Last night I moved the time of my morning alarm back to give myself just a little bit longer to sleep. I considered it an earned reward for what has felt like an impossibly long week.
And then an hour and fifteen minutes before my alarm went off this morning, I woke up.
Less sleep is the last thing that I wanted. It is another thing not breaking my way this week.
Flip, flop, sigh…try as I may I could not go back to sleep. Instead I began recounting the many tasks on the to-do list, the things I have not gotten around to doing yet. Then I thought about all of the things I would really like to be working on, many of which I will likely not have the opportunity to do in the foreseeable future.
It’s like waking up to an internal rain storm. Thunder. Lightening. Downpour. The forecast for the day, grim, gray, and grumpy.
My heart showers sadness for the current state of my schedule, and the missed opportunities. The events I will not be able to go to and the activities that I will not be able to participate in. There are areas that need to be trimmed because there are only so many hours in a day and limited resources to accomplish them in.
I look at already rounded corners and wonder, where can I trim just a little bit more off?
I am really tempted to ruminate over the series of “poor” choices that I have made to get me to this day. Knowing what I know now, there are many things I wish deeply that I would have done differently. MUCH differently.
Do I really know in the long run or whole scheme of things if they were “poor” choices? No. I know God does incredible things through our struggles. I know He can bring glorious redemption to any situation or circumstance. In faith there is always the expectation for miracles.
I don’t get to see the big picture, and the long run still seems like a foggy figure on the horizon.
And then there is Grace.
“The Lord will surely comfort Zion and
will look with compassion on all her ruins;
he will make her deserts like Eden,
her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the sound of singing.”
There is just something about this verse that has captivated me lately. For me, part of it has to do with the word “her”. There is something about it that triggers a reaction and deep connection in my heart, even though I know the reference is to Israel as a whole.
But, I sure can imagine what ruins and deserts look like and feel like. I feel the broken barrenness. I know the ugliness that feels barely inhabitable. The season of the soul that is emotionally arid and spiritually unsatisfying.
The sounds of a wasteland are more that of sorrow, whining, complaining, and sighing. Thanksgiving and the sound of singing, well, they feel a bit lost in the storm.
These times of ruin and desert, they don’t seem a likely place to find comfort and compassion. These are the places we want to avoid. These are the areas we will go to great extremes to not experience.
Yet, Isaiah says the Lord will surely comfort and will look with compassion on all her ruins.
Think about that for just a moment. If you were giving someone a tour of your life, would you include your ruins on your itinerary. I certainly would not. I would probably try to surmise some sort of facade or giant barrier or shove them into a locked closet or basement to hide them in.
Now, because the Lord is all knowing, there is really no hiding, covering, or avoiding the barren places from Him. But, that doesn’t mean that I am not going to try to avoid going there with Him as adamantly as an over tired three year old will fight going to bed.
Drag my feet. Throw a temper tantrum. Pout. Sigh with over animated actions. Dig my heels in. And create as many excuses as possible to avoid doing going there.
Maybe if I just work harder. Search out a new strategy on google. Watch a Ted talk. I can fix it.
Exhausted and spent I may be able to turn a tiny plot into a small garden looking area, but there is no way that I am going to make a desert into Eden.
That power, creativity, resources, and ability lie ONLY with the Lord. He will make. He will provide. He will love.
Then joy and gladness will be found in her. Then she will sing with thanksgiving.
Live it Out
How are you feeling today? What does your internal weather report reveal? Are there scattered showers of grim and grumpy? Are there arid winds parching your soul? Do you feel like you are walking around ruins and crumbled remains of big hopes and dreams?
Do you want to avoid those places altogether? To circumnavigate the ache and longing that comes from visiting them? The castles of dreams that have crumbled to dust, carry devastation into the picture.
You know what, you are not alone. I have that too. My name is Julie. That ache, that longing. It’s ok to have it. I have it as well. Today, I just wanted to sit with you. Even though I am wearing my t-shirt that says “Beware: Grim and Grumpy”, I’d really like to be with someone who wants to giggle. I understand the longing for joy and gladness.
While we sit this morning, I would like to tell you that I have a secret that can make it all better, a life hack to solve your problem. I don’t. But, I do know a God who looks with compassion upon all our ruins. The One who says, “He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). His songs, they always carry the sound of thanksgiving.
So for right now, let me be someone who is asking nothing of you. Let me just sit with you and offer my prayer as a covering of compassion, I got it from the Lord, and it’s really nice, but I want you to have it.
Pray Through It
Thank You so much for waking me up early so I could write this. Sorry I didn’t come more pleasantly to the table this morning. Lord, I’m so sorry for my full body eye rolls, temper tantrums, and excuses of avoidance. My ruins and wastelands seem to be the only thing plentiful and abundant, and that is really, really exhausting and frustrating.
Lord, I know that You can change deserts into miraculous gardens of Eden. But, sometimes I really doubt that You would do that for me. I think that is part of why I avoid touring those ruins both with You and with others. If I don’t walk through them with You then, I can avoid the disappointment I will feel if those ruins remain.
At the same time, I know that if I don’t go there, then I may miss the opportunity to see the transformation. Lord, I’m going to need a whole lot of courage to face this day and the ruins it may hold. But I want to walk into this desert with You. I want to do away with the grim and grumpy. I want to walk in the goodness of Your grace. Lord, please give me the music of thanksgiving.
Lord, for all of my treasured readers, I pray for MORE. More of You. More Joy. More delight. I pray forward all the longings for sweet and cherished blessings in my heart, for each one of them. I pray deep gratitude for being allowed to come into their space. I am humbly honored for their time and willingness to connect with me. Please, Lord, sprinkle some smiles in their days.
In the name of Jesus who feeds our faith at the tables of feasts, with eyes of grace and compassion for even the grim and grumpy. Amen