' For we are not long here.
Hope is coming for me.
Speak to me in the light of the dawn for mercy comes with the morning.
And we have this hope as an anchor for the soul.'
(C.S. Lewis, Brooke Fraser and Hebrews mashed up. Yes, that's what a mash up is.)
It's been a while, and this isn't because 'you haven't been feeling ranty' because as Chris knows well I am always feeling ranty.
It's been a while because I've either been living in places with no internet or living in places with no spare time to think let alone write.
But John has taken B to the seaside for an hour so I can sit and write something that I should have written about weeks ago when the whisper started behind my bones, the nudge that prompts these rants that shed the fear as I type. Dropped out of DTS craziness for a while and I don't have any idea how i'm going to shape the thing I want to tell you.
When I was at uni a good friend said that me and him were alike because 'we both struggle with life'. I was a bit taken aback because I thought i'd come across as quite cool and I felt a little exposed by his comment, a bit too seen.
I'm a grown up now (BAHAHA) and I have seen enough and been pierced by enough to believe that life is hard and we all struggle.
I don't believe that if you have God your life will be easy, that your situations will always be resolved or comfy or kind. There's a dangerous theology in some expressions of Christianity, the worldview that promises puppies and mansions if you obey the ten commandments. The theology that reduces Jesus to a guidance giving guru with a Paypal account. The theology that says that you won't get cancer, and if you do God will heal it, and if he doesn't it's because you lack faith and by the way you can get more security if you obey more rules you special little flower, because the rules and the rule makers are all about you.
I don't follow that theology, but at the moment i'm not sure i'm on a great path of truth. I don't think i'm going to get puppies. But i'm not really expecting anything nice at all ever - moving away from home was/ is still really hard and I shut down a little bit inside. I wasn't expecting to struggle as much as I did/ still am but I fled from the questions that this raised and buried myself in survival.
I got hard and tough. Expected nothing but trial and the ability to survive trial. I will not remain a baby because babies are lovely but they're no good in a war and love is war so yes, grow me and stretch me and make me strong and give me these battles. For love - for you - I will fight.
We were asked to help lead an outreach across the Balkans and thought 'well that's going to suck in a variety of interestingly sadistic ways but hey ho, survival mode, let's be obedient and get on with it'. Head down and heart secretly a little bit sad. Ok, a lot sad. I was in a very sad mood a lot of the time. And quite angry. Lucky John.
I don't know how I got to a place where I expected my God to be mean to me all the time for the good of his kingdom. It's a pretty horrible kingdom if the staff training is suffering.
I knew in my head that the Kingdom of God is a place where prisoners are released, the blind can see and the lame can walk but apparently I thought God required depressed, savaged staff to make that happen. You can call me a friend of Job. Or just plain stoopid.
My intimacy, my trust in, my fun times with my God had kind of got squished out by the need to regulate my daughter's routine or navigate a food shop in cyrillic or clean a massive house with chickens in it.
I'd forgotten my first love, i'd forgotten what his smile feels like and that he likes to dance.
I'd forgotten that it's him who does the healing, not the torture. I'd been professing a God of love with my lips but believing in a task orientated dictator. 'Get it done, wormy, it's not about you and orphans need help'.
When you really need a hug but you've stopped trusting the person who invented hugs? Messed up.
So we shouldered our backpacks and got on a million planes, trains and automobiles and we ended up in Sarajevo. With lovely people and lots of sunshine. And then to the stunning Banja Luka. And then...our outreach led us to Hvar.
Hvar is a Croatian Island and it is ridiculously beautiful. There is sea that is blue and sky that is wide and sun that is warm and lemonade that is fizzy and boats that are floaty and tans that are happening.
And I started, over the last two months, to remember who He is.
He's not the sadistic taskmaster who is only interested in my personal growth and usefulness as a missionary.
What if he's kind? What if he saw all the things that broke me? What if he was there all along and it made him sad too? What if he knew that he would be putting me on this rock in the ocean to thaw out? What if he meant it when he promised to make all things new?
Life is not always good. The world is broken, yes, and this is a fight, yes, and the darkness is huge and sometimes we cannot breathe or see beyond the bodies and the smoke. But if I had looked up I would have seen him
after the crucifixion
with us again
cooking me breakfast on the beach
and telling me where to find fish
and filling my net but not letting it break
and never ever going away again.
Because he is always good.
Not 'if you ignore the pain then you can see his goodness' or 'somehow the pain accomplishes his purposes and proves his goodness' but
with the pain, alongside it, by my side, as well as the hurts, there is also, always, Himself. And I am starting to believe again that he is kind.