Sometimes the line between ministry and friendship is so very blurred, and the hurt of one so very precious to me runs deep in me too. Maybe because knowing her pain, I recognize that the chasm between where I was and where I am is not so very wide and not nearly wide enough for comfort. Yet that one small step taken to cross the chasm that separates the edge of despair and the edge of hope seemed like the journey of a thousand miles. I've come so far but not far enough to forget or to lose sight of what GOD has done in me and for me. Maybe this hurt is what keeps me humble, knowing that my crossing wasn't my achievement but God's work in me.
Maybe this hurt is just one more cog in the turmoil that's been churning in me for awhile if I was willing to admit it. One of the greatest paradoxes of this journey and how God uses it, I think, is the conflict between what my mind knows and what my heart feels--another narrow chasm that seems so uncrossable sometimes. Even now I look from where I came and I can't see the bridge that I crossed to get where I am. It seems impossible.
I'm a "fixer." If there was ever anything I selfishly want from my own experience is that no one I love would have to walk down the same road that I had to walk or cross the same frightening chasms. From where she is now, she focuses so intently at deadly hopeless churning waters below her that she can't see His hand so near reaching across to her from the other side of this chasm of despair. I remember it all too well--when I couldn't see His hand either. I just want to grab hold of her and cry out to her, "Come on! I know the way. I can save you!" She can't hear my cries but I'm realizing this morning that God hears my heart. He remembers when I was at the brink too...
Last night, Chad spoke in a women's meeting about "One Thing," a message that, I have to admit, unsettled me with so much so heavy on my heart. I like the sermons that end with me knowing all the answers but this one left me with more questions than answers. Honestly, at this moment, I don't have a clue about the answers to any of the questions Chad posed before us...Except one. He even shared the answer that is my own. (It's ironic that I had all the notes to this message three weeks ago but I didn't "hear" it then. Maybe God saved it so I would hear it when I needed it most...)
"What one promise do you need to cling to?" As he commonly does, Chad posted a scripture with the question to help us. Together we read through part of it:
This one thing I know: GOD IS FOR ME!
I am trusting God; Oh, praise His promises!
I am not afraid of anything mere man can do to me!
Yes, praise His promises.
Psalm 56:9-11 TLB
Those words hit hard last night... "This ONE THING I know: GOD IS FOR ME!" I can't honestly say that I always trust Him enough or that I'm never afraid--I am even now I guess. But this morning I remember why those four little words took my breath away last night. "GOD IS FOR ME!" That was the very truth I had to learn AND believe before I could take His hand and cross the chasm. That was my one step. When all the rest of the world seemed against me, I had to believe that God is for me. Thankfully, I had someone on the other side yelling (in a manner of speaking), "LOOK UP! GOD IS FOR YOU!" And yelling loud enough to take my attention from the swirling waters below for just a minute. But that minute was enough to see that someone point me to THE One--to Jesus reaching out His hand to take me to the other side. One step is all it took and I was rescued. Even since then, that one promise has often kept me looking ahead instead of looking below or behind. It does now...
And I wonder how I take that from my heart to hers--to my friend who is now where I was. I want an easy answer. Surely there is something simple I can say or do to make her see but in my heart of hearts, I know she's just as determined and stubborn as me. So I look again at the verses Chad gave and I realize that one promise goes even further. I'm not sure why I didn't read it three weeks ago... As I remember my own journey as if it were just yesterday, I remember my promise to Him when He kept me from falling...
I am bound by my vows to You, O God.
I will keep my vows by offering songs of thanksgiving to You.
You have rescued me from death. You have kept my feet from stumbling
so that I could walk in your presence, in the Light of Life.
Psalm 56:12-13 God's Word Translation.
"I will keep my vows..." Chad reminded me last night that my own experience is what is most valuable in reaching out to this one on the edge. Admittedly, I didn't like that answer because it just confirmed that I couldn't FIX it for her. That doesn't eliminate her struggle. As daylight comes this morning, so does new revelation. My promise to Him was NOT to fix for others all that is wrong. My promise was just to whisper, to sing, to tell, or even scream if necessary, what He did for me. Not to fix but to simply give hope and point to Him. My promise was in whatever way possible to call from this side, "LOOK UP! He's right here! GOD IS FOR YOU!"
There are moments in my journey that are so hard to share openly with even the closest to me--not just because it's so intimately personal but also because it's still so painful. And I don't like my weakness or pain to show...Who does?! Doesn't weakness make me less effective for Him? (Again, this conflict between my heart and my head...) But the truth is that my own journey is sometimes the only tool I have. He has so graciously given me my most precious gift--my rescue. But my story doesn't fix hers, so what's the point? ...As I remember once again. It's not my job to fix her problem. It's to give her hope.
So as I offer my "song" of thanksgiving, I am most thankful for my journey and I wouldn't trade one moment or one step of it for anything in the world... Especially the hardest and most painful moments, for it was is in those very moments that I discovered that He is FOR ME no matter what. No matter where I had been or what I had screwed up or how pathetic and hopeless I was, He was still FOR me. He fought the battles I didn't have the will or strength to fight.
So in the light of day, I realize that the bridge I keep looking for to get to where she is now doesn't exist. It never did. I didn't cross a bridge to get from there to where I am. All I did was reach out to take His hand when someone cried out to me, "LOOK UP!" And He raised me up on eagles wings and carried me in those moments and miles of living death to the other side--to Life.
So Friend, I can't possibly take away your journey. I can't "fix it" for you so you don't have to go through this. But I know your journey is your greatest gift. All I can do is whisper, cry, sing, or yell out to you in any way possible that I know that I know that I know this one thing: Even these darkest moments are precious because I've been where you are, so LOOK UP! He's right in front of you reaching out His hand. I am here waiting on the other side praying for you and waiting to watch you reach out and take His hand as He lifts you up in flight and carries you to the other side--to a life unimagined before, even with its struggles. Girl, He will do what you or I can't. GOD IS FOR YOU!