Tuesday, June 24, 2014

When gravity lies.

(Disclaimer: This is raw. Not perfectly written or perfectly expressed...)

A moment hung in the air... Everything was silent.

What did he say? I didn't hear that right... I couldn't have. It just doesn't make sense. What did you say?

I said, the marriage is over. We're getting a divorce. 

There are moments in life that launch us beyond the realm of "sense". Beyond the place where feet are able to touch the ground and feel its surety.  Where hands are able to reach out and grab a hold, expecting not to fall... Where the "laws of life" that we think are real and true, as real and true as the laws of nature, collapse...

The marriage is over. We're getting a divorce. 

His heart stopped. He stopped breathing. He died. 

I'm sorry. She's gone.

I was raped.  And I'm pregnant. 

She will never be able to have children. 

Your son has cancer. 

These moments launch us into a new realm we did not know existed. Of course we'd read about it. We saw shows about it on TV... We knew of someone else it happened to...

But to me? For me, in my own experience, it's real. I didn't know this was real.

Then "they" say, She's gone off the deep end. We're worried about her choices. Why is he with someone else so soon? She should be selling the house. She needs to see the doctor. They should be happy to adopt. He should get his affairs in order. 

People speak often times of what they do not know.  "They" speak to the bereaved as though "life laws" still apply. That the normal expectations of life should remain intact after a life has been brutally launched into the realm of catastrophic loss. They see in simple systems. Do this. And get this. This = this. Naturally.

It is sometimes as if the church is calling to the bereaved, come back into our system and everything will turn out for good. You'll see! It says right here in Scripture! (Here, "they" typically quote Rom 8:28 or Jeremiah 29:11, both very true and powerful verses I might add.)

But these "systems", man-made systems, did not hold fast for the one to whom they speak!! The bereaved is lost in a world where systems collapse, with no consistent or predictable outcome... He now finds himself in a world where gravity lies. Where someone can be alive and then suddenly be dead. Where life can be done "right", and still end up in shambles, in shame, in unbearable pain. There is no longer an up from down. There is no specific protocol to follow that will result in specific consequences. The systems that the world puts in place lie...

I did everything the right way, and this is where it took me. I married a Christian man. I was faithful. We served the Lord... I worked so hard and overcame so much... 

Like a cruel trick, her world disappeared. The world she once reached out and grasped had somehow vanished. And then watched as she fell on her face.

I lost so much... my life, my identity, my entire sense of being...

The church tends to say to broken people, Do this! and you will have this! Come to church, sit in the pew, make the right choices, and everything will be fine!!!

But Jesus looks at these broken people, people who've been thrown beyond the "system" of the church into a realm of true soulful brokenness, where a person knows his shame, she can see her sin, he can feel is fear...

And Jesus waits... This is VERY important.

Because in the waiting... Jesus is wooing.

The realm where earthly systems have collapsed is the exact place the living Jesus longs to meet us face to face. It is a place of intersection. Where the laws of the Spirit, of the kingdom of heaven, take over where the systems of this earth have failed.

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven... Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:3-10)

These are points of intersection where Jesus meets us in Person. No earthly system qualification necessary.

A broken person doesn't need the church to "fix" her with their earthly systems and how to's...

She needs help to stay exactly where she is, in a fiery furnace so hot she can hardly stand to be in her own burning and chaffing skin, and WAIT for an encounter with the living Saviour. 

This is the hardest thing for the church to do. For the bereaved to do. WAIT. Wait in excruciating pain and emptiness??? Impossible!? Excruciating. WAIT. And trust that goodness will come. Not because of an earthly system of do's and don'ts, but because our Jesus is ALIVE. And he is still in the business of healing and restoring broken lives.

If you are uncomfortable with another person's grief, than you cannot be Jesus to them in that place. You will try to bring them out of the realm of brokenness into your "system" of "life laws" in which you are much more comfortable. Not understanding that your job is not to take them out of it, they are in the exact right place, a perfect place, right where Jesus wants them... Your job, the church's job, is to comfort and support them as long as it takes, in and through the fiery furnace. Wait with them. Help them to wait in their brokenness for an encounter with the living God. 

"They" say to the "lost", You have to trust God!! But I am asking the church, Do YOU trust God?? Enough to let Him actually show up???

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The finale after a day of great wrestle...

Catastrophic loss... 

Those early months after Lynn's death were supersaturated with the sense of total devastation and loss, the aftermath of a powerful bomb that leaves nothing but dust and ashes... catastrophic loss, as Jerry Sittser called it.

I had stood and looked around me. All was lost. Nothing was left but the ruins of a once prominent and beautiful city.

Interestingly, www.blueletterbible.org says this of the widow:  a city stripped of its inhabitants and riches is represented under the figure of a widow.

The vulnerability. The shame. The emptiness. The loss. So clearly depicted in the profound depth of this image.

Right now, my heart throbs for broken women. What label are you wearing?? widowed? divorced? single? barren? adulterer? harlot? The heart of God pounds within me, pressing to come forth in fiery passion. My God is jealous over these women!! ...as He has been over me. For I am His Bride. You are His BRIDE! 

