Well. It sure has been a week.
This past weekend I witnessed God move in a miraculous way. I guess I thought that there would be enough speed coming down from that mountain top experience to catapult me up the next hill.
I’ve been reading 1 Kings 19. In chapter 18, Elijah literally calls down fire from Heaven. What comes next? Elijah refuses to do what God asks of him. In a tone that I read as ‘pouty’, Elijah explains to God (as if God doesn’t know) that even though Elijah has been faithful, people are still trying to kill him.
So, he’s going to hide in a cave for a little while.
Well, shucks. After such a high, it seems like such a low for Elijah. I’m tempted to judge him, but honestly, I’m too tired.
I’m too tired after driving in the dark to hold my friend as she prepares to face chemo. I’m too tired after explaining to a three year old why his daddy can’t come and visit from Heaven. (“And no, buddy, he can’t come next week either.”) I’m too tired after turning myself inside out and being asked to just trust that the fire has fallen even though I can’t see any evidence of it.
There’s this darkness that crouches at the corner of my heart and I don’t want it banished. I want to curl up inside the fear and entitlement and wave my fist at God. I know who He is. I have seen His power. I know that to refuse Him is not just dangerous to my joy, but to my soul. But none of that is enough to lure me out of my corner of darkness. Go ahead then. Do your worst.
But He doesn’t. He won’t. Instead He whispers gently: Fabienne, why are you here? Why are you here crouching in this darkness as if you don’t have a home?
And I tell him the truth. As ugly and embarrassing and ‘wrong’ as it feels, even to me.
Because I’m done. I’ve given what I have to give and it’s not making any difference. People are still sick and death is still real and your people still treasure idols. And I am weary. I am weary of the death and loss and disease and being turned inside out without any visible evidence that it’s worth it – and I know that these things lurk around very corner of following You.
And how does He respond?
He doesn’t rage at me through a storm. He doesn’t become a fierce wind wrapping around me and tugging me out of my hiding place. He doesn’t look at me sternly and make the very rocks around me shudder and shake and force me out of my cave.
Neither does He climb inside with me. Neither does He come in and pat me on the back and offer me assurances that no one else will die, that no one else will be lost in this cosmic battle against an Enemy whose defeat is destined.
No. Instead, He speaks softly in a voice so still and so small that it beckons me out of my covering and speaks straight to the nakedness of my soul. And I know suddenly that my cave cannot offer me what I crave. And it is with a joyful resignation that I concede I have no where else to go – no where else I want to go – but toward Him.
So, He brushes the darkness off me and together we step out into the light.
And I wish it was the kind of light that would make the world look shiny and glimmering, but it’s not. It’s the kind of light that reveals the world as it actually is: scorched by the heat and beaten by the elements. But, at least, in the light I can see it. At least I’m not staring into the inky blackness of the inside of a cave.
What I find out here in this world is not the opposite of grief. It’s just this sort of tethering inside the pain. Like He is wrapped around me, anchoring me, letting me go deeper into the depths of the emotion, instead of seeking to pull me out.
What I find out here in this world is not the opposite of fear. It’s just this sort of steel-iness in my heart. Like He Himself is inside of me, holding up all the pieces of my soul that feel like they could crumble at any moment. And I still have this strange panic, like I’m falling, so I cling onto Him as He holds me up. And I know if He was anyone else, I might be hurting Him with how tightly I’m gripping on.
But He is not anyone else.
So He wraps my hands even tighter around Him and He gives me the promises that only He can give: Every breath you have to breathe, we’ll breathe together. Every place you have to go, we’ll go together. Everything you have to do, we’ll do together.
Hear me and believe me: I will never leave you alone in this world.
And, it is enough.