A Little Lesson from Nehemiah

I hate waking up with the feeling that something is wrong. I had waking up being reminded of the brokenness in my life. I hate that weight on my shoulders as I climb out of bed, the punch-in-your-stomach kind of feeling that something is just not quite right.


But this morning, as I woke up to those feelings once again, my mind wandered to the prophet of Nehemiah. I love that guy. If you’ve never read that small book in the Bible, do it: right now. He is a man of God who carried a great burden to see the walls of Jerusalem rebuilt. And this burden he cried over for forty days. Forty days! Day and night he wept for the burden that had been placed upon his shoulders. Day and night he interceded, and woke up every day with the same reminder: something is just not quite right.


And he reminded me: maybe I’ve been hating this feeling for so long I’ve failed to appreciate it.

Maybe what I should be doing instead of praying to be rid of these feelings is to pray a prayer of thanks instead. Because it is good to be reminded when something is not right. It is good to be reminded of the pain that surrounds us. It is good to be reminded, like Nehemiah was, to intercede.  Charles Spurgeon wrote, “When God puts a burden upon you, He puts His own arms underneath.”

Nehemiah was never once alone carrying that burden. Every morning he awoke to the reminder that something was wrong, God met with Him there. Nehemiah wrestled with that burden, interceded for that burden, and as He did, God put His own arms underneath.

He put His arms underneath.

Forgiven

Yesterday in church, I heard a message that resonated deeply within my heart.

Painfully so, however. It clanged and echoed and pushed its way inside the depths of my heart. It pushed up pain, hurt, anxiety, until tears trickled slowly down my cheeks.
The message was about forgiveness. I have always thought of myself as someone who forgives easily, who easily confesses to God above that I have forgiven someone who has wronged me.
But I have come to learn I tend to put restrictions on my forgiveness.
I say, “I will forgive you, but I can never forget what you’ve done.”
I say, “I will forgive you, but I will never trust you again.”
And still I say, “I’ll forgive, but I can’t ever let you close to me again after how you’ve hurt me.”
But is this how we are called to forgive? Always adding a “but” clause?
The pastor used an illustration yesterday. He spoke of a woman who’s husband had cheated on her, and she told him, “I’ll forgive you, but I can’t ever be close to you again.” And in my mind, I agree. It’s justifiable. How could she, after what he had done to her? But after a pause, the pastor added, “What if God said that to us?”
What if God said to me, “I will forgive you – but I can’t ever be close to you again”?
We are called to forgive as He has forgiven. And putting those restrictions on our forgiveness is not how we are called to forgive. And that is a hard realization – allbeit a good one – but definitely a hard lesson to take to heart. I can’t put restrictions on my forgiveness. I need to keep no record of wrong. It certainly isn’t an excuse for the other person – and I struggle with this – but I cannot keep record of wrong if I have forgiven them. How hard that is, though!

For He First Loved Me

They broke me.


I will never forget what the pain of selfishness causes.

They can tell me over and over again how proud they are of me, what a wonderful woman I have become, but in the end, part of me desires to spite them. To be a horrible person. To yell instead of speak softly. To fail in every one of my classes. To show them in every way that they broke me to the very core of my being. To show them that they stole what meant the most to me in this world, and I will never forget it.

I want them to know what it feels like to know the people in your life who are here to protect you, to give you security, to give you shelter in this turmoil of life, weren’t there. I want them to know what it is like to see the people you love with all your heart harden their hearts and become different people.

I want them to know that missing them, who they were, missing what was stolen from me causes me to weep at night. I want them to know it. I want to break them as they have broken me, for maybe in doing so they will finally realize what they’ve done.

I just want them to feel. I want them to act. I want them to see. I want them to hear.

Can’t they see how this mistake, how this sin, how this selfishness, how this pride has broken their very own flesh? Has destroyed my heart in pieces? Has taken my security, my hope, my family?

Yet they sit silently. They act as if nothing has changed, when the very world we live in has shattered.

Are they so foolish as to not hear the cry of the broken? Their own child, weeping alone at night? How can they turn a deaf ear, a blind ear, to their own flesh and blood that was created out of their love?

But yet, there is a whisper that softly says, “Grace.”

And I turn my ear away.

It whispers still. “Forgiveness.”

And I resist.

It urgently insists, “Love keeps no record of wrongs.”
And I cry, “But of course it does – they need to know. They need to know what they’ve done to me.”

But still the voice replies, “Forgive as I have forgiven you.”
And I shake and tremble, for the Voice is true. He calls me to a higher place, but the road to that place is so hard. But I will walk it, I will stumble to the place that He has called me to. I will persevere to the place of forgiveness, the place where grace will permeate every word I speak to them. I will love, no matter how hard, not matter the tears I will cry, for He first loved me.

Word of the Year

I am inspired by this website, http://oneword365.com/ that asks a simple question: what one word can you choose to describe who you want to be or how you want to live or what you want to achieve this year. Scrap new year’s resolutions: choose one word that I can focus on every day this new year.

And what is my word for 2012?
Wait.
I want to learn how to wait.
I want to learn to rest patiently before my Lord and wait.

I want to wait on His plan, on His timing, instead of running on my own.
I want to learn to wait before I speak. To be quiet, and not speak words of control on others’ lives.
I want to wait on the Spirit, on His leading and His guiding.
I want to learn to be silent and wait. Instead of speaking too soon.
There is so much waiting to be done in this life, yet I am not content to do so. I am impatient when I wait in line in a restaurant, I am impatient to have grades returned to me on time, and I am impatient when my cell phone’s service seems to take forever to load.
But even more importantly than that: I am impatient in my relationship with God. I choose to believe I know what is best instead of trusting Him and His timing. I choose to run ahead and try to pull Him along, instead of listening to His warning, “Wait: for my ways are perfect. Not yours.”
I choose to speak to Him before waiting on Him. I choose to be loud, to be anxious, to pour out my thoughts to Him before He even gets a chance to open His mouth and share with me.
And what kind of a relationship is that?
This year, I need to learn patience. I need to learn grace and humility, and all of these things are summed up in my learning to wait.

New beginnings

Today, I woke up in my family home for the last time.
Something tells me it should be easier to move – afterall, I’ve moved to school for the past four years. But it isn’t just the moving that breaks my heart.
It’s saying goodbye to the memories that happened there. It’s saying goodbye to the last standing reminder that I once had a family, a family that included a mom and dad that loved and honoured one another, a family that was once as sturdy as the rock out front that portrayed our family name.
I know that those memories will forever be in my heart. But there is something about a physical reminder, the physical four walls that do their best to support the family that resides within.
But sometimes, those walls just aren’t strong enough.
Today I reminded of the lyrics in Chris August’s song “7×70”:
I’ve been living in this house here since the day that I was born.
These walls have seen me happy, but most of all they’ve seen me torn.
They’ve heard the screaming matches that made a family fall apart,
They’ve had a front row seat to the breaking of my heart.

This past weekend at home, I wandered through our home and memories flitted in front of me, memories I thought I had long forgotten. But it was that home that triggered those memories – the sight of the blue entrance tiles reminding me of our first puppy, the stairs making their way up to the second floor reminding me of the time Shelby fell and tangled her arm in the banister, the feel of the wooden floors on my feet reminding me of Christmases gone past where we sat gathered around the Christmas tree. How do I hang on to the memories, when everything in this world is trying to steal them from me? When time grasps at them, my parents’ divorce papers try to erase them, and the words, “forgive and forget,” try to grab them from me?
That house may only be a house, but it stands to me as a living reminder of what we once were. Now all I have are mere memories, memories that evade and escape me far too often.