Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Tears Flow

All I can seem to do at this point is cry...
Lamentations 3:22-32
Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.  Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust-- there may yet be hope. Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace. For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Deafening Silence

Life is dark and heaven is silent. I keep going to God, telling him that this is hardly the time to play hide-and-seek with me. The silence is palpable. The silence is defeaning.
I keep looking to Scripture...where do I go for something like this? Who in the Bible felt abandoned by God? On more than one occasion, King David felt it. And yet he knew, despite what he was feeling, that he was never out of God's sight (Psalm 139:7, 9-12). I am not alone. God is relentlessly faithful. So how do I convince my panicked heart of that? I read something that said I need to enter the silence with Him. What does that look like?
My first step is to be so comfortable with God that intimacy comes without the necessity of words. And so I spend part of my day sitting before the throne of the God of the universe. I'm scared. I beg to feel His presence. I sit. I cry...a lot. I continue to do this until I am flooded with enough peace to make it through another day. I wait for God to fill every molecule of space around me.
Obviously God is testing me. How much will I trust Him...even when He is silent? It's really easy when He is "holding on to the back of my bike as I peddle." But what happens when He lets go and I have to ride alone? Will I remember all that I have learned? Throughout the summer, some things have come to light about what I was trusting in more that I was trusting in Him. Now that those have been exposed, laid bare, and confessed, I am attempting the hard task of building commitment and perseverance.
Jesus told His disciples to be unwavering: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me" (John 14:11). Every day, I am called to continue trusting- spend another 24 hours job searching, chasing a puppy, reading again...believing that He has everything under control. Even when He is silent.
Finances are getting really tight. I say that as though I have money at all. I really don't. I am so in debt to my parents it's unreal. I really ned a job so I can pay the bills. And it's looking pretty scary. So I cling to the verse in Matthew 6: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear...look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" (25, 26) I have to trust that God is still working even though I cannot hear His voice. I have to trust that He is building my character and working to make me more effective for His Kingdom.
One thing I have learned through this summer is that it's ok to be honest with matter how brutal that honesty is. I always thought it was disrespectful, like it is unheard of to say such things to God. But really...He knows what I am thinking anyway, so why not go ahead and open up the conversation and tell Him? It's better than the alternative: stopping talking to Him altogether.
I have also learned how much I need other people. I have always tried to be so strong for other people. I thought it was some sort of spiritual weakness on my part to do otherwise. It's weird because I don't view it that way when other people come to me broken and weary. That's part of me always being that much harder on myself. I have definitely reached a point where I have asked others to trust God enough for me. I have asked others to have hope until I get mine back. And I cling to Psalm 119:50: "My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life."
I know that sometime in the future I will look back at this time and think how stupid I was to have missed "it." There will come a day when it will all click and I will recognize in retrospect how much God was working, shaping me even when He seemed far away. There will be a day when I come out the other side knowing with FULL confidence that I am not alone, that God longs for deeper intimacy with me, and that He is worth trusting for the journey. I am praying for that day to come soon.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Praise You in the Storm

I was sure by now
That You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry
You raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't find You

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth
Currently Listening: Praise You in the Storm, by Casting Crowns (Lifesong)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

At the Breaking Point...and in Need of a "Thomas" Moment

89 days. I liked it so much better when I was counting down to something (i.e. graduation). A countdown has an end. You can see the end. I am in the midst of a countup, if you will. You can't see an end to this count. And as each day goes by, I find myself more frustrated, more discouraged. 89 days since I graduated. 89 days on the job hunt. 89 days with no more prospects than when I started. I thought I had reached my breaking point about a week ago. A job that looked to be like an answer to prayer turned out to be a scam. I was confused at all the "signs" that I thought pointed to God's plan. Everything seemed to be pointing in that direction and falling into place. I realize now, that that one was just a test. A test to see if I was going to trust His plan and not just jump at the first thing that came along. I passed that one pretty well, if I do say so myself. But I was still broken, because I still had no job.
So when the email came for a job interview in Dallas a few days later...I thought God was finally reaching down. I went to Dallas and interviewed. I prayed that I would know in the interview if this is where I was supposed to be, based on how I felt about the company. I had to pray that specifically to protect me from myself. I went to the interview and absolutely fell in love with the company. They offered decent pay...they offered training...and they offered benefits! (All 3 are hard to come by in the field I want to be in) Based on all of my prayers and what I felt God was doing, where He was leading...I really thought this was it. Everyone who has been surrounding me with prayer thought this was finally it. The interview went well. I left Dallas, trusting that God really did have something good for me.
The letter came yesterday. It was like all the others. "You have excellent qualifications and are someone we would normally look for in a candidate. Unfortunately..." You are great (even perfect!), BUT... your qualifications are impressive, BUT... And that's how I arrived at 89 days. This one hurt more than all of the others because of all the prayer and circumstances that surrounded it. I truly stepped out in faith on this one...and I feel as though I have been slapped in the face. I feel empty and am filled with this nagging feeling: there really isn't something that good planned for you. I never dreamed that I could ever reach a place like this- where I felt this empty, this discouraged. I am really struggling right now to face the reality of my circumstances despite what I have always known to be true. I feel like I am in a dark and scary place, because I am really struggling to see God's hand, to keep believing that He has something good planned for me. I am desperately seeking His face, His plan, His will. And I am only met with silence and confusion. My faith is wavering, and I am scared. I am scared about the spiritual implications my reactions have to my walk. I am scared about what this might actually mean for my career. I am scared that I might not have any grand plans for my life. I am scared I am going to end up in a random job, a job that I go to every day just to pay the bills. I am scared that I poured out my blood, tears, and sweat for 4 years for no reason. I am scared that all of my hard work means nothing. I am scared that there is no practical calling on my life like I have always believed and pursued. I am scared that I will still be here in another 89 days. It's not that I believe that God can't do this; it's that I am starting to believe that He won't for whatever reason. And somehow that almost seems worse. I am scared that I am doubting God's goodness. Like, "just kidding! all those good things I can do for my children aren't for you."
I don't like the way I am dealing with all of this...I would have liked to think I would have faced this with more faith. But my spirit is pretty broken right now; so I am desperately praying for a "Thomas moment"- I lack the faith right now to take Him at His word without something tangible. I am ashamed to admit that I have to see proof. I just don't know what else to do...
My mom told me today that she had enough faith to make up for the lack of mine...I really hope so :(