I am participating in Emily P. Freeman’s #mynextrightthing 24 days of writing prompts to celebrate the release of her new book, The Next Right Thing.
Today, the prompt is: “say I don’t know”.
Emily says in The Next Right Thing (p.69): “Rather than being an expert, children are free to be curious. Children are able to sit down and let other people know things for a change. Children are able to observe, to watch, to make mistakes, and to learn new things. You are in Christ and your smallness is not a liability. Your smallness is a gift.”
It has been a repeated prayer of mine to become that trusting child before God. Oh how I see Him answering that prayer. Just not quite like I expected Him to: by putting my weakness on display for all to see.
The Words He gave me to share, 3 years ago now, were about weakness. About God using the weak things of the world to shame the wise and about God perfecting His power in weakness. About His will not always being physical healing here on earth because in our suffering more of Him becomes visible for the hurting world around us, as He transforms our hearts in and through the pain.
Oh how I liked sharing this Word from my pedestal, from a place of “fully healed”. And so He knocked my pedestal down to destroy the growing wall between us. He asked me, even if they mock you, turn their back on you, won’t believe you: will you still choose to utter what is pure and not what is worthless? He invited me to join Him in a communion of suffering.
Oh how pridefully I fought this precious invitation: “How dare He do this to me, cause me such pain after only just lifting so much pain and shame in my life? After only just “fully healing” me from Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, an illness born as I spoke the truth and was turned away in the name of God as a child, unable to protect the one I loved. How could it be love to put me back in a similar situation yet again?”
At first, I became the insolent, angry child. But this, believe it or not, was in fact progress. For, right there, I came to Him as myself. As a little girl, who does not play the “good girl”, but who knows her Father well enough to bare herself fully before God, allowing His tender and patient discipline to do its work in her heart. This was the harvest from the first layer of healing He had walked me through a year earlier.
And as I got angry and even bitter before Him, He spoke in kindness. Truth and grace pierced my sin hardened heart until the tears flowed relentlessly and He got to the root. Again and again. And oh how He held me tight in His arms, turning my eyes to what HE sees. Oh the repentance that flowed, naturally and unforced. Oh the thankfulness for the depths of His mercy. Oh the peace, the hope and joy that flowed there, safe in His arms, as my heart grew to deep down know the Cross has truly paid it all. And so, I went where He asked me to, obediently bearing the Words He gifted me.
In sharing the Word He gave me via email my weakness remained very much hidden. But physically standing before those He asked me to speak to, I so often faltered. I either placated to please or hid in my trembling fear and shame. And yet even there, He was growing trust in me, growing my heart to lean into the power of His grace at work in me. For, He is the God who sees and knows us like no other.
He saw the root of my fear and my shame. He saw what others couldn’t: just how close I came to taking my own life, as I tried so very hard to be obedient to His will. He saw the horrific attack on my mind and body as wave after wave of trauma crashed over me. Again and again. And He saw how once, when I cried out in absolute terror, He even physically tethered my feet to the ground to stop me from running into the canal. And yet right there He was ushering in my healing, as He exposed my desperate need for Him and my absolute insufficiency to stand firm in my own strength.
God knew all along that He had to take me back to the root of my trauma to rewrite my story in grace and truth, to humble me beneath His mighty hand. To help me acknowledge and confess that the truth He had asked me to speak, both as a child and at my former church, was a truth my very own heart still needed to receive.
I only realized in writing this piece that I needed to become that child clothed in weakness, He was asking me to speak up for. I needed to deep down know that God defends the weak and powerless. I needed to know He never needed me to protect His children, just to join Him in His suffering and watch His goodness and mercy chase us all home.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Psalms 23:3 KJV
Piece by piece Jesus is helping me to shake off the dust of my past. I am learning to stop covering up my weakness in fear and shame. I am learning to lay down “expert” legalistic and ritualistic interpretations of Scripture and to listen instead to the Spirit’s gentle, relationship-led revelations of the Word. Revelations that do not incite absolute terror in me, nor awful shame, nor a need to “earn” my salvation by “fixing” myself or others. But instead these revelations are invoking a deep and holy awe for my God, a trembling before the depths of His love for each and every one of us, just as we are.
Yes, I am a beginner. A needy child before my King. A child who is learning to say: “I don’t know, help me oh LORD.” A child who is learning to embrace her imperfection, so that she may receive grace and mercy in the time of her need. I hear Him say: “Forgive her, Father, for she knows not what she does.”
And I see Him lay down His life for me, taking my sin upon Himself, dying on a Cross and rising on the third day, that I in my smallness and weakness, and many others too, might arise anew in His power: in the Way, the Truth and the Life. That I might joyfully take up my Cross and join my Savior in a communion of suffering, knowing my Savior is using this communion to refine my heart and restore me unto Himself and unto others through Him.
For the kingdom is the Lord’s : and he is the governor among the nations. All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul. A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.
Psalms 22:28-31 KJV
My dear friend, Joy Lenton, also just released a book – Embracing Hope – that has been such a blessing to me. I would encourage you to check it out.
Here is an excerpt of my review:
Going through a time of uncertainty, not quite knowing what is next, Joy’s poems and the words God whispered to her heart brought me both comfort and the courage to keep walking forward, or as Joy puts it so beautifully:
“to stay in faith, believe
there’s an opening
where potential has been sown
where future steps are known”
It’s so easy to become discouraged and turn away from the path of the Cross God has gifted us to discover more of Him. Joy’s words have helped me see purpose in this season of many endings, opening my ears to, as Joy writes:
“Listen, listen with intent”
To remember that even when life seems to pass us by, “life’s heartbeat” is still “ringing loud and clear in us”.
Just in case you haven’t heard: Bettie and I have some wonderful news. Our second Treasures from the Sands podcast – Pure GOLD – has gone live!!
What do we do when God doesn’t physically heal us or our loved ones? Where is God in our pain and suffering? Bettie shares what it was like growing up with a mother who suffered from chronic illness and what it is like now being the one who hasn’t been physically healed. It is a story of discovering fresh hope, of God uncovering the stunning beauty of His pure gold in us right there in our pain.