Kissing the Waves

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 "I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages." --Spurgeon

"I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord." 
Psalm 40:1-3

It's been a February to remember around here.  I've been longing to sit and write and yet the days just fill up so quickly and my arms only hold so much.  I've been juggling spinning plates it seems, and yet I read a great quote somewhere (Piper maybe?) that alluded to the idea that all writers have one thing in common.  The discipline takes sacrifice and saying "no" to something in order to say "yes" to writing.  It's a myth in my mind that my favorite writers and bloggers have loads of time to spend everyday on their craft, but really, it's just a choice to make the time for it. So this morning, with to-do lists and a BIG adventure on the horizon, I'm taking some time to write a little bit for the sake of my soul care.  I've got pent up thoughts that are coursing through my mind and begging to work themselves out through my fingers and this's been too long.

I saw that amazing quote above from Charles Spurgeon, on my friend Jen's facebook and I couldn't get it written on my heart fast enough.  She shared it in context of a difficult medical situation with her Mom and it spoke deeply to my heart as well.  We are kissing some big waves over here, waves that have appeared out of nowhere, rising up from a seemingly calm ocean and knocking us off of our feet.  In the (almost) thirty-three years of my life, there have been lots of waves beating against my frame.  Some have soaked me, some have have blindsided me and some have knocked me squarely off my perch into a raging sea.  But as I walk one more day with the Lord and He grows ever sweeter and true, what once would have sent me spiraling into salty waters now only presses me harder against the rock of Ages, into the firm foundation of my Jesus.  He's everything He promises to be in a storm; steady, reliable, unmovable, unshakable, real, strong, present...And yet, a storm is a storm.  HE never bends, but when the waves are crippling and relentless, without an intentional clinging to the Rock, it's hard to stand firm and endure. 

As most trials do, ours followed a quiet season in January.  February opened with one of my favorite highlights of the year, a scrapbook retreat up north with many girlfriends.  It was a sweet, sweet weekend and I left feeling so refreshed and soul-rested.  My husband was so kind to joyfully take over at home all weekend, even greeting me with a clean house, sleeping kids and a warm candle burning.  Those kind of re-entries don't happen very often, it was a gift, followed by a cherry on top gathering with a small group we are beginning a journey with.  Sweet.  Several days later I got a good taste of what Travis does every week, several times a week.  We started a man of God/woman of God series on Wednesday nights with our students and we split up into gender specific groups for a series of weeks.  The first week we were all combined and then I spoke to the girls while Trav spoke to the guys.  The following week we split up further and I spoke to just the junior high girls and Trav to the junior high boys.  It was a privilege to do it and I'm grateful for the opportunity, but I gained a whole new appreciation for the drain and grind of the process.  

Whenever I've taught before or led a study or just had a conversation with a friend about something the Lord taught me, He has a funny way of holding my feet to the fire almost immediately following.  It's a built in accountability that makes me tremble at the seriousness of saying one thing in the name of the Lord and living something else.  I spoke to the girls out of Proverbs 7, looking at the story Solomon penned for his sons, a warning about a misguided young guy and a dangerously cunning and wild woman.  It's a grave warning for a scenario that is so common and dismissed in our culture, yet so loaded with sin and unlike anything God designed for relationships.  Because I don't teach regularly, I have not refined a prep process, except to immerse myself in as much reading and studying and writing as possible.  For three weeks I spent lots of my "free" time, (read: every nap time, bedtime, and cartoon time while the kids were occupied) working on those two talks and really pouring myself into it.  Happily, by the way, this is not a complaint...I just resonated for the first time with Paul's statement about feeling like he was being "poured out like a drink offering."  It was exhausting in every way, but worth it too.  On the second week I had a major emphasis on trusting the Lord with your life, or your story.  I implored the girls to give the pen of their lives to the Lord, trusting him to write the perfect story for them as opposed to trying to manipulate and control every decision and outcome.  I fell into bed that night, weary from two weeks of my mind and heart wrapped up in that teaching, wondering how often my own husband pours himself out for the sake of the Gospel and then collapses from the weight of that.  I laid in bed and fought off the enemy planting those traps of defeat, did anyone even receive it?  Did it make sense?  Do they care? Was it all white noise?  Did I do a faithful job presenting the ideas of the text?  I felt like the Lord had confirmed his pleasure, but I'm human and don't we all just long for those pats on the back that make us feel secure?  

