As my days have been stilled, often I am set to thinking of the days gone before. The days were so different than now, overflowing with fullness and schedules and laughter and work.
So many comings and goings. . . intense relationships begun and then pulled away, for reasons too numerous to count. . .
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
I settled into the metal folding chair, next to my husband, and pulled out my Bible. I wondered how the discussion at the small group study would progress that night. Our position of Children’s Pastors in our mid-twenties sometimes set people on edge as they expected us to fit the mold and be placed on a pedestal. But the leader of the group was our good friend, also on staff as the Youth Pastor, and when his joking began the pedestals fell away.
The subject of following God’s will stirred up a multitude of questions and ideas. As the conversation shifted and we began to consider who might be counted most worthy of having followed the Lord, something caught in my throat, and I could not jump in as expected. My question rose, “But what if the little old lady who is hidden away in her home because she is a shut-in and ill, is actually following God’s will more closely than any of those other “big-name” people we have discussed? What if she is praying and loving Jesus, and serving Him where no one else can see?”
The question haunts me still today. . . In many ways, I have become that little old lady, shut-in from chronic illness.
As I look back on those years when God was leading us to be so active, and so involved in the lives of those who were part of our churches, there remains a question in my heart. Was it all worth it?
We ate together with those members of His Body, and we raised our children together at the meetings and the after-church fellowships. We prayed for each other around the altars, and we shared our hearts over the phone. And most of them are not part of my life any longer.
There remains in me an aching, as the responsibility syndrome flares up in me. Funny that the words have a parallel with my physical situation now: aching, syndrome, and flares. A chronic illness with no cure has followed me down the halls of my life memories, and I am left with that same catching in my throat. Where does all that pain go to live, when the church, the Body of Christ, tells us to just move on?
The Children Dance
The children danced and the little ones sang
As the older ones looked on in joy
That’s my son up there! That’s my girl!
The Mama hearts beamed, the Papa hearts rang.
And I felt the joy of both, perched in between
A Mama myself, and the teacher too
Those are my babies up there! Those are my kids!
The teacher’s heart glowed, with a golden sheen.
But God called us out, away from that place
My Mama heart gathered, teacher’s heart cried
There go my babies! Here come my kids
A pain lodged deep while beginning the chase
Starting over, beginning again, cycle repeating
The children danced and the little ones sang
There go the babies! Here come my kids
A shift and a wall were so slightly beginning.
Better hold onto my heart, keep it apart
Never know when the leaving might come
Never know how the serving may end
Never know if the hurting might hit my heart.
The children danced, and the little ones sang
But the joining and caring became surrender
The pouring of my heart felt like bleeding
I knew what was coming, the bell always rang.
Over and over my fault or theirs, we never knew
Because God called us out, pulled up the stakes
Sent our hearts reeling, longing for home
Pausing for just a glimpse of sweet dew
Until the song changed and the dancing was stilled.
The aches were brought forward, one by one
When the finger of God lifted the veil
Come up here with me, His song my soul filled.
He touched the wound around my heart’s rim
The places I longed for those souls I still loved
Where I thought I had kept myself held apart
The bleeding had only joined me with HIM.
The children dance, and the little ones sing
And the Father who loves each one as His own
That’s my son up there! There goes my girl!
He waits for the day when the trumpet will ring
All bleeding finished, all aching done
When the Father’s longings are all fulfilled
For all of the praying and searching and serving
Finally captured all love will be won.
And then I understood. The fear of being the shut-in, the worry of being cut off again, is the aching of a heart waiting to fully trust in God’s own loving. Does He see my heart’s hurting?
It is His own heart’s hurting, as He waits for love to be fulfilled. Can I wait with Him again? Can I join with Paul and say that I rejoice as I wait with Jesus in this place of aching heart?
Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.
And my heart is truly aching for another heart that I am missing. My dear cousin Jim went to be with Jesus last Sunday. Over this past year, God allowed that friendship to be renewed, as we prayed and shared our struggles together over the miles. The throat cancer that he battled, causing nourishment to be denied entry into his throat, only served to press him more deeply into the nourishment of Christ. He lived out that rejoicing in his suffering, as he carried in his body the longing for Christ’s fulfillment.
Jim knows today the fullness of Jesus as we can only know in part. And yet that same love of Jesus is resting here with us today. Would you join me in praying?
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for calling us all to know You more deeply. Thank You that so many of our loved ones are now resting in the fullness of Your heart, fully resurrected in You. Would You help us to press more deeply into You through the struggles that we each face? Would You show us how deeply You have connected us all together in You? We lift up our longings and our heartaches to You now. Help us to join with You in Your longings, to eagerly await that day when we all will be with You.
In Your Name, we pray,
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