Farewell to everything I thought was me
that I may know what these were meant to be.
–Madeleine L’Engle, “Jepthah’s Daughter, 2,” A Cry like a Bell
When everything is stripped bare and I have nothing left, I begin to wonder: maybe God is asking me to bid “farewell to everything I thought was me/ that I may know what these [everything I thought was mine] were meant to be.”
God is a blacksmith. He removes the dross and ruin so that he can forge something beautiful. God doesn’t care about patching; he desires to create something new and strong in my heart, mind, and body. Sometimes, that looks a lot like destruction. Life from death, beauty from ashes, creation from destruction, strength from weakness.
A new wineskin for new wine.
My job is to wait and see—literally to wait for the Spirit, with the Spirit, and to see.
–Luci Shaw, “Listening to the Muse,” Breath for the Bones
I don’t know what God is doing or why I’m here at this time and place. Questions flood my heart and mind. I cry out in fear. My confidence falters.
“Are You sure this is what I’m supposed to be doing? What are You doing, God?”
I don’t always get an answer. I’m not sure I’m supposed to. God calls me to follow in what Shaw describes as “listening obedience, rather than preplanning.”
Her words remind me, as does my mom, that I am a terrible Abraham. I see the desert and try to wrest control of the situation, figure out “The Plan.” However, Abraham did the same. He lied and schemed because of his doubts and fears. Perhaps I can take some comfort in his errors. God chooses people based on who he is and what he has done rather than who I am or how well I perform.
I also know why I continue to traverse this particular desert. God desires that I trust him, that I become the little girl I once was. She had an unshakeable faith. Jesus loved her. She believed God could and would do anything she asked.
I find her, sometimes, when I’m drawing. I think that may be one reason God gave me the talent and the joy in using it. Trials are good teachers, but delight can be, too.
O taste and see that the Lord is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
–Psalm 34:8, NASB
Her one link to earth,
his light—almost reluctant—touch, is a rope
unfurling, slipping her past the horizon,
into the cloud-stirring current. This far up,
what can she do but trust he won’t let go?
–April Lindner, “Learning to Float,” Skin
Lindner’s words are a flawed metaphor. God’s touch is not “reluctant,” nor does he link me to earth. He joins me to heaven and earth. Instead of dividing, he unites.
However, any time I find myself in a questing place, I can’t help but think of this poem. I “unfurl.” God slips me past the horizon, “into the cloud-stirring current.”
This place is a world of possibilities. I doubt, yes, but I also trust. What else can I do from “this far up”?
Image: K_13 (Creative Commons)