“Sometimes our life reminds me/of a forest in which there is a graceful clearing
The forest is mostly dark, its ways/to be made anew day after day, the dark
richer than the light and more blessed,/provided we stay brave/enough to keep on going in.” (W. Berry)
“Remind me, remind me of the vision You gave me…”
I can only wonder why I am allowed to be here. Why I am given the privilege of being among these women who have found such strength in Christ, when I only last week was bowed under the weight of pain caused by not knowing how to best love my family and my close friends, how to deal with apparent lack of encouragement, and with loneliness. I have no right. But then again, I have forgiveness, as do they.
These seven women with whom I am living this summer as part of the HOPE team have already played a crucial part in God’s reviving of His vision within me. I admit, we have not been living together long enough to get on each others’ nerves, but it is a blessing to see like-minded sisters pushing forward in the hope of the Gospel.
Hope has already been seen during training. Training to serve the homeless in the day shelter at Jefferson Street Baptist Center. Training to serve the residents in the Fresh Start program. Training to meet our neighbors here in the Smoketown/Shelby Park area of Louisville. Laughing with a neighbor as she made fun of me not being able to parallel park. Grieving with a neighbor as she told us about the anniversary of her 10-year-old son’s death, and how she copes and encourages others in their losses. Handing that ice water to a day shelter guest who came in from the 95 degree, humid heat. The hope is not, of course, inherent in any of these instances. Rather, it is there when the light of the Gospel shines through love. The truth that while we were dead in our trespasses and sins, Christ died for us, and in His resurrection, we too, through repentance and faith, will be raised to newness of life. This reality drives us. Love commands us.
“When my soul was dry, oh God, Your Spirit came like water
To drown me with Your love, and cover me with life
And Your waves were stronger than my faith could ever be” (Sojourn Music, “Mourning into Dancing”)
What is this life that I have been given? Sometimes our life reminds me of a forest that is mostly dark…a dark richer than the light and more blessed, provided we stay brave enough to keep on going in.
Are we brave enough to keep on going in?
Obedience when God seems not present has seemed the over-arching lesson of this past semester. And that sometimes, I think I am obeying, when what I am doing is trying to carry my own sin until it breaks me. I think I am obeying, but instead, I am trying to give people myself instead of Christ. I say I do not have time for more than short prayers throughout the day and a token verse...and then I expect joyful obedience. Praise God that neither my salvation nor ultimately, my sanctification is on my shoulders.
And praise God for community that is willing to show us that we need to fellowship with God through Scripture, prayer, and meeting together with one another. Praise be to the God who uses others to convict us when we are not searching for God, and then throwing up our hands and bemoaning our befuddled minds and hearts, and His seeming distance!
You turn my mourning into dancing, my sadness into laughter
My sorrow into joy,
“Halleluiah” is my song