As I take in the view of blustery snow on the farm, I can remember a winter that took me to New York City, to visit my friend Kristen Kill and experience the scene out of her windows that she often called “the view from inside a snow globe.” People everywhere pressed in as we ran through Times Square, crowded and noisy still, our hearts raced on the subway as it jerked and whirled, carrying us underground. And then our respite, a tiny apartment bursting full of life too. Kristen’s story about being squeezed in the quick meter and small space of New York City is one of God meeting us in the harried pace of our own hearts too. It’s about finding His peace right in the center of our own desperate need, even in the teeming chaos and in the places where we fear we will be left forever spinning. This is the story of finding selah, finding pause and finding Him and holding fast to the miracle He gives us in His presence. It’s a grace to welcome Kristin to the farm’s front porch today…
W e moved in sight unseen to our second apartment in New York City. 1,000 square feet held three tiny rooms and two little closets, so we filled the shower stall in the spare bathroom with boxes, craft supplies, and Christmas ornaments.
The kitchen was its one shining glory, speckled with sea blue tile and stainless appliances.
Racing against a winter blast of sleet and snow, it wasn’t until I returned from my first trip to the grocery store that I learned the truth: it was all a lie.
The fridge shiny, tall and beautiful, but it was less than half the usual depth. The freezer? A measly rack of small drawers.
I felt an itch at the prospect of never having it filled to the brim.
While I worked to make it all fit, the children played, and a box of old clothes tumbled out of the shower, narrowly missing the head of my five year old.
I decided stuffing them all in wasn’t an option, so I piled up our cast offs and hailed a cab to haul them twenty blocks away.
I didn’t notice the penguin pajamas until I dropped the last box onto the curb of the donation center, with the taxi still waiting.
They didn’t belong in the bin at all, full of holes, they should have gone straight to the trash. But here they were, the pajamas I’d given my husband on the first Christmas Eve of our marriage.
Driving away, all the memories flooded back: the two of us, young, finding our way as we made a new life, foggy mornings of coffee and papers, pajama days snuggling a newborn.
I began to ugly cry and begged the driver to turn back. I grabbed those pajamas, and I saw all the holes, saw the way time had eaten them through.
I was sobbing on the street, with a driver staring on, tears falling because I was parting with my rags.
This was something more than just missing the past; this was me starving.
I read a study several years ago about people who had endured starvation and how it changed them. It revealed common traits in all the subjects:
- They could never allow others to eat from their plates.
- Their bodies stood guard, their posture hovered and protecting their food.
- They were ready to defend their portion if were to come to that.
- They often binged, stuffing themselves beyond their capacity, beyond need.
- They could not rest a single night without bread within reach.
These souls who had hungered, who had ached for relief and rest, needed to see bread first, in order to seal their eyes shut.
All kinds of emptiness find us grasping later on. In the body or in the soul, we will cling to tatters if necessary, just so that we are holding on to something.
I longed to feel the satisfaction of a bulging fridge – a modern twist on gathering manna in the desert sun and trying to hoard it, and hoping it won’t rot.
I’d hoard my calendar the way I’d hoard old clothes, and food, filling it up to bursting busy to avoid any quiet.
With crowded schedules, and teeming plates, stuffed rooms and overburdened lives, all the women around me were doing the same – packing our days so full, we were all left empty.
We won’t rest unless we know good things are within reach, just like the bread on the night table.
But what are we all really hungry for? What do we believe will actually fill us? The grumbling of our hearts has become a roar.
In my spiritual hunger, I’d begun to assume that the God who knit me together might just let me unravel and stop giving. He might always keep the best just out of reach.
Distrust and unbelief always tug at what God has woven, threatening to cut us loose.
Their whisper echoes in the ears of His daughters today as they whispered in the cool of the garden when they first rumored to Eve:
“Does He really love you? Then why does He withhold the fruit that you can clearly see is good and pleasing? Why does Hºººe keep it just out of reach, taunting you with its perfume, but forbidding you to take hold and to taste? Eat what is good! Eat what you have been missing! Be filled by knowing! You want to know, don’t you? You want to see.”
And so Eve ate. I’ve wondered if that first bite was bitter. Did it taste sweet upon her tongue before its flesh turned sour? When did she know, when did a deeper hunger set in? When did lost hope turn her sick?
Eve, like me, tried to provide in her own strength what she feared God would never give.
Adam and Eve tacked fig leaves together, covering their nakedness as soon as they knew they were bare, as soon as their shame was fresh in the open. I stitch together my leaves too.
I spin excuses and give context, blame my circumstances. I wear a mask of busyness that whispers in my ear that hiding is all good and well, because if you knew the real me, if you got close and quiet – well, then you might run.
You might recoil with the reaction I’ve always feared, the one that led me to stitch up a life of fragile leaves in the first place.
When Adam and Eve hid, God called out.
He came to them to find them.
And even after all the penalties of sin had been dealt, He fashioned clothes for them out of animal skin. The first blood shed on behalf of humanity, to clothe shame.
When the Israelites grumbled and complained of hunger, God met them too:
He poured out manna to nourish their bodies and restore their hearts, and His very presence was to be their food.
And for me?
With all my fear of scarcity in our tiny apartment, God met me.He is always consistent in His response to those He loves.
He is always drawing close, always wooing us to remember. You are not naked, but clothed. You are not bound, you are free.
He meets us in the manna that will always be enough and reminds whispers of what He spoke to the crowds when they ached for more loaves and fishes, even after baskets held the leftover weight of a miracle, and they rushed after Jesus to follow their hope and their hunger.
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the world, is my flesh.” John 6:48-51
He is always more. Always enough.
And He meets me in my own grumbling, when I can’t stop crying over tattered pajamas, because all the while He is prepared to clothe me with a miracle.
Kristen Kill is a woman transformed by the delight of God. A contributing editor at The Better Mom, and co-host of At Home With Sally and Friends, a popular podcast with Sally Clarkson, Kristen is passionate about encouraging women who feel stretched thin with the truth that, even in the tension, God is singing over them with love. After spending the last seven years in the hustle of New York City, Kristen and her husband, Josh, are learning to go slow as they raise their five kids in the Pacific Northwest.
Join Kristen in Finding Selah for a journey that will transform the way you think about work, rest, and the little spaces in between that make all the difference. This book will show you how to tune your ear to the song God is singing over you, embrace the “selah moments” able to transform your daily rhythms, and most of all, encounter the ultimate Selah in Christ, who stands in the gap between heaven and your most hectic of days. There is hope for the dissonance you feel. Finding Selah will show you not only how to sing a new song, but to live a new way.
[ Our thanks to Zondervan for their partnership in today’s devotion ]