The trip this weekend was wonderful. So many beautiful places, so many mindblowing ancient sites- these are the experiences I will truly treasure for the rest of my life.
But. I was so unprepared for what a taxing journey this semester would be, what a sojourn in the wilderness. I have left behind famliarity and security, and believe me, for a person who craves love and community almost more than oxygen and food, that is saying something. There have been oases on the way, and I have tried to post about them here, because they have sustained me. But in many ways this feels like one of the most “real” Lents I have ever had. Not only because I am trying to rebuild the relationship with God I had trampled on- but also because I identify with the fasting, praying, tempted Christ more than ever before.
As Linda writes over at thebigseaoflife.wordpress.com , His grace IS enough. It always is. I am never so bruised and disheartened that I can’t wake up the next day and try again. Nevertheless, this semester has tried my limits even more so than Bethany House did in terms of how much love I can pour out to those around me. Up until this weekend, I didn’t know that I could reach a point where I just could not love. any. more. Of course, we can only reflect the Father’s love, so if I feel like I can’t love another ounce, then it is a problem with my connection with God. I stopped what I was doing and fled to God in Scripture, and I found the strength to keep going- His grace is enough.
Without community, I have had to cling to God like never before. I am painfully learning what relying on grace is all about. But in the process, it is like the Spirit is weeding my heart. Everything that got in the way of God is being ripped out, roots and all, and it hurts.
I’m sorry if this makes no sense. I am tired, and emotional, and really really relieved to be back home, in the closest thing I have to a secure space here. I am writing this because I don’t want to lose the lessons of this weekend.
This process will continue my whole life, I’m sure. Ideally I would rely on God enough that I would never feel lonely or isolated or in the wilderness, since I would always be secure in the knowledge that God is at my side. But even loneliness is a gift. As Nouwen writes, “Often it is the dark forest that makes us speak about the open field.” Pain pushes me beyond what I am to what I can be.
Anyway, as I said, in the midst of all of this inner tumult I saw a lot of beauty this weekend. I will put up photos soon. Please remember me in your prayers.
To close… the following email forward has always stuck with me and comforted me; it came to mind this weekend. It’s cheesy but worth reposting.
Malachi 3:3 says: “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”
This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.
One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study.
That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot then she thought again about the verse that says: “He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.” She watched a sweat poured from his brow due to the intensity of the heat from the fire he sat so close to. She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined.
The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.
The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?”
He smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy – when I see my image in it.”
If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.