“Give in to God, come to terms with him
and everything will turn out just fine.
Let him tell you what to do;
take his words to heart.
Come back to God Almighty
and he’ll rebuild your life.
Clean house of everything evil.
Relax your grip on your money
and abandon your gold-plated luxury.
God Almighty will be your treasure,
more wealth than you can imagine.”
Job 22: 21 – 25 from The Message
This year has been one long haul of abandonment to God’s provision in every way and on every level. Paul and I have been stretched beyond ourselves in so many ways. As I stood and watched my house burn I thought “I can take this.” I was talking about the loss. And I was right. With the exception of my kids’ art, some journals, a few paintings and some books, I haven’t missed a thing and never looked back. If not for my children and trying to salvage things that were evocative of home I would have gladly walked away and never given most things a second thought.
What I could not understand as I watched the flames destroy all our possessions was that the rebuilding was where it would all come into play: all my beliefs, fears, trust, faith, doubt and strength.
The Bible compares life to a race that we are running. Watching my house burn, losing my possessions was like being dropped into a 5K. If we are speaking metaphorically I knew I could run that race and at the sound of the gun I started running. “This doesn’t hurt. I can take this.” I told myself. In a way I had already trained for that. Losing every thing? No problem.
What became difficult was as the months passed and the 5K became a marathon and then it turned into an Iron Man and then it was more like the Olympics and Paul and I were signed up for several simultaneous events. Making every single financial decision from how big of a house to build down to what type of spatula to buy while under mental and emotional duress has been so challenging. Making every single decision while waiting for insurance to come through and not really knowing how much every thing is going to cost has been excruciating. A rebuild is not a build; things have to be torn down.
God has been showing me the rickety structures that I have used for shelter: being fiscally prudent, careful, living within our means – all good practices, but God is a jealous God and he won’t let us settle for less than abandonment to him and his provision. I think I want grace but it seems risky, it involves too much trust. So I see now.
I have also been learning a lot about how we choose or refuse to comfort each other. It is uncomfortable to just be with someone. Our urge is to fix, to remove obstructions, to placate. But somethings cannot be fixed or removed or placated, they must be born, endured.
A true friend is one who will be with you in the uncertainty, who will sit with you in the mystery of and the suffering itself.
If someone glides in and blithely says “You’re going to be fine” we reject that. But isn’t that what we really want to know? Am I going to be alright? Is everything going to be OK?
We don’t need bland assurance – we see right through that – what we need is someone who has been through the fire and who can tell us everything is going to turn out just fine.