Yesterday, I shared in our Women’s Bible Study about how God uses suffering in our lives. Although it was only a short contribution, the flood of memories and emotions seemed to well up inside of me, oozing out of every pore the moment that I stepped to the podium. In addition, much to my dismay and mounting agitation, the Lord prompted me to share some specifics about my time of trial at the last minute, as I was preparing to walk to the front to speak. Although they were not details, they were far more than I had intended, and it threw me off. I am planner and this type of surprise was not a party. It felt as if I took my heart out of my chest, dissected it on the table, and then quickly tried to stitch it back up and reinsert it into my chest – all in ten minutes or less.
Uncomfortably, I have been rattled ever sense. I take my teaching and speaking seriously. I pray and research and plan and write and edit and rewrite. I love doing it and I love seeing what the Lord gives me to share. Usually, I am open to adding and subtracting bits here and there, believing that God will hold my words or give me new ones, according to what He wants said and who is listening. But this time -- a "big" change at the last minute? I was not accustomed to this. I wanted to be obedient, but it felt uncomfortable and even hurt.
In thinking it through, it hurt because I was vulnerable in a time when I was not sure I was ready to be. I also knew that I did not have enough time to explain or to expound on the situation. I would have to trust the Lord for the details, and just say – and not say – what He wanted me to, and then let Him take care of the rest.
It’s a scary place, like stepping up to a cliff, stepping off, not looking down, and trying to look up and stay focused. It’s what trusting the Lord looked like for me yesterday. During those 10 minutes I lost a view of what was around me, but continued to persevere in what God was calling me to do. After free-falling, and landing, I had to get up and walk on, not quite sure of what happened or whether it really even made a difference.
At the end of the talk, I shared this verse from Isaiah 54:10-13. “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. ‘O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones.”
What a beautiful picture of what God is doing in our suffering. My encouragement to the dear women at the study, and to you dear reader as well, is that even when all seems as if it is falling apart, or that you are free falling, God loves you unfailingly. He is working in all that is happening, and He is building you with the precious stones of His truths, the truth of His character, the truth of who He has made you to be and the truth of His love. These are the sparkling jewels that He uses to build the walls of your heart with.
I remain rattled, but not as much now, and maybe I am just beginning to see a glimmer of a new jewel that He is placing in my life -- the jewel of the truth that when we walk in obedience to Him (regardless of how we feel), He is responsible for the outcome, not us. We are just to trust.
P.S. -- On a much lighter note. I arrived home after my emotion filled morning, to find myself engaged in a game of "chase" around the kitchen table with my 1 ½ year old dog. I was in hot pursuit of what he had snatched in his mouth – my personal undergarment (AKA -- bra). Needless to say, I was too late. It was shredded. I needed the comic relief; I got it thanks to God and a precocious dog named – Courage. (I thought of taking a picture and posting it, but thought maybe that was an unnecessary visual J).