Thursday, January 23, 2014

But if it is...

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; 
I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 
Ezekiel 36:26

I could almost feel it as I lay there. That still rock-hard place in my heart that revealed my unbelief. Somehow it has been allowed to linger, and the unspoken questioning has caused it to grow until I could sense its presence even physically. The results of letting it manifest were becoming evident, and only predawn heart searching was able to fully reveal it.

"What if?"

The phantom question that must ring through every human's mind as they seriously consider a God they cannot see or touch. What if it is all just a made up book? What if God isn't real? What if there is no eternity? The barrage continued from unnamed whispers, from my fear of man, from my own apathy to not bother to battle them back. Prayers, even in the midst of my own doubt. A crying out, a lifeline to the God that has to be there lest this is all a charade.

But if it is real...

What if there is a God, as the evidence so clearly points to? What if there really are angels, seraphim and cherubim, hovering over a throne? What if the glory of God really does fill His courts? What if the saints are crying out "Holy, holy, holy" constantly in His presence because He is that holy? What if eternity is forever? And what if Trent is really there right now?

Then what?

As I repented, and asked God to remove the hardness, He was faithful to take it away. Took away the stone that was forming and fleshed out my heart once again. Calming the doubts and overwhelming me with His truth.

Which led me to more questions...

What if I am wasting my whole life investing here, only to see the reality of God's face on "that day"? There will be no doubting then. How then shall I live right now? What should I pursue? On that day, where do I want to be found? Seeking hard after Him, or building my kingdom here?

The truth that I know - know that I know - is that we will all see God's face, some sooner than others. We will all bow, some willingly, others not. My prayer for you is that this Savior Jesus would give you the desire to seek Him now, and cause you to desperately long for Him now, so that you will be ready on "that day."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fenced In

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. Psalm 16:6a

It's 1:45 a.m. There is no reason why I shouldn't be pleasantly sleeping, snug and cuddled down under several blankets in the middle of a cold, dark night. But my eyes are wide open and my mind is racing. The digital numbers on the alarm clock show that it's way too early to start the day. Instead, I lay there tossing and turning for a while before I realize why I've been startled awake.

The panic again. To know, even during subconscious hours while I should be snoozing, that Trent is not here. Waking up to that reality over and over becomes almost unbearable. As long as I am moving I can run ahead of it, but laying in a bed in a dark house means that only my mind is active. Normally, lately, I try stuffing it, holding the information at arm's length, setting it aside so that I can function, pretending that I can go forth with life. But 1:45 a.m. is too early to get moving and keep the depths of grief at bay by busyness.

So I turn instead to where I should start rather than just end up. To God. "Here I am, Lord," I usually say when it's middle of the night conversations that He desires, hoping, in all truthfulness, to not have to hash out where exactly I am with my son's death in light of the Sovereign One.

I am immediately overwhelmed with prayers for the salvation of my children. A certain teen-age boy has been where I've been battling the hardest these days. My desire to see him grow into a young man who longs for God above all is my constant plea. The list goes on for those that I love until I realize the cover up that even prayer can be. Honesty is so hard, especially with God sometimes.

I begin to wonder where God went. I can tell myself all the theological answers, but they don't make up for my longing for Him. I desire that closeness again, and soon realize who has moved. I realize that I don't get down on my knees anymore, but instead have settled for mediocrity. I am scared to draw near. Scared to feel so much. Scared to be honest. Scared to listen. Scared to say that Trent's death is a reality and this is how life will forever be. Scared to wonder if all of my children are never saved how will I ever survive eternity. Scared to let God be God if my heart is only faking the peace. Knowing that there is no faking with God.

The words of Psalm 16 ring through my brain. How the Holy Spirit whispers so sweetly as I swirl down in my own emotional spiral never fails to surprise and comfort me. I look around and realize that as I have been trying to keep all the plates spinning and the answers in line I have forgotten to look up until I have almost been swept away in the dizzying attempt to do this myself.

"The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places." Psalm 16:6a

I have been fenced in. When I read the words earlier in the day they had stood out to me, and for the third time in twenty-four hours they made a big impact on this walk. Scripture says that God has set His lines in pleasant places. Trent's death is a boundary line drawn in pleasant places.

The pleasant place that God has boxed me in to is the place where He matters. A place where life and death matter. A place where my soul has to constantly be in the process of being made right with my Creator. A place where eternity is reality and this temporary life is a facade rather than the other way around. A place where Scripture is truth and a life line. A place where I have been tenderly placed for my soul's own good. A reminder that there is a "boundary placer" who has me just where He wants me: in pleasant places.

