To whom shall I go?
Luke 6:66-69 ESV After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
Today was not the best of days.
We all have them. It's part of this journey called life. No pity party. Just stating facts. For me, today was a terrible day. From someone else's perspective, it might be considered a a Cher, Moonstruck, "Snap out of it!" day. However, if while reading this, you feel the need to do that to me - please don't. I'm just too sullen to bear it.
I wrote about feeling trapped yesterday. I skirted around it and declared my freedom in Christ. Of course the enemy heard that so he brought down the hammer of stress and the demon of inadequacy at work. He threw in some disobedience on Jonathan's part and his general ignoring me when I try to reprimand him or whining about me being unfair, horrible, toxic, etc.. And added to it the external demands and everyday responsibilities/burdens/obligations that most days I can abide with, but today just seemed like a very, very heavy weight.
I'm longing to strip myself bare, to run away - but I can't. I have to stay here in this.
The walk of faith is interesting. I'm not sure if, from the inside after being attracted to the Gospel and then receiving it in faith, do I have a powerful, compelling testimony to call others to join me. I believe my lack of witnessing has a lot to do with my experience in Christ. It has been hard. Most of it, most days of it, have been hard.
I witness others walk out in faith or pray a crazy prayer and things seem to fall into place. I try to do the same and the result - <<boing>>!
I'm thinking of the last time I cast all dispersions to the wind and decided to strike out - to do something different - to be courageous: Moving to Paris w/Jonathan to study for my International MBA? I can even go earlier than that to my actual stepping away from IBM to pursue my dream of a PhD program in Business.
Neither panned out well. Not at all. Both were incredible failures. The ashes of my bad decisions scattered all around me. Even myself, much more worse for the wear- a shell of who I was in 2013. Older, achy, less attractive.
These are truths. I can't look in the mirror anymore and try to convince myself that I'm seeing a temporary version of myself. What is left of me is the vestiges of a person who has been in a fierce battle. I've survived, but I carry with me the PTSD of war. Yes, my Almighty Father was there in each fight - He stood in the corner to encourage me on -- he patted me with a towel and he sprayed me with water - and then He pushed me right back out there to take a few more punches - His angels keeping my legs from crumbling and hitting the mat for the 10 count. I survived but it was neither a win or a draw. I've come out on the losing end.
I love this story in II Chronicles. It is for me what I long for from the Lord. I've prayed this kind of prayer and stood in this place of praise, thanksgiving and expectation MANY times, only to not see the Lord work things out in such a powerful way. He is the same yesterday, today and forever - so Father, how can I experience THIS kind of victory, when surrounded by the forces of the enemy who are on a mission to take me out?? It's been 8 years of continual attack and yet...
Is my praise too weak?
My faith not strong enough?
II Chron 20:5-29 NIV Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard 6 and said:
“Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. 7 Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8 They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, 9 ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’
10 “But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. 11 See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. 12 Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
13 All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.
14 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly.
15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”
18 Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. 19 Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.
20 Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” 21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his[c] holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:
“Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”
22 As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23 The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.
24 When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. 25 So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing[d] and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. 26 On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berakah, where they praised the Lord. This is why it is called the Valley of Berakah[e] to this day.
27 Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lord had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. 28 They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the Lord with harps and lyres and trumpets.
29 The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel.30 And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.
"For his God had given him rest on every side".
Yes, I have my health, praise God -- more health than most people - moreover, simply the breath to live, the eyes to see, the ears to hear, the hands to touch, the legs to walk, the mouth to speak -- gifts from the gracious hand of God. Yet, the scarring is deep. The wounding seems to have no promise of healing. I can't turn back the clock and do any of it over again. Some of it, I would - but most of these past 8 years, can stay right where they are.
I'm tired. Bone tired. I long for this rest. I long for God to exercise this same victory over my enemies. That simply by having faith in the Lord your God I can be upheld; have faith in his prophets, I can be successful.”
Maybe He doesn't believe that I find Him as my sure reward. I sense that until I firmly let go of all other attractions, and cling wholly to Him, maybe some of the things I desire (marriage/home/writing full time) will come to pass.
But does He understand how hard it is to allow the arms of someone around you that you don't fully trust? At this juncture in life, that is my biggest battle. In my post, I Surrender All, I attributed my inability to freely fall into our Father's arms because of the lack of parental affection in my childhood. But when I reflect further, it might be less about formative psychology then my experience with God as an adult. When you've desired His comfort and direction and it hasn't really been there - not in the way and degree needed, it's so hard to fall back into His arms and believe you'll be okay there. I've been a dropped baby, Father. Maybe not in your eyes, but it is what I've felt all these years. Many many years - not just these past 8.
And this side of Jesus, there is no gauging of blessing based on behavior. Whatever we receive, it is by grace alone, lest any of us should boast. Doesn't matter how much I've served, money I've given, kindness I've shown, there is no behavior or act that would warrant God showing out for me in a way that says, hey Kim, this is something extra special that I'm gonna do just for you.
I wonder again about this notion of quiet time. Jesus indeed spent it --likely there were decades of quiet time with the Lord before He stepped out into his short ministry on earth. I get that it's important.
