Glory in the Good

God is glorified in our suffering, yes. But He is also glorified in the good. Through joy, hope, wonder.

“I will cause all of My goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim My name, the LORD, in your presence.”  -Exodus 33:19

He causes all His goodness to pass in front. On purpose. Intentionally and specifically. I swipe my fingers over the thin pages of Exodus over until I reach 2 Peter, find what I’m looking for, and peer in the page:

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.  -2 Peter 1:3

Glory and goodness go together. Appear together in the same breath.

I am learning to grow with God is to grow in goodness, that goodness makes way for glory.

Nine months ago, did I know what this was? Nine minutes ago, I didn’t know.

In the confusion and reset and health mountains, adjustments, so much newness. I have never fully experienced His goodness as an intentional set up for the display of His glory.

But this is what God calls us to. What He invites me to experience. Abounding goodness, displayed for His glory.

Back to Genesis, to look closer at Moses and His friendship with God. Moses isn’t satisfied with simply hearing from the LORD; he hungers for more. He dares to ask boldly: “Now show me Your glory.”  (Exodus 33:18) And, in a surprising response, God grants him a portion of his request. No one can see God’s face, but He hides Moses in the cleft of a rock and walk by, allowing him to see His back.

Moses dares to ask.

What do I dare to do? Do I even dare? Is a part of my hindrance to seeing the glory of God my passivity?

Boldness belies the breadth and depth of my faith. Confidence that I can come before Him with whatever I dare to ask. I may find comfort in the crack of a rock, tucked tight to glimpse the goodness of the LORD and His glory.

 

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This is part of an ongoing series that will share excerpts of my book-in-progress, tentatively titled Grappling for Good: Revealing grace to light the dark. It’s my journey through a year of unexpected circumstances and soul excavation to discover the goodness of God in surprising ways.

Grown So Lovely

How has this life suddenly grown so lovely?

Brush of color on the edges of oak leaves, spindled branches curled along the beige brick buildings lining my new street. Sweet tinkle of bells above the coffee shop door across the street, patrons going in and out for lattes, gathering together at the patio tables with bright red umbrellas. The hum of cars grazing puddles from last night’s showers. Sun sifting through hazy clouds to wash the town in a soft cream glow.

And I am still here. Alive, awake. Experiencing the glory of a morning arising in this small town. I do not take a single second for granted.

Who Indeed Restores

You are a restoring God. You number and name the stars, and You know our names, too. You care, You pay attention.

 

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
-Psalm 147:3

 

I want to believe in good things. I want to get excited for what is coming, look forward in expectancy. Such a battle.

Trust is a choice. So is hope. They are also mandates, but it’s a choosing in my heart. Choosing to believe that You are good. Choosing to believe that You have good things for me. Choosing to be expectant, to look in positive anticipation for what You are going to do, what You are bringing.

Such a battle. But You, O LORD, are my banner and strength, the God who indeed restores.

 

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This is part of an ongoing series that will share excerpts of my book-in-progress, tentatively titled Grappling for Good: Revealing grace to light the dark. It’s my journey through a year of unexpected circumstances and soul excavation to discover the goodness of God in surprising ways.

Life Will Take Root

It has been a long winter. Harsh, with the lashing winds of life and raw sting of medical surprises. Oh heart, you have battled the elements. And you have held with vigor to the seeds planted deep under the earth of your faith.

Still the air strikes breath from your lungs sometimes, but be patient. Keeps seeing through the snow, through the dimly lit nights and savor the spark of grace that illuminates the little moments that look like spring. It is coming. Life will take root once again. Can you not feel it, can you not see? He who has cared for you through the watch will bring to you a new season. He is already at work. Stay patient. Keep wrestling, grappling for the good.

For it will be good. Signs have already arrived, in the breaking down and cleansing cries, breath of truth exhaled in exhaustion. The warmth and laughs of friends around your table, your people, your journeywomen, companions who you never saw coming. And the sleet turning to snow, softening, falling fast and thick. Embrace it. Lean into everything. Winter will not last. But you, my courageous heart, will.

 

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This is part of an ongoing series that will share excerpts of my book-in-progress, tentatively titled Grappling for Good: Revealing grace to light the dark. It’s my journey through a year of unexpected circumstances and soul excavation to discover the goodness of God in surprising ways.

Recoil

Why do I recoil against life here?

Why am I refusing to let go of my life plans and expectations? Why am I clinging so tightly? Why can I not just open to what is here and embrace what God may have for me? Why am I having such a problem releasing things to God? I stiff-arm.

It feels like my glass box of expectations has been taken out of my hands and cast to the ground and shattered. And I don’t know what to do with it.

Let it go.

Let go.

 

But what’s the point in having plans and hopes and expectations if they don’t come to pass? I feel if I let go of my expectations for my life, then I will be settling for a second-tier life, and I don’t want to settle.

 

“Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”   -Matthew 10:39

 

Why even have hopes and plans in the first place if I have to let them go? And what kind of life will I get in return?

Right now, I have more questions than acceptance.

 

I will not doubt, though all my ships
at sea
come drifting home with broken
masts and sails;
I will believe the Hand that never fails,
From seeming evil works to good for me.
And though I weep because
those sails are tattered,
still will I cry, while my best hopes
lie shattered:
“I trust in Thee.”

-Streams in the Desert

 

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This is part of an ongoing series that will share excerpts of my book-in-progress, tentatively titled Grappling for Good: Revealing grace to light the dark. It’s my journey through a year of unexpected circumstances and soul excavation to discover the goodness of God in surprising ways.

This, Too, Shall Pass

It’s fitting, the fog outside my window. Mirrors my insides. Mist, milky gray, hovering. This, too, shall pass, but now I’m stuck smack dab in the mire.

In the middle of March, it’s no longer the winter terror that took its place over our state, spring is weak, but she is coming. The warmer temperatures (anything is warmer than the teens we’ve been used to), melts the mounds of snow to smaller bumps, trickles trails of water down the street, softens up the dirt, churning to mud. It’s ugly, it’s messy, branches strewn all over the place that were long buried. This is a mess, the shift between seasons.

And this is where I am, in the in-between, hardly moving. Wrapped in a listless haze while my heart deconstructs a great many distortions.

O LORD, You have searched me
and You know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
-Psalm 139:1-2

Is it wrong to want more? To break out of the vanilla, the blah, and break forth the zest of life.
Somehow, I don’t think it is.
Somehow, I think God is calling me, is calling all of us, to more.
More of His goodness.
More of His grace.
More of His trust.
More of His love.
The ache of knowing, of being known—this, too, shall pass. It is already shifting into light, into redemption and restoration. The call for more—a pass from what if into what already is.

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This is part of an ongoing series that will share excerpts of my book-in-progress, tentatively titled Grappling for Good: Revealing grace to light the dark. It’s my journey through a year of unexpected circumstances and soul excavation to discover the goodness of God in surprising ways.

Trying

Main door open so just the screen is closed. I can hear the birds singing this morning. It’s not quite warm enough to sit on the porch, but the fresh air can come in. And I get the gleam of the lake, too.

I want to keep trying to be brave. I want to keep trying to be honest.

I reach for words that will comfort, that will remind me that I am not alone and the winter won’t last.

 

I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
Be strong and take heart
And wait for the LORD.
-Psalm 27:13-14

 

Spring is coming.

It’s already literally here with the season. But the spring of my heart–Your healing work, hope, life, life in full–I hope that spring is coming. It may be a way off, but I hope it is at least in motion, is coming my way, even if it crawls.

It is so hard for me to hope. But I am trying. Oh Lord, You know I am trying.

 

***

This is part of an ongoing series that will share excerpts of my book-in-progress, tentatively titled Grappling for Good: Revealing grace to light the dark. It’s my journey through a year of unexpected circumstances and soul excavation to discover the goodness of God in surprising ways.

Let In The Light

This is part of an ongoing series that will share excerpts of my book-in-progress, tentatively titled Grappling for Good: Revealing grace to light the dark. It’s my journey through a year of unexpected circumstances and soul excavation to discover the goodness of God in surprising ways.

Everything here has the hint of January.

Including me. My insides feel chaffed, raw, cold and empty, and it’s no one’s doing but mine.

I really have a stubbornness problem.

This has been a hard day, and I only bring the struggle on myself.

Emotionally overstimulated. I fight against the tide, against being tamed, against Eric’s kindness and devotion, afraid to be tied down and stereotypically submissive.

This week is already out of control, and I’ve overbooked myself at work. Again. Story of my life.

My chest is starting to ache, my right arm feels like it’s falling asleep, lingering effects of my stroke when I’m emotionally overstimulated or don’t get enough sleep. I have both factors working against me.

Fear still trails along my mind, my spirit. I have come so far, though I am so afraid that my heart will stop, that I’ll have another stroke out of nowhere. This fear follows me, peeks its head around my soul and decides to step in and remind me that this life is temporal and that it could be taken from me in an instant.

And I have had so much transition these last eleven months, most of which I have had no control over.

Stroke—not my choice.

Holes in my heart—not my choice.

Moving—not my choice.

Chaotic job—not my choice.

Eric—he was placed in my life, and I chose to date him, but can I fully give over my heart?

How have I become such a control freak? Obsessing over order?

I cry on my couch, let the tears trickle down. It has been a while since I let myself cry, let myself break open.

God, I want healing. I clench my fists so tightly about what’s been forming, what I’ve been walking into, as if I’ve had no say in my own life. And I know my life is not my own, but I’d still like to believe I have choices, that I can decide. But I am paralyzed if choosing means figuring out what God believes is best for me, that He’s lighting the path He knows I should follow, but I don’t want to go meekly and without agreement.

I am only hurting myself, the tighter I squeeze my heart shut. Shouldn’t I concentrate on its recovery? Though I have the all-clear from my cardiologist, my heart is still healing in many ways. Re-growing itself, becoming whole.

Why do I fight and struggle, flail and fly?

I know God says He has good plans for me, but I get scared. And I wonder if those good plans are going to come with pain again.

Please, I do not want pain again. Enough struggle, enough of the rug pulling from beneath my feet, enough change after adjustment, after another layer peels away.

I pull out flour, granulated sugar, chocolate chips, and the rest of ingredients I need. There’s this desire in me to make my mom’s chocolate chip cookie recipe, and I find it on my phone. It’s traced back to 2015, when she sent it to me when I lived in Kansas City. Mixing the baking soda, vanilla extract, and eggs into my clear mixing bowl gives me a cathartic release, breathing in my mom, the history of the women in my family. As I stir, I pray. Release my own will, ask God for help from the core of my belly, my heart, my spirit.

Cease striving and be still. Still enough to learn why you run. Still enough to listen to what my LORD and Lover of my soul wants to say.

God, save me from myself. I am my own worst enemy.

I am looking for His goodness. That means I should knock off my expectations, my neat and tidy plans and ideals of how my life should look and LET HIM DO HIS THING.

He is God.

I am not. What He has is good. And I have been looking for that good, seeing it in unexpected places.  Good like brown sugar and chocolate chips, breath that beats along my lungs, hot dinner at Eric’s on a cold night. Late November wraps long, cool shadows over my living room. I welcome the shifting season, grateful for these moments. Even when the nights grow longer, I am full of light.