, I'm ashamed to say, scared the crap out of me. But then you do, and the sudden freedom in your heart that floods in and the safety you realize that He is and always was is an exhilirating truth that you want to test over and over again just for the feeling of flight with God.
Most times I feel out of place for how theatrical the world appears to me, but then I see God pursue this and am floored at how incredibly epic He is. He had told me to trust Him and confirmed it through others like Jayne, mom, Leslie and Zander. This isn't exactly a comfort after the storm but a sure feeling that something is coming. As Gandalf says, "It's the deep breath before the plunge." The moment when you've reached the top, let go of the wall, and lean back, placing all your hope and existence on a rope to let you return. He calls us out with a spirit of a warrior in our safe suburban lives in a way that tells us that there is something going on on His time table that we just aren't seeing.
It excites my soul!
Kathryn had given me this song right before I left for Hawaii and it basically is a recording of all that God has told me this month. May the Lord bless her for it, she doesn't know how priceless it has been.
I have no conclusion, only my God's promises continually calling as a challenge to no longer heed the voice of fear... and to enjoy Him. :)