Friday, February 11, 2011

Answered

"I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?"
- Till We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis

There are so many questions. Questions about me, about other people, about pain, about joy, about hope, about loss, about grief, about my future, about my past. I have a tendency to feel a sense of hopelessness at the deafening silence that often seems to be the only answer to my questions.

I am not a stranger to the questions of pain. I would expect that if you are reading this and are older than maybe 8, you would be able to say something similar. Just about four years ago, I remember very vividly a day that I received a few messages that completely shattered me. My primary memory is locking myself in a closet and screaming over and over again the single word “why.” An immature reaction, perhaps, but I think the feeling lasts even when we're older.

Figuratively speaking, I was screaming that same question recently, for months. I have been asking God why I have failed Him so greatly, why so many people have to hurt, why the darkness just seems to get deeper. I came up with theories, and I read books-- lots of books, digging into the dusty pages and taking notes and analyzing theology. I listened through new songs and old songs, and I wrote a few of my own when the songs others had written didn’t say it right. Some nights-- most nights, by the time the lights went off-- I was too tired to ask anymore.

The past few weeks have been a journey, in many ways. I had learned in these past few months of questioning one thing and one thing alone: I am incapable of finding the answer to the question of pain. Answers could work for a while (“ignore it, it will go away”-- maybe for a day, an hour, but it always comes back), but they fell apart so fast.

I had a conversation with a friend a couple weeks ago that absolutely rocked my world. It reminded me of what I was missing.

And this is one of the most simple things imaginable, and maybe I am foolish for not holding to it. What I have come to understand is that all the theories about God, all the songs about God, all the books about God, all the friends speaking about God, all the service to God, all the beliefs I have about God... they cannot hold me together. Only God Himself can.

I can work and I can strive and I can cry and I can write. I can do things until my heart is sick and weary, but at the end of the day, what good is it? We spend so much time trying to scribble out a child’s drawing when God is begging us to let Him make us His masterpiece.

And I think it terrifies some people to think that maybe they won’t have answers because they’re looking for the wrong ones. In the book Till We Have Faces, there comes a point where the main character has lost absolutely everything, where they are stripped down to the bare essentials of honesty-- stripped away to the only question they’ve really been asking the whole time. And it is then and only then that the answer comes, as implied in my quote at the beginning of this post. The answer is Him, not something He tells us to do, not a theory, not a medicine or a person or a situation mended-- just God, in Himself, the face of Love.

There is the classic story of Job in the Bible. After all the theorizing of Job’s friends, after all the answers they gave him, after everything they threw at him, after all their rationalizing and searching... God does not give Job a theory or an explanation. God gives Job Himself. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” I tremble when I read those words. I tremble because it reminds me of the fact that the answer is greater than anything I ever could have imagined.

And I’ve tried to get around this in a million ways. I’ve hesitated over these blogs posts for years now, thinking I need to talk about God less directly to make them easier to relate to. I have searched and sung and written and bled until there was nothing left. And in the end, there is only one thing that makes all these broken things pull together, only one thing that holds me together after seeing my world fall apart, only one thing that still changes hearts. And that One Thing is always holding out His hands, crying out “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Rest. I have found it again, where it was all along... not in anything I did or understood or reached for, not in anything anyone else did. Simply in being willing to turn my head towards Him and let Him fill my vision.

For He is indeed the answer. He is the Healer and the Comforter and the Rescuer, and He is not giving up, and He is not backing down, and His love is going to last longer than anything I have felt or done or experienced. He will remain even when everything else is lost.

And I’ve had a thousand chances I’ve missed, and I’ve spent a thousand nights hurting when He could have held me. But tonight I know-- I understand now. He is the one thing that I’ve been looking for. And that doesn’t mean a cure for situations... it means a constant, a focus, ground to stand on, even when nothing else is stable. It means Hope.

- Elraen -

“Did I arrange the light of your first day? Did I create the rhythm your heart makes? Could you believe when your candle starts to fade, I want to be the One that you believe could take it all away...”
- Disciple

3 comments:

ironicdaisy said...

I just sat here and cried...but in a good way. It is true that though we lose everything--all our hopes and dreams and loved ones--but we still have Him, then we have everything. :) And someday the veil and the questions will be completely lifted...and we shall know as we are known. :)

Eclectic Elegance said...

I should have been doing homework...but I decided to come peek at your blog. :) And I'm really glad I did. Thank you so much for posting this--it's good to know that I'm not alone when I ask "why" about the painful and hard things.

*hugs*

-EE

Liz said...

"the answer" by the spark.

i should have posted that on here almost a year ago now.

i love you mary.