And then I remember John 15. A whole chapter on abiding -- He is the vine, we are His branches. Branches don't stretch or strain. They don't necessarily have active quiet time. They just abide.
Am I wrong, Father, in believing that I've lived most of my life as an abiding life - even when that life has had some bugs on it, some bird droppings, some harsh winds bending and twisting it? I haven't lived a perfect life - haven't done everything right and said everything right. But I abide, don't I?
*Sigh* Like Job, it's foolish to try to justify myself in the sight of Almighty God. He is the final judge of my character and whatever He considers right and holy in my life. And despite what He sees, He can still bless me. He has blessed me.
My written confession of mistrust isn't helping me at all, I'm sure. Though, the father looking for his son to be healed by Jesus, confessed his doubt, and hence, lack of trust that Jesus would do what he asked. He asked for more faith - more trusting that Jesus would not fall short - would bless him and his son. And Jesus did just that. Even in his doubt, Jesus blessed him. He was honest about his doubt, his mistrust and was blessed. So was Abraham, who did not trust that God alone would preserve him and Sarah from the ruler who he lied to, in fear they would take Sarh and kill him. They were both still blessed with the promise.
Again, I'm trying to make a case for myself in the sight of God Almighty, who does what He wants to do when He wants to do it. Thy will be done...
I don't know. Like I said at the very start of this post. It has just been a bad day and as I get older, those days just seem to outnumber the good ones. I lament that my youth is gone - and even my youthful face and body. I'm clinging, clinging to my youth being renewed like the Eagles, but the reality of the pain and the aches, the sagging skin, the unsightly weight, the smelly breath and stale private parts, speak something altogether different. I feel like a fraud. I want to be woo'd, but what do I have to offer the wooer?
I spoke negatively to a friend about a former boyfriend - about him not being marriage material. How he's right back in the position he was in when we first dated over 20 years ago. Then I took a good look at myself and in reality, I'm no different. Who am I to judge him? I too ended up back home with my parents - for almost 10 years! I too went through bouts of unemployment and sub-employment and much of it was due to poor decision making, coupled with the demands of caregiving. He is caregiving his mom w/help from his sisters. Really, Kim - stop throwing stones!
Regardless, I still long for more good days.
One of the most recent good days was that odd one in March when Jonathan and I walked to Somerville from the car dealership, while my car was being serviced. It was a chilly day. Not sure why I remember it so fondly. I suppose it was the simplicity of it and just spending time with Jonathan, outside - discovering a new, cool restaurant and bakery treats.
There is also peace in writing for me. I don't know if any of this will ever be seen. If I'll ever write the book about my mom. But there is peace and I cherish the gift of having it back after such a long time without it. It serves to improve bad days like this one.
In a place of aging, darkness and diminishing hope, this writing holds me up. But I'm afraid to even say that - I'm not sure the Lord would have me say that. I've found that the healthy things that bring me solace are generally snatched away (running/walking/yoga). However, the unhealthy things linger, to do all they can to destroy me (alcohol/stress/food indulgence).
I just long for a spring season. The closest I came recently was 2017 but even that year was full of death and loss (brother, Mr. Norman, Mrs. Chiles). It was more like a autumn solstice in the middle of two long winters. And the winter is still upon me.
Will I ever see a true spring again - like I did in 2008 - a year with so many nuggets of surprises and blessings. I know that I shouldn't keep going backwards to what can only be experienced once. However, when you have experienced a year like that, there is an expectation, at least on my part, that God can do the same - but even better. Like when I was not working in 2019, but knew strongly that He would, as He had done in the past, take me from famine to feast - and He did. Of course, it serves Him well for me to be financially viable, because He knows I'll be pretty faithful with tithes and offerings. But emotionally viable. Does that matter as much?
If I'm abiding in You and You in me, can there be experiences again of unexpected joy? Of surprise blessings? Of hearing you and seeing you move in miraculous ways. I long for it, Father.
I'm desperate for it.
It might seem like I'm just seeking His hand and not His face. That's not the case. What I long for most is solace and peace in Him. That peace that surpasses all human understanding. That sense that He's truly got me.
You do have me, Lord - You have all of me. You've had all of me. You said it all those years ago, standing in River Church, during worship: "I have you all to myself." I know you're jealous over me. You don't want to share me. Are you afraid I would love anyone more than you? I haven't so far. Not friend, child, parent, boyfriend, job -- maybe the closest might be that damn bottle and the desire for a thin body, hubby and home - and a few tv shows that took my attention from You :-)-- but even those are fleeting - and now the drinking and tv are gone and most of the bad eating. You still have me all to yourself. It's you who I cling to and call out to, talk to continuously.
So, in that having can I have more of You and, yes, more of Your hand of blessing in the wake of so much lack and death and loss -- can I have my springtime, Lord? I'll put it to good use. I won't hoard it to myself.
Like Simon Peter, I'll never go away. No matter how much it seems that the life of abiding in You is hard. No matter how much it seems that there's more taking, taking and heaviness and darkness than giving and light in this walk of faith- I'll never go away.
Anyway, to whom would I go? You have the words of eternal life - and I have believed - and I have come to know that You are
The Holy One of God...