I forgot the next part of the verse until I ventured down the stairs in the dark and opened up to the marked page in my overflowing Bible: "Surely I have a delightful inheritance." Psalm 16:6b

Again, the reminder of eternity. A delightful inheritance filled with joy in the presence of God (Psalm 16:11). The God who has me fenced in.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Fuzzy Teeth Day

"What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short.
From now on those who [mourn should live as if they did not]."
Paraphrase from 1 Corinthians 1:29-30

It's after noon and I realize that I'm still sitting here at the computer, in my PJ's, with fuzzy teeth. A nasty realization on this chilly January day. I've been lost in a huge picture project, and honestly, it's been too cold to even want to think about stripping and putting on fresh clothes, let alone showering. The PJ's are comfy. If I did yoga I'd call them yoga pants, and along with the big sweatshirt they pass for being dressed. Until the mailman comes with a special delivery, that is, sending us all scurrying and being glad that the teenage boy is into the whole fashion thing lately. Fuzzy teeth: a sad realization that I am a forty-some year old housewife.

The apathy seems to be a side effect of the hibernation that sets in this time of year. After the holidays have subsided (and I realize that I've survived them yet again) we settle in to quiet projects. There has been more home school finished around here in the past couple of weeks than since school started in September. Biology, American History and Economics are all crossed off the list. Whew! With an anticipated move once the weather warms up, we are all in the zone: the get school done zone.

We just endured a week where the mercury barely rose above zero for four days straight. Brrr. Makes me think South sounds good. Missions in India. A tropical beach house. Or, perhaps, gracing the doors of the gym would be enough to feel warm again. Then I remind myself that I haven't even made it out of my pajamas today. Lazy bum.

I pray that God would continue to do His work with Trent's story while I can't muster up the energy to do anything. Emotionally, I am maxed out. Getting off my duff is asking a lot. Spiritually, I am dry. I am reminded of Isaiah 55 and God's offer to the thirsty. I come, but am only able to take a sip. Sometimes, a sip is all that one can handle.

As I battled this morning for some kind of victory this side of eternity, the comparison of our waiting for our physical home move and our moving to Heaven donned on me. At this time of dullness I realized that God is still doing His work (Romans 11:33). I forget that how I classify His work is not His way of classifying His work. I want flashing, glorious, loud, clear, blasting. God often does quiet. And heart searching. And soul changing. And fuzzy teeth sitting at a computer kind of work. Somehow the waiting is significant, even if it only looks like lazy in my do-something-Martha eyes.

The apostle Paul reminded me, as one who is mourning, to live as if I wasn't. God could not have been more direct in answering my pleas for Scriptural hope to go on today. Live as if I am not mourning. Why? "Because the time is short." (1 Corinthians 7:29-31)

Several souls in our community have entered eternity recently. There was a horrible accident involving the deaths of three children that touched the lives of our small towns. A patriarchal, elderly gentleman has also faced God after a long battle of physical ailments. The vet's secretary has passed from this life. And on, and on, and on. I browse the list of the "lives lived" section of the newspaper and realize how much more significance there is in that simple reference. One week of worldly glory having your name on the front page, a well worded obituary in the back, and then their memories are long forgotten by the vast majority. But their souls go on.

Sitting in bed, innocently reading a book, the thought came to me for the umpteenth time that Trent is in Heaven. As we have been forced to get used to him being gone from our daily routine, he has been experiencing Heaven. Everyday waking up to the glory of God. I wonder what that looks like, to wake up in Heaven...

As I tucked my kids into their beds the other night I was suddenly overcome with the paralyzing fact that Trent has no one to tuck him in. People have naively encouraged us that it must be so wonderful to know that Jesus is taking care of him now. And, yes, granted he would be almost sixteen, but I'm his mother. I took care of him his whole life. I want to tuck him in and kiss him good night.

I force the verses to reign as my body sinks down the wall and the tears slide down my cheeks. This is never something a parent will get used to. You continue to live, you have no choice, but as a Christian, your life becomes about learning what it is to die for the sake of Christ. Really die for Him. To trust Him, and to be real with yourself, asking again and again if you really do trust Him.

I don't recall that God ever said living for Him would be easy. He rather said that it would be nearly impossible, but that these present trials would not even be worth comparing to the glory to come. He said that He would walk with you through the trial, giving the needed grace to endure to the end, not that He would take away the trial. The longing for a perfect eternity in His presence grows deeper with every twist of the pain.

It was not for this day and age that Jesus endured, but for the coming Day that He will reign. The Day when sin will be fully done away with and all things will be put under His feet, including death. Victory will not be obtained fully here, but instead, through suffering, a Christian is given a foretaste, an hors d'oeuvre of the feast to come. There is so much more. "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied," Paul said (1 Corinthians 15:19). I continue to force my brain to look beyond this day. To that day when the victory will be complete.

The time is short. I wait for God's energy to get me to the glorious part. I attempt to live in the now, doing the menial things that I feel I am called to right now rather than the "big" things I prefer to do. Sitting, staring at the blinking lights, sorting out the past and hoping for the future. I wait for the sun to shine again in our cold part of the country, knowing that with it will come the energy to do the work that is waiting.