The first month of 2015 has slipped by, quickly and quietly.
January was gentle, and soft this year. It was full of firsts, full of magic and moments that stole my breath away and full of grace.
I was thinking last night about how the month began curled up listening to Noah Gunderson and wishing for this year to be full of bigger and better things, and it ended playing Uno and holding his hand and all the moments in the middle felt as though they were whispering grace.
When you simply get up every day and live life raw - you murmur the question soundlessly. No one hears. Can there be a good God? A God who graces with good gifts when a crib lies empty through long nights and bugs burrow through coffins? Where is God, really? How can He be good when babies die and marriages implode and dreams blow away, dust in the wind? Where is grace bestowed when cancer gnaws and loneliness aches and nameless places in us soundlessly die, break off without reason, erode away. Where hides this joy of the Lord, this God who fills the earth with good things, and how do I live fully when life is full of hurt? How do I wake up to joy and grace and beauty and all that is the fullest life when I must stay numb to losses and crushed dreams and all that empties me out?
I remember the moment when I thought life would never be ok again. It was the day after he died, and I fell on my knees in the horse pasture and inwardly screamed, feeling the breaking taking place inside of my chest violently. In that moment, it felt like God turned His face away. In all of the black moments that have swept over my life none felt as bereft of His presence as this one.
That year was a silent "No, God." It was burning with white hot anger and the dull ache of emptiness.
I say that year broke me, made me question all I'd ever believed. But looking back now I can see how that year of hell on earth was also the year I began to hear His voice.
His intent, since He bent low and breathed His life into the dust of our lungs, since He kissed us into being, has never been to slyly orchestrate our ruin. And yet I have found it: He does have surprising, secret purposes. I open a Bible and His plans, startling, lie there barefaced. it's hard to believe it, when I read it, and I have to come back to it many times, feel long across those words, make sure they are real. His love letter forever silences any doubts: "His secret purpose framed from the very beginning is to bring us to our full glory" (1 Corinthians 2:7). He means to rename us - to return us to our true names, our truest selves. He means to heal our soul holes
I spent a really long time being the one who wrestles with God. Even now I'm the girl who'd rather wrestle it out, live from the honest core. In this past little while I feel as though I was broken at the strongest part of myself. I was brought to the wilderness time and time again. But it's not like I once thought. It's not because in my ugly brokenness God is hiding Himself from me. It is so I could learn to listen to His voice. It is so that through my soul holes I could experience the fullness of Him. Once you've been broken down, the gospel isn't just the good news, but the life news. His death and resurrection sits not only as a story about life and more life but of radical redemption.
I stood face to face with the darkest parts of myself, desperate to change my story, to have more to offer.
Until He reminded me that I did. Until He spoke into my black and made it the holy night. Where the black was His hand over the rock, because He was near.
And maybe you don't want to change the story, because you don't know what a different ending holds
There are days I still wish I could change my story. I'm grappling with accepting the bad, and the good, and calling both enough. If I was writing this story... I inwardly rage.
It was the dark night that made me brim with full gratitude for this goodness, to see it all as grace.
Once upon a time I never imagined I would experience this depth of grace. I never imagined He would remove His hand, and I'd see His back.
All of this - these strings of grace days - are more than I ever knew to ask for. They are beautiful, and I'm savoring each one and as we drive down the back road I say to myself "Are you really going to say this isn't how the story should go?"
The emptiness made the fullness that much better. I don't understand, but I have been given the promise that even this is not the end.
There is always more, and looking back on all of it He says "Do you see in all of it how I provided? How you lived off the mystery, the manna?"
That which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave
I am overwhelmed by His grace, sustained by His manna, savoring His sweetness. There is so much I don't yet understand. I am learning to live with an open hand, from a place of honest truth, and be grateful
All italics quotes from 1000 gifts by Ann Voskamp