Will the God of everlasting love, of absolute goodness and sovereign power, the God who set this story in motion with the beginning of creation, the God who patiently and diligently drew Israel back to Himself again and again, ultimately to send forth His own Son, His Word becoming flesh, taking on the form of a man and being obedient unto death, even death on a cross, to be raised again to new life, to conquer hell, to overcome this world of death, to make a way of salvation, to ascend into heaven victorious, to sit at the right hand of God, having gained the authority in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and to pour out His very Spirit upon all flesh, the same Spirit that rose Christ from the grave to dwell in us...

Will this God, leave His Bride stripped of her inhabitants and riches??? Will He leave her vulnerable? Will He leave her in shame? In scorn? In emptiness? In woundedness? In fear? In lack? In poverty?

My God, the God of the universe, the One I know and love and serve with every breath, each belonging to Him... This God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Great I Am... He will not.

I am the Bride of Christ. Are you? Are you His? If you are His, if you are in Christ, then you have a rich inheritance, a sure and secure inheritance of a heavenly kingdom that you hold right now in your hand.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb 11:1).

God allowed me to stand in total devastation and loss, in ruins, a city stripped of its inhabitants and riches, in utter darkness and despair... And in that place, He is teaching me about the riches of His Kingdom. He is teaching me about my identity as a child of God, a daughter of the King. He is teaching me about my inheritance in Christ.

Because of catastrophic loss, I am learning to live in the supernatural. It is not some hyped up experience of super-spirituality. It is rather a knowing of who I am and what is true.

Am I ruined? Am I shamed? Am I empty? Am I abandoned to darkness and despair for all of eternity? Is God no longer good? Is unfaithful or unworthy of my life and devotion? In my natural self, I would have said, Yes. But as a BRIDE, as a daughter of the King, as new creation in Christ Jesus, born again of the Spirit into a kingdom, a family, that is super-natural, that supersedes this realm of depraved humanity... I am rich. I am clothed in white. I have been given every spiritual blessing under heaven. I am anointed. I am beloved. I am His bride, and He has betrothed me to Himself in righteousness, in justice, even in faithfulness, I am His. I am bought with a price. I am not my own. Therefore I stand, confident in His goodness. Confident in His faithfulness. Confident in His ability to make change and power to bear on my life*.

Every day, I must work to believe this. I labor to rest in His trustworthiness (Heb 4:11). I look at my feet. Where are they standing? Are they standing in ruins? In dust and ashes? in a depraved humanity, poor and in lack? Or are they standing in a wide and spacious place (Ps 31:8)? Are they standing "in Christ"? Are they standing in a realm where human feet can walk on water, can know joy, and can be contented in the Perfect Peace of His Presence?

This is an incredibly difficult "job" that my Father has assigned to me. To stand in absolute lack and devastation, wretched "widowhood", declaring His Kingdom come, and His will to be done, here on earth as it is in heaven. I am not in lack. My cup is full. Therefore, I can give and love freely. For I, too, am jealous over His Bride. I, too, long to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Ps 27:13). I long to take the hand of each and every woman who resides in ruins, and gently guide her into His glorious riches (Phil 4:19), to be healed and restored in His everlasting love, as I am being restored, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute...

Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29)

*Graham Cook

Friday, June 13, 2014

Empty spaces

I am woman.

In my heart of hearts, I secretly carry... empty spaces.

What do I do with these empty spaces?

A woman's empty spaces are longing to be filled. Deep down they know, that once upon a time, they were filled.

A woman's inner soul was designed and created as filled, always to be filled, and never to know emptiness.

When God created Eve, the mother of all living, it was as though he was forming me out of the dust, all of her children, all of the generations to follow... Somehow intrinsically present on that day of glorious creation... In my heart of hearts, I am the same as my ancestor. I have her frame. Together we were made in His image, formed out of the dust of the earth, with a rib taken out of my counterpart, Adam.

But unlike Eve, I was born into a broken world, a world of separation, isolation, and loss. I was cut off from the Breath of Life that so pervaded Eve's being, filling her to completion, saturating her with His Presence of Peace and Perfect Love.

My soul is not pure and blameless as was our Mother, the newborn Eve. My soul is filled, but not with the pure and pervasive Breathe of the Living God. My soul is filled with junk, with baggage, with anger, woundedness, bitterness, and regret. These are as rocks to my soul, heavy stones that take up space and weigh me down, leaving gaping holes, empty spaces... Empty spaces that are longing to be filled.

These stones of sin and regret make me feel ugly and unlovable. They make me question my worth, my ancestry, who I am and what my purpose is. They send forth cascading shadows of doubt and fear, that pervade my empty spaces with darkness instead of light, shame instead of love, and death instead of life.

I am woman. Whether I am married or single, old or young, widowed or divorced, with children or without, in my heart of hearts, I secretly wrestle with this question...

What do I do with my empty spaces? Who will love me there?