Thursday, July 9, 2015

Every bitter thing is sweet.

This is not an easy post to write. Not because it is hard to write, because it has never been hard to write. Not because it is hard to see truth. Because truth has never been so evident to me. 

No, it is hard because sometimes I do not believe God. I do not believe, maybe in my heart but not in my mind, that He is who He says He is. and when I do not believe God, I cannot let that fundamental, vital, life-giving lens be the things I see all other things with. And so seasons like this become hard. dark. bitter. 

I am once again the girl-in-the-city, the girl I started my first year in Houston as, in my first weeks. The one without a job. The one without a clear vision for why I was here. I'm her again - jobless. confused. completely frustrated with automatic emails to job applications. (but seriously.) 

It's not someone I wanted to be again. 

I had given so much - straining against a workload too big for me, in a job I hadn't grown into yet, in a field and an industry I felt like I waded through with effort. And then one afternoon, it was done. I find often, so often that I am not exactly surprised anymore, that Jesus is graciously swift in dealing with me. Like He decides to make things crystal clear - either by His grace, or because I do not listen to Him close enough the first time. Maybe both. Either way, He closes the door neatly and pries my fingers off the doorknob, gently and with kindness, asking me to trust Him. 

But that's not what this post is about. I've had a lot of jobs. I've left jobs and I've lost jobs. This post is not about jobs. This post isn't even about what I'm going next. (nevermind that I don't know yet.) 

This post is about how This post is about sanctification. About giving all, trusting all, believing all. This post is about eternal perspective. This post is about the sweetness of the knowing and loving Christ.  

Here's what Sara Hagerty writes in her book "Every Bitter Thing is Sweet": 

My figurative position of confidence before Him, as a daughter in whom He delighted, was one long exhalation of relief. I didn’t earn this position; I inherited it, and that made my safety all the more secure, no matter His response. The ability He gave me to ask started, first, with Him. From this angle, how could I not ask? Fear loses oxygen when every moment suspends itself under the purpose of bringing Him glory, of knowing His name and His nature. Sometimes, instead of leading us up and out of those very fears, big and small, He lets us live them. He gives us over to them. Because it’s in this giving over to our fears that we find the perfect love that frees us from them. Forever." 

To say I was terrified to go back to freelance and part-time and odd jobs and whatever else "losing your job" relegated me to was a major understatement. It's comfortable in my cubicle world.  And yet, I spent a significant amount of time at a job that frustrated me but yet bound me to it, afraid of what I might be without it, because it was something "I needed." After it was all gone, I found that I never needed it at all. Circumstance does not compose my identity. 

Fear is a bitter thing that becomes sweet. 

All the things I have been learning this past month have been so, so hard and yet so sweet. How is that possible that something incredibly hard could be so incredibly good? It is a mystery of God that I could spend my entire life figuring out. He is good. He is always good. He is always a good, good Father, providing for me and caring for me - as Psalm 23 reminds me, He is my shepherd and I shall not want. I will never want for anything, because He is everything. He makes me lie down in green pastures beside the still waters and it is there that He restores my soul. 

Oh, I still struggle with comparison and worry that turns into paralyzing anxiety, and I still pace about over finances. I still whine and cry about how surely He must have forgotten me, especially in the slowest moments that seem to drag on and on - how long must I wait for you, God? and kindly and gently, with what Catherine Marshall calls (the person of Christ when He comes to us) "warm hearted compassion and the light touch, yet unmistakable authority and kingliness, with a gentle humor in His eyes" - He reminds me that He does not change. He knows what He's doing. He created the earth, and orchestrated the rising and setting of the sun, which He's been doing since the beginning of time. He hasn't forgotten me - if I am a tiny sparrow in the kingdom of God, He is not too busy to take note of what I am doing. He knows every hair on my head just as well as He knows the stars in the sky. Elisabeth Elliott once wrote, "in our darkness, we suppose He has overlooked us. But He hasn't. It is God to whom and with whom we travel, and while He is at the end of our journey, He is also at every stopping place." 

I feel forgotten, a bitter feeling, and that becomes sweet when I realize it could not be true in the presence of a King. 

Yes, life as I know it sometimes feels like a big old mess. And yet....

"My mess wouldn’t forever be a curse. One day it would be my crown. One day it would tell the story that, yes, He is good . . . to me.” (Sara Hagerty, Every Bitter Thing is Sweet) 

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