He has felt so far away.
I climbed a mountain looking for Him. Two miles up into the clouds and all I could see were snippets of His creation. All I could feel was the burn, but not His presence. When I turned around to see the view from the top I searched for Him in the vast ocean before me.
Beauty, yes. It was beautiful And I kept counting those gifts of beauty. I didn't forget to be thankful even in the emptiness.
I didn't forget that on the road to Emmaus Jesus walked alongside the two men. He talked with them and asked them the reason for their sadness. They talked about Jesus to Jesus. They were sad. They were empty, missing their friend's presence in His presence. Later, it was when Jesus gave thanks for the bread at their evening meal, their eyes were opened to His very presence. . . only to see Him disappear again.
I pray daily without ceasing as much as I possibly can. I give thanks over and over each and every day. But there are days when my eyes just are not open and my heart does not burn in His presence.
And in the thanks
2338) birds soaring below 2339) to be in the clouds
sometimes I still feel like His back is turned on me.
But I will not be a doubting Thomas.
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1
During this Lenten season my heart has been preparing for the celebration that is to come in four days. My hope is in that risen Savior, and even though I wasn't there 2000 years ago to see Him die on the cross, I believe with all my heart that He did it for me and for you. He has set eternity in my heart and that longing I cannot deny.
He has been faithful these past 40 days:
turning my face toward the death of my fears, offenses and insecurities,
filling my emptiness through answered prayer,
drawing me closer to His heart by weeping for the things that make His heart weep,
helping me to see beauty in the messes of life through His perspective,
reminding me of His transforming work in me,
and teaching me that His mercy falls upon the most undeserving and He redeems despite shame and regrets.
Today, Maundy Thursday, I am back in the valley. The mountain climbing is over, the sea searching is behind me and God is still distant.
I still give thanks: 2361) safety home 2362) my own bed.
But now I am sick and I have floors to mop, laundry to fold, soup and bread to make and in the mess my heart cries, "Less of me and more of You."
At the table, together as a family, we light candles and pray, "Heavenly Father, as we light these candles of creation and redemption . . . may you release light into us all - the light of mutual love and honor, the light of conviction repentance and faith, all of which are ours through faith in the name of Your Son, Jesus, in whose name we pray. Amen."
And I see the light, I see the Light, I begin to feel the flame within.
Jesus, an example of servanthood, washed His disciple's feet. So we, in a spirit of humility and affection, wash one another's hands and offer words of honor and blessing.
Father blesses daughter, daughter blesses mother, mother blesses daughter, sister blesses brother and son blesses father. And in the circle of blessing there are tears. The little one weeps with her few words and the blessing is in the tears of the heart more so than the words of her lips. Beauty of the heart is called forth in the preteen, and now we know what means the most to the boy who is almost a man.
We give thanks and we break bread. But Jesus has already opened my eyes to His presence. This time it wasn't in the giving thanks, it was in the loving one another.
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another." John 13:34
In loving one another there is fullness of joy around the table tonight. And I am full and my eyes are tired from searching this week. They can rest now. And my heart is reminded of what it really knew all along: Jesus had not forsaken me, He never left my side, He walked alongside me up that mountain and brought me safely back to the valley.
And I continue to be thankful: 2267) for free flowing tears and words of blessing 2268) for the quiet of this night 2269) for His presence in it.
Dear Lord, Thank you for your faithfulness even when I feel alone. Thank you for pouring your Spirit upon my family tonight. Thank you for being an example of Love for us to follow. And thank you for tomorrow, Good Friday, for walking down that road of suffering and dying on the cross for my sins and for those of my children. Thank you for rising from the dead so that we can serve a living God! Amen