"Yet I still dare to hope"

Life has been full lately.

Without going into unnecessary details, I'll borrow a friend's word picture: I've had some dragons and gnats swirling around lately. Sometimes the gnats can be more frustrating than the dragons... but lately... well, I don't know if the dragons can smell all the things that God is burning away and pruning from my life... but they seem to be snapping and circling.

And amidst it all, I've found that God is faithful, despite my desire to bolt. He is still pursuing, despite my self-protective ways. He is still there, ready to peel away and prune as necessary, and He's willing to do it gently if I'll stay softened and sit close enough to Him to let Him work carefully. And when I sit close, I can see Him at work-- in my heart, in my life, in my family, and in the people around me. And even though I feel so tired of being pruned, and wish I could just run away and lick my wounds, or just be left alone, for a little while, please, I know this is better. Because it's where HE is.

And no matter what, I don't want to waste my life by spending it running away from the pain, grief, or difficulties He'd use to teach me the things I need to learn.

AN IMPERFECT BUT HELPFUL PICTURE OF WHERE I'M AT
You may think I'm crazy, or a total goofball (and I'm OK with you thinking either)... but I drew out a series of cartoons in my journal this morning to try to express an idea I've had rolling around in my head. I feel like I've studied, grown, lived, grown, studied, grown, examined, grown, analyzed, grown, and on and on... in my spiritual life. Not that, by any means, I thought I'd arrived... but I have felt maturity and growth and been joyful in that. And yet, lately, it's become very clear to me that I am still so very much in need of growth. That there's so much more learning, growth, and living to do.

Here's the cartoon... I'll put the captions underneath.

"18 year old" Christian walking over to a desk to sit down and take a test.
The "test" is Romans 12:9-21 (NLT, ESV).

After results:
[He's pretty baffled.] "What? I'm at a 3rd grade level? But I've grown so much... other people tell me I'm a "smart" kid-- and I'm EIGHTEEN for crying out loud! You're kidding!"

I won't share the caption for this one. But it's comprised of:

Much lamentation.
Despair.
Thoughts like, "If I'm only THIS far along, how could I ever make it another few decades?"
Dejection.

"Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
The faithful love of the LORD never ends!
The LORD is good to those who depend on Him.
Let them sit alone in silence.
For no one is abandoned by the LORD forever."

"Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the LORD."
~Lamentations 3


And that's it.

So. Maybe I'll be going point-by-point through the "test"... and sharing some about my very lousy results. Maybe not. By now, you guys know how I am about perseverance on one topic over time. I get distracted. Regardless. Here's where I'm at. Looking at the dragons and praying. Sitting alone in silence. Looking back over my test to see where I've botched things. Watching for His goodness.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do not give up hope my sister, God will always be there even if it's in the background for a time of learning on our behalf. I hope you can be encouraged through a great hymn I thought of after reading,
"Pass me not" the words speak right to the soul. May God bless you in all you learn and how you help others in their walk with Christ.
Monica

Holli T. said...

I appreciate your candor. I'm struggling, too. And, instead of admitting it, being still and listening to what He's trying to teach me, I get busier and try to "work" my way through things.

Thanks for sharing from your journal. It's a good reminder of where I need to be spending more time.

Holli T.

Kristi said...

I'm right there with you. Thanks for being honest and humble.

Rachel said...

I hear ya. I hear ya.

autumnesf said...

Any yet...you are still sitting right at his feet. Right where he wants you.

Kevin said...

It is amazingly true... "Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere" Psalm 84:10

Julie said...

"Where there's light, there's bugs."

And, apparently, dragons.

Growing Daily said...

I love how Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan does such an excellent job of describing the path that we go on as Christians. What you describe in your post reminds me of the the scene where the pilgrims cross the river of death and Christian starts to drown but in the end he crosses the river and makes it to Heaven. What a spiritual battle we face every day!

JavaMama said...

Dragons and Gnats! Oh my! What a great description of the struggles that try to distract us from Him.

I tell you I have one massive Dragon circling around me at the moment and just a few thousand or so it feels like it gnats hovering above.

I am praising God for your transparency today, through your words especially these... "And no matter what, I don't want to waste my life by spending it running away from the pain, grief, or difficulties He'd use to teach me the things I need to learn"... I remember and my heart rests after all the running and listens...

Thank you!

JOYfully in Him,
Kelli

Trish said...

Jess,

I could so identify with your post. So often I want to run and lick my wounds, to think that surely I'm better than it seems. I believe God is pruning us all to help us see ourselves as we really are so that we can run to Him and find that He is all we need. I am praying that desperately these days, that in my heart of hearts I will find Him to be ALL that I need! Thanks, Jess!

Trish

Jamie said...

Jess,

I am praying for you. I can very much understand your pictures...the thing is that we only tend to grow (in the Lord) when we come to the recognition that we are a little lower than dirt...and when we realize we are here merely for God's good pleasure, and He wants all of us...and yes, some of us tend to stink of smoke, for what seems to be forever...but I need to point you to Daniel 3...Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego they are told to bow to the statue of "King Nebbie" but they refuse.."If it be so, our God whom we serve **is able** to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. ***"But even if He does not***, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up."
(Dan 3:17-18)
See (***) the Lord will save us...but even if He does not, we will surely not bow to you...
and you may be finding yourself in the fire of refining right now, but remember that when "King Nebbie" looked into the furnace, there were not three figures but four...He IS with you and He doesn't want you to give up hope.
The Lord draws near to the brokenhearted, and how do we expect to really drink Him in if we do not feel heartache from time to time? The Pain is deep while we are here, but it is all worth it to look heavenward, and keep your chin high, because of the One who sits on High.

if you ever need to talk...You can always email me.

~Jamie

madgebaby said...

I highly recommend "Dark Night of the Soul" for times like these.

Hannah. said...

I feel like I'm going through my own refiner's fire right now, and the truth is, more dross is rising to the surface than I let myself believe was there. He is greater than our hearts. Thank the Lord.

Jamie said...

Jess...

I had one last thing to add..The Lord always reaches me through music and this song: http://youtube.com/watch?v=_Dg55eP4zw8 made me think of you when I read what you wrote. (the song is Revive Me, by Jeremy Camp)
This has been my theme song many times through my walk with the Lord..please be encouraged today. Know that you are being refined and shaped, and it is not easy, but the Lord never promised it would be, but that it would be WORTH it!

Soli Deo Gloria,
Jamie

Anonymous said...

When I was your age, I felt wise compared to most 20-somethings. Now that my 40th birthday is just around the corner, I realize how much I have grown in the past decade.

If I have the good fortune to live to 50 or 60, I'm sure I'll shake my head looking back on my 39-year-old self, who had so much to learn.

Look on the bright side: our life expectancy is double what it was in Biblical times. Of course, there are no guarantees--any of us could drop dead tomorrow. But the likelihood is that you will have a lot more years to gain wisdom in this life than most Christians have had throughout history.

Laurie B

julie said...

you know, your forthrightness is refreshing......i think i understand a little bit of what you may be feeling. (of course not exactly because we are all different!0 but i remember clearly, aout 7-8 years into homeschooling and thinking i was really doing "well", knew all the right things to be doing and saying,(uugghh) and here i am now, 3 years post homeschooling and i really shake my head at my former mindset and perspective. hang in there as you keep your hand in HIS.
julie

Carletta said...

Chin up, girlfriend. I'm still in K and I think I've been held back another year.

I need to do a lot more studying, lol. Definitely need more time in God's word.

Hugs,
Carletta