The year 2018 has been an earth-shattering, difficult year.  One only need read this blog to think “What is up with this girl?!  Her life is like a bad soap-opera!”

Believe me.  I agree.  -_-

As much as I wish that life were different and easy and full of clear skies and rainbows, I have to remember that those beautiful, magnificent rainbows that I yearn for, only appear on a cloudy day — and after a storm, at that.

As December dawned I found myself excited that this disaster of a year was nearly over.  Surely it’ll be smooth sailing into 2019, right?

But then yesterday, a new storm struck.  As I read the text message I found I couldn’t breathe.  Not this.  Dear God, not this.

The text was from one of the most precious, important people in the world to me.  He’s known to most as “Chuck, the Christian counselor”, but to me, he’s known as my “second father”.

I first went to his office three years ago.  I was scared, confused, and a heart full of questions.  I had not left the cult yet — in fact I didn’t even know it was a cult yet.  With one giant leap of courage I told my story for the first time.  And for the first time, someone heard me — someone believed me.

I like to say that Chuck saved my life.  He taught me about Jesus, and grace, and he has supported me and fought with me during my darkest hours. He pointed me to answers when nothing in life seemed to make sense.  He let me cry on his shoulder when I was too tired to hope.  If the Lord allows him to see me get married one day, Chuck is the man I want walking me down that aisle.

The news was the kind of news no one ever wants to hear.  “I have an aggressive cancer…” the text said.  Cancer.  That dirty, rotten, terrifying word.  Instantly, fear gripped my heart as I sat in my car in a parking lot.  I couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t think.  Couldn’t pray.  Not this.  Dear God, not this.

As I drove home, angry questions began to envelope me.  After all I’ve been through?!  HOW?!  WHY?!

I arrived home and stomped up the basement stairs and into the kitchen.  I noticed that I was alone in the house and so I really let loose.  For the next 30 minutes I paced my kitchen walkway, stomping the entire time.

I screamed.  I ranted.  I raved.  I was angry at God and I let Him know.

Before long I found myself collapsed on the kitchen floor and in a heap of tears.  With a breathless voice I whispered to heaven, “What do I do?”

“Do battle” was all He said.

And so, with an angry determination I picked myself up off the floor and gathered my weapons.  Bible, journal, Bible Study notebook, Jesus Calling devotional, essential oils, anti-oxidant energy drink, and hot tea.  I spread my weapons out on the kitchen table and went to battle for the next four hours.

I asked God the hard questions…..

“Why this, why now?”  “Are you really good?”  Can I trust you?”  “Do you really love me?”  “Why don’t you just rapture all your Saints to heaven and destroy the evil of this world?”

I fought hard.  I wrestled hard.  Wrestled with God.  Wrestled with Satan.  I wanted answers.  And you know what?  I didn’t get them.  But surprisingly, that’s O.K.

After fours hours I found myself again on the living room floor, my tears falling away into the think carpet threads.  I imagined myself on the ground before Jesus; arms stretch out to grasp His feet.  In total exhaustion and despair I uttered a faint cry, “How much do you love me, Jesus, because this doesn’t feel like love?”

I lay still and breathless, waiting for the answer.  At last, He spoke.

“I love you enough to not let you walk through this dark valley alone.  In fact, my child, you are not strong enough to walk.  Let me carry you.”

And with that, He reached down and picked me up.

I still don’t have all the answers.  I don’t think I ever will.  But here’s what I do know:

  • It’s O.K. to be angry — as long as you use that angry productively and righteously.
  • God isn’t offended or threatened by your hard, doubting questions.  In fact, He invites you to ask them — for He knows when you ask them, you are open to hearing His voice and Him healing your heart.
  • It’s O.K. to be honest and open with God.  After all, He already knows your heart, so you might as well just lay it all out there.
  • We don’t need to know all the answers in order to trust.  That’s actually what trust is: choosing to take the next step when you can’t see the path before you.
  • Jesus proved His love 2,000 years ago on a wooden cross.  That sacrifice was enough.
  • Jesus never leaves us in our messes.  Instead, He stays beside us — crying with us, praying for us, and quietly encouraging us to keep going.
  • And the days where we are simply too weak to walk?  Jesus, like a Good Shepherd, picks us up and carries us.

And so, after many hours of battle, I finally resigned to being carried.  I was still heartbroken and the tears still came in waves, but I clung to the vision of being carried.  I believed Jesus was not only carrying my body, but my shattered heart, too.  And with that, I went to bed.

—–

As I woke up this morning to find my pillow still tear-soaked from the night before, fresh tears immediately began to fall. But suddenly, I stopped.

“This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

More than this DAY, it’s about this MOMENT.  The future looks too dark, too painful, too frightening.  But this moment?  I could rejoice.  I could find the joy; the gratitude.  This moment is all I can do — and that is enough.

Jesus knows that looking ahead — getting stuck in the “what ifs” — is FAR to much for me to bear.  Even if I knew the truth of what was really coming in the future, He still knows it would be too much for me right now.  His grace is sufficient for today — for this moment.

~~ Em

And not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands
So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
~~ Just Be Held by Casting Crowns

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