I’m struggling to write this post. There’s a battle going on inside me. To write of loss, of struggle, of hardship, of pain, of grief, of despair. Or to write of peace, of faithfulness, of provision, of joy, of growth, of praise. I suppose to appreciate the second list you must first acknowledge that the first is also very real, and very much in existence.
Because I have lost, I have known comfort.
Because I have struggled, I have found true strength
Because I have known hardships, I have seen provision.
Because I have felt pain, I have also tasted restoration and healing.
Because I have grieved, I appreciate joy and have learnt how to choose it.
Because I have been in despair, I know the wonder and amazement of new hope.
A year ago today this bout of illness began. I had no idea then how serious it was, how far it would go, how long it would endure, nor the journey it would take me on. I can hardly believe it’s been a whole year, though the days and the months have dragged, although I have been lost in it all, the year has flown by. And oh, what a journey it has been. What I have learnt, and experienced; how I have grown, and changed; and the things I now know because of it.
I never would have planned my past year. I don’t believe anyone in their right mind would have planned such a year. And although I feel writing about the pain, the struggle, the grief, the tough times would be more captivating; the truth is all that pales in comparison to the comfort, strength, love, and faithfulness I have been able to know. It is so much more intimate to be carried than to walk beside, and this year, God has been carrying me, each day, each hour.
I wonder if this will continue on such a level for another year. Certainly that is what the doctors have braced me for. Yes, the thought of it it hard, yes it saddens me, yes I wonder what is going on. Yet I have a deep peace, for I have known His faithfulness. I know that on this long journey He has taught me invaluable lessons, He has given me humbling grace to endure, He has given me unspeakable joy, He has loved me so well, He has used this for good. He has been faithful, and I know He will continue to be so.
So as I sit and wonder about the year ahead, fear no longer grips me as it did in the past. Instead I am braced for horror, yet expectant for and curious to see the ways in which God will teach me, grow me, love me, and reveal Himself to me. I am excited to see how He will use these next 365 days, how He will make beauty out of ashes, for I know He will.
As I reflect on my doctors consultations this past week my reaction surprises me. I am not filled with grief, and fear, and the desire to call it quits; as I know I would have been in the past. My soul is not angry, nor is it eager to run from the one person who will save me; as it would have been even months ago. Instead I know peace, I am curious, and I am expectant. My heart is heavy yet it rests its burden on the one who carries me. My soul asks of God in a willing and eager way, what now? What’s the plan? My spirit is expectant for the ways in which my life will become richer in being more intimate with my saviour.
My reaction is strange even to myself. That is when I realize what a journey this year has indeed been. I am full of praise for the one who turns these destructive flames into refining fires, for the one who saves and loves, the one who remains faithful.
Sunday Evening, serving communion. I sat there, basket of bread in my hands, and as I did, a totally unexpected thing occurred. I felt challenged to use each persons name as they came forward, granted I don’t know everyone’s names, but as far as I was able, I did. As I spoke those familiar words, or a variation on them “The body of Christ broken for you,________” I heard God reply each time, “My body is broken for you Emilie, so you could be made whole” Every time.
I fought back the tears, and took a deep breath before I served the next person, and the next, and the next, knowing those piercing words, those full-of-love words, would come straight back at me. Him, God almighty, Creator of the universe, King of kings, Ruler of all, broken, for me. Broken so I can be whole. Broken so I don’t need to be.
Yet I choose to be, I choose to run, to hide, to seek solace in other things, I choose to remain broken. I fling his gift back in his face. I say “Thank you very much, but no thanks, I’ll do it my way.” I thank him with my lips, and then hammer in the nails with my actions.
Still He chose, chose to break, to go through searing pain physically, and a ripping of his heart emotionally. Knowing it was me causing all that, He chose. Chose to be broken so I could know wholeness, so that my brokenness would be healed.
And He stands there, holding it out, asking me to take this precious gift, waiting for me. And I look at him, holding it out, and oh I am so tempted, it does look good, this wholeness, and his arms, they look so loving, and his face it looks so safe.
