The fog was dense in this season. Even as I write it, I can’t help but chuckle at the choice of the word “season.”
It’s such a Christianease word, isn’t it?
Sounds so polished and like an all too quickly quoted Romans 8:28. Unless of course you’re the one in the throes of said “season.”
Then it’s real, it’s your passions, it’s your life and it matters.
Some days it was like I could barely see. Knees bent, face down in my closet begging God to show up, crying for deliverance, in a sense beating my chest for justice. Reminding Him, in case He forgot, that He’s known for His acts of justice. “Remember God? You do remember that, right?” Knees to the carpet, just me and the clothes hanging nearby, open hands uttering blood soaked words from the depths of my soul.
“God, I can go through any of this—I just have to see You in it with me!”
That was the heart of the prayer. The earnest plea. Removed scales. Changed thinking. Vision. Sight. Presence.
I had my “case.”
Don’t we do that? We do our discovery, gather our admissible evidence, write the brief, and bundle it all up nicely in file folders neatly organized in a legal box and hand it over to the living God. “Ok God, inside you’ll find all you need. I went ahead and organized everything—to make it easier, of course. But basically, it’s all there. You just need to plead my case and rule in the favor of justice and deliverance—that’s me. Then, we can wrap this trial up and file it under ‘tough season.’ K? Alright, I’m pulling for you!”
So in the throes of something really hard and completely tangible, when we pray and ask God to show up—what are we going to do when that’s ALL He does?
“When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
Did you notice David wrote about his foot slipping? He didn’t say anything about it feeling like his foot was slipping or it appeared that his foot was slipping. Friends, his foot was slipping. He was walking with Jesus and his foot was slipping. So let’s talk about that aspect of following Jesus.
Because that is life! God could make our footing 100% sure 100% of the time.
But He chooses not to. WHY?
Perhaps as you read on, David’s foot was slipping so that he could know the support of a perfect Father’s unfailing love. Did that make the slipping any less slippery or less hard? NO! So let’s stop pretending that hardships and slipping as you follow Jesus isn’t hard. That it doesn’t rip your heart out sometimes. That it isn’t the greatest adventure of sacrifice you’ll ever endure.
Here’s the thing, when I’ve presented my case to God, I’ve done a great job of setting myself up for disappointment or slipping. And not the small kind of disappointment. The kind that leaves you limping. That’s a terrible trap I’ve fallen into many times in my walk. Thinking He needs me to be His legal assistant in my trials. Friends, He does not. The call is simply to come, tell Him our hearts, leave our troubles at His feet, and then watch and wait for His deliverance.
Maybe I set the disappointments up all by myself, because let’s be real—I do all of that expecting a certain outcome. But then Jesus takes my disappointment and turns it into a needed pruning. Faithfully, He trims away the dead things. But then, He turns His attention to the living. To the overgrown branches or stems. To the beautiful things in our life. Our passions, our children, our marriages and He begins to work there. Why? To increase fruitfulness and growth.
Then in pain, we stomp our feet and say bravely, “But Jesus your word tells us ‘no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.’ THIS thing you’ve pruned away was a good thing!”
My problem in these moments is that I have my own definition of good, love and support, and that looks an awful lot like comfort and things, people and places, passions and how they should be used.
When the pruning is deep it can leave me walking with a limp, speechless, sitting stunted in the moment.
But I cannot remain there.
Yet if my heart is truly set on the pilgrimage (Ps. 84:5), I must recognize He has set me up for explosive growth. You too. So, dig your roots deep in the soil of His word. Tell Him! Oh how we miss the treasure in the pruning when we don’t cry out to Him, tell Him what's raw and real and ask our questions, then wait and watch for His response just intently as we did in the asking.
There are going to be magnificent prunings in this life that leave you breathless. Stop for a while. Catch your breath if you must. Admit the pain. Feel the hurt. But don’t go lifeless after the pruning. Tell Him.
Open the dialogue by asking for changed thinking. Then put your foot down, stand up and determine to know the God who prunes away the living, who supports us with His unfailing love rather than changed circumstances, who gives His presence and not deliverance. Pursue Him with everything you have. Only Jesus can take what’s painful and make it beautiful and only He can transform our thinking so that we can know Him as we should. That is the good He does not withhold and that gives the scars of slipping eternal value. Don’t miss it!