reversing the tide....

In a book Im reading called "The Healing Path" by Dan Allender, he writes:
Life is captivity littered with the disappointment and partially satisfied yearning: captivity to a body that does not work as we wish; captivity to a heart that longs for freedom to truly love, to worship from the depths of our being and does not; captivity to the particulars of our culture, race, socioeconomic history, and era, when we would rather be radical, world-conscious Christians...But in every arena of life, I LONG to burst free of the constraints of my flesh, soul, and world…" 

He continues to write, knowing it is not us or ourselves individually who can actually burst free from the constraints of our flesh, soul, or world.  It actually takes an act of God and his power giving us the ability to break free from a life that so easily entangles, and with a hope of tomorrow, its by HIM that we are able to move forward - with HIS help. Each and every step of the way. "To the degree I know the sorrow and despair of being held captive, the more I look toward the bright dawn - the veiled, mysterious light that breaks into the world suddenly swiftly, and with life-changing results."  Allender continues & articulates my sentiments so well:  When will I see his breaking in again?  When will I see His handiwork in my marriage, my relationships, my relationships with my children and friends, and even more so, my enemies?"  

As I hung up the phone, I paused for a moment long enough to smile and simply be thankful.  I had been playing phone tag with one of my best friends for weeks now and tonight we finally got to catch up.  Ahhh, my cup is full once again.  You know those friends you can go months without talking and then in a couple hour conversation you feel like your friendship hasn't skipped a beat, and you just continue on?  Yeh, this was one of those conversations and totally one of those dear friends.  Truly grateful for friends like this!   

So as the conversation would naturally take us back to recall some of the past few weeks of memories and experiences, big and little updates of course, I noticed some of the stories I told were big and elaborate (just as they happened) and a handful of them were merely reflections and how I feel about things now as they stand.  As I reflected on some of the ways I articulated the past few weeks' experiences though, I'm actually left wondering; Why is it that we laugh off our struggles, our longings, and perhaps our dreams like we let a bad joke roll off our shoulders?  Or perhaps like we made a wrong turn, and its like we laugh as one would say "whoops, Im on auto pilot - we're NOT going to the drycleaner! My bad" and we laugh it off.  But its with the expressions of things we hope for or looking to the future for and those so-called 'important updates' in my life; I tend to downplay as if not to get my hopes up, or perhaps because it feels like wishful thinking, or even like we don't believe something would even happen.  Every time we laugh or snicker at a comment we make, we understate our feelings and don't give our hearts permission to process OR feel.  We tell our heart that it doesn't matter.  Or maybe we're TRYING to tell our hearts that doesn't matter.  

As I think about recent conversations with friends I've walked through life's journeys with, there's been a unique and common pattern; a state of numbness looms. People's reactions to some of life's exciting moments and adventures seem to not be as glorious as they could be. Almost like the feelings of hot and cold simply have gone lukewarm and they've flatlined.  Not just because they haven't had their morning cup of java, I find myself zoning out and doing the same. Life is so much easier to get through when we don't confront the reality of our fears, our hopes and dreams we still long to see fulfilled, and our hurts and scars we'd joyously let mend if we only knew how.  

Below surface level we want to know: "When will I see His handiwork in my relationships, my relationships with my children and friends, and even more so, my enemies? When will I see his breaking in again?"  We want to see problems solved and yet it's just easier to cope if we don't even think about what it is we have trouble believing for.  

Perhaps the struggle I talked about above is the this is the reality of a lot of our journeys? 

I never imagined I'd be where I'm at today.  And if we were to have a conversation five years ago, I jokingly declare I might've jumped off a cliff (not just a cliff over a waterfall!) But seriously, today, I continue to be reminded where I am at, or 'not' at, and what that means.  And perhaps it doesn't really mean all to much in the big scheme of the world's problems or all other things; but in MY world it does!  In YOUR world, and your current state or reality, it might too! 

Even as I seek to fulfill my dreams of my calling and chase my career, the reality I am talking about is that I am still single and really do have the desire to be married!  This is something I am learning to accept and embrace wholeheartedly and while I make jokes because that's the easy way of letting it slide away, if I were honest, in my heart of hearts I dont understand why the wait and why I havent met "him" by now.  I wrestle through feelings of doubt, discouragement, heartbreak, and puzzlement often.  Today, I'm not just waiting on the perfect gig(because I am determined to keep after it!) but the redemption I seek to see is in HIS fulfillment of my desire to be married.  (I already know I am not called to celibacy for one thing;) And as I often state; "I just want my best friend to do life and have adventures with!!"      

Even in facing the reality that my dream job didn't happen right after college graduation is another area to easily get discouraged over and yet I've had some incredible experiences and amazing jobs anyone would be grateful for.  Its crazy when you finally pinpoint what you've been called to and what you were 'born to do' after so long and I continue to question daily:  "Lord, was I really called for this?  If this is not of you, then take away the vision I have for my life and calling you've placed on it!  Im really ok with that!"  But to risk being single the rest of my life for a calling and a career, I've often given it back over to the Lord saying "If this means a life of singleness, I dont want it." And yet my path continues to lead me on towards my calling, so I continue to wait on HIM….

