How does one week turn into one year?
I don’t know, but it has. I remember that day as though it was yesterday, I remember the few days leading up to it. Oh the turmoil, do I go, do I stay. And then a month later, where do I go next? Oh how my heart raced, my stomach churned, my mind ran, my eyes wept. My whole body and soul shook as I tried to be still, listen, and discern what it was my Father wanted me to to, and then to summon the courage to do it.
Oh those two days, separated by a month. Those two decisions, some of the hardest I’ve had to make. Read about it here.*
A year ago today I was evacuated from my home, I flew away from my friends, family, job, home, life. I flew into nothing, a country I barely knew, to a sea of strangers, to a hotel, no home, to hospitals and doctors and a whole world I had never entered into before in my life. It would only be a week I was told… it was what I had clung to when I had to choose to allow them to take me out.
A month later I was being flown out again, only I wasn’t returning to everything I knew. I was moving on again, to nothing, to more doctors and hospitals. I had wonderful friends and familiar faces waiting to greet me, but the other faces, familiar as they were, were distant memories from years past, a person I used to be knew who they used to be, but those characters they had changed and no-one really knew each other any more.
Time passed and as it did, and as it dragged, I felt betrayed, I didn’t understand. I wrote about it here.
Now one year on, I can hardly believe the journey I’ve been on. I can hardly believe I am STILL here, in this country, in this place. It feels like just another day on this long and uncertain journey. Still unknowing where I’m headed, when I’m headed. Still not really knowing what this is all about. Just another day trusting, and living. Yet it seems wrong to not mark this day. To not set up an alter at this one year anniversary and say the journey has been long, the journey had been hard, but God has been faithful, and God is still good, and God is still God.
Yes it is true, this year has not been pretty. I have wept more than I care to think about. I have grieved in ways I did not know it was possible to grieve. I have felt darkness that I did not know existed. I have despaired, I have been ready to give up on it all. I have doubted, I have been angry, I have lost trust, I have been oh so unfaithful. All of me in the past year has been ugly, weak, disgusting. But God, God has been beautiful, faithful, redeeming, strong.
God has always provided in every way. My father, he has loved me in all my ugliness and in all my unfaithfulness. My saviour, he has saved me from despair, he has picked me up when I’ve fallen, He has helped me hold on when I was ready to let go. My God has turned up every single time when I thought I couldn’t take one more step.
My God, has been God. He has been in control, He has had a purpose, and He has taught me, and He has walked with me,and He has carried me.
So on this day, this one year on, I want to mark this place, set up my Ebenezer, built and alter, and say My God He is good, and He is faithful. He has been my help, my hope, my lifeline, my only purpose for waking and breathing. I have no words, simply a thank you that bursts from my heart for all He has done.
* Photo Credit : The Creative Spirit
My little heart is breaking, and the only way I can think to fix it is to travel to a dusty war-torn country thousands of miles away to pick up the shattered shards that have fallen there. To stand in amongst those flying bullets, to have the shock of a rocket vibrate through me, to be momentarily deafened by the blast of a bomb. To see the fire and smoke rise on the horizon and in it see a part of my hope and a part of my sanity fade away into nothing. Yet as it rises I also feel in it my resolve strengthen, my weeping intensify, my anger at injustice surge up once more.
With each explosion my heart breaks again for these people who cannot run to an alternate reality. Each bullet hitting the walls of this neighborhood a dagger to my soul for those people who cannot take a break. Whilst my heart is breaking and my soul is aching for those people, those lost and hurting people, those loved and precious people, my mind is busy worrying for the other people. My brothers and sisters, my dear friends, my mind is worrying if they are ok, if they are safe. I wonder if their hearts and minds are guarded and I plead with my father to guard them with peace, for I know the wounds this day will create in their hearts and minds will be far greater and far more difficult to heal than the bleeding lacerations and the missing limbs. I cry out for safety and protection, that there may be no more bloodshed. That this year, the year of 2012 will be free from death; but beyond that and above that I cry, and I plead, and I beg for peace in hearts and minds.
Sleep eludes me this night for though the bullets are far away from my bed, they are ever so close to my heart. Though the rockets exploding are not shaking my house and crumbling my mud walls, they are rocking my soul and they are tearing down my barriers.
My heart is aching causing my eyes to rain, my soul is stirred causing my lips to cry out, and my mind is racing causing my finger to keep clicking refresh. Eyes scanning facebook and twitter feeds, reading news pages, ears listening to reporters. And it’s all happening within me, and I wish I could be standing there with them. I wish I could be laying side by side with those precious friends, I wish I could be holding their hands and living this nightmare with them.
That’s when I know, when my desire to be there is greater than to be safe and watching through a screen, then I know that those missing pieces of my heart have been left there. Those slivers that have left cracks I cannot fill, and left this heart so fragile, are over there. And I wonder, I wonder if traveling those many miles, if breathing in that thick, diseased dust, if stepping over those open sewers, if being back in that hellish-heaven-on-earth, will fix my heart? If I can find those broken shards, could I scoop them back up? could I fit them together again? could I piece this crumbled heap of heart in my hands back together again?
Calm resumes. The fighting has stopped in that city, and so too the battle within me has been subdued. I know I cannot travel to find the splinters of my heart, and I know even if I tried, I would never be able to take them with me, they will always stay there. I know I could never make this crumbled mound of flesh into anything resembling a heart. But I know my saviour, and I know he makes beauty out of ashes, and I know he has the oil of joy which enables my mourning to turn into dancing. So I place the soot in the sky over that city and the ashes on its streets into his hands. I let my ground down heart slip through my fingers out of my grasp into his palms, and I ask him to mix it with his love, and with this oil of joy, I ask him and I vulnerably and frailly trust him to turn these ugly messes into beauty.
Does your heart ever ache for something more?
A dissatisfaction of a good kind. The kind that urges you to stretch for more, and compels you to make changes, that demands you reach further? My heart has been aching for more recently.
More of God, more of his love, more of his rule, knowing him more.
More of my friendships, more accountability, more openness, more service, more encouragements, more intentionality.
More of my everyday, to be more present in what I do, more attention given in the now, drink in more of each moment.
The ache has been growing stronger and stronger, and last night I had a dream which took that ache onto the level of forcing me into action. I dreamt of that more. I dreamt of a day where I knew God so much more, where I knew his love so much deeper. A day where I hung out with friends and our hearts tied together, we took the risk of being vulnerable with each other, we corrected each other in love, we served each other, we laughed together, we wept together, we cried for each other, where we were Christ to each other, we took each other into another depth of God. A day where I was aware of every detail, where each moment was important. I awoke from my dream a little overwhelmed to be honest. I felt like I had just really spent the day fellowshipping with an awesome God, and some wonderful people. I awoke feeling blessed. I awoke with an aching heart, I don’t want that just in dreams, I want it in real life, in my everyday.
It will take intentionality, it will take effort, it will take self-discipline, it will take courage, it will take refinement, it will take less of me and more of Him. But it will be worth it, and my heart aches so intensely I know I must begin to reach, to stretch, to change. Do you long for more? Will you join me in reaching?