Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Even If

A single question was presented during a performance by one of my favorite bands-- a question that someone suffering had heard from God. It’s a question that absolutely wrecked me this summer, because it captured in a single phrase what I’d wrestled with. For a long time now, more and more earnestly, this is the question I have heard from God:

“Would you still trust Me even if I never told you why?”

That is the crux that is eventually reached in every major chapter of my journey as a follower of Christ. It’s one of the questions that led to me first accepting Christ, and it’s the question that has driven me deeper into Him over and over again-- when I let it.

I think we (by which I mean especially I) have a tendency to drastically cheapen our faith. We pray and we trust and we claim the title Christian so long as it doesn’t cost us anything. It’s easy to believe in God when He makes sense to us.

And that is why I often find the tragedies in life to be their own kind of grace-- they ask the question, over and over again, challenging me to answer it even in the dark: would you still trust Him even if He never told you why you lost that friendship? Would you still trust Him even if He never told you why you lost that job? Would you still trust Him even if He never told you why you had to abandon those dreams, those things you hoped for? Would you still trust Him even if He never told you why there is so much suffering that your hands can’t heal? Would you still trust Him even if He never told you why He won’t heal you right now?

I am finding more and more that my faith finds its roots at that crossroads, at that moment where I stand in a world that has ceased to make sense, where maybe even God seems dreadfully silent, and yet I choose to open broken hands and say “yes. I trust that You are who You say You are, even if You choose not to tell me why.”

And that is the answer that I pray to bring my heart more and more in line with, even in the dusky hours where I can’t yet tell if it’s another night falling or the moment just before dawn. There is peace there, and there I plant my flag.

I will still trust Him.

“This solemn truth I will depend on: that You could never even think of failing.”
- Disciple

- Elraen -

Friday, August 24, 2012

For Nights My Heart Turns Back

I had a moment the other morning.

I was standing in front of the cleaning cabinet at my new job (a part time cleaning job that really barely counts, but it’s income, and I’m not rejecting that at this point). The cabinet was about as disorderly as you can imagine-- bottles on their sides, used latex gloves piled around old keys, trash bags in a heap. And I burst into tears.

It wasn’t necessarily because it was a mess. I can handle that-- put it in order, organize it. Learn to use what is available to me efficiently and effectively. I’ve been doing this since I was a child. It was more because I remembered 12 years of working under my dad, and I knew there was no way in this world that his supplies had ever been or ever would be in that state. And suddenly I was desperately homesick.

I haven’t blogged much about this adventure, but most of you know the basic outline: God told me to go to Colorado when I graduated, so I did. I threw a few bags into my battered old car and set off for a summer of sleeping on a friend’s futon, praying every night in the semi-dark and asking God if I heard Him right.

There are good things here. I am surrounded by some of my closest friends. I am healthier than I have been in five years, due to getting 8+ hours of sleep every single night, eating three meals a day, and walking or hiking between 4 and 6 miles over the Colorado hills at every opportunity. I am rediscovering the creative part of me that 4 years at an engineering school almost crushed.

But at the same time, some days everything in me aches for the familiar-- for the way my 11-year-old brother screamed my name and ran to hug me when I got home from class every single day. For the hours of working with my dad, being able to trust that no job was too awful for us to endure together. For the sharp warmth of the cheap coffee in my library. For the professors who each had a greeting for me when I passed them on the sidewalk. For the structure of a schedule and a system I knew by heart. Even for the slow-spoken southern drawls encountered in Wal-mart.

In those moments where my world seems to be nothing but that ache for the things I will never know in the same way again, I have considered turning back a million times. I’ve run over and over in my head ways to get back to Texas, to just be there-- being unemployed and restless in the familiarity would feel a bit less lonely. But somewhere in me I know that wouldn’t be best. There is a fight to be faced here.

I’m not even fully sure what the fight is yet, but I know it has to do with defining myself by a name much greater than the things I’m familiar with. I know it has to do with recognizing truth that transcends socially constructed concepts of success. I know it will involve fully taking hold of gratitude for what is and hope for what will be. In other words, it’s going to have a lot to do with grace... which means I won’t be the one to win it for myself. The Author of grace, the One who promises He has already overcome the world... He will take the victory in these battles to come.

But for these nights, I have a surety to cling to of things that are beautiful, that shine even in shadow-- I have friends who love me more than I will ever deserve. I have a beautiful family who, despite all my failings, loves me and accepts me still. I have been gifted with music that keeps my heart beating in rhythm with truth. I have hope burning like an adamant star caught on my hand-- before long, I will be married. And I have a Rescuer who calls the weary to Himself, who holds rest in His hands...

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

There is grace even here. There is more grace to come.

Peace to fellow wanderers tonight.
- Elraen -