Something is Happening

“Sometimes you should speak to your soul, not just listen to it.”– Dr. Ingrid Davis

—-

Prayer is like writing.  Sometimes you stare at a blank wall, a blank screen, a blank page for awhile.  Thinking you are not yet praying, not yet thinking, not yet writing.

But under just a little bit of skin, your blood is pumping life into your body.  Your lungs have inhaled, exhaled six or a hundred or a quadrillion times since you put yourself in this location.  Mind searching for the words, spirit longing for understanding and to be understood, body pumping, breathing… alive.

Something is happening.  Don’t loose sight of that.

—-

She was distressed.  A young intern, staying with me and my new housemate for her first few days in the Middle East, passed by an open door on our second story to see the team leader she had just met… crying. In the middle of the night.  On her birthday.

The other housemate was already there, having come to check on me.  Earlier in the evening, the group had gathered around me, post-chocolate-peanut-butter-cheesecake, to close the day’s celebration with prayers of blessing.

But when the second person started to pray about dreams and expectations for the year ahead, my soul started to quiver.  Soon shoulders shook, and tears dropped onto the table.  I drew my breath quietly– perhaps, I thought, though the group had drawn close, with eyes shut they would not notice me crying.

Sniffles undid that.  They offered a Kleenex and continued, and I did also.  Sheltered in the kitchen of my second-story house, filled with home-cooked food, encircled by loving friends, I wept over the tentativeness in which every hope, but One, seemed to be shrouded.

After the last “amen,” they accepted my pink eyes and polite thanks, and went home.

Except, of course, for the intern, and my housemate.  She came to my bedroom door 45 minutes later to ask, “How are you?”

Tears again.  A form of answer.

The intern walked by and glimpsed this scene.  She came back, hugged, and walked out again.

O Soul, you asked, Why didn’t I shut the door?  And remembered, In the basement, no one came by the door– I did not have to be vulnerable.  Nostalgic; yet knowing that the vulnerability of the second story is a particularly good place for you to be when you don’t want to be there.

I told the housemate who asked that, while the year had left me with much to celebrate, and drawn me closer to that Hope in One, I had also been bruised until tender from change and loss.  So I was afraid to hope for anything beyond His love, even though I had read it is capable of casting out every category of fear.

Why are you so downcast, my Soul?

—-

Scattered.  Small parts of a people group spread over a big world.  Who would care if they flourished or floundered?  Who would they be known by?

I had not noticed this fear before in the Babel story, even though I had heard it since childhood.  My Sunday School memory was simply of a post-flood, prideful people’s attempt to touch heaven with a physical tower.  Consequentially, languages were confused.  (I would come to grieve this result, as I wrestled with Southeast Asian languages and later Arabic, quite personally.)

But at the international gathering that I attended this summer, Egyptian leader Ann Zaki drew my attention to the text: “Come let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

Let’s stay together.  Let’s build a tower and the whole earth will see it.  We are going to have identity, we are going to have companionship, and we are going to have protection.

But they had been given a directive to spread out.  Cravings of the soul to stay in one place, and to make security for themselves, had prompted them to say “no” to God’s plan for them to go and fill the earth.  They had refused to trust Him, to find refuge in Him; they would build their own tower.

As Ann Zaki spoke on the passage, I knew my soul needed to listen.

I needed to acknowledge the tools in my hands.  I had attempted to construct a safe tower, and felt pierced by a sword every time there was a scattering.  It’s time to lay down your arms, to go and let others go.  Be empty-handed and have expectation for protection, companionship, and identity, to come.  Not from what you’ve constructed… but from your Father. 

—-

Sometimes the things I hope for are like Lazarus.  Like his sisters, I contact the Son, confidently, to tell Him what I need Him to do.

Sometimes He lets death approach for awhile.

Sometimes I am Mary, staying a distance away when Jesus approaches, then weeping at His feet.  My soul says to Him, If you had been here, hope would be fulfilled, instead of dead.

