Grateful for Growth: Trust
Last Monday, I completed another circuit around the sun, many more trips than the majority of you dear sisters. I identify strongly with Joseph: what the enemy intended for evil, God planned for good.
In spite of growing up in a tumultuous, dysfunctional home, I can trace the hand of God from early on in my life. When I was born, my parents were a mess, but God provided a great aunt to be there for me. When I was less than three I remember talking to God, asking Him questions about the world. My grandmother wrote letters as soon as I started reading, encouraging me to read the Bible. She offered 10 cents for every verse I learned. That was huge money back then! The first one (actually 2 verses) was: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”Proverbs 3:5-6
With all my crazy, achy heart I wanted to trust God and follow Him in everything.
But, in my home I learned to guard my heart, deny my needs, take care of others, and work hard to earn something, even if not praise or love, at least not be noticed and hit. A child learns trust by feeling safe, knowing the arms you jump into will catch you. When, instead, the arms retreat and leave you free-falling, you learn not to jump. Not to trust.
If you’ve ever tried to rescue a fallen bird or take a fish off a hook to toss it back in the water you know how the little creature fights you. Maybe even injures you in an attempt to get free from the very one making that freedom possible. Isn’t that us in the hands of God?
But even in all that I can trace God’s hand. He created the deep desire to be loved, knowing that nothing and no one on earth can really fill that, knowing I would need to come to Him.
That was the part I bounced away from without even realizing it.
His word was planted in my heart. I marked the right verses in my little white zippered Bible, and wrote notes in the columns about the kind of woman I wanted to be, what kind of family I would have. Nevertheless, growing up it seemed like I was trying to cross quicksand to get there. Every step I took only sucked me deeper. One abuse or trauma after another.
But God was still at work, providing a lifeline every time I was set to go under.
As an adult I’ve sometimes run to church meetings and work, food, relationships, food, at times running 10 k races, and other “approved” activities, or just as often retreating inward. Lots of time into my head, not really even living. Shut down.
Unfortunately, there was always a huge gap between my heart’s desire and my day to day actions. My hurting, gaping child wounds set me up for harmful relationships.
But God was still at work. Even after I’d stopped talking to Him, feeling like I’d blown life too badly, and my prayers hadn’t mattered, He brought the right person at the right time, someone who could lift my chin and show me the shining face of Jesus, loving me still.
Nevertheless, I continued my laps around Mt Sinai, seeming to end up in the same place. Somewhere along the way I realized though it seemed the same view, I was higher up the mountain and could see much more. Especially where I had come from.
At the point when I couldn’t take it anymore, and my body was shutting down, I left my abusive husband and planned suicide. After all, I’d been a Christian since childhood, taught Sunday school, sung in choirs and the coffeehouse and contemporary music service team, lead youth groups … you get it. I’d done all those things, and still my life was a big failure on my score card.
But God was still at work.
He called out to me, over the waters, telling me over and over until I listened, “As long as you are alive I can work,” and He added, knowing my protests, “Divorce is not the unpardonable sin.”
All that is ancient history for me now. God brought me a new husband, someone to share my childhood vow to be a missionary. However, out on the mission field in Honduras, the insecurities and heart-gnaw still hindered and plagued me. And I saw the enemy wound my children’s hearts, no matter how hard I tried to protect them. Failure hovered over me again.
But God was still at work. He sent a music tape, with Twila Paris singing, “Do I trust you, Lord?” I played it over and over, day and night, wore it out, until my heart could sing along with my mouth. I placed my feet on the trust path and hung on.
The enemy wasn’t finished with me, of course. The path since then has been strewn with potholes and avalanches, but each time I come out to that lookout place on Mt Sinai I see so much more.
Along the way, I gave up the goal/idol of “the perfect life” which will only be real in heaven, and being “the perfect parent” (God was, and looked what His first two kids did). Instead, I began to look up, see the clouds shrouding the top of the mountain, glowing with His presence, knowing I was closer with every lap. Every step. Sensing His presence on the way.
My mother’s prolonged dementia took a huge toll on my health, coupled with the perfect storm of circumstances for a physical crash.
But God was still at work, putting me flat on my back, sometimes for months, where I learned to really intercede. And began to learn to listen. My health battle continues. As I type this my fever is spiking from an infection I’ve been fighting for 12 days, 5 days on antibiotics. But I’m not “worried sick,” as my concerned friend says.
I know without a doubt that God is still at work. Until the day I walk through those clouds to fall at the feet of Jesus, nothing gets to me without first passing through His hands.
He has a plan.
And If I’m alive, God is still at work.
For me, that is what trusting God means.
Genesis 50 - Joseph's story
2 Corinthians 1:8b-10 NLT “We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.”
Proverbs 3:5-7 The Message“Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to God! ”
Dear Lord, thank you for planting the deep, deep need for your love in our hearts, a love that will not let us go. I lift up all my sisters as I praise you for life, salvation and for the guiding, strengthening presence of the Holy Spirt. We are scattered out along the journey, sometimes shoulder to shoulder with others, sometimes alone, but never bereft of your loving presence. Thank you for your Word to guide us, your Spirit to empower us, and sisters to hold us up when we fall. Build even deeper trust in our hearts. Take us to the place where we can free fall into your arms of pure love.