Excerpts from meditations on psalm 130:
Four months ago, after brunching with friends old and new and opening up, perhaps for the first time, about what I was going through physically (I had just been to the ER a few days before), I went to church. Church in this season has been a safe place. A sweet place to commune with God by exchanging words with him, as evidenced by journals filling up fast with the heading, page after page, “@ the anchor.”
I sat down and journal a bit about the life I could feel bubbling up, the life God was (and still is) making room for, the life I could feel beginning even in that very moment.
And then I switched thoughts to the psalm I was claiming over March: psalm 16. A psalm of revealing. Little did I know what all he was barely beginning to reveal that day—like this new, unexpected dream of discipling others interested in missions—but I was looking for a different revealing. As is always the case in medical situations, I was looking for the revealing of answers.
Fast-forward these four months, and that hasn’t happened. There’s been some relief and some forward steps, but there’s also been some backwards ones. And my heart is struggling. I cried myself to sleep last night with the same languish over suffering that psalm 130 reveals—
That’s the thing about scripture. It is an unveiling, a revelation of what God has to say & to do in regard to the things we hide away.
Sin & suffering being foremost in those things. Me and psalm 130 are camped in the latter. But the hope—I dare say, the answer—for both is the same: redemption.
And I hastily wrote these words beneath the paraphrase of this psalm (the message says, “with him there is abundant redemption.”)—
“That’s been the promise in this season of sickness. Redemption. That’s always been the promise. And it’s always his YES.”
“And redemption is NOT necessarily something ‘good’ coming from a situation, but rather the situation being set right, straightened out to align with God’s will for our lives. Like a broken bone being set so that it can heal. But that takes “waiting and watching” (as the psalm says).
We can’t make the healing go faster. Not with more faith or prayer. Not with chasing after every possible answer. The only thing we can do is hope: waiting and watching with eager expectation.
And that’s where I stumble.
When your life, especially recent seasons of transition and re-direction, has seemed like a thousand little disappointments, medically or otherwise, it’s hard to expect or hope for more than that again. How sad it is to realize that what I am expecting right now, from tests, and therefore, ultimately, from God, is disappointment itself. I’m expecting to be let down.
Hope has gotten so lost in translation, in my own interpretation of what it should be or look like in my life, that it’s hard for me to grasp it. Thankfully, hope isn’t something that I need to grasp for, in the same way I’m always grasping for answers or whys or other things we aren’t necessarily promised; it’s something that I need to look for, to wait upon—like the watchman waits for the morning.
I used to be a fairly hopeful person—especially in college. In raising money for trips or getting good grades or learning new things. But those were small hopes to me, and each and every one of them slowly became tied to a larger dream/calling/hope until finally I was no longer a “watchman waiting for the sure dawn to rise.”
I was a worker waiting for my sure self to rise.
I was a young woman waiting for India to become the wall I’d stand upon: strong, sturdy, sure that I had done the right thing and found the right calling.
Until one day, it wasn’t.
Until one day, the wall s h a t t e r e d.
(I’ll tell more of that story soon).
Pieces cut and bruised me, the hard-worker hurt by her own labor of love and dewey-eyed devotion.
And, in that season, I forgot how to be a watchman. How to wait for the dawn.
Fast-forward 2 years, and I’m still fighting to figure it out. How to keep my hands steady upon the wall that’s already built. How to watch & wait for the sure hopes already promised and patterned into creation and time itself.
Aka—how to ABIDE.
Because abiding takes our work-bent hearts and hands and places them, grafts them rootless to a vine, under a different worker’s eyes: the vinedresser.
This forces us to learn to hope—because there is nothing for us to do but hope. We are no longer workers. We are branches. Abiders. Connected, but not central in the work of growth & fruit-bearing. Waiting each day for the dew and the dawn to nourish the vine we are connected to so that the work of bearing-fruit can be done in us. Waiting for the vinedresser to tend to us.
He comes each day to the garden.
And let me not hear him question, “Where are you?”, because I doubt his words, what he really said: “Abide in me, and I in you. Apart from me, you can do nothing.”