Sometimes I am Martha, coming to Jesus and weeping the same words, but adding, “Even now… I know You are Life and Hope.”

Jesus wept with the sisters.  And then…

But that’s a second story.

—-

So this is what I’m saying to my soul these recent days:

Hoping for the small things is all right.  Because even if they don’t happen, I know Hope and Life.

Scattering is all right.  Because refuge is not something I can build with my own hands– I refuse false refuge, and I go with the One who is Himself my Tower.

Moments of fear and being downcast come all right.  But I have perfect love, even when they come.

The future is a blank page.  This, too, is all right.  Because He is up to something… even now.  And so I breathe deeply, singing with favorites Jonathan David & Melissa Helser:

“Your faithfulness will never let me down

I’m confident I’ll see Your goodness now.”

Catch the Wind, new on “Beautiful Surrender”

Beautiful-Surrender-Helsers-Cover-Web.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Something is Happening

  1. Ah, Julie, your vulnerability certainly came through this one. Hmmmmmm… Wish I could give you a big hug right now 🙂

    You email, especially the opening line, immediately brought this song to mind. Dan and I visited a church a year ago or so. It was my favorite song we sang that morning, and it really stuck with me. Hopefully the ostentatious quality about it doesn’t distract you too much 🙂 https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6PNNPXuL7r0

    Love you friend, Kel

    >

  2. Dearest Little Sis,

    I am stuck by the way that you capture the state of your mind, heart, and will “on paper.” I am transported into your room with you and allowed to hold and treasure your heart…invited to affirm the experiences of your journey…and the Truth as He lives in you, feeding your soul with His Word and through His people. I see Him empowering your spirit and giving you space to grieve in His Presence that He might be your Comforter. I sense Him inviting the pouring out of your heart that He might meet you and “father” you in the moments of your days and nights.

    My own experience resonates with the unexpected, unanticipated losses that we walked thru in our first 5 years…having “given up” family as we knew it (personally and in the body), I anticipated that what He was giving was “forever”…how quickly that proved to be not the case!! It was not Him however that “slammed me” for being unrealistic, “a dreamer”, short-sighted, and the list goes on.

    Instead He was indeed saying, “I AM your all.” You are My daughter forever; you are My friend always; you are My beloved and My delight; you are My apprentice with access at all times… I AM your Everlasting Father; I AM your Constant Friend; I AM your Lover; I AM your Mentor; I AM your Treasure at all times and in all things.

    Does my head get that?! Yes, and I still wrestle with that some and find myself living from paradigms that are not truth. But He continues to call me near so as to let Him be that GOOD beyond measure…

    Does my heart rest there?! Beginning to learn that rest and recognize when I’m not there. And He is depositing what I need and teaching me how to get back there…

    Is my will living from that wide open place of glory and grace? Oh, how I long for that to be my consistent reality!! Grief acknowledged and then carried by His shoulders and comfort lavished; confusion surrendered to await His promised wisdom; my self-focus overrun by worshipful awe and the perspective He gives; my self-pity not gaining ground but canceled out in the choosing awareness of my “over-flowing cup” that is neither half-empty nor half-full; self-righteousness and entitled earning of anything soundly rejected and denounced for the freedom of Jesus as ALL of my righteousness; shame exposed and swallowed up in His love and my belonging which can never be compromised; anxious thoughts and frantic actions put to rest by the capability of His Spirit to achieve His purposes and good intentions for me, AND all those I engage with, AND all the nations.

    May He continue to invite you to be aware of His Gracious Presence; to relax into and relish being with Him in all sorts of situations; to receive more of His all and receive His provision both in solitude and through those near and far that He is depositing through. (These are indeed some of the good gifts He has been lavishing on me currently. I am amazed.)

    Abba, protect and prosper my sister in these days. Take her roots ever deeper into your Living Water, Jesus. Be the Spring of Life, bubbling up in her, Holy Spirit. All Glory to you, Yahweh!

    Smiles and hugs, sis!

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