I get it now.
Ever have a moment like that?
more than I care to number,
I encountered wave after wave after relentless wave of trial.
Ironically, writers are advised to do that to our main characters,
“make them suffer,”
“when things are bad, make them worse,”
“increase the conflict”
“ratchet up the tension and the suspense”
“allow them to fail their way to success”
Every reader knows this makes for a better story.
Every human knows this makes for an exhausting life –
what character opts for a better story
when the riptides of adversity
too often lead to
loss of mind
again and again
against the storm.
And sometimes I was spiritual
and other times I was not
And sometimes I had faith
and other times, I curled into the fetal position
and planned ways to end it all.
I asked, “why.”
Of course, I asked why.
Not in front of people
but alone on my knees.
“Is it something I’ve done?”
I repented over things
I didn’t even do,
and repeatedly over things I did,
things I should have done,
could have done better,
which decision was it
that sent me spiraling into this Odyssean wormhole?
Is there some special prayer,
an “open sesame” combination of phrases, Bible verses, or liturgies
that reverses the trend,
that releases the blessing,
that opens the door,
that moves your hand to
the everyday vertigo
of being me?
But there are no Christian incantations
and God isn’t an idol to be flattered,
a genie to be conjured,
or a cipher to be
decoded like an Indiana Jones movie
and my spirit knew this because I’ve met Him.
So it flailed on the deck of the ship in the storm
and heaved over the side
and endured the beating sun,
the rolling waves,
the clouds blocking the only source of navigation
and the unknown outcome of trusting the future to God.
I watched as others seemed to have a measure of peace
of calm seas and fair winds
of cruise ships and full sails
of buffets, entertainment, and day trips to the shore
while my allotment
was ladled out in splattering scoops
like sips of water
rationed to prisoners on a galley ship
and, during this time,
I developed an intense aversion to manna.
I left the room.
If a devotional was about manna,
I skipped ahead.
I didn’t want grace for the day
I didn’t want bread enough for now
I didn’t want strength for the moment!
I wanted a diversified grace portfolio
that would allow me to retire on grace at any time
of my choosing;
a bank account full of provision
so I could live off the interest;
bona fide security that came from earning enough blessing that I was assured
calm seas and shining stars for miles and months and millenniums.
I wanted to own this ship,
direct its course
and hire weathermen to dictate the freaking weather,
at least, that’s what I screamed into the wind as I lay drenched on the deck of the rolling barge.
And when God whispered to me,
lying ragged and worn on that tossing deck,
to trust His goodness
His plan for me –
the hope of that was sometimes like a stale salt cracker
and I felt internal waves competing
with the assault of the sea
waves of self-pity,
temptation to doubt,
to abandon ship
and hope for a passing whale.
the wind blew in the truth
like an albatross
and as I watched it glide through the air
and land beside me on deck
of my training at sea and
the kindness of God
that He never allowed me the illusion
that I could bank grace
and I stood up for a moment on the deck
utilizing muscles that had developed by my
clinging on so hard
and felt a new confidence;
not in the sun or the soundness of the ship or in a hopeful breeze,
but confidence in Him,
the One who is outside me,
and within me,
and around me.
The One who is able
because I never am
even when I feel like the Captain of the my Soul.
that a steady diet of manna,
is the prescription
which is no righteousness at all
and He knew
that if He removed all other resources
I would hunger and thirst
after the real thing
only available through Him
and only provided in each day, each moment, each breath
but promised for eternity.
It is a holy word
What is it?
The waves still crash over my bow,
I still lie on the sodden boards,
the nausea has passed,
and hope no longer feels like a weight I cannot bear
now it is my anchor, Jesus.
— Lori Roeleveld (@lorisroeleveld) July 15, 2017