Why is it that sometimes even when life seems to be going well, it also seems to be falling apart at the same time? There are pockets of wonderful and pockets of worry, pockets of praise and pockets of panic, and sometimes it feels like we’re just schizophrenic in our day to day lives. This over here is great, and we turn cartwheels and sing and shout; and then we turn just a hair and that over there is dark and gloomy and worrisome.
There are so many blessings that I have in my life. I can count them and I run out of fingers and toes. Why can I not focus on the blessings instead of the worries? Why is it that when I focus on one worry, a thousand others crowd in, vying for my attention? I’m not comfortable with discomfort. I’m not okay with things not being okay. How shallow that is! I don’t like knowing that about myself.
Our praise team at church is practicing a new song called “The Story I’ll Tell” by Maverick City Music. (If I remembered to come back and include it, you might find a link somewhere around here that you can click on to hear the song if you haven’t heard it.) The melody and the music is what grabbed me the first time I heard it. The harmony is exquisite. But as we have sung it over and over, as I have listened more and more to the words, there’s so much there that pricks my heart.
That’s the first line of the song. Right now that’s how I feel. I feel like I’m in the dark and there are so many ruins around me, jutting rocks, broken blocks, and unexpected holes. While I know that my Redeemer has me in the palm of His hand, it’s hard to see what He’s doing in the middle of all this. I wish sometimes that it didn’t take tearing things down for Him to rebuild them. But I know that’s not the case.
I know that He had to tear me down to bedrock in order to get rid of what I had built because it was faulty and faltering. I know that it was in the ruins of my life that He began building His life in me. I know that when everything fell apart, that was when I turned to Him.
There are people around me, people I hold dear and love, who seem to be falling apart right now. There are aspects of my own little life that seem to be faltering right now. And I don’t know what He’s doing. The pitiful weenie part of me wants Him to just fix it so I can relax. Not just me, fix everyone. Fix the worries and frustrations and unsettledness of this one over here, and fix the problems and faults and failures of that one over there; fix the heartbreak and despair of this one, and fix the pride and hard-heartedness of that one. Fix the worry this one has over her husband. Fix the stress and fear this one has over her grandson. Fix the finances of that one over there. Just fix it all. I know that this flawed world we live in is a product of the sin that entered it millennia ago and it’s not God’s fault. But sometimes, just sometimes, in the middle of a rotten situation, I want to just cry out “why don’t You fix this?”
I have been careful to pray that His will be done, and I think most of the time I mean it. But then I see a situation, or experience one, and want to fuss and fume when it seems unfair. I find myself worrying, brooding and dwelling on the situation. I have had to ask myself several times recently if I really mean what I’ve said when I’ve told my Father that I will follow Him regardless and that I do want His will in my life and the lives of those I love.
I feel sometimes that my praying for God’s will to be done for someone I love is just asking for hard things to happen in their lives. That’s awful to admit, awful to know, and I’m ashamed of feeling that way. Because I do believe that God is good. I believe that He loves us, that He has intervened in human history over the entire course of it because He loves us and because we’ve just messed it up left, right, and center. He has fixed things. He has fixed things the only way He could after we destroyed it. I know the entirety of the human race has hurt His heart over and over, and yet He still loves us.
But I still clench when it comes to someone I love experiencing a hard time. I still wonder if God knows what He’s doing, if He realizes that if the worst thing happens in a situation, that person may never speak to Him again and their heart may be lost. Does He know that? The bedrock of my faith says yes, of course, and that person’s pain and heartache hurts His own heart. That’s the rational part of me. The emotional part wants to wail and flail and beg Him to intervene and not let this person’s life be ruined.
But the ruining is sometimes, is often, the making of us. The hour is dark, and it’s hard to see what He’s doing here in the ruins and where this will lead. No truer words…
I think maybe I wouldn’t be quite as unsettled if it were just one thing, or even a couple little things. But there seems to be so much going on right now, so many people affected, so many people battling something, facing something horrific, something worrisome and frightening, myself included. It just feels like there’s a battle raging.
I have said before that I have a habit of taking any given situation out to its worst possible outcome so that I can live with that eventuality in my head for a little bit, step a toe in so to speak. That way I can figure out how I would feel, what I would do should the worst happen, in an effort to minimize the blow. I have to ask myself on this particular night with the many pieces of shrapnel that seem to be flying around, will I still love my Lord should the worst happen? Would I still be able to say “God is good” and mean it? Would I still be able to believe that not only is God good, but He is good to me? To my loved ones?
I pray I will, should that happen. I pray I can stand still in this storm and hold up my shield of faith, albeit with trembling arms, and trust that it will catch the fiery darts flying around. I don’t think my faith is big enough for this turmoil, but I truly do believe that my God is. I have asked, and will ask again, for Him to give me the faith I need to believe Him.
The song we’re learning takes an “it is finished” point of view. It sees the trial, the trouble, the dark and hard season and says “I may not see what You’re doing, but I believe You’re going to come through, You’re going to work it all out.” It takes the mindset of Jesus on the cross, where it looked like all hope was lost, the end had come, the future was bleak and grim, and believing hearts were shattered. Jesus, I believe, knew all this as He hung there, bearing the weight of all the sin of all the people of all the world for all time. When He finished His work, when He let go of His last breath, when He cried out “It is finished,” it certainly didn’t look like He had succeeded in what He came to do. It looked like He had His life cut short, His ministry derailed and squashed by jealous religious leaders. But, what they couldn’t see from their vantage point at the foot of the cross, was the work He actually came to do. They couldn’t see that there was a resurrection day coming. They couldn’t see that He had paid it all, and that horrific day when Jesus was tortured on the Roman cross was the ultimate ruination – it ruined the grip of sin, death, and hell on all humanity.
I want to sing the song on the other side of this battle and know that the words ring true for me. I want to sing it now with the faith to know that the struggle is worth it, the end is in sight, the outcome is amazing, and all the details, the big and small of them, the minor and major of them that I’m worried about are well in hand, held by our Creator Redeemer. I want to stand here on this side and say with every ounce of sincerity, trust, and faith I can muster that “my God did not fail.” I want to know that He is active, working, weaving all these miserable things into the most beautiful tapestry displaying His glory in shining, magnificent detail.
I want to know, and I pray right now, on my couch in my living room with my cat behind me and my laptop in my lap, that this will be the story I’ll tell.