Wednesday, August 12, 2015

THE SEASON AND THE GIFT

2014 and 2015 have been unkind.  This has been a season marked by fear and uncertainty.  Fear, especially, has been a constant, albeit unwelcome, companion.  Tears have streamed and discouragement has lurked—always, it seems, on the periphery.  Prayers have been flung, and whispered, and offered.  I have resisted, contended, defied, and, ultimately, surrendered.  That surrender has not come quickly or easily, though. 

My feelings and responses have run the gamut.  My emotional spectrum has been vast and varied.  I have been petulant and compliant, bratty and acquiescent, indignant and resigned. I have grudgingly discovered, in all of my contending and complaining, that resistance is futile and striving is pointless.  I know, logically, that adversity is part and parcel of life in a fallen world, but its lingering presence left me reeling.  There seemed to be no respite, and weariness set in to stay.

The insistent, intrusive reminder that no one is exempt from difficulty offered little consolation. I realize, now, that to expect otherwise, is to have a false understanding of how God works.  He is meticulous in His crafting of our lives.  He is relentless in His resolve to grow us up.  He knows that who we currently are, is not who we ultimately will be, so He sets about His painstaking work of transformation. Thus, this season. I think.

There have been other knee-buckling seasons, to be sure.  This just happens to be the most recent.  This was not an attack from the enemy.  This was an undertaking of God.  I never doubted that He was up to something.  I just disagreed with the way He chose to accomplish His objectives.  

After all, it is easy to declare “I surrender all” until “all” includes those you love.  It is one thing to sing “Have Your way” until you realize, with startling clarity, that His ways, so unlike your own, do not always result in the answers or outcomes you seek.

So, I voiced my complaints.  I confronted the things I wanted to avoid.  I imposed my will instead of seeking God’s.  I demanded answers.  I begged for intervention.  I questioned what He ordained, and I dictated what the solutions should be. 

In this harsh and prolonged season, in spite of my behavior, God was exceedingly, extraordinarily good. He was not my adversary.  He was my ally.  His grace proved sufficient time and time again, and His peace guarded my heart—when I allowed it to.  

Interspersed with dark and threatening days, were tender encounters with the living Christ.  I will not soon forget those moments, but I suspect there might have been more of those if I had been less willful and more receptive.

Whatever the case, He, Who knows me best and loves me most, kept me on my feet, unsteady as they were.  He undergirded me in my weakness.  He withstood the times I railed at Him, neither surprised, nor unmoved.  He stayed.  He remained.  He ministered.  He drew near.  In the midst of my tantrums, His love persisted, steadfast and undiminished.

Could it be that this season is now coming to a close?  Jimmy thinks it is.  While I hope he is right, I am too fragile to bank my hope on it, just yet. I have no idea, at this point, what I was supposed to learn from it all, and, try as I might, I still cannot pinpoint what God was trying to reveal to me, other than Himself. 
  
That revelation, alone, should have been enough, but I have always had a tendency to seek the “why” over the “Who”.  It is part of how I am made.  Justice and fairness matter to me.  They always have.  So, I fight hard for answers.  In doing so, though, I miss the One posing the question.  I dismiss the Teacher, when I seek only to understand the lesson.  I see that now.

I am also keenly aware that I did more wrong than I did right.  I rarely responded or behaved the way that I should have.  I was too insistent upon my own way—too sure I knew best—too convinced I could do it better. 

But I know this:  I loved Him.  That never wavered.
 
My faith faltered.  My love for Him did not.

If I learned nothing else in my quest for answers, that discovery, alone, is proving to be enough.  A love for God that cannot be quenched—a love that emerges whole and intact, when hearts are threatened, and seasons stretch on—a love like that—is nothing short of a gift. 

So there we have it:  The season and the gift. The latter only made possible by the former.  I, now chastened, but grateful, receive it—and all that was required, in the end, to make it mine.