In the middle of my desert, a miracle has bloomed.
I’m still in shock. There are many days when Psalm 126:1 describes me perfectly: “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.”
And then there are moments when the reality of God’s gift makes me weep.
So far, what have I learned about myself, about God, about love, through this miracle?
I’m in love with a “human being person,” and that means that I don’t need to be afraid of imperfections, mistakes, or growing together with this person. Relinquishing my fears of imperfections in myself and in others has freed me to love someone real and be loved in a real way.
I’m watching the Gospel connect with my life in a palpable way. I never realized how much I needed that. My whole life, I’ve been connected to the Word with much knowledge and understanding. That’s right and needful and necessary. But I didn’t realize how much a person could incarnate the Gospel for me. Of course, this man is not Jesus (didn’t I just say he is a human being person?), but in a very tangible way, he is fleshing out the Gospel to me. I am discovering that I can be deeply known, truly vulnerable, and really, really loved. And this love heals me in places where I’m still broken. I am discovering that I had no idea how much I needed this kind of incarnational love.
John 1:14 has taken on a whole new depth for me: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory…” Somehow, this man’s willingness to accept and love and cherish the real, broken, human me has caused me to grasp the Gospel on a whole different level. God loves me even more than that. He knows me completely and chooses to accept me. He delights in walking with me through my dark places. And He loves me deeply, right now, in my very human moments. I’m learning that receiving the Gospel for myself opens my heart to extend grace and deep love to another flawed human who needs God as much as I do. And I’m shocked to discover that the Gospel really can flow through my heart to joyfully bless another with grace. That’s God.
I’m learning that God was working on my behalf even during all the years of pain and waiting and shame. At the beginning of this year, during an angry, tearful afternoon, God spoke to me through Jeremiah’s lament in Lamentations 3:
“I am the [one] who has seen affliction …
Though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer …
He turned aside my steps and tore me to pieces;
He has made me desolate …
I have forgotten what happiness is;
So I say, My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.”
My identification with this lament was absolute. And then,
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope …
For the Lord will not cast off forever,
But, though he cause grief, he will have compassion …
For he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.”
God rammed this promise like a stake into the battlefield of my war-torn heart: I am with you in the pain. My wounding will not last forever. My compassions will follow My wounding.
He reminded me of His promise regarding the treatment of grain:
Grain for bread is easily crushed, so he doesn’t keep on pounding it.
He threshes it under the wheels of a cart, but he doesn’t pulverize it.
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher.
(Isaiah 28:28-29 New Living Translation)
Really, that’s all the assurance we’ve got: I am with you. It won’t last forever. My compassions will follow. (And, I will teach you.)
I had no idea what kind of compassions would follow His wounding, but I knew He promised that it would eventually come. Grain is crushed, though one certainly does not thresh it forever ( Isaiah 28:28 NET Bible).
The tangible evidence of His compassion may be different for you than it was for me. But I promise you, when it comes, you will feel loved by the God you thought had deserted you. His compassions will touch your wounds in ways that you never imagined. And you will experience the Gospel in a palpable way.
Once again, I leave you with the words of C.S. Lewis:
Courage, dear heart.