Sit with me for just a moment. If we were face-to-face I’d probably wrap you in a tangible hug and open my tea and coffee cupboards up to you. I hope you like yours dark because I brew a mean cup of coffee strong enough to put hair on your chest, or so they say. I would also bend an ear your direction. This is a moment of full disclosure, a moment to openly share the hard. I know broken. I’ve been broken. I am broken. I’ve spent lonely nights walking circles in the rain trying desperately to find a second set of steps to calm the storm. Silence can be so deafening in companionship’s absence. Likewise, seemingly unanswered prayer can be a deafening, hard-to-understand kind of silence. I say prayer is SEEMINGLY unanswered because in truth God always has an answer, it may just not be the one I want to hear.
Through these hard strolls in the night I have been learning to trust that somehow, one day, I will wake up and feel the ray of sunshine on my face again. In truth, even as I type this I am getting to sit in the light of unseasonable warm for an early February afternoon. Unseasonable warmth, what a thought. Sometimes I don’t realize just how much God offers in the way of unseasonable warmth through the promises that saturate His word. That warmth, those promises, are available 24-7. The requirements? A surrendered, laid-down life.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by our brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
1 Peter 5:6-10 ESV
A laid-down life puts struggles at ease. Long, never-ending nights become fleeting moments in time that do end. Did you hear that? They do end, they really do. There are three pivotal things I have found crucial to exercise in lieu of hard: faith, prayer, and obedience. Faith lays an unshakable foundation to dig your heels in and camp on. Faith declares that though I may not be able to see how or even comprehend why something happens, the “what” in the “why” becomes the new fixated point of reference. That “what” is the unchanging promises of who God is. He is in control, sovereign, just, and good, oh-so-good. ALL THE TIME. Prayer is the tool that guides my heart back to worship when everything else attempts to convince me to check out. Worship walks my heart back into a right perspective of who God is and who I simply am not. Obedience? Well, this is the action point that ties and anchors everything together. It’s not only key, it’s critical. Especially when we feel like doing otherwise. Obedience is walking out in trust despite the glaring hard before you. Obedience is the act of laying-down self, opening tight-clenched fists, so that we can say yes God, “here I am.” In the act of saying “here I am” we acknowledge that He is the great “I Am”, sufficient for every need under the sun. Your needs. My needs. EVERY need. Period.
And so it often is. Faith, prayer, and obedience are our requirements. We are not offered in exchange immunity and exemption from the world’s woes. What we are offered has to do with another world altogether.”
Elisabeth Elliott, These Strange Ashes
So, I would say to you keep walking. Keep trusting. Keep hoping. I may be broken, but I am not broken without hope. God is working and He’s not done yet. Take your hard higher. Don’t be an island thinking you have to walk around somehow as an independent “I have to fix it” self. The answer is not to work harder, try harder, or rationalize and do everything harder. You will only drive yourself ragged in the ground and left wanting, spent and disillusioned. Don’t run on fumes thinking that somehow God is distant, not listening, doesn’t care or is inaccessible. Go higher. Higher than the circumstance. Higher than the person. Higher than yourself. God, through His son, solidified His accessibility. We make our own selves inaccessible by determining God isn’t enough, that His Word somehow is irrelevant or that it lacks the power to change. Christ is the living word, the very imprint of God himself. True change begins when we bow low, admit who God is and who we are not, and camp at His feet. We need to be in His word, abide there, and let it infiltrate all the holes we so inadequately try filling. It really is all about God, not us. Every time. All the time.
So three things friends. Faith, prayer, and obedience. A life of humble surrender. A humble, emptied-out heart is beautiful planting ground for a season of growth and renewal. Surrender is fertile ground indeed for true freedom.
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:32 ESV