I try never to publish a post while I am in the pit of despair. I don’t want to deny the struggle or pretend it doesn’t exist, but I never want to leave it there. It has been my experience that even the darkest times eventually come to an end…or at least a lessening. There have been seasons when the light flooded in without me even having the strength (or wisdom) to look for it, but there have been more times when I have very actively had to search…or really, it is the daily quest and time invested in this relationship with Christ that allows me to be found when I am lost. He calls me by name, and I recognize His voice (even though I am very stubborn and easily distracted). I wrote this post several weeks ago, but I was hesitant to post it until I was sure I really believed it myself, if you know what I mean.
There are just sometimes when I belligerently want to focus on all I’ve lost instead of having a thankful heart. I can usually feel the ungratefulness and despair building to a destructive wave of sorrow mixed with anger and bitterness. Almost like I am playing a crazy game of hide-and-seek (picture Jack Nicholson in The Shining)--where I am the hider and the enemy of my heart is the seeker. Usually I end up kicking and screaming (in fear, anger and alone-ness) as the mean and hate-filled seeker gets closer—which most certainly gives away my (not so) good hiding place. Just as I fear I am about to be discovered, I usually remember that I don’t have to do this alone. Honestly, why do I forget so easily? There is One who never leaves me to do battle alone, who is willing to fight for me and with me, and from whom I never need hide...no matter how badly I have behaved while I was hiding-and-seeking with the enemy. (And I can behave pretty badly.) The turning back to a heart attitude of thankfulness, praise and humility seems to be the first step. Of course, it is only the power of the Holy Spirit that makes this turn possible…it is totally beyond anything I can do. What a mystery.
Peacefulness, which so recently seemed out of reach, returns. I am reminded that Christ is the only good hiding place. And He continues to seek after me whenever I go off hiding elsewhere.
and provide for those who grieve in Zion--
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,,
and the garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair
He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…his sheep follow him because they know his voice.
O Jerusalem…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.
Luke 15: 4-6
Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.