When it Seems We’re Walking Backwards

Its been a while since

I cried my heart out in the darkness

Its been a while since

I felt the arms of Christ around me

“I need You”

The whisper turned to sobbing

The sobbing was a prayer,

The lifting up of weary hands

With a load to great to bear

And there in the aching darkness

I gave them to my God

Again and again I lifted

My heart as I found I could.

I haven’t felt the darkness

In oh so long a time

What a beautiful gift

But when I sat in the shadows

Then to my Lord I came

A gift was in the shadows

And so they’d come again

November 4, 2022

I recognized the feeling, deep within me, a place I had left behind, a reality I had been glad to forget.

I thought I had said farewell to this kind of panicked fear. Apparently not.

How much of the panic is physical and how much is in my head, I’m really not sure. All I know is that it is bold and demands my attention and effectively shadows the truth that holds me in arms of perfect safety.

When I’m not struggling with low blood sugars and panic attacks, I forget the way they feel, how scary they are in the moment.

I also forget the depth of the Love that doesn’t need me to be fearless or strong or faithful to be present and to be good.

It’s as if when I’m not sitting in the shadows, I lose sight of how poignant and resistant the light is.

It’s not actually the physical struggles that bother me the most, its those old sinful patterns that I fall back into.

I thought I’d grown past certain flaws and fears, and selfishness. And then, as soon as I think that I’ve learned better, surrendered it all, and gained freedom from them, they poke their heads back up, like the stubborn dandelions in the garden, and the insistent ground cover that seem to have deeper roots than trees.

I mentioned this to my friend. A world away, she sat in the evening light of an Austrian sky, as I watched the morning wake up from my midwestern window.

His peace is yours, Jo. It’s not conditional. Nothing takes it away. It’s not just there when you trust it. It surpasses understanding, it doesn’t depend on your mind, or on you understanding it.

That was the essence of what she prayed over me, as we set our faces to seek the Lord, and to press on to live by the Spirit.

I’m so done with living with lesser, I want to go deeper, to live more and more in this glorious life that is Jesus.

Jesus. The Healer, the calmer of seas, redeemer of hearts, triumphant king, prince of peace. Jesus, present in pain, faithful when we are faithless, whose grace is enough for the thorns in our sides. Jesus.

The same, the greatest, the truest. Able to save forever, since He always lives to intercede for those who draw near to God through Him (Hebrews 7:25).

We are left, only to look to Jesus. To know Him. To trust His heart.

To see Him in the shadows, and in the light, and in the clouds that bring rain which brings life.

If we are in Christ, we have been found.

Found. Held by love, as Andrew Peterson says in The God of the Garden.

We couldn’t have found ourselves, not in the true and healing and hopeful and achingly beautiful way that Jesus found us.

He finds us, us wayward sheep who go off and get caught in the brambles, and tormented by wolves and wander too close to the precipice in the fog that muddles our hearts and minds. He finds us, and He holds us.

Struggles have come again, and will probably keep coming over and over. Sins and thoughts and fears and trials.

Christ is big enough for them too. Christ is the savior of sinners, the healer of the sick, not the healthy. It’s easy to love and trust Him when we feel like we’re walking forward and growing and living in the light. But we need Jesus on our best day just as badly as we do on our worst day. And He has a purpose in the struggles, just as much as in the victories.

He calls us to seek Him and trust Him and choose to follow Him right here and right now. So that He can show us just how utterly transforming and able and healing and penetrating His love is. It’s one thing to help an olympic athlete hike a mountain. It is another to lead a wheelchair up the rock scattered, steep path.

And dear hearts, this is the Jesus we serve. The one who is a faithful high priest, sympathizing with us in our weakness, since He partook of our nature, and was tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:14).

He knows, dear ones, He knows. And He loves, and guides, and holds, and carries. Oh, to trust His heart! His heart that picked you up first, if you are a believer, the heart that burst for you, the heart that gently leads you step by step, in calm weather and in storm. So, let us show Him love by seeking Him, not only when we feel holy, but also when we feel lost and sinful. The same God sustains every heartbeat.

Spirit of love and gentleness, we most humbly implore your assistance. You know our faults, our failings, our necessities, the dullness of our understanding, the waywardness of our affections, the perverseness of our will. When, therefore, we neglect to practice what we know, visit us, we ask You, with your grace; enlighten our minds, rectify our desires, correct our wanderings, and pardon our emissions, so that by Your guidance we may be preserved from making shipwreck of faith, and keep a good conscience, and may at length be landed safe in the haven of eternal rest, through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.

Anselm (as seen in Be Thou My Vision: A Liturgy for Daily Worship, compiled by Jonathan Gibson).

I love this prayer, because it echoes both our deep need, God’s deep ability to meet that need.

To present us before the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy (Jude 24)!

He is able. His grace is enough. His love unconditional. His finding forever. So, let’s not settle for any less than striving with all we have to live in the depth of this truth, than seeking to know Him and trust Him and follow Him, than calling out to Him again and again.

Jesus is powerfully present in the struggles, and infinitely able to grow treasures in broken vessels (2 Corinthians 4:7).

Surely, this should drive us more and more to seek His face and walk in the truth and put to death the deeds of the sinful flesh. To battle the sin with His grace. To know that He knows, all our sin, struggles, sorrows, and still He has made this glorious promise:

He chose us, in Him, before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him” (Ephesians 1:4).

Courage keep and hope beget…

The story is not over yet

Amanda Dykes, All the Lost Places

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