It’s been hard.
You know — a brutally hard year, an unexpectedly hard season, an endlessly hard road.
“He who is driven by fears, delays the comfort of God.“
You know — you got that call and you heard the words that you prayed against, begged against, braced against. You found it hard to hear, your heart banging like a sledge hammer, trying to pound its way out.
Or…you never get a call at all. The silence of all that isn’t, and won’t be now, about drives you mad.
Five weeks ago today, I got a surreal call, and I was wild to send the words back, standing there feeling life as we knew it all implode, and it felt like some dark roof caving in that I couldn’t stop. Some day soon, I’ll unfold that call, that story, but the point for now is, for days, I tried to breathe through this heavy smoke haze that descends when your life is on fire and your house is burning down. At night, for weeks, sleep refused to come.
In the dark, in the middle of the night, it gets very clear:
He who is driven by fears, delays the comfort of God.
You can want someone to reach over and touch your unspoken broken, your thin bruised places, and smooth out the pain you can hardly speak of:
“Suffering begs us to do anything to end our ache — when actually only God can.“
Suffering begs us to do anything to end our ache — when actually only God can.
It takes incredible courage to wait on God in what feels like a hellish place— and trust that love of heaven is holding us.
It takes courage to trust that the writing of one’s whole good and redemptive story takes time. Healing take longer than you think; the ways of God take longer than you want. It takes time, a lifetime, to turn the ache of our longings toward Him.
You don’t want to know how many nights I laid there, letting the tenderness of it massage out the knots of my ache:
We can simply want our situation solved — when God simply wants to be our answer.
“We can simply want our situation solved — when God simply wants to be our answer.“
And the best situation — is always what makes God your best hope.
In the middle of things seemingly not working out for us — God is working out something in us.
Do not ever fear, ever. Simply do not ever stop patiently waiting on God.
“But hope that is seen is no hope at all.
Who hopes for what they already have?
But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Roman 18:24-15)
This is the epiphany that comes straight up through a thousand dark places:
The One who lives beyond time holds all our timelines and He holds us.
“The One who lives beyond time holds all our timelines and He holds us.”
The Spirit is married to patience.
Be impatient — and you drive a wedge between you and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
In a world of ache and losses and unexpected turns and tight grips for control — patiently waiting with open hand is a radical act — a radical art.
Open hands defy the dark —and testify to a radical act of trust.
Grace beyond our imaginings can fall into open hands.
New things will happen to us — unknown, unwanted, unexpected things — and we can name those things grace.
In a world preoccupied with control— the most radical act is openhanded trust.
“In a world preoccupied with control— the most radical act is openhanded trust.”
It’s happening slowly now: I am learning to fall asleep with hands open, palms waiting and open to the willing sky.
* * * * *
One evening this spring, walking home from the woods, I’d paused to watch a butterfly slip the casing of its jewel of a cocoon.
The sun was warm on my back. I waited. I wanted.
I wanted to see wings, I wanted to see fluttering and soaring, I wanted a miracle to unfurl. I had expectations of glory.
I waited more. The sun slid down my back. The butterfly stirred, then paused, rustled slowly— impossibly, frustratingly slowly.
I exhaled. Warm breath on the waiting.
The cocoon case cracked a bit. And I exhaled again, impatience unleashed.
Each impatient exhale on that cocoon — kindled the butterfly and you can come to think that you can grow a miracle on your own timeline. A miracle of healing, a miracle of mending, a miracle of everything righting itself.
“It takes courage to listen with our whole heart to the tick of God’s timing, rather than march to the loud beat of our fears.“
Then it all tumbled faster than life, on the kind of timeline I like — the case split open, the butterfly braved the outside — and right there was the crumpled horror — wet and wrinkled wings that the trembling butterfly heaved relentlessly, pointlessly, to unfold.
I had forced my way, my timing — instead of letting things unfold in His perfect timing, under the gradual warmth of the sun — and it didn’t bring forth life.
I’d stood there, nauseated, and I could touch the truth of it:
Impatience always inflicts injury to wings. Impatience with healing, impatience with the state of things, impatience with restoration.
The wings in my palm flailed.
Wanting things on your timing, your way — can destroy any way at all.
“Ours is only to let God grow good things in us. Ours isn’t to fix things — ours is to wait on God in all things.”
The butterfly’s whole body quaked with the effort to make wet and hurried wings impossibly part and lift.
It takes courage to listen with our whole heart to the tick of God’s timing, rather than march to the loud beat of our fears.
The butterfly shrivelled soundlessly in the palm of my hand…. stilled… and died.
And the casing of my heart split: I hadn’t known. I had never seen it as clearly:
Much suffering comes from much impatience.
Walking up through the grasses home, it’s like every blade, every leaf, ever aching, broken, hoping place knew it, murmured it:
We cannot make things grow… ours is only to grow in grace.
You cannot force healing, you cannot force restoration, you cannot force timelines.
Ours is only to let God grow good things in us. Ours isn’t to fix things — ours is to wait on God in all things.
One could learn to walk with the palms open, walk that way in broad daylight. When I opened the back door, that followed me in too:
“There’s never been anything so far gone— that hopefulness can’t come back.”
There’s never been anything so far gone — that hopefulness can’t come back.
The air turned right then.
True, it’s been a brutally hard year, longer, and very true, we are weary and grieving losses and the world feels strange and tender and desperate for different timelines.
And on the margins, we touch our own wounds that no one sees, we trace the outlines of our own unspoken broken — but we will still rise.
We can still rise in the face of hopelessness — because we are still held in the arms of God.
Pick up our story of The Broken Way and in a broken world, with a whole bunch of broken dreams and busted plans — discover the way through a brokenhearted world.
This one’s for the brave and the busted and the real and dreamers and the sufferers and the believers — and the ones who desperately need real hope.