Two years ago, I was bombarded by the notion of grace. I was 9 months pregnant with my second child and overcome with anticipation, love, & fear. Holy fear. I began down a journey of seeking and what I had imagined would be followed by finding. It wasn’t for a long time.
I imagined myself on a mountain side, ready for flight – to discover what God had in store. I felt positive anxiety about the next step in my life and the growth of my family. I questioned if we needed to move, even though we had just moved 600 miles a couple months prior. I considered the birth of my child as a possible cause for these emotions… But I knew it was something different, something bigger. Don’t misunderstand me here, having a child is a huge life experience, and one that I am full of gratitude that I have been able to have twice and will again in a few short months. But, this was a God thing that I felt on my heart. I began to grow with anticipation, expand in my heart, and search deeply in my spirit for guidance.
At least, nothing by my limited earthly perspective.
The past two years have been abundantly rich and fulfilling. I became a mother again, this time to a fiery and compassionate little lady. I started a Master’s in a creative writing program with professors that I highly respect. I have continued down the beautifully challenging role as a mother to my dear son, and I’ve had the divine opportunity to continue to build a marriage with my devoted and giving spouse. I’ve experienced the collapse of relationships, but given birth to new life giving ones. I’ve struggled and been lonely, hurt, disappointed and flat exhausted. Even when I feel a distance or I am going through a particularly bleak season, I have not ceased in the search and desire for the celestial desires of my heart.
A few weeks ago, I ran across Isaiah 43:19 and felt a reawakening in my spirit again. In this passage, the deliverance from Babylon is being foretold. (I do believe that He is also addressing on a grander scale the redemption of His people through His son.) God is promising something new, something our eyes and ears have not seen. But not only that – He is also saying that it has already begun. That it is beginning to sprout! I love the idea of new life springing forth, from a wasteland – the wilderness – barren times – captivity – even a bleak phase!
I appreciate that God doesn’t spill his guts and give away his path of deliverance for his people. Like a parent with a gift for their beloved child, he wraps it with excitement, and hands it over in due time.
I had this image of a gift wrapped over and over and over. Each layer of paper was a different color or pattern; some were so beautiful that I carefully unwrapped so as to not tear it. Others were so extremely hideous, even painful to look at, all I could imagine was throwing it away as quickly as possible.
I had this image of God handing me a present, carefully wrapped. Each layer of wrapping just like I described above. At first, I was excited as I unwrapped the first layer. I was trying to picture what was inside. I mean, when the creator of the heavens and the earth gives a gift, you know that it is okay to expect nothing short of remarkable. I think He is honored when we come to expect the promises He gives in His word. However, as I continue to unwrap this gift, I start to grow a bit anxious and perhaps a bit annoyed at the work. As I make my way through, I am greeted by the most beautiful of green papers mixed with wrapping that resembles sand paper and on to wrapping that I have to stop and consider if I like it or not… there is something there that I am drawn to, and yet, I’m quick to tear it away. I never quite make it to the center. I’m still opening this gift, or so I’ve come to recognize and call gift.
At the onset of my search, I had anticipated a clear outcome. I didn’t know what or when, but I thought I would know it when I saw it. As I look over the past few months of my life, I see that these layers of paper are the layers that my life has taken on. Each day is a new layer, some blend well, and other drastically stand out and agitate me. I have found beautiful layers and cut and snipped them for future memories and been quick to toss a few of the unattractive layers.
Perhaps, that IS the gift. Stopping, being present, and intentional. Resting. Finding Joy in barren spots. No, it won’t bring me stature, success (in the world), or praise. No, it’s not exactly tangible, and it isn’t always clear that I’m moving in the correct direction. But, in the quiet moments, when the children are content, and I’m not having heartburn, I do know that God has been sprouting up moments of Joy all along. Perhaps this is that big desire He has put on my heart. To rest, take time to enjoy and savor, but mostly, to make choices everyday that will lead to a Joy that takes over my life. To the Joy that He designed me to possess, from the very first beat of my heart. Perhaps this gift will continue to give and give for the rest of my earthly life, if I so choose to let it. If I choose to embrace that each day, I have the opportunity to either live fully or to let the past, my anxieties about the future, and days filled with tears will dictate where I choose to stand for the time being.
This summer was full of decisions, not only for my personal life, but for my family and marriage as well. I was in a position where I had to make the hardest choice that I’ve experienced in my adult life (with children). I often go back and reconsider if it was the right choice or what repercussions I will have in the future (if any). This choice has brought me solace and anxiety, but mostly peace. What I am learning since this decision is that the hard part was not in the actually choosing to remove it from my life, but more about how I will choose to make the most of each day. How I can find comfort in this season and this post and still be fully alive amidst chaos and hurt and LIFE. I trust that God has something better in store and that He gave me this gift long ago. I’m s-l-o-w-l-y learning that I can savor the wrapping paper, even the ugly ones– because the ugly make the beautiful even better and that much more worthy of locking away.
So, God, continue to sprout and bring forth new life. That overwhelming sensation I’ve felt for the past few years, that I know you placed over me… Well, I believe that we might finally be onto something. I’m sorry it took me so long to use my earthly eyes when I know that you give spiritual gifts.
“Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth, shall ye not know it? I will even make a way on the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”