...under his wings you will find refuge... ~Psalm 91:4
...so I spread my wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became mine. ~Ezekiel 16:8 NKJVEzekiel is not a book I'm particularly inclined to read for fun. Prophets say some crazy and off-the-wall stuff at times, half of which I don't fully understand what they're getting at. It flies over my head so I then typically move on to one of the gospels, and assume it had something to do with repentance because Israel strayed from their first love. Yet again. No shocker.
In my walk with Jesus, he seems to like to use Good Friday to shake my world around. I grew up in the church, so it's always been difficult to pinpoint a time when I became an actual believer. I cannot even recall a time in my life when I didn't know Jesus. There's just not a whole lot of Natalie pre-Jesus in my history as far as I can remember. (This makes testimony sharing kinda difficult for me. Even more so coming from a denominational background that didn't really practice that either.) But I can say that Good Fridays have rearranged my faith framework in big ways throughout my life. I don't plan for it, but it has gotten to the point, where I sorta expect it.
Except this year, I didn't feel like that was going to happen. Up until communion I sat in my chair thinking, "God, why aren't you doing anything here yet?"
I don't think I've kept it too hidden that I've been in a hard season since college started a few short years ago. I know online it's easy for Christians to give off the vibes that everything in their life is running smoothly and that them and God are like two peas in a pod. But that's just not been the case for me. And in the last six or seven month things have sorta felt silent between me and God. Most days I just don't know what to say anymore in praying, and what I do just seems redundant to me. I wonder if He gets sick of it, because I can only imagine that I sound like a broken record that's stuck on replay. How annoying does that become after a short while?
I'm reading a book called Spiritual Rhythms by Mark Buchanan during my morning coffee and evening tea times lately. It's been encouraging because he, Buchanan, talks about all the different seasons Christians go through, especially the ones we don't talk a whole lot about as a body of believers. Not a whole lot of what I'm reading in it is new to me, but still it's been full of comforting reminders that while some seasons certainly are longer than others (...like years), they do eventually change.
But more importantly, no matter the season, we have grace through them. Too often when we are in more difficult years we forget that. God has promised to see you and I through to the end, come what may. We have grace for struggles. That's a massive gift and truth to hold, so let's not forget it. I know some of you are going through some really, really hard things right now, and I just want you to know that it's OK. You have enough to wrestle through without adding to it guilt and shame that's actually from the enemy, and not God.
God has made a covenant with you and I through Christ Jesus, which means he has extended his strength and protection over you and I in all things. That's what it means to be covered under His wing, to find shelter there. That doesn't mean trials won't come, but that when they do He will not leave you and He will sustain you through them. He cannot loose His grip on you, so keep hanging in there friend, be it a time of joy or sorrow, loss or abundant gain, silence or shouts of joy.
That Good Friday evening our church set up communion a bit differently than normal: The elements were set out on tables just slightly above the ground throughout the sanctuary that was lit with candles. We had an extended time to pray, to write on cards what we wanted to lay at Jesus feet at the cross, then take communion on our knees when we were ready. When we left the table we could leave our cards there if we wanted. An act to signify that we remembered the covenant, and that through that, whatever we were facing, we had a Savior's covering over us to trust.
Trust has become a big word for me lately. It's what I wrote on my card that evening, because that's what I'm wrestling through... and it's taken me nearly 23 years to see that that's always been at the core of my struggles: I simply don't trust. You'd think I'd have noticed that pattern a lot sooner till now, but nope. And I'll probably continue to fight for it for the rest of my time here--heaven bound, not heaven arrival... yet.
God gave me work to do on that Good Friday; He asked me one simple, but massive question: "Why don't you trust me?"
That's what I'm working to unearth now.