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
I read the words across my screen, the post by Preston titled “my book and i and the silence of God”. My soul is calmed and my mind slows down, it’s okay, someone else has been here, and journeyed through. I scroll through the comments and what Wendi wrote strikes me, I read it a second time. I love her words, and I love her imagery, it touches me deep.
“I realize that when Jesus comes to me and tells me that for the next however long I’m just going to have to rely on faith I try to fill that silence with chatter. It’s an awkward silence that I must fill. Like small talk on a bad first date. Or dinner with your in-laws. Or the last year and a half in my former job.
I can’t stand to think that God would let me just stew in His grace, simmer in it like a crock pot meal. I have to think that God is always right there ready and willing to drop everything and take me up like a mother to her new born.
So I buy books and watch webinars and read websites instead of sitting quietly and letting the silence wrap me up.”
I know that’s me, scrambling for something, anything, to end this silence, to close this distance, to rekindle the intimacy. I know that awkwardness she speaks of, and so I respond. I type the words, the first I have written, really written in at least a month.
“I love that imagery “like small talk on a bad first date.” I feel like I’m on a bad first date with God… or maybe I feel like I’m in the awkward family court room with the divorce papers on the table, hoping, beyond reason, that the papers won’t be signed, that it’ll all be saved just in time.”
And then it hits me, maybe that’s why it’s so hard, this awkwardness, this silence. It’s harsh because we’re not strangers, it’s not a first date, I’m not new to this, to Him. If it were silent because we didn’t know each other, because I didn’t have the right words to say; if it were awkward because we were new to each other, unused to the other presence, if that were the case it would be bearable. If that were the case it would be part of the process, an expected hurdle to overcome.
But that’s not the case.
We’ve had years together, I knew Him, and I let Him know me. We’ve overcome the clumsy “first-date” stage, we’ve learnt to speak freely with one another. I’ve shed tears in front of Him, I’ve shared secrets with Him no-one else would ever be privy to. He’s seen tears of grief and hears peals of joy that none other has shared. Yet now, now there is nothing. Now I feel like I’m left with divorce papers laying on the table in front of me. Now I feel like I’m being given my decision.
Sign my separation, walk away. Or wait, hope, trust.
So I wait, unable to walk away just now. Hoping that at the last moment this will be saved, unsure what my hope is in, but knowing there is still a flicker there. The papers remain unsigned, and I look around and see my One Word “Trust” standing on the bookcase.
I choose to trust, trust there will be an end to this silence; trust that this desert won’t last forever.
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.