Monday, May 5, 2008

Being carried by God, even in despair...

This weekend has been up and down to say the least.

I went to a wedding with Dave on Saturday, and before that I spent some time at the coffee shop with God. Had a wonderful conversation with the owner of the coffee shop, and a wonderful time with God.

Then came Sunday. I was at church, and I could feel it when I got up that morning. This emptiness inside that I just couldn’t pin point. The day before, I tagged it as just a deep longing for God to fill me. A spot deep in my heart that was still empty, that nothing I did could fill. Well, as I got to church, prepared and warmed up for worship team, it got stronger.

We started the service, and I got through the opening two songs, and the sermon. Then we got up and we sang 3 more songs before communion. The last song starts with the line, “Beneath the cross of Jesus, I find a place to stand…” I got that far, and almost lost it right then and there. Unfortunately I couldn’t just stop singing (I was the only female on the worship team) so I choked it back and kept going.

Then there was communion, which at that point, put me over the edge. I cried through all of communion. I was just asking God to commune with my heart, to fill the hole, to heal me. And felt so alone. My kids were with my in-laws, my husband didn’t make it to church, so I was sitting alone. (Did I mention that due to Dave’s schedule at work, we haven’t been to church together in about 6 weeks now?)

I cleaned myself up enough to get up and sing the last song, “In Christ Alone,” by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty. Well, that one just about did me in as well. The second half of the last verse follows here…

“No powers of hell, no schemes of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand.
Till He returns, or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.”

When the song was done, I got off the platform as quickly as possible and joined in a conversation briefly with a friend, and then headed to my community group. I slipped into the last row, next to a good friend from my small group. When prayer requests were shared, and then we started to pray, I started to cry again. As the prayer time was winding down, I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to “cover” that I was crying, so leaving everything but my purse, I ran for the bathroom, it was empty, so I hid in a stall, and let myself just sob. I literally was on my knees crying, and whispering for God’s help.

Over and over…. “God, I can’t do this anymore, I can’t keep this up. I need You to help me.”
Then I realized the bathroom door opened, so I got up on my feet, mopped up a bit and came out of the bathroom stall. It was my friend I had been sitting next to. She took one look at my face, and held out her arms to me for a hug, and asked what she could do to help. I fell apart and just sobbed on her shoulder. I finally calmed down enough, that we were able to slip out of the bathroom and into the sanctuary.

We talked until community groups were done, and then shortly after that I headed home. I found my husband, and we went to the farm. Right after a family meal, the kids went down for their naps, Dave and I went for a walk, and then Dave found one of our bikes in the machine shed, and rode it home from the farm. I hung around till the kids got up, rounded them and their sundry items up, and headed home.

All through this I was feeling terrible, and though I wanted to talk to Dave about it, there never was the opportunity, even on our walk.

When I got home, I let the kids run out to the back yard because I could tell that Dave had started a fire in our fire pit. After a bit of their playing, we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, and let them play themselves out.

Then Dave did something special for me. He rounded up the kids, and headed them inside for bath, popcorn and a movie. I was able to sit outside in the fading light, spend time at the fire. I was able to pray, journal, read scripture, journal out thoughts about the scripture… just spend some concentrated time with God.

Maybe it was taking my anti-anxiety medication that started the process of thinking more clearly, and even if it was, I guess it doesn’t matter. All that matters, was that for the first time all day, I finally felt better, my thoughts were clearer, and by the time it was too dark to write anymore, I had this gentle sense of peace. It was faint, there still was (and is now) the emptiness, but it is coupled with a bit of peace.

I am choosing to trust that God met me there.

During communion, our associate pastor was one of the elders helping pass communion through the congregation. He walked right down the aisle that I was sitting on. I have learned from past experiences that he is very sensitive to God’s Spirit, and has good discernment for what is going on. I have learned to trust his impressions… they are usually pretty accurate.

Well, to make a long story short, he came to me after the service. Even though he had seen my crying all through communion, he said that every time he passed me, he really felt God. He said he didn’t notice it except right when he was near me. He said that he just felt he needed to tell me that, why he didn’t know, but that he felt that God was doing something.

What he didn’t know, was that during communion was when I was feeling the most alone, the most lost, the most isolated and abandoned. Later, looking back, I can see that was when God must have been moving… even though I didn’t feel it, or realize it.

Like the “Footprints” poem says:

Footprints in the Sand

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.

This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord,

“You promised me Lord,

that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”

The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”

Mary Stevenson, 1936

My God was carrying me… even in the midst of the worst isolation and loneliness and despair I have felt in a long time. I was being carried. I choose to believe it. I have to.

No comments: