The Longings of God

2019.8.13-resurrection-lilies

 

 

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.

1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV

 

~~~~~~~~

 

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.

–bg

 

 

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.

Colossians 1:24

 

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,

Amen.

 

 

I am linking today with:

#TellHisStory

#TeaAndWord

#TheLegacyLinkup

 

36 thoughts on “The Longings of God

  1. Feeling your pain today. My heart aches as I think about this life. Still in my fifties but looking at many years of “shut-in-‘ness It makes my heartbreak. I miss working with children so much. My empty arms ache in two ways.

    Love love the poem. I know it’s not really about adoption but it is about legacy so please link up with my legacy linkup .

    love you dearly!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Dear Mandy,
      Oh, yes, I hadn’t thought about the theme of legacy here, but truly it is HIS legacy that we have and still share within the Body of Christ. I am so glad that God has connected us through these “shut-in” days. He understands and shares the heartaches we feel. Love you dear sister.

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  2. Yes, Jesus feels our pain, He knows it just as intimately as we do. I believe the shut in can often follow God’s will closer than the active busy helper. Often we say yes to things we shouldn’t and fail to spend time in God’s presence. I too have chronic illness and have been unable to work or drive (so very often shut in) for 2 years. This has been an amazing time with God and spiritual growth. God is doing a good work in me, even when I am in bed most of the day. He is able, He is good, He is faithful. Beautiful post and thoughts, love the poem. Many Thanks 8)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Oh thank you for the precious thoughts of understanding Debra Jean. And thank you for your visit here today. It is encouraging when God connects us with others who are in the same places of longing. And, I agree that He has surely brought me deeper into His presence through these days of being “shut-in” also. His ways are so much higher than ours, even from within the pain. Blessings and prayers for you today dear sister.

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  3. Bettie, I am not sure where to start with this post. In fact, I find your words, delightfully overwhelming……..your poem hit my heart and soul hard, really it left me speechless. The love you have in your heart flows through in all of your words. God bless you!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh Dear Wendi, I am so touched that God would allow these words to move in your heart so deeply. He has worked in me to uncover these thoughts that sometimes were very hard to express. But He is the One who brings us His love and healing right there where He knows we need it so much. Thank you for sharing your heart so freely here too. Hugs and love to you dear friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good morning sister, I love everything you have offered to us and Him in this post. The line from your poem that spoke loudly to me, “Come up here with me, His song my soul filled”. Bettie, you have so beautifully captured the cycle of life with the constant of Him. I am sorry for the loss of your dear cousin. I am praying now for God to reassure you He has even more gifts of connection for you. Not sure where that came from just now. Thank you, Holy Spirit. Love, Julie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Juile,
      Thank you so much for your prayers and comfort that you so freely give. I will hold onto those words that the Lord spoke, and look for the “gifts of connection” that He will bring. Truly He is so constant through all of the cyle of life. May you be blessed today. Love you dear sister!

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  5. Oh my did this hit home today. It’s so true – all those people I once worked with and served with are all gone somewhere – into their own worlds – and now I am battling chronic illness too – with no one to ask how I am or support me. It stinks but having the blogging world has helped some. And yes, during these times we must lean into Jesus more. And yes, again, you are serving God’s will just where you are, by writing this blog – no need to be on a big stage or have a big following – you’re touching hearts one at a time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Lisa, I’m so thankful that the Lord allowed these words to hit home in your heart today. And I’m thankful that you understand this journey of walking with chronic illness. Yes, it does feel like we are walking alone sometimes, but you are right that we are serving God right where we are. And He is carrying us through each step. Thank you for your encouragement to touch one heart at a time. Your words are such a blessing. I pray blessings for you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m sorry for your families loss of your cousin, Bettie. Every moment mattered that you spent serving and you are still serving now in a different way. And you were a blessing for your cousin during this past year, I’m sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Lynn,
      Thank you for your kindness and encouragement. Yes, He continues to let me know that everything I gave to Him is never lost. All of the giving and serving are held by Him. Even the giving that my cousin and I shared is now held by Jesus, where Jim is face to face to with Him. Blessings and love to you.

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    1. Dear Jennifer, Oh thank you for understanding both kinds of grief. I know you have been through so much, and your words bring a true comfort. How thankful I am for God’s grace through it all. Blessings and hugs to you too, dear friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, sweet friend! I am SO sorry for your deep loss of Jim! And, I am so sorry for the loss of who you were once were. I related so much to all you said. Our dear 13-year long homeschool journey is now over, and all of those overly busy years of ministry are over, too. Life is so different for us now. God has been dealing with me so much lately about letting go of the past and embracing where we are now and looking forward instead of back. It is so hard to do that. One of the songs that is helping me and blessing me so much right now is “Burn the Ships” by For King and Country. In case you haven’t heard it, here is the link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOVrOuKVBuY Sending much love to you today, dear friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Cheryl,
      Thank you so much for your comfort and for sharing that song. I too have been very blessed by it. What precious grace our Lord has for us still, even though the seasons feel as if nothing has remained the same! He has purpose even here. I pray that my heart will listen to Him in these slower places. And I am praying for you so much too! May Jesus bring us both into the newness that He has, in places that are so different. Blessings love and hugs to you too, dear friend.

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  8. I sensed the yearning, the wondering about days gone by, and the restored hope in knowing how God hurts when we hurt. Your poem was a beautiful illustration of all the emotions and questions you have struggled with over the years. God hears you, sees you, and loves you dearly. Thank you for sharing the deepest parts of your heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Mary,
      Thank you so much for your understanding and insight here. I appreciate all of the love and caring that you always share! Truly our Lord does see and hear every cry of our heart. May we continue to lift those deepest parts of our hearts to Him. Blessings and love to you this week.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Dear Bettie, though I have been resisting the urge to comment on blogs during this period of continuing rest and recuperation, I’m afraid I just had to respond to these wonderful words. They caught me off guard, with tears in my eyes and a pang of recognition in my heart. Oh how I relate to being a shut-in old lady! With the great adjustment required in living a seemingly sidelined life. And the way a previously active life for Christ has been circumscribed by chronic illness and pain. You write with such understanding, empathy, compassion and love. Your lovely, poignant poem simply shimmers with feeling and depth. I’m so sorry for your loss, though glad you were able to spend quality time with Jim before the end. I’m also sorry for how your life has been turned around from what it was. But as other readers and friends here can testify, I am so thankful for the loving, caring way you write, and how God has given you a new, beautiful ministry to touch the lives of others with His goodness and grace. Sending gentle hugs, ongoing prayers and love to you, dear sister of my heart! xo ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Joy,
      Thank you for expending some of your precious energy to share such beautiful and encouraging words here today. I know you understand, so much more deeply than I do, how the shut-in life can feel so closed off and alone. You have become such a dear life-line for me as we have shared our hearts together. How I pray for each one in this chronic illness journey to have such a one as you to be able to share with. Your words have so often lifted me and pointed me towards the hope in Christ–especially your two books. They came at just the right time when I needed such a lift. Only God could have woven in this way! I am so appreciative of your love my dear heart-sister. Gentle hugs and prayers and love for you too.

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