Thursday, October 16, 2014

Waste Not. (Learning to Claim Each Season as Good)

Five people in six months.  Two car accidents, cancer, old age, and pulmonary hypertension.  They left us, one right after the other.  One month after another.

I was 19, away to college for my first semester.  Assuming life would only continue it's excitement and productivity.  I knew nothing else, nothing except the steady blessing and presence of the Lord. Up till that year, it's as if He kept any struggle, any ache, at arm's reach from me. 

But then the cars crashed and the beating hearts silenced and the cancer won, and I met someone new.  His name was Fear.  I knew him not, but here he was, in each hour and at every turn and in the mirror and he shook me with his whispers of coming and staying.

For months I fought and wrestled with fitting this Fear into my pastor's daughter's mindset.  I remember that Fall well,  as the leaves surrendered their grip on their mother tree and died on the grounds of the campus. I felt myself loosing my grip on the life and the Christianity that I had always known.

I felt like this:

Ever been there?

I know. Weird time to post a funny picture.  I'm just trying to lighten it up. Even a bit. :)

And here's the thing. I have been waiting to use this picture as an analogy.

I think I forced it.

Hmm....Oh well.

Anyway, I entered into a bit of a off-season. For months, after Spanish I and before Anatomy, I lied on my dorm floor, over top of my open Bible, and I cried.  Fear was there, Depression too.  And it was dramatic and dark and I fumbled around, trying to make sense of the pain.  

Those 6 months were long, and miserable. It was the fall of death.  The winter of depression.

It felt at times, like a waste, that half a year.

Yet, now, with ten years spacing me from that valley, my vision has cleared.  I can see how that God-ordained off-season was the richest time of my life. 

For, it was in the epilogue of that tear-stained, doubt-filled season that Hope came in anew.

As Iowa finally passed from Winter into Spring, I lifted my changed eyes up, and found a God that was new to me.  After I walked through (uh, crawled through) a season of loss my emptiness was creating a capacity for a God that I thought I already knew.

Perhaps the beauty of loss is that it creates room for something, for Someone. 

The God who allowed the consecutive deaths (that affected many people more than myself), this God who loved me, this God who knows loss and knows pain, he gave me more of himself.

It wasn't until I bled that I could understand that He is Healer.

Not until my feet had slipped and water neared my neck could I truly grasp that He is my Rock.

It was in the loneliness of grieving and isolation of doubt that I learned that He is Enough.

That slow, mundane, gray semester was not wasted. It was, indeed, richer than any year previous. Different, yes.  Quieter than I preferred, yes.  But richer.  

I claim the same for today.

I have now caught my breath from another slue of losses. Jobs, homes, moves, and deaths.  My wounds, most obtained on the windy curve of learning,  are healing. There is a scar of sorts, it's deep and it's wide and I see it every single day.  This scar tells my story--a story of brokenness and rebellion, a story of grace and redemption. Same story as many of you. 

Yet, I would say I am in a bit of an off-season. The question comes regularly now, "So, when are you guys going to get back into ministry?" "So, what's the plan with working in a church again?" I don't mind the questions, it's just that God hasn't given us an answer to pass on yet. And that's ok.

Because his Grace tells me that this year is wasted not.

This season is not a waste, because the God of my freshmen tears is still here, and is still speaking louder than any fear and depression.  Despair cannot be heard, because His voice is clear and steady, droning it out with songs of purpose and promises.   

He promises rich purpose, even in mundane seasons, even in seasons of waiting.

His Grace whispers promises of more room being created for Him.  

Could it be true, for me and you, that our 'off-seasons' are the richest of all?  Could it be the intervals of life--the ones between times of productivity or feeling like ourselves-are the sweetest yet?

Could the periods of time that Doubt wants to label as wasted, Grace will tags as rich?

Could I, could you, believe that interim seasons are the ones we will treasure when we have endured the current season?  

It is in these occassions , where progression seems to pause, that the greatest good is happening.  There is a God who wastes not one year, one month, or one morning.  It is in the mundane routine that Grace invites us to trust. To trust in the quiet process of learning more of this God and more of his love.

 It is this Grace that beckons us to faithfulness in the quiet seasons.  

In the months that seem gaunt, or meager, could we see that Grace transforms these days into days plump and fat with richness? 

So, you, tired mom of littles, you are in a rich season.  In the rhythms of mothering, can you tune out the idea of wasted years?  Instead of chasing productivity or accomplishment, know that your each day, when plumped up with Grace, can have great purpose.  These years matter. There is a richness for us to obtain, by serving our children as Jesus has served us. By giving grace upon grace to our husbands, rather than punishing them for our mundane days. (Come on, tell me I'm not alone...)

And you, the friend who's heart is healing from shame or regret, these are important days.  You will be brought through this desert, you will arrive on the other side of this winter, but first, embrace these days. Whatever your story of loss is, it will be turned to gain, when Grace is poured on heavy. Do not hurry through the Lord's discipline, you will miss the sweetness of his loving lessons. He will bring us through in his good timing.

And you, fellow traveller on the road of uncertainty or change, don't wait till you have arrived to claim that life is good.  Perhaps you are like me, wedged between two seasons, gleaning still from lessons of the past and being confident that we are being prepared for what is ahead. As if we are pressed between the hurt and the learning curve of yesterday and the hope of tomorrow.

And you, weary heart who doesn't even know this God who loves you and loves me and loves every last one of us, the fear and the depression that speaks over you does not own you.  There is a God who aches when you ache and longs to draw you to Himself.  His song is Grace, his gift is freedom. Trust him in your mundane days, and your quiet pain.  He is present in both.

We are not alone in our off-season.  The notorious king of the Bible, King David, experienced one as well.  In between his giant-slaying and crown-wearing, you will find him playing a harp and hiding alone in caves.  There was this interlude, between slingshots and kingdoms, where I believe God did deep heart work on David.  He taught him of his goodness, his sufficiency, and assured him of his God-given purpose.

The God who loves me, and you, wastes not.

1 comment:

  1. Loved being your neighbor this morning at Faith Filled Friday. Wonderful post! These quieter days, these years - they truly do all matter. Even when it seems God is not at work, He is always at work doing something. Perhaps to be revealed later. As I looked at your graphic just above it hit me.... perhaps the mundane days are not as mundane as we thing at the time :) It was wonderful to "meet" you here today!