I am so tempted, but as I begin to reach forward I think surely not. This can’t be for me, you can’t hold out this gift so readily for me, for me, the girl who tramples all over grace, who happily picks up that dagger to split open your side, who sat at the foot of the tree, mocking, while you hung there. Surely this isn’t for me.
Yet his hands are still there, arms wide open, ready to embrace me, ready to give me this wholeness that he paid for with his broken body, and his shed blood. I reach out again, about ready to fall into his arms.
Reaching out for this wholeness comes at a price. To accept this gift means admitting that I am broken, that I am hurting. It means giving over my pain. I look at those arms and I shake my head, “I can’t, I can’t give it to you. To give it to you means taking it out of me, I can’t take out this hurt, I can’t open this carefully locked, sealed, box and drag it out for you. I’m scared.” But I look at those hands and I see pools of tears in them. He speaks back “I know, which is why I’m not asking you to do that. Just let me hold you, come sit with me, accept my healing and I’ll do the rest, just rest in me and let me.”
I look into those trustworthy eyes, that safe lap, those loving arms, I look knowing He’d go to crazy lengths to soothe my pain, to hold me close. I melt. “I need you Jesus, so much.” I know it’s the only way, so I fall into His arms “I’m scared, but I want this so bad, and I don’t know how you could love me so much to break for me, but I want all it won for me. Won’t you take my pain, my failures, my weaknesses and make me whole? Please?”
The line has come to an end and I turn to face the other server, we serve each other. He holds out the bread for me “Jesus’ body broken for you Emilie” I hesitate for a moment. Can I? Can I accept this gift? Can I eat knowing that if not today, or tomorrow, then one day so very soon I will spit it out, I will trample on that broken, bleeding body? Trying to do it my way, ignoring the gift laid out for me thinking another route is better. But how can I reject such an act of love? I hear him whisper to my heart once more, “My grace is enough, Emilie”. So I take, I eat, I drink. I fall into his safe loving arms, confessing I am broken, I am hurting, I am weak, I fall oh so much. Confessing, but knowing He broke and bled for all that, He bought grace, He bought healing, He bought forgiveness, He won a victory for me. And He’s holding out all his bought and all he won for me to take.
Once again I am undone by the Gracious King, my saviour, who I can call Friend.
“At your name I know the heartache is over, I know the rest I seek is at the cross”
I sing it out along to the CD in my car, my heart sighs, “the rest I seek is at the cross”. How long has that being going round my mind, how long has that been turning over and over in my heart, how long have I been battling that truth. To find my rest at the cross. To stop, be still, and know that Jesus is king, and that he has done it, that “It is finished”.
But that’s not what troubles me. It’s the first part “at your name I know the heartache is over” that really gets me.To me it so often seems that at His name the heartache is just beginning. I remember many dear friends.
The child not knowing where home is… for His name’s sake.
The teenage girl who gave up her love… for His name’s sake.
The young man who moved away from his loving family… for His name’s sake.
The intelligent lady, career-less, poor… for His name’s sake.
The middle-aged woman who is single… for His name’s sake.
The father tortured because of what he believed… for His name’s sake.
The woman widowed… for His name’s sake.
The life-loving man, dead… for His name’s sake.
He even says it himself… the world’s going to hate you, don’t be surprised when you face trials for me, know that you will be persecuted, you’ll be rejected, feel like an alien, be in a constant struggle with yourself. Get ready to sacrifice it all.
So you see… I find it difficult to see how, “at his name the heartache is over”.
But each coin has two sides.
Blessed are the… poor in spirit, mourners, meek, seekers of righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, persecuted. They know God, know what it is to be deep and intimate with Him, know what it is to be fulfilled by Him.
“At his name the heartache is over” He comforts, He gives strength to endure, He has the victory, He gives peace, He restores.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one friends. Drop me a comment or an email.