I was in a group setting one evening with my husband, and a good friend’s husband made mention of how sometimes you don’t truly know life until you know pain. We were serious and silly in our responses to that, but it is truth. There have been several instances in my life that could prove that point, but I have one still fresh on the heart and mind. In fact, there are still remnants causing me to stop, breathe, and pray.
Saturday evening we had a college kid and his friend come over. We have watched this boy since middle/high school grow in maturity in his relationship with God. It’s a joy on this side of things! I had one-on-one God-talk time with the girl, while Nathan had the same with him. Then we all sat around the kitchen table and talked theology, faith, our thoughts, scripture, and convictions. It was like being in Bible College again. Then we stood and wrapped things up for another 45 minutes! And there, while standing, is when I fell.
Nathan and I have talked of our convictions on sarcasm and speaking just to be heard. I am not this naturally funny person, nor am I naturally comfortable among people. Sometimes I can be good at being quiet – sometimes – but a lot of the time I open my mouth in foolishness, and it proves how “unnatural” I am in the crowd. I had done well that night – you see, I self-talk and talk to God when I’m with others to try and keep the tongue bridled – but then in a moment I crashed to the floor! I don’t even know if the two friends noticed it, but my husband and I did. He brought it up later, not to condemn, but to hold me accountable. It’s the relationship we have. It’s not always easy to hear, but it is easier to hear it from him because I know he tells me in love, not frustration, with my holiness as the goal. I knew it before he said it…I had already felt the pain of conviction.
Conviction, quick and full, has always been God’s way with me. Some might say I go overboard or that I need to lighten up, but it’s the pain of conviction that has kept me on my knees, weeping, and crying out for redemption rather than walking in my sin with a heart growing harder. I have always been thankful for it, even if I have asked “why” over it. It is painful, but this pain shows me that I am really living in Him. There is no life in Christ – my New Life – without feeling the pain of dying to my old life. I need to feel the breaking off, the ripping, the tearing away of what was in order to know the restoration of what is, in Him. I need to feel the pain to know I live – in Christ. I felt this pain acutely Saturday night. I cried over it the next morning, and I poured over Scripture trying to find balm and healing.
A Psalm of David.
Hear my prayer, O Lord,
Give ear to my supplications!
Answer me in Your faithfulness, in Your righteousness!
2 And do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
For in Your sight no man living is righteous.
3 For the enemy has persecuted my soul;
He has crushed my life to the ground;
He has made me dwell in dark places, like those who have long been dead.
4 Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me;
My heart is appalled within me.
5 I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all Your doings;
I muse on the work of Your hands.
6 I stretch out my hands to You;
My soul longs for You, as a parched land. Selah.
7 Answer me quickly, O Lord, my spirit fails;
Do not hide Your face from me,
Or I will become like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning;
For I trust in You;
Teach me the way in which I should walk;
For to You I lift up my soul.
9 Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies;
I take refuge in You.
10 Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
11 For the sake of Your name, O Lord, revive me.
In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble.
12 And in Your lovingkindness, cut off my enemies
And destroy all those who afflict my soul,
For I am Your servant.
It was verse 4 that grabbed me. Overwhelmed with grief; appalled with myself. Nathan knows how I get; so, he tried to pull me out of the pit quickly. I prayed through Sunday morning; I needed to get it together if I was going to be together with others. I was teaching children that morning about the 10 Commandments. About how God gave His family some “house rules” to follow so that others who looked at them would know they were different – that they came from the “house of God”. The break down of the 10 Commandments is to love and honor God and others. Nothing about that one phrase that took me down the other night was ‘honorable’. It may not, or it may, have been offensive to man, but it was definitely not showing the world Who’s house I come from.
I just didn’t know how to get up and get past the pain. I didn’t know where my joy was hiding. I had asked for forgiveness. Turned my feet around to head back in His Way. The Accuser was still at it, and I was using my Sword the best I knew how. Still, would the smile in my heart and in my face return?
Then, there was the little boy. The one who I still consider my baby even though he has a younger sister. Maybe we should have named him Isaac because the first time I saw him I laughed out loud. He has been making me smile and laugh and cuddle more for six years. He came to service with his brothers and me this Sunday. I left him at the table with pen and paper and instructions to show respect and please be quiet. He was. I prayed and took communion. I prayed and wrote down sermon notes. I prayed and tried to sing and lift hands. Just as I was praying for that joy again, asking God to please let it flood in, I felt a hand in mine. I opened eyes to see that silly little boy smiling huge and urging me to dance with him. I resisted at first, and then I caught it – God’s gift to my plea. So, I tucked the “Sword” tight to my side, held his hands, and danced and sang before the Lord. Didn’t David lead the Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of God’s presence, into Jerusalem with this same method? Didn’t I sing over and over again with my best friend by my side: I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart, I will enter His courts with praise!…I will rejoice..! Why don’t I dance and praise more often? If it ushers in a fuller experience of the presence of God, and in the presence of God is fullness of joy, why do I keep searching for a different way. A more “low-key” way. A less “put yourself out there” way. I have been called conservative, and in so many ways I love that title, but not when it comes to my love to God. If there is anything I do not want to conserve in this life, it’s my expression of love for Him!
So, from painful, appalling conviction to raging a battle to fuller joy…in just two, long days. Really, what else is there, but to give thanks.
Saturday morning Father-Daughter date
the still, cool air
blue jean jackets with both my Hannah’s
pain of conviction
Autumn blaze in all it’s glory
Aaron playing Dr. Jones
a good, long run with a cool breeze
making a “surprise pie” for dessert
Nathan grilling steaks
Nathan cleaning up the kitchen on a Sunday evening
a visit with Sarah
a visit with college kids
praying over the school week
resting beside Nathan during Sunday Night Football