I have found that as I continue to be raw and real before people I meet, friends I make, and even strangers as they need encouragement - its not JUST me who wants to see redemption over something in their life!  Its not just me who LONGS to see God fulfill a promise, or a desire - this side of heaven!!  

What surprises me though is how many people are just 'functioning' through life and numbing out to the problem in their lives that they've lost hope over…The fight for so many, unfortunately has just been too hard... 
*The neighbor you have that seems so sweet and motherly doesn't openly share of her hope to be freed from depression. 
*The colleague down the hall doesn't tell you how he'd rather be home with his kids than working that second job to pay the mortgage and he is just SO tired. 
*That happily married friend that you might never suspect actually dreams of having children of their own and they continue on because they have 'much to be grateful for.'   
*That perfect job continues to linger.  
*His addiction resurfaces and he's embarrassed of the relapse.  
*The outstanding medical fees are leaving them trapped in financial crisis.   
*The hope that just one medicine would work to take away his chronic pain and yet today is another day of darkness.

People are drowning in a sea of hopelessness!  AND without knowing a way out, I can see how life seems helpless and hopeless after so long. BUT from everything I've experienced and everything I know to be true, its in these dark moments where I find HIM and I am reminded of hope. Again.  

Consider this: 
Perhaps it's in the very midst of our crisis and struggle we are being wooed back to him?  
Perhaps this is one of the ways He reveals his passion for us and his love and affection for our hearts.  
Perhaps in the midst of our struggle, when we don't think we can conjure up the strength to love another, or even face tomorrow, its when He steps in and we are suddenly empowered to love people before us, or get out of bed.  
You see theres this thing, this optimism that looms, and although many times we give up hope, there's an easy way of it making its way back to us.  We can't see it, but we can feel it!  Like the rays of sunshine that peak through clouds after a rainstorm; the light falls on your exposed skin and you cant help but feel the warmth and know something is breaking through. 
Perhaps part of the process of the journey in life is getting to know a Creator that wants not just what is for our best; but what will produce the most character, integrity, patience, thankfulness, endurance, and faith in the end.  I am confidant He provides enough to get through whatever we're going through but a bit more of him and a little deeper knowledge of Him. In John 10:10 it says "the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy"  but it also says Christ has "come to give us life and life to the fullest!"  
He doesn't promise to take whatever it is we're going through away, but He does promise to be WITH Us. Every step of the way. He will be the "Life to the fullest" and give us the peace we need to endure some of the hardest trials. When everything is spinning out of control around us, He will be our center. He will be our guide.  He will be our strength when we cannot take another step. 

“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine.When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—Because I am God, your personal God,The Holy of Israel, your Savior.I paid a huge price for you...That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you...." Isaiah 43:1 2-4

There were seasons in 2013 and again 2016, I felt like I was dropped in the middle of the ocean and told to swim.  They were both extremely hard seasons to endure the end of, and I knew I didn't want to end the year with the loss of hope!  I really did need "hope to be restored" but knowing this is mystery of how God works, I also believe its how we choose to continue living daily.

I GET to choose Hope.  My choice to embrace HOPE and look forward to what God has in store for this year of my life, (just as I did in 2014) - I have been determined to bring back that childhood lightness of faith and excitement for all He will do in and through me! Its hard to see what HOPE looks like, but its okay.  To know my hope is in Him, the one who defeated death itself, I know my hope won't ever be complete any other way.

And to some of you who might still be wrestling with that loss of hope, I would encourage you to seek out God. Ask him to give you ability to endure. Tell Him you need to see Him in your life and ask for peace or direction… 

While I know He might not solve my life overnight, I know He can.  And I rest in his perfect provision and perfect timing.  Because I am confidant in the his love never fails, I can walk forward choosing to hope, and know that in the midst of my distress and cries of help, He WILL be there every single step of the way.  

I love this thought: 
"Opening our arms must then be followed by a willingness to wait. We will never risk embracing life unless we feel the pulse of a hungering heart that beats for something outside the realm of sight. We are meant for an invisible presence, a mystery and touch that draws our hearts to a higher love.

So while its been a journey I definitely never thought Id endure, I am waiting in expectation for Him to show up! And today?? I continue to talk to him about it.... And I turn my hope into expectation! After all, He is a God who redeems all things! 

As Allender writes: 
I have seen him redeem my soul…Each of us needs only ONE remembered story to propel us to hope for more. The questioning, the yearning heart that cries out to God and refuses to let desire die knows what it is to be a captive of hope. A Captive is one who suffers in hope, who hopes against hope (rom 4:18) but in spite of it all, he cannot refuse to risk all for what is ahead." 

I'll leave you with this:  He IS ABLE. Eph 3:20 says it: God is ABLE to do exceedingly and abundantly beyond all than we can ask or imagine.  

And while I continue living with Great Expectations for the future because I know He IS able to accomplish immeasurably more, Im reminded to stop laughing off my areas I struggle to hope for, and just rest and believe God for his providencial timing. In it all.  He DOES exist outside of time;) 

Finally ready now to close my eyes and just believe that you wont lead me where you dont go.  When my faith gets tired and my hope seems lost. you spin me round and round and you remind me of that song, the one you wrote for me; and we dance…
 And i've been told to pick up my sword and fight for love, little did i know that love had won for me - here in your arms you still my heart again, and ill breath you in like i never knew i could breath till now...


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