Renewal in the Presence of God
This life and week are billowing up like piles of snow against a glass window. As a child, I’d watch my hot cocoa-warmed breath film the window and would trace my name on the glass, manipulating the ice to my advantage without ever actually touching it. I would stand inside and gauge the intensity of the storm by determining how high the snow piled against the sliding door glass. From where I was, comforted and cozy, the storm couldn’t touch me.
Today, I feel like that glass door has been smashed open and the wet cold has come cascading in. The year has been full of disappointment and pain but the overwhelming feel has been confusion. Why has God allowed this? How could He be turning the hurt around me into goodness?
In 1st Kings 19, Elijah wishes he had never been born. He calls out to the Lord to lament being given life. The Lord has proven himself, and yet, Elijah cries This passage has always intrigued me.
During my husband’s first deployment, I struggled. And God answered through a friend. I didn’t know her well. She was in a different stage of life and had children. From the outside, it looked like an odd friendship but thankfully, she followed the Spirit’s prompt and reached out.
We met at an old coffee farm where she bought me a delicious pound of local coffee and treated me to breakfast. We opened our Bibles to 1 Kings 19, and she reminded me of what God did when Elijah was broken. He fed him. He let him sleep. He sent him out rested and renewed.
Because that’s what God does when we are at the end of ourselves, He fills us and restores our hearts.
God fed him, let him sleep, then fed him again.
Our God is gentle and merciful. When life is overwhelming, He is big enough to handle the depth of our lament and emotions. We can cry out to Him and trust His heart.
When life doesn’t make sense, we can sit and wait at His feet, trusting in His goodness even when we don’t see it. For now, we don’t have to move forward, we can simply sit and renew our hearts as He reminds us of His mercies.
Lent is a time for this. I cried last week and read words that seem truer every spring when we begin that 40 day march to Calvary. Each year, this season seems to bring more emptiness than the year before.
But the season does not end with the emptiness, it ends with the cross. Where every morsel of sin was placed onto the body of the Spotless Lamb and the veil was torn.
He who became flesh and dwelt among us has released the Spirit to dwell within us.
As we march down the trail to Calvary, sometimes we must stop and sit. We fail.
The plans I have for Lent are already crushed. I restart, and fall short. The fast is broken, prayers are forgotten, and the poor are neglected. The future I saw for myself, for my friends, it is often pulled from fingers, eagerly grasping. Like Elijah, I cry and I sit with friends who cry.
My heart cries out and pleads for an answer. I don’t always get the answer I’m looking for. More often than not, I am left wondering. But in lieu of an answer, I am given something greater. I am given the presence of the Lord, strengthening my heart and reminding me day by day that my body, my heart, can go on because His body was broken and His blood was poured out for me.