Have you ever had a season of life that tries, hard as it may, to shake the core of your very foundation?
Pulled in every direction – not with busyness we create for ourselves and allow into our families’ schedules, rather life that takes its hardest swings at our most vulnerable places.
Sometimes we see the hits coming and we duck. Other times we are broad-sided and its strength and surprise steal our breath and all we can do is grab our gut, double over, eyes tightly shut, and wait for the pain to pass.
A season filled with thoughts that turn into toxic worry and torment the dark hours made for rest. With days ending at daybreak, going through the motions moment-by-moment like wading through quicksand.
Life passes in slow motion and stalls overhead, like a thunderstorm, letting its cold rain pelt and bruise all it pierces.
A season when you lie down knowing your best wasn’t good enough, feeling every ounce of your failures despite your entire being thrust into your efforts.
A season where you stand at the crossroads and wonder why it had to be this direction instead of that one. Time pushing its hand in your back, shoving you forward down the path no matter how much you struggle to go back. You can’t.
A season when spontaneous tears burst forth in the little things like at red lights, feeding the dog and taking a shower.
A season when you can scream all you want, but no one’s listening to hear it.
A season when your blood pressure pounds in your ears like a drum and your heart skips beats – you wonder if it’s checking to see if it’s still alive.
A season when you don’t have the right answers – or any answer. Life gets in your face, slams it fist and demands answers you don’t know how to give.
So many voices asking questions, needing something, demanding attention you spin and spin trying to figure out which one to listen to first until you’re so dizzy you fall down into a heap on the ground and lose the feelings in your legs to stand again.
So you sit and do nothing.
A season when all you want to do is help, but you know the problems are too big and you have no power to solve them. They threaten. Mock. Taunt. Bully. No amount of sleep or mindless media drowns them out.
A season when in a symphony of stress and depression and anxiety play their instruments insanely, deafeningly loud, and time laughs, and hearts break, and you run out of positive thoughts to lean on.
A season when you begin to wonder if it’s only a season. Maybe this is my new normal, you ask yourself.
Maybe this is all it’s ever going to be.
Shards of broken dreams cut deep.
Wandering through the dessert of dried up hope and expectations, blinded by the heat of lost opportunity.
No direction. Just endless wandering dragging one foot in front of the other and you don’t even know why.
A season when you don’t answer the phone, or you walk down a different aisle, or sit hiding in your car when you see a friend because you can’t fake one more smile or trivial conversation.
Because the thing is, you’re still waking up. Your love for your beloveds overrides all of this. Faith that whispers you’re not forgotten keeps your heart beating.
Knowing somewhere deep inside there must be purpose for your life with every inhale and exhale of your lungs who refuse to stop breathing.
There’s this push and pull of self-hate and caring for your body in spite of wanting to reject it. To show up when you know there’s no one else who can take your place. To offer encouragement to others as though it were your last piece of bread – you give it away hoping it will help them more than it helped you. To rise above your own thoughts and emotions and share your crumbs of inspiration as a tiny, flickering ember that could either ignite into a roaring fire or extinguish itself in an instant of hopelessness.
Love. It’s a funny thing. It believes the best in us even when we look in the mirror and see the worst. It has tenacity to heal the sick, raise the dead and mend a broken heart.
True love thinks of itself last and that is why we keep waking up. It’s not for ourselves, but for others. It’s why we stay up at night worrying about our beloveds, turning each anxiety-ridden thought into a prayer and casting it upward, heavenward like releasing a balloon into the big blue sky.
It’s why we fight for those we call ours. Because in a world where there is every temptation to pull back, love presses on.
It’s strength never fails. It’s authenticity never waivers.
It’s why time seems to stand still because true love is eternal.
When the big rocks of life are hurled at us and fill up our cracked jars we call our flesh, we choose love. We choose to receive it and share it. A gentle motion that dances in step with life no matter how hard or easy.
In the moments when we quote Isaiah 46:10, Ecclesiastes 3:11, Philippians 1:6, Isaiah 61:3, Psalm 27:13-14, 1 Corinthians 2:3, Joshua 1:9 and Jude 24-25 we remember this is a season.
