Clouds make me happy. Most of the time.
Although I spent a portion of this past year under a cloud cover that simply felt darkening. It gave way to hopelessness and setup camp with purposelessness. It operated like a low-grade temperature - not demanding enough to require attention, but persistent enough to keep me ever aware of its presence. During my annual checkup, my friend and doctor probed me, while seemingly performing a routine depression screening, and I answered honestly. “I’m doing ok, but there are days when I simply must choose joy.”
Living under the cloud. Seemingly disconnected from the Son.
I recognized the disconnect. The void. My heart…detached.
I simply wasn’t sure how to break the cover.
If only I were faster, perhaps I could outrun it?
I know you non-runners may roll your eyes…but I actually find running to be therapeutic. I don’t obsessively run, or even competitively run. I merely run for the sake of enjoyment, and sanity. Many a problem has sorted itself on a mile left behind.
And thanks to a Black Friday treadmill special, I can now log some winter miles in our basement.
I was only a mile in the other night when I began contemplating what I wanted to leave behind in 2016. What thoughts and patterns were not serving me and what I needed to focus on in the year ahead. I felt a sudden and unexpected shift as the Lord spoke to my heart. I was surprisingly overcome by emotion and undeniably drawn to my prayer room, which sits adjacent to the treadmill (as good of a reason as any to stop running). I fell to my knees under a husband-made, barn-wood cross. And like a moth drawn to a flame, I opened my devotional as if I had no other choice than to follow His prompting. I felt Him undeniably speak to my heart: “the clouds are shifting, this darkening trial is complete.”
I opened to the bookmarked page where the next devotional was teed:
You have persevered and have endured hardships for My name, and have not grown weary. Revelation 2:3.
“KEEP MOVING FORWARD. In spite of the obstacles you see and the words of discouragement you hear, keep pressing on. God has called you to move forward toward a goal that only He fully realizes, but he wants you to keep stepping out in faith.”
God used Jill Holler’s words in her devotional, Life in His Hands to confirm what He was speaking in my heart.
And just like that – I felt the clouds part. I felt a lightness, which I hadn’t felt in a long time. It wasn’t a change in my circumstances, but a bridge across the separation.
I realized in that moment that it was the silence more than the circumstance, which had defined the trial.
My circumstances did not need to change in order for my heart to surrender. I inhaled and took stock of the position of my heart…no longer defensive. “You’ve been defensive for years now my child…it’s time to return to me with all your heart.”
I was hit by the weightiness of this claim. I had been defensive. For years. Ever since He answered a prayer differently than I thought right. I’d remained faithful, but defensive, as if I'd negotiated the terms of our relationship...I’ll trust you…at arms length.
But God isn’t a partial God.
Return to me…with all your heart. Joel 2:12.
Have you been disappointed by God? Has He answered a prayer differently than you had hoped or seemingly not answered at all? Remember He tells us in John 16:33 that in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. He is always at work. He is always faithful. And His purposes are often greater than what we can possibly understand. In Jill’s words:
“He will be able to use us if we are able to stand firm in our faith. Because of this, God chooses to train us up to maturity through trials and hardships, so that we can go forth in the purpose He has called us to. This type of training does not appeal to many of us, however, for most often, we can only see the suffering of the moment, not the end result.”
The sun is shining brightly this New Year's morning! The clouds are present, but the sun has broken through. His Son's likeness breaking through in me...in you...if indeed we share in His sufferings. Romans 8:17.
No storm can take the sun away. The sun is always shining. You just have to take a walk on the clouds. ~ Sam (Unconditional movie)
***We just returned home from church where the pastor invited us to extend our arms forward, palms up and receive the gift of 2017. Yes...let us trust the Son is always present above the clouds and receive all that 2017 has in store!