Listening and liturgy…

I was asked to speak to a small number of people this morning. People whom I deeply respected, people whom have had a profound affect on my life these last six months. I felt very, very, inadequate, and very, very nervous. You see, the question they were wrestling with was: "Does God care? How do we, as Christians, as believers, make sense of the realities that happen to us and around us?" How many, many, many times, have I found myself asking that question these last months? "God? Why?" I have struggled mightily with the inky darkness, and some days, it feels like the darkness will overcome. Grief and sorrow are so unusual in their expressions- so different for each person, but yet so universal in experience. Any mama who has lost a child knows the profound loss another mama is experiencing, but how the loss effects each mama can be strikingly different. And sorrow moves about like a shadow, catching you unawares at the most normal of times. I could hear a baby crying a thousand times and it not affect- but then one day in the middle of an errand filled busy day, a newborn crying in a grocery store will be like knives through my heart, taking my breath away and causing the tears to fall. Sometimes, you just don't know when its going to hit- I tend to think it never quite goes away.
    I could only tell these people what I knew, what I had experienced. In a lot of ways, it was hard to quantify. How to explain the black nights that were so deeply dark that they were almost navy blue? How to explain how many times I have doubted? How many times I have struggled with both anger and inadequacy? How many times I just wanted to say, "God, this hurts so very much, and why can't You make it better? " As if to question His wisdom, His competency. Oh, how I've wrestled with it, so much. I didn't spend much time talking about this wrestling match during my few minutes. I just couldn't look in the face of these people and say that. Funny how God works…but I'll get to that in a moment.
    What I did share was a condensed version of what I've said here on the blog. And how I've had to make this conscious choice to get out of bed each day and cling to the Light and turn back the darkness. Because, it would be so easy, so easy, to just slip off the edge, into the abyss. But I cannot. God has shown Himself so clearly in the pain that I cannot mistake Him. It's like seeing a silhouette.  I can't see Him in His Glory, but I see around the edges, where the Light peeks through, and it's those glimmers of light that I cling to.  Yes, nothing is certain right now. James is entering the third month of no job and seemingly no prospects, the pain of loss is still with me, and the normal every day realities of being a momma to four accident prone kids who test my patience on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. Sometimes, none of it makes sense! But yet, in all of that, God is faithful. Each month, the money stretches, and God provides in the most unique of ways. I have been given companions for the journey- women who've faced the same loss as I have in nearly the same week, and I feel so much less alone knowing they are walking similar paths. Each provision, grace from a loving God who knows the hairs upon my head, who provides for my every need. I can honestly say that I would not have been able to see His provision had He not stripped everything away. If I hadn't nearly lost my life. I would not have had the eyes to see. I feel some days as if I am living on borrowed time. I hope I never lose that feeling, because it keeps my heart and focus in the right place. Knowing that you should have, by all rights, died- gives you this totally different view of things. Each day is a gift. Each day with my children, no matter how frustrating and bad, is a day given straight from the Father's hand, and therefore a treasure. It's true of our normal lives, yes, but oh how we forget! How often do we forget that this is just a journey towards Home, each day a step? How often do I forget, and I have not been long from my brief sojourn towards the undiscovered country?
    I can't wait to be able to link you to the product of this meeting- the worship service and sermon that come out of it- because just the beginning planning stages spoke so deeply into my heart and I hope  that the finished product will speak powerfully into the hearts of other believers. My English and my grammar fail me, honestly…it is so weird, in a good way, to watch and hear the Spirit move. To see how It informs and guides and directs, forms prayers, words, thoughts and places it on the mouths of those willing to listen. I mean, how could these people know some of the struggles I've had? How could they have known some of the questions that have stopped me cold in the middle of the night? And they were sitting there, talking out the format of the service, what needed to be focused on, what they wanted to extend to the Body, and I swear, I felt like I was an audience of one. I don't think they realized how much they were ministering to me- they were just brainstorming. But, whoa. It was again, one of those Light peeking around the edges moments, where I could feel God's hand resting on my shoulder, and showing how much He cared. How He cared that I had been struggling, doubting, grieving, and was using these people to be His hands and feet. Using them to bind up the broken places-they were probably totally unawares of it, too. I wish I had written more of it down…just light bulb after light bulb went off in my head, all the scriptures they listed and spoke of.
    One of the things that just resonated with me was something that the teaching pastor said: If remembering was easy, if the struggle wasn't a struggle, then we wouldn't need communion. We wouldn't need the ordinances to remind us of His sacrifice, we wouldn't need to pray. It would be that easy. But it's not, and that's why God gave us the liturgy of communion, why He taught us to pray. Because it's the process of doing these things that calls us to remember. The hard stops. It's these things that allow us perspective that we would not otherwise have. It just sort of socked me in the gut, and reminded me to stop trying to move on my own power, and start listening.

Related: (The story of the loss, surgery, and recovery)
Searching for words…
The Lord gives, and the Lord takes…
Starting for the High Places…
Hello Fall…

A farewell…
The Search for Authenticity
The Gift of Sight
Windows wide open
Stories from the edge
Clarity, Freedom, and A Confession
In the moment
A Radiant Hope
The Definition of Joy


3 responses to “Listening and liturgy…”

  1. *tears*
    Thank you for sharing. . . I spoke today with my neighbor, who lost her teenaged son this year. I know I don’t “get it” with her mourning, her struggles. . . But my heart is still broken. For her, for you, for the many other mothers and others who have had such soul-wrenching losses.

  2. you know…just reading this…TODAY…is such proof of God’s unwavering love for me…
    thank you joy..

  3. Joy,
    I think that Christmas just intensifies everything. There are loved ones that I lost at Christmastime that were a part of my life at Christmas… that died very near Christmas. I went for a number of good years, and without a seeming rhyme or reason, I found myself transported back to those times — through a smell and a song and a new wound that called out these old ones to be remembered.
    It gets better. Consider that when you love deeply that you grieve deeply. If you are one that loves your children, your husband (and even little babies crying in the supermarket) very deeply, it would be odd and very wrong to expect that you would not also feel such a loss very deeply. All things are laid open and bare before the Lord — Your High Priest who knows all your sorrows better than you do. Go boldly to the Throne and be broken. The One who knitted you together in your mother’s womb knows how to heal you. It will come.
    The last time I visited with my godmother who lost her 6 year old daughter, I asked her if it gets any easier. She said yes and no. There is a part that it always tender, but you learn that God is good and that He brings comfort and joy. She said it was like surgery on her heart.
    God is teaching you a new level of JOY — perfecting it in you. And it will come. God’s work is always perfect and He always finishes what He starts. Yet a little while… and it will come.

Tell me what's on your heart~

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