A season that has already been traversed by the Creator of the universe who bends time in his favor. He’s lived each moment and knows how to prepare us and be with us having suffered every emotion we could possibly feel.
He’s walked the road of loneliness, abandonment and grief. He sees the broken, the innocent blood and in his anger does not sin.
Nor does he sit idly by.
He’s summoning the stars, the sun and moon; lightning bolts and hail. He’s preparing them for battle on our behalf. He inventories his storehouses of snow and speaks to the wild beasts who obey his commands.
He readies his angels for war. War over us. War because of us. A war he has already won, yet still he thrusts his force from the heavenlies into our atmosphere to intercept the curses, the hits, and the targets on our backs of which we aren’t even aware.
The angels, they march in force and ride their chariots of fire and wage a battle no eye can see or mind comprehend – all for our souls.
In hand-to-hand combat they war for us, over us, in front of us, behind us, beneath us and beside us.
We catch a glimpse of their presence and cold chills run down our arms as angry ants.
Like raging seas is God’s passion and compassion for us. He steps down onto the waves as if they were stones.
They hold his weight out of holy fear.
He lifts the hem of his robe, and with water splashing against his ankles his steps turn to a racing stride as if our life depends on it – and it does.
Fear and fury swirl in the tornado, storms screaming, our giants mocking, and all of hell has come to watch.
They climb over each other for a better view of our destruction. They bet on how long it takes until we fall.
All the while God is running, racing, with the wind and rain and thunder exploding around him.
The water holds his weight out of holy fear.
Black clouds part the way for him in humble obedience. Lightening bolts illuminate the path straight from his heart to ours.
The war rages. Hell watches and all of heaven races behind the Alpha and Omega on horses, on foot and in chariots only our spirits can see. All of heaven is coming.
All of heaven is coming for us.
We stand on the battlefield wishing we were more. Wishing we could do more. Wishing for rescue.
In the moment when hell has us by the throat, hair pulled and heel on our neck, while God races on the waves there is one word bubbling quietly in our hearts.
It multiplies in strength and size every time we think it in our heads. It rises up in our throat and with a gulp of air we speak the word. One name. JESUS.
And as though the eye of the storm shines the sun and stills the wind, we feel the embrace of the goodness of God.
We realize God wasn’t running to us because he is always with us. We see he is running ahead of us, into the heart of the battle for our hearts.
We stand on the water that holds us out of holy fear because we are his and he calls us by name.
Hail and lightning and thunder and angels and their horses and chariots rush past us and the wind of their forces nearly blows us away.
We stand with eyes shut and palms open as God’s army stampedes onward like wildebeests on the African plain. King of Glory leading the way.
When the last of the angels and shooting stars have flown past we whip our bodies around to see something we cannot explain.
The fight, the war over our souls!
God’s heavenlies doing his bidding. He speaks and the world shakes and splits. He commands and hell quivers. Hell’s minions clamor over each other to escape God’s wrath because they dared to harass one of his beloveds.
He drives them like wild pigs off the cliff back to the pit from where they came.
We stand and stare at this phenomenon. How can our carnal selves comprehend what we see?
We forget to breath, being raptured in the moment of watching the Yahweh fight for us, that we would be worthy?
We are loved. And love never fails.
We lie our weary heads on our pillows to rest before it all resets and starts again at the sound of the alarm.
We wonder if we can make it through another day. A day filled with a list too long, problems too big, people so broken, we who are ourselves are so broken – framed with feelings of inadequacies, weakness and sin.
As we close our eyes, the thunder of the mighty battle echoes in our heads reverberating the promises of God to never leave us. To never give up on us. And to always fight for us.
With that, we drift to sleep, placing our very souls in the hands of God and knowing that because Jesus lives so we also live.
We hear the whispers of Philippians 4:13 and Hebrews 12:1 and their peace seeps into the deepest parts of our thirsty souls like streams in the desert.
And we know that whatever happens tomorrow on this earth, there is a battle in heaven declared on our behalf. And we will win because Christ has already won.
Love had the first word and will have the last word. And when that last word is spoken, this season will end. And that will be just the beginning for us, his beloveds.