For all those in the midst of that hard thing right now. That moment of hole digging. Please know that you have a helper.
Isaiah 41:14 says, “"I will help thee, saith the Lord.” There’s no ‘maybe’ in there. No, “We’ll try it and see if it works”. It’s a solid plan made by a solid God. Sometimes that help reveals itself in a right-here-right-now miracle, and sometimes it’s a promise to hold you by your right hand until you feel the solid ground under you again.
Isaiah 41:10 says, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” I have felt all those things. I have been afraid. I have been discouraged. I have been weak. But I have not fallen. I have not become invisible. I have not lost the freedom to recognize the comfort that Jesus offers me. And because He holds my right hand with His right hand, it’s become a truth to me that we stand facing each other. Always. No backs turned. No wavering here or there. His focus is on me and His love is in me and I have the comforting assurance that He will never become an absence or a loss in my life.
And I stand brave enough to say, I believe Him.
In her book, “H is for Hawk”, author Helen Macdonald writes, “There is a time in life when you expect the world to be always full of new things. And then comes a day when you realize that is not how it will be at all. You see that life will become a thing made of holes. Absences. Losses. Things that were there and are no longer. And you realize, too, that you have to grow around and between the gaps, though you can put your hand out to where things were and feel that tense, shining dullness of the space where the memories are”⠀
I have my own holes. Spaces patched with scraps that blend well enough a human in a hurry would walk right past and never notice. Most of the time, I prefer it that way. ⠀
But I met a man through letters, mostly, who told me about His own holes. Another writer who pours out His passion on Biblical pages, and I’ve come to realize I’m His ideal reader. He’s told me about the long absence He’d gone without living with His Father, but how they never lost touch, except in this one broken moment. He writes to me about the even longer absence He’d had away from His kids, and it punctured Him straight through every time He tried to make contact with them and got told ‘No’. He’s described the losses. How His kids give up on dreams, hopes, and promises, but how He keeps offering new ones, only to lose again. And the loss that He takes the hardest is when the key to home get’s thrown away into dank places. When they walk away and hurl sickly words over their shoulders that it was never real to begin with. The pain I read between the lines is palpable. This timeless writer, He’s promised that when we meet in person, He’ll even show me His holes. The obvious ones are in His hands and feet, but, like me, the deepest pains are seen only when one sits long and listens close. ⠀
You can read the rest over at the blog 👉🏻 https://searchingforpure.com/2020/01/16/how-to-fill-our-holes/
The truth is, I really don’t know how it’s all going to turn out. I don’t know how miracles happen. I don’t know how time ticks away small numbers that add up to a year. I don’t know how hearts beat again after they’ve stopped on the side of a road. I don’t know how whole families walk away from near head on collisions. I don’t know how to hold kids close enough when their favorite four-legged friend dies. And I don’t know why some pain is loud and some silent. I don’t know how babies are born whole, how marriages stay together, or how cancer gets beat.
What I do know is that in this time passing there are lives that get woven together. There is real human compassion that comes up from the dark and stakes heat to warm the ice shivers of grief. There are journeymen and women who hear the lost cry out and turn towards hospitals, hotels, and hovels, in order to share hope.
I’ve met several, and I pray to be one someday.
She practices at being quiet. She comes by it naturally, but has spent quite a bit of time in her preteen and teen years seeing how quietly she can slip through the house and around her brothers and through the woods to observe the wildlife. But when she slid up behind me at the kitchen table I was genuinely surprised to have her place a tiny red wrapped package at my unmannered elbow. “I almost forgot about this one.” She said. It was square and flat. No bigger than a white envelope with a single button in it. The kind that dangles from a new blouse or cardigan. It was so small no one had even seen it under the lit Blue Spruce.
I picked it up and found her handwriting, ‘To Mom, From Maddy’. Words matter to her as much as they do to her scribbler Mom. I flung her a smile and tore off the first flap. Something inside rattled a little just before a delicate silver bracelet slid out into my hand. Two silver wings hung opposite the clasp, but it was the word between them that caught my attention. Courage. I went still. I knew where that piece had come from. She had wrangled it off one of her own bracelets to bend it into mine. I looked up at her without the ability to speak, but reached for her frame and held her close.
What she doesn't know is how depleted of courage I have felt over the last month or more. So I just hold her a minute longer and wonder if she sees something I don’t? But what I do learn in that moment is that I am holding a girl who had enough courage to give of herself, because she has a love inside of her that quietly, but purposefully, folds into the pulse of my heart. We belong together.
So I whisper “Nota bene, daughter. You are a hope giver, and that is the place courage blooms.”
It was the first gift yanked out from under the Christmas morning tree. He was down on his knees reaching towards me, arm extended all the way, his green eyes big and bright. The slim black box tied with a silver cord, like a short scepter, fulfilling something in him not quite describable. “Here Mom, this ones for you.” No ‘to/from’ tag, just a boy with anticipation edged into the lines of his heart. I was honestly surprised, but not really. When I had taken him shopping for his sister and brother, he had adamantly refused to leave the store without something for his Dad. Even after I had explained that Dad and I weren’t buying for each other this year. Even when I told him why. That boy, who can see how transactions work, pulled out his own roll of green bills and slowed his steps to look a little longer and harder for his Dad. My heart was in my throat when he walked towards me with a simply painted wooden box. He read what was sweetly drawn on it. They were the words composed in Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” “I like this one. Dad can put it on his desk at work.”
I already knew how much this boy loved to make sure there was something for everyone from him under the tree. But when I also reached out to take the box from him, and our fingers brushed, I wondered if he knew that, if all he had for me was the beautiful light in his green eyes, it would have been enough. I untied the silver cord and slipped the top off. And fought back a little pooling, because tucked into soft foam was a wooden pen he had turned on Grandpa’s lathe. Made out of White Oak for his writing Mama. I blinked hard and exclaimed loud and hugged his creamy white neck. The boy who hates fine motor skills had learned how to still long enough to turn wood and insert ink to give what means so much. Something from himself. Something original. Something endearing. Something both he and I could reach towards and find significance in.
And I knew it down deep, that newness is birthed when we least expect it.