There are 43 unfinished drafts floating around in a file somewhere on my computer, and I can’t bring myself to finish any of them. Every year on my birthday, I write something – something I can look back on through the years to remember, but this year, I didn’t. In fact, just weeks ago when I got an email from my hosting site telling me its time to pay the annual fee that keeps this site up and running, I decided it may be time to let go of this space. After all, it’s no secret I haven’t been the most faithful writer this year.
I wont spend a second pretending this last year has been an easy one. Making it out of bed was the most noteworthy accomplishment of many of my days. Lots of striving to survive, grappling with grace, and fighting battles I feel too fearful and feeble to fight. A heart aimed toward obedience, yet surrendered to sin, a mind striving for holiness, but settling for half-done.
Never more aware of my need for grace, yet never more afraid to trust in its sufficiency.
Yet I love a gracious God, a faithful God, a loving God, and He’s bound my brokenness at the foot of the cross every time I find myself there.
But this year has just been different. It handed me some hard and heavy things to try and reconcile, and the reality is that my pent up pain and unanswered questions left me asking the same question I asked myself when it came time to renew this domain name – is this whole thing really worth the cost?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that perseverance has a price, and this has been the most emotionally expensive of my life. Pushing forward in this life while holding onto promises that sometimes feel so far away and at other times completely intangible is hard. In the thick of devastation, God’s Word doesn’t always bring the relief we so desperately long for, as much as it stings me to write those words. The truth is friends, when bombs go off in our lives; it isn’t always easy to find God in the shrapnel.
Sure, I believe that God is good, but I never allowed myself to believe that He is the most good. I tricked myself into thinking that because my life looks so different from what I would have ever planned or pictured for myself, that somehow this life of mine – the one that God ordains and sustains – was good enough, but not His best. Almost as if somehow this is the consolation prize, the second best.
But His word reminds us that His thoughts are higher and His ways perfect, which means He cannot be a God of second bests, and that realization has been shifting some things in my heart lately.
I love John chapter 15 where it talks about Jesus as the true vine and how we, as believers, are connected to the Vine and because of it, we bear fruit and are continually undergoing the pruning process. We are called to abide, to stay the course, to finish the race, but this year as that passage came to mind, I kept telling the Lord that I just feel like a broken branch – dirty, useless, fractured.
But, oh, there is beauty in the broken branches, I’m learning.
To be broken, yet connected.
To be afflicted, but sustained.
To know that absolute dependence on the Vine is the only real shot you’ve got at life.
I’ve known this year more deeply than ever the temptation to plant roots in other places. To be tied to success or approval, financial security, possessions or earthly relationships. But Jesus is the true vine, and prosperity and life can only come from being attached to Him. Most of the time we get to learn that the hard way.
Luckily nothing touches our lives that hasn’t first filtered through His hands, and though it is near impossible to see how such suffering could ever be His best for me, and though it is a source of great uncertainty, of this I have never been more certain: that I just don’t want to do this thing without Him. I’m starting to see through a year of difficulty and distance, that maybe these places of suffering are the closest to His heart I’ve ever been.
Well, I decided to keep this blog alive, at least for another year. And I’ve decided that even if this next year is just as hard or harder than the last, Love is worth the fight.