When I woke in the morning, on Valentine's Day, I felt the drain of energy and surveyed the damage of two weeks of letting my housework pile-up in place of studying.  I was weary and my footing unsure.  It was the perfect time for a wave to sweep me away and when my phone rang early that morning,  I was not prepared for the swirling waters headed my way.  My cousin Amy called to share a diagnosis with me, that my cousin Jenny had just received.  Stage 2 breast cancer, with a likely surgery and difficult recovery looming.  Who among us has not dealt with cancer these days?  It seems endless, the diagnosis, the treatments, and the road to recovery...and yet, until it hits close to home and rears its' ugly head in the life of a loved one, it's just a prayer request on a long list.  But as I stood in my kitchen, dipping marshmallows in chocolate and sprinkles and doing what Moms do to make celebrations fun, I grew numb hearing those words and felt fear begin to seize me.  Cancer in our family has not always been kind or brought with it a happy ending on this side of Eternity.  My weary heart began to ache for my cousin Jenny, for her husband and her three kids...a wave of pain, emotion, fear, and doubt leveled me, one after another.  I hate cancer.  No sooner did I stand before young girls and leaders, promising them that God is faithful, He never disowns his own, His ways are higher and His plans better and He is trustworthy with our life stories, no matter the twists and turns we might not understand...hours after those words fell from my lips and heart before them, I was standing in the midst of my own story, facing the same choice.  Do I let go of the pen and rest in Him, even with waves pounding, or do I grip it ever tighter, scripting my own story and grappling for control wherever I can find it?  

I limped through the day, holding my babies close, letting go of weeks of pent up emotion and praying, reading the Word.  It was an odd Valentines Day for sure.  I read that quote and that passage from Psalm 40 and it connected the dots, so to speak.  The waves of life are real.  Real trials, real circumstances, real pain and yet, there is real hope, real strength, and real peace that is ours to access.  I cried for my cousin, I hate for her to face this road, but I am jealous for the way I know Jesus will grow her faith, show Himself to her and make a lasting impression in the faith journeys of her kids.  And I'm praying for our whole family, every last one of us, to throw ourselves at the Rock of Ages, clinging to Him as we walk this road together.  From experience of God's faithfulness, every significant season of growth and depth in my relationship with Jesus has come from hard days, from trials that I thought were so unfair and difficulties that stripped me of my own strength and abilities.  And in hindsight, those parts of my story and the way God has used them, are actually scenes on a highlight reel of His magnificence and love.  So I've learned, like Spurgeon, to kiss those waves and endure in the strength of my Savior, knowing the fruit produced in the tension of God's plan is always the sweetest and most brilliant.  

My cousin faces a double mastectomy and reconstruction on Wednesday, just two weeks after her diagnosis.  Since that phone call, there have been constant waves in my life, none as big as that one, but sometimes it's the relentless trickle afterwards that robs you of any joy and knocks you over when you least expect it.  And even so, here I am doing my best to kiss those waves because Jesus is better and His plan is greater than mine.  His grace is sufficient and when we cry out to Him, He hears us and lifts us out of the pit, setting our feet on a rock...He gives us a new song, a hymn of praise even, so that many will see His power and love through us, and fear Him, and put their trust in Him too.  

If you find yourself drowning in the waves of life today, take heart and kiss that wave when you come up for air.  He allowed it for a reason and it could be the wave that was actually designed to save you, not destroy you.  

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds...Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised..."
Hebrews 10:23-24, 35-36

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