I am always so grateful that Christ felt forsaken. If HE was, what chance have I of not feeling like that at some point?
The difference of course is that Christ actually was forsaken so that I never shall be. No matter how much it may feel that way.
Transversing from one way of life to another can feel like scaling a massive mountain. It’s interesting that the word ‘transverse’ should pop into my mind to describe the journey. I discover it means ‘set crosswise’. I like that wordplay.
With massive change, one is climbing the mountain out of one landscape – full of familiar sights and sounds and smells and experiences (good or bad) – over the top into another which is as yet unknown. Or one could take a tunnel through the middle.
It seems I have taken the tunnel. And as the light from the old grows dimmer behind me, the darkness has deepened while I press on to catch a glimmer of the light I know will be there up ahead.
Which essentially leaves me – right now – pretty much in the dark.
I know I’m in the right tunnel but, blimey, it’s dark in here.
Do you know what I mean? Have you been where I am?
It can be really cold and dark here in the tunnel. All sorts of dark thoughts assault me. “You know there isn’t another end, right? This is it. It’s all over. You’re just walking further and further away from everything you knew into complete darkness. It’s all been taken away. There’s no hope for you! There’s no justice, no redemption. You know there’s really no point, right? Not for you anyway. For others yes, but not for you.”
I rebuke the lies and stumble forward. I press on blindly. What can I hold onto?
Well, it turns out I can hold onto the hand of God. Because even though I cannot see, He can and I’m clinging on to His great big hand for dear life.
‘Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,’
even the darkness will not be dark to you.’
I have been thinking this last week how much I need to feel the Lord squeeze my hand as I hold His. Give me a reassuring, “I’ve got this, little one. You know I have. It’s grim, but we’re moving forward. I’ve got you.”
So how do I feel that squeeze? I look for:
I find His presence in beauty. In the aesthetic. A vase. A picture. A photograph. A face. Friendship. I take daily walks and STOP to view beauty. To breathe it in, really see it, feel it all around me. Allow my breath to be taken away by it. Feel my limbs moving through it.
When my surroundings or circumstances feel ugly, I look for attributes of His character. And most often the one I find most easily is kindness. Chesed. I can always find kindness when I look. And if I cannot find it outside of myself, I can find it within by being kind to myself. Cutting myself some slack. Giving myself a bit more rope, a bit more margin, a lot less whip.
When I feel helpless, I squeeze my heart hard around His promises. I hold Him to them as well as myself. “You’re not going to leave me. You’ve never forsaken me and You never will. You will complete the good work You have begun in me. You will bring all of this to good because I love You and I have been called according to Your purposes for my life. You are with me, right here right now. I can’t see? So what. You can. And You have promised to keep my footsteps firm so that I will not hit my foot against a stone.” I keep telling Him and reminding myself at the same time. And with every truth, I cut back the lies being whispered around my head.
And I look for His provision. I may not have all that I want in my life right now, but I do have all that I need. On a daily basis. And when I clock that, when I mark it and note it down and give thanks for it, I feel His hand squeeze mine.
When I have been praying with my kids recently, we have asked the Lord to show us something new, something deeper about His love for us. And the two words He gave us were ‘Never-ending’ and ‘Unexpected.’
So I’m looking to be surprised in this dark place. Because I don’t know it all. God can do anything. And His resources and purposes so far outweigh my ability to imagine them.
God squeezes my hand, and I cling on to Him. I am not forsaken.
Is this you too? If it is, I’m going to leave you with the theme song of the beloved and newly departed Mary Tyler Moore:
“Love is all around, no need to waste it.
You can never tell, why don’t you take it?
You’re gonna make it after all.”
Yep. We are. Hold on tight.