There are times when the Lord will take from us every familiar thing and send all the others away to have us to Himself, uprooting and dismantling our earthly anchors until we find no safe place of attachment but to Him alone. And though we search feverishly to secure another, He will faithfully cut off our efforts at every pass and every attempted by-pass, almost as though we could see them being escorted out the door, marching one after the other in file and possibly taking our sanity with them. “No, not another one! Where are they all going and why am I not invited?” But it is His alone to give or not to give, to give and take away.
The One Who took up the cross and took the cup of the Father’s wrath for us has the absolute right to take anything and everything from us at any time for whatever reasons might please Him. But know this for certain: concerning His redeemed, those reasons will always involve two things—glory and intimacy. They are the overriding answers to every lingering question of “Why?”.
But if we fail to understand His glorious and intimate intentions we may misconstrue our losses to be a sign that He is actually withdrawing His affection from us. The very things which He is doing for love’s sake to perfect our pathway to intimacy might be taken instead for obstacles blocking it, causing us to doubt His love. We could not be more wrong, but sometimes it's so hard to see through the veil of pain.
For it's a strange and bewildering thing to feel that you belong to no place and no person in this world, to have nowhere to call home and no one to share it with if you did. A severe untethering indeed that though meant to prepare us for flying can seem to us more like drowning. The sobering truth is that none of us belong to this life or the things of this earth; all sense of it is only an illusion, and pain and loss are simply the dispelling of the myth—the rude awakening from a bewitching dream we once had. But oh how we fight the disillusionment.
Maybe we remember a time when we had prayed to be refined, to be made more like Jesus, but we didn’t know it would have to hurt so bad and take so long and look so dark and feel so lonely. Even if we have understood and embraced His call to deeper intimacy we may after a while, when nothing seems improved either around us or in us, start to resent our belonging to such a determined and jealous Lover, though He is doing exactly what we had once asked Him to. We may start to think we can no longer bear anything except that which superficially distracts us from our grief. We may even start to give up hope, for if not anchored exclusively “behind the curtain” and if repeatedly crushed it threatens to kill our hearts for good should we have to face one more disappointment.
We may feel very much like we are flailing around in a deep and darkening ocean, repeatedly pulled under by the powerful tow and thrashing waves of overwhelming emotion and continuously knocked back by the brutal winds of confusion. Yet we can still see the unshakable boat of faith and truth standing solidly only a small distance away. We know it is real and that if we could just reach it we would be safe. We hear someone shouting through the din, “Just hold onto the boat! The boat will save you. Look beyond your feelings and walk by faith. Hold onto truth!” But can’t they see that as hard as we may try we have no strength to swim to the boat? Can’t they see that we are sinking?
And so we are left with nothing but to cry out to Jesus, to cry out to Him to bring the boat to us, to come Himself and rescue us. Do we have that much faith? Enough to just say, “Jesus, help me! I’m drowning!”? Enough to see that He is our only hope and nothing else matters apart from Him?
Because when we do, we will understand that this hope in Him alone is the very lifeline by which He will pull us to safety—back to faith, back to truth, back into His intimate arms of love, back into a peace which passes all understanding and into a joy that gives us strength for the journey.
As difficult as it can be in our grief to hear the Lord whispering truth to our hearts above the constant clanging of our feelings, we must now more than ever choose to take the time to be still and seek our soul’s rest in Him and in His promises. But how amidst such clamor and confusion?
Simply decide to cast your cares on Him, if only for the moment, by climbing into His Shepherd’s lap to look and loiter and listen. And if you have no energy to climb up, then just lift your arms and ask Him to pick you up. And if you haven’t the strength even for that, only raise your eyes toward Him and you will soon find your sanity restored as you behold His love for you. Ask Him earnestly to let you see it afresh, for perhaps you have been temporarily blinded from recognizing it.
Stop everything; cease just for this minute from all worry, anxiety, fear and anger. Forget the past and do not look toward the future. Focus only on this moment right now, as if you knew it would be your last, as if it were the very one to lead you into eternity. Inhale like fresh air the powerful promises of God’s Word. Soak in their grace and drink in their healing, keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus’ face. Can you see Him longing for you? Exhale every distraction, conflict and uncertainty of this world. Then listen... What is He saying to you right now? Wait for it, then let your soul rest in it, and let go of everything else. Rest in the grace of this present moment and in His strong, sure arms. Let Him take care of you, wounded one, for you are His beloved, and He longs to tend your broken and needy heart.
"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I will not be shaken."
~ Psalm 62:5-6
"The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and I have been saved from my enemies.
The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called to the LORD;
I cried to my God for help.
From His temple He heard my voice;
my cry came before Him, into His ears...
He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
He drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the LORD was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
He rescued me because He delighted in me."
~ Psalm 18:2-6,16-19
"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf..."
~ Hebrews 6:19-20a