My mother has a friend, an elderly man, who was preparing to go on a cruise. This first required a flight and before leaving for the airport the man, knowing that he might be walking on some uneven territory, grabbed an old cane, a walking stick that had belonged to his grandfather. It had sat in the corner, used only occasionally.
The man and his traveling companions stood in line for security at the airport. They noticed that those to whom they had entrusted to keep them safe were eying his cane very carefully, examining it from every angle. Suddenly, to the extreme surprise of the gentleman, the agent pulled on the cane and out whisked a very long, very sharp sword.
Chaos ensued. The travelers were rushed away, interrogated, but fortunately were deemed harmless and allowed to travel, sans the antique threat to national security.
It's been dry around here lately. My heart, I mean. My spirit is parched.
Last November I spoke at a retreat on the extremely weighty issue of how God uses our suffering for His glory. I believed that God had called me to tackle this topic but the stress of it was overwhelming. After reading every book I could find on suffering, listening to every podcast, and pouring over every bible verse, and trying not to throw up in between sessions, I was drained. I had immersed myself in the Word for weeks and when it was all over, my sin nature immediately said "No more! Bring on the chick lit! DVR up the drivel! I need a break from all things deep and godly!"
It's disgusting, actually.
About this same time, I discovered things about the adoption industry in Ethiopia that ushered in more nausea. Overwhelmed by information and confronted by the shocking ugliness of sin, plus accepting that bringing our daughter home is probably not on God's agenda for 2012 caused my spirit to withdraw even more. Am I angry at God? I don't think so. Am I jaded and cynical? More than ever before. Am I in despair? Yes.
Throw in the all the other worldly diversions
and my bible has sat neglected for weeks.
My soul almost recoils at the thought of reading it. My short prayers consist mainly of, "I'm really sorry God. Thank you for loving me anyway."
Oh wretched woman that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?
This past weekend I went to a retreat in Atlanta, designed just for moms who have or will adopt. My soul was refreshed by being around other wonderful, loving, God-seeking, hysterical moms who share my heart.
But there was also a constant reminder that this business we are in, this orphan care business, requires our hearts to confront the gut wrenching consequences of sin on a daily basis: corruption, rejection, racism, illness, disease, or the exhaustion that ensues from the commitment to help heal the broken heart of a child.
And as I sat in the dark surrounded by like minded sisters, my mind wandering while godly speakers spoke of godly redemption, a Godly voice whispered to me, How dare you?
How dare you decide to neglect Me now?
Indeed, how dare I?
During the time preceding my marriage, I was immersed in the word of God. Between BSF, Beth Moore Tuesdays, an obscene amount of time to myself, and equally hungry friends who enjoyed discussing theology late into the night, I dove deep into Scripture almost daily. My future husband and fellow BSF leader was one of those hungry friends. Our marriage, all nine stressful years of it, has been blessed and happy. I am convinced it is because we were both bathed, powdered and lotioned in the Holy Spirit for years before we walked down that aisle.
Yet here I am, in the adoption process, entering straight into the lair of the Enemy, answering the challenge from the prince of this world with some dust from a dried up brook. I'm daring to call my own a child whom he had assumed would be his - and I'm choosing banality over the Living Word of the One whom he hates the most.
How dare I?
Hebrews 4:12 says "the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged
sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and
marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
I've taken that sword, sheathed it, hidden it away in a corner. I've occasionally pulled it out as a cane, a whimsical decorative piece, leaning on it briefly only when I felt exceptionally weary.
I have neglected it, but it has not neglected me. From the dusty corner it has continued to judge the thoughts and attitudes of my heart - my selfish, desperate, lazy heart.
Things must change.
Things will change.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away
with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real
rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the
unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on
you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.
Matthew 11:29-30 (The Message)
I need a real rest given to me by my Sword, my Cane, my Crutch, my Savior - the only One who condescends to enter this broken heart.
Then I will whisk out that Sword and brandish it against all who threaten His plans - especially myself.
How dare I not?