“Slow.” Such a nice, quiet word. An invitation to breathe deep, sigh a sigh of release, let go. I light a candle and put on quiet music and sit with my Bible and a calm hush comes over me. In that place of retreat from the chaos of the day, I feel safe and whole and true. And just a little bit smug. Because look at me, so good at being Still and Knowing God and how good am I at this Slow thing? So good.

But there is another Slow and that one I am not on such good terms with. It is the Slow of waiting on God to untangle the knots of relationships and circumstances that hurt.  An ache behind my eyes, a weight on my chest, a lump in my throat that is so constant that I have forgotten what it feels like not to have these ever-present reminders that All is Not Right in my world. It is praying every prayer in every way I can formulate, laying the burdens at His feet, releasing all the things. I trust You, I say and I mean it, I do.

And I don’t.

Because what is the plan? And is there a timeline? How can I know any of my prayers are even being heard? What if nothing ever changes? What then? And now my heart is beating faster, and my prayers are getting too specific, full of my plans and my priorities and how can it not be His will to do what I am asking? I am asking good things with sincere intentions. Thy will be done, I say in a tone that is quickly turning into a tear-filled beg, “Thy will be done – on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

And He turns my eyes back to the pages of my Bible and reminds me how His will is done here on earth. It is Abraham hearing a promise and waiting twenty-five years to see it fulfilled. It is Joseph having a dream of greatness only to find himself dropped in a pit and sold into slavery and thrown into prison, all, somehow, on the way to that dream being realized. It is Habakkuk, asking God for Justice only to learn that God’s ways look nothing like what he imagined and will cost him everything. “Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vine… Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”

Even if I lose everything. Every. Thing. These were not just words for Habakkuk. It was his future and he knew it. And yes God promised that He would make things right but that day most likely did not come while Habakkuk lived on earth. That is a kind of Slow I cannot wrap my head around.

“All these died in faith [guided and sustained by it], without receiving the [tangible fulfillment of God’s] promises, only having seen (anticipated) them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.”

(Hebrews 11:13 amplified)

I don’t belong here. Some days the not-belonging is so strong I can hardly breathe the air in this place. But even that is a gift. A reminder. If I never see my prayers fully answered here, on this shore, all is not lost. And in the waiting, there will be moments of joy. Laughter comes in the midst of tears.  Sun and rain mix together, and a prism of color stops the world in its tracks for a moment, awe overtaking our mindless rushing. His all-surpassing peace comes in the here and now, sometimes in the candle-scented moments, and sometimes in the middle of a storm so loud the candle blows out and the thunder shakes my house. “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness,” Peter assures us, “… He is patient… not wanting anyone to perish.” God is active. He has a plan. Those relationships that feel so impossible and hopeless? He hasn’t given up on any of them. The darkness is as light to Him. There is purpose in the Slow. I blink back the tears and hold on to the Truth that feels so contrary to what my eyes can see. I accept the invitation to breathe deep and wait for my heart to quiet its rhythm. And I pray. I believe Lord. Help my unbelief.

Where Do I Begin?

The sky is a solid pale gray today. The rain comes in that haphazard way of most Northwest precipitation, large drops gather on the eaves, weighted heavy with January thoughts.

I sit in my recently renovated “guest den” that was once my daughter’s domain, and I wonder What comes next?

I waited through many seasons, motherhood being my primary vocation and requiring so much more of me than I ever could have conceived.  It wrung me dry. I asked the Lord to let me be poured out for my family and the reality of that prayer was so much more than I bargained for. Let that be a lesson to me – the Lord is not to be bargained with. He alone understands the terms and I speak from a place of ignorance and bravado.

I have always wanted to write. Stories. Novels. Places of escape and adventure, of emotion and transformation. I have taken many runs at it but always fall short, gasping for breath, frustrated at the pace and my seeming inability to progress.

All of my excuses are gone. New ones have quickly taken their place. But there is something about Fifty. It’s not just an age, it’s a doorway between Eras. It is letting go of childish ways and looking around at what remains. For me there is more than candles on a cake, pages of a calendar. The earth beneath my feet has been shaken. It has opened wide a chasm and threatens to swallow me whole. I am the girl laying on the ground, her fists grasping the long grasses so tightly her fingers are raw and red, eyes swollen with tears, face wet and muddy. And I am not letting go. I know Whom I have believed. And while I cannot tell you much with any kind of certainty right now, I know without a doubt that I am here for a purpose.

I love God’s word. Do not take that as pious posturing or some kind of code. I mean it plainly. From the day that God called me I have chased Him with my heart, my soul and my mind. My mind is insatiable and when I get onto a topic, I don’t want to know only a little, I want to know all there is to know. The thing about God’s word is it is completely unlike any other human resource. It is infinite. It never runs out. It is living and active. So, no matter how much I read, there is always more to learn. Early in my faith walk, I was fourteen or so when God spoke to me in as close to an audible voice as I can attribute to what resounded within the confines of my own head and heart, and I was all fired up in the way that fourteen year olds tend to be. Those who raised me and thought they knew me far better than I knew myself were certain this was a phase, a quirky sort of rebellion. I was afraid they might be right, so I prayed. I prayed hard and I prayed often, “Please God, don’t let this be a phase.” And I devoured His word. I read it out loud to myself every day, chapter by chapter. Decades later, I’m still just as hungry. I have tasted and it is so satisfying that I can’t get enough.

I want to share this with you. In this time of COVID and hyper awareness of germs it’s almost unthinkable to offer someone a bite of your meal. So let me hand you a fork; you can take a clean plate if you’d like, it’s all the same to me. Though I can’t promise you will be safe from contagion. In fact, I rather hope that what I have found is highly infectious. Taste and see.

That’s what I’m doing here. It might seem contradictory, the cries of terror intermixed with shouts of praise… tears fall and sometimes it’s nigh impossible to pinpoint their source. But I think that’s life. And I’m here to write about it. I hope you’ll stick around and join the conversation – whether you know the Jesus I know or think I’m just a bit crazy, you are welcome here. Pull up a chair.

Keeping my eyes wide open, because God’s love is here, even on the hard days.