i’ve been thinking a bit lately about how often i start getting in this mode of thinking in which i assume that things are going to take a turn for the worse. like how i kept fearing that God would take tim away from me, even up until our wedding day. because it was too good. i couldn’t trust it. like how i fear now that He’ll frustrate this growing dream of mine (that for shall now remain un-named). this lack of trust, this quick forgetfulness of who my God really is… is something i would like to outgrow.
but, of course, sometimes things really DO take a turn for the worse: things we were banking on fall apart, dreams we were cherishing are endlessly frustrated, and people we love die or leave us. and in those situations, it’s hard to know how to make sense of the deeply compassionate love of the Father in what appears to be so much unkindness. so we could say that it was the Enemy, robbing us of things that God actually intended for us to have. but that seems to make too little of Him, as if He is so easily outdone. the alternative, which is to leave room for the Father actually GIVING us hardship, or TAKING AWAY something good… well, that’s hard to sit with too. this is where folks lose their faith, over these sorts of questions.
i wonder how much of it has to do with God wanting our attention. an old friend of mine recently had something very tragic happen to her little son. and the first thing she said, standing by the hospital window was, “okay, God, you have our attention.” she’s praying now, and clinging for dear life to a God that, as far as i know, she’s given very little attention to for many years. this tends to happen.
at first glance, this makes God seem a bit egocentric, as if He will stop at nothing to make sure He has the fearful attentiveness of His subjects. but look harder.
if it is true, as i believe in my bones it is, that He is the best and only source of Life… then to bring us to our knees in order to bring our attention to Him, is actually to bring us back to the only place where we can drink and never thirst again. it is to bring us back to Life that’s bigger than losing houses or cars, suffering an accident…. Life even bigger than losing someone we love. which is hard to imagine, isn’t it? which means that this Life He’s going to extreme measures to point us back toward must be terribly, terribly good.
one night, during my dating relationship with t, i had a dream that shook me to the core and left me reeling for three days. it was more of a vision, actually. in the vision, i was walking, through very thick and hot sand, with tim. we were happy and in love. my legs became very heavy and my arms tired from all the bags i was carrying. and then, suddenly, my legs and torso were sucked beneath the sand, the sand rolled away in waves, and i was taken up to a dark night sky. there were stars. and then, a voice like the sound of rushing waters, and a face of a lion. and i was in holy fear. my eyes were open, my ears actually heard the rushing water sound. and the lion said, “hello. you won’t talk to tim in time, for a while.” and there was fierce jealousy in the voice.
i woke up wondering if i ought to turn tail and run from t, if perhaps God was going to snatch him away from me, just as i had dreaded that He might. but that wasn’t it at all. here is what i understand that dream to mean: that my Father is so jealous for my love, so intent on keeping me close to His side, that He WILL snatch me up and out of anything that separates me from Him. He will not let me get to the place of forgetting Him. and none of this is because He is an ego-maniac, but because He knows that my heart’s true and deepest desire is for Him. He knows that more than I fear losing t, I fear losing my God. and this is His PROMISE to me: that He will keep me from losing Him, even if it means i lose another thing that is very precious. (yes, it is a promise, not a threat).
thankfully, God has not had to take t from me, not even for a temporary span of time. but i like knowing that he WOULD do that, if it came right down to it.
i’m carrying many small hopes and dreams in me at present. and lately i’ve been in that fearful state, anticipating the worst… anticipating that those good gifts won’t come to fruition. but in this, i keep turning my attention back to Him, in order that i not forget Him. i want Him to know that He has my attention already, that i am committed to keeping my attention on Him. and in this way, He and i can walk forward in companionable friendship, marked less by dramatic happenings to train my soul back Home. i want to stay Home with Him of my own free will, and daily.
i don’t expect denial of good or the sending of suffering from my Papa. i don’t think He intended that we would ever expect anything less of Him than the fulfillment of His promises for life and hope. and that’s what walk in: confident expectancy of the goodness of God.
but still, the Lord may take away from me, or deny me the thing i most desire (i can also think of many people whose attention God already has, yet who have suffered great losses). i hope that even then, blessed still, will His name be to me. still i will cling to Him, worship Him, love Him. still He will be good. so help me, God.
the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. blessed be the name of the Lord!
– job 1:21
although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “this is the way; walk in it.”
– isaiah 3:20-21