Somewhere between the early days of this and now, things started feeling harder. Things have settled in. At first I felt some supernatural peace and ability to soar above everything, to accept whatever came. But now I’ve experienced more of what was to come, and I haven’t enjoyed it. I’m a bit more tired, broken down, disillusioned. I’ve let myself let go of that vision to praise God with everything, to tell everyone about His goodness. When the struggle becomes ordinary and tedious, there’s less to feel inspired about. And it’s unsustainable to keep inspiring oneself without end.
Even with a “good” prognosis, there’s the possibility for things to get much worse, much harder. More fevers, a relapse, who knows? My treatment plan was just extended by about a month, right after a week delay before that. It seems very possible that more delays will come. And there might be more intense suffering, and after options are exhausted, my life might end sooner than I’d ever anticipated. This is the first time I’ve written about that sort of thing.
People talk about death, for Christians, as “going home” to Jesus. In a way I think that’s right, because we will be more fully with Him than ever before. But heaven isn’t home. Jesus is. I don’t even know fully what heaven is, and it doesn’t matter that much to me. What’s promised for those who know Christ is that they will be with Him forever, no longer separated in a world sick with sin.
Then it seems to me that I should strive for that while I’m still here. I could learn to experience God as my home even now, just as we are called to become more like Christ here on earth, just as we are told to be rid of sin here on earth. None of these things will be ultimately completed until we are consummately reunited with God in death and in the new earth and heaven. There’s so much about that I don’t understand. But I don’t intend to wait until I die to practice making God my home.
In Him is found everything we could ever want in a home – peace, protection, unconditional love and welcome, wholeness. In Him is everything we look to the world to give us, everything we ask of other people and things. Everything we think will make the hard stuff better. He is ultimately everything I want, but it’s harder somehow to look to Him for it. So that’s my practice. That’s my hope – that I would experience God as the Home He is. It’ll be a way of getting ready to meet Him face to face, a year from now or 70 years. Or any number in between.
Last week was gorgeous, so bright and clear and sunny and warm. It was so opposite how I felt inside, where darkness called the shots. Everyone kept remarking how beautiful it was, and it brought me no joy. Me, who in the depth of winter felt shrivelled and blanched for the deluge of water and the blackness of days. Me, who cat-like would sit in sunlight any chance I have. Me, whose spirits used to rise at the mere sight of a ray of light. Here, after all the wet months, I wished it would rain. I sat in a puddle in a cave, humourless and hopeless. It came on like the gradual chill of evening after sundown, but I didn’t perceive it until I was shivering and alone in it.
And then I felt trapped and confused, disenchanted with the small delights of God’s gifts, taking interest in nothing, resenting people for caring to interact with me. Smiles escaped me, words evaded me. Nothing mattered. It’s been weeks and weeks of listless trudging. Fear. Cynicism. Sadness. Loneliness. Social fatigue. Ungratefulness. Tiredness. This became all I could taste. I was in no mood for God and His glory.
At the end of last week, my husband spoke some good, true words to me about the nature of life and God, and it seemed my heart was so desperate that drops of truth slipped in by the cracks in the dried up ground and started to nourish me again. My heart actually desires God, beyond simply needing Him. I can’t deny His goodness, not when I know He loved me to death and not when pink magnolias exist in the world. What’s true doesn’t rest in what I feel. As roots slowly drink to restore their stems, my exit from the dark has been almost imperceptible, but at times I notice a deeper breath, an easier smile, a firmer trust in God’s sweetness. By little bits, God is peeling back these layers – I don’t remember how they came to be – and recalling me to light. Maybe I’d be blinded if He did it all at once.
Blurry eyes, remembering how to gaze. Blurry window panes. And the rain that is falling tonight seems refreshing, gentle, and sweet, like a spring evening rain maybe ought to be. It falls on my garden and the grass, and grace falls on my soul, and we both will grow.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!