“When you’re young, the future seems limitless, packed with inifinate prospects and choices, B-plans and C-plans in every direction. It was not so scary to lose back then. Recklessness is a form of virtue when you’re first inventing your life. You stand the chance – if you go for broke – of unearthing an authentic existence. Loss is an afterthought, like death, when you’re young: heartbreaking, but distant and not yet your problem, as you careen through decades of unwrinkled plenty.
“Then one day you wake up and see you’ve been dreaming. Some tragedy shatters your shell of blind faith and allows paler, more grown-up truths to to seep in, the unavoidable costs of living. The trance of forever comes to an end. There’s not always more where that (fill in your own blank) came from. We begin to perceive, in a gimlet-eyed way, that often there’s a great deal less. Facing our limits, the coarse truth of endings, what remains becomes more precious to us, the families and lovers, possessions and passions we call our own. Subtraction is no longer taken so lightly. Beginning, of course, with the loss of time.” – Mark Matousek
2006 was not the year I thought it would be. I can think of many people who might secretly feel the same. There’s been a whole lot of shaking going on. Things recently grasped in confidence have been torn from our once-sure grip in a fierce wind-storm of purity and pain; both the breath of life and the wind being knocked out of us. In restrospect, it has been the best of times and the worst of times. What I have loved to the point of obsession, I have also lost, as God has humbled me and demanded my full attention, for He does not share His glory.
It can be anything, really, that jolts us, makes us realize we no longer possess something we once thought we owned: a friendship, a spouse, position, title, monetary security, respect, reputations, jobs… I sort of lost a church family and dear friends, a job I loved and my identity – because I had placed trust in the wrong things. I am old enough, spiritually and chronologically, to have known better. Yet this year, I have seen a shaking in ministry reminiscent of the one in the late 80’s as televangelists were exposed in humiliation on shows like Nightline or Larry King. But this time, it has been close to home, in me and in people who have my deep love and respect. There is a purifying that hurts, but it is grace. God asks us, will you humble yourself and repent of your pride (your self-sufficiency)? If we won’t He will. He will humble us under His mighty hand.
For me, I think maybe the loss would not have caused as much agony if I’d gone willingly – answered the call to humble myself instead of waiting for the judgment for resistance. But it is grace. He is cutting off in me those branches that are not producing the fruit He created me to produce. He is pruning the branches that are producing so they will produce even more. I am older. I have less time than I did in my brave twenties or strong thirties. He is shaking everything that can be shaken in me so that that which cannot be shaken will remain, for His Name and glory, for His acclaim in the earth. I am spreading my arms out in the middle of the whirlwind and watching the dead branches fly.
Be encouraged. God is not through using you. Blessings, Jeanie
NOTE TO SELF: Haggai 2.5 NIV “And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.” This remains.