Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The bowed down blessing

It's been two months now of not standing on two steady legs.  Two months of days filled with hours of laying and sitting and resting and waiting.  I remember in the beginning, watching walkers and runners on the path from our home that winds through Mercer Island, with tears of sorrow streaming down my face.  For the first time in my life, I envied people on two good legs - two gifts I'd taken for granted more days than I could count.  And as a newlywed, I've wobbled starting marriage off on shaky legs, feeling unprepared for challenges to visit us in a steady stream.  I didn't bargain for any of this. 

I wanted to feel prepared.  And I wasn't.  Not for a debilitating injury, not for all that life would bring to our marriage fresh out of the shoot.  

I wasn't prepared for the stripping, down to bare skin and heart and weakness exposed.  And maybe that's exactly the gift I see emerging after these two months.

The stripping down, the stooping low, the baring of my soul, to see God.

The Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord raises those who are bowed down.
~ Psalm 146:8 (NKJV)

Often troubles drip with the grace and goodness of God, if we have eyes to see.  

But me, I don't often like to be bowed down.  I want to be standing tall on two strong legs.  I want to feel steady and firm, and when I don't, I think the entire ground beneath me is shifting like sands blown in the ocean wind.   But the wind that blows is not kicking up the sandy ground beneath my feet; it is knocking me to the ground where my eyes finally begin to see the rock that holds me up.  It's my legs that were unsteady all this time, not the ground.  

And it's here on my rear that this loving God begins to cut open my heart as the surgeons did my leg, to repair the tear and bind up the wound.  So it's here that I sit.  At first I don't know what to do; I only want to distract from the pain and flee the restlessness.  But I can only do that for so long before the emptiness catches up.  Turns out I can't go very far on a busted leg and a gas tank on empty.  

God waits patiently for me to stop fighting and start resting.  For in the resting, I find a different kind of strength.  The joy of the Lord is my strength.  

Keeping eyes fixed on Jesus is no easy task here in the U.S.  Here, where distractions accost the senses every moment, where so many things become crutches upon which I lean, trying to convince me I can stand just fine on my own two legs.  Here, love of Jesus can be so easily choked out, day by frenzied day, through stress and work and social life and technology and the pursuit of happiness and the American dream - and can I just slow down and lay down and find my contentedness in him alone?  

Can Jesus just be enough?

My mind drifts sometimes into daydream, and I imagine myself dancing in the living room or standing in the kitchen on two feet, swaying to the music and lifting my hands to praise God.  And I awake from the daydream with misty eyes and a grateful smile tilted up to heaven because I'm here.  Now.  Lying on the bed, my heart swaying to the music, lifting my voice to praise God.  

One way to a joy-filled life is in the transition from sitting to standing.  From bowed down to raised up. And the raising up comes after the broken resting, after the lying down and thanking, after the washing and the cleansing.  That when the two legs can stand once again, the trust is not in the strength of the legs or the steadiness of circumstances or the seduction of the things of this life but in the Christ who alone is the rock beneath my feet.

This breaking of my body leads me to the Christ, who bids me come in my weakness and find my delight in him once more.  The stripping bare lets me be clothed with Christ.  And it's not a strong and healthy body or a trouble-free marriage or a satisfying job or financial stability or a tropical vacation or the latest gadget or a book published or any other person or thing that is going to satisfy this hunger of my soul to be fed daily on the love of this Savior God, who stripped himself bare to give me life.  Full and abundant life.  

Life dripping with grace.

I'll stay bowed down as long as it takes to fill up with joy and wonder of him.  I hold out my hands, hungry - "More, please" - and watch him fill, and wait for him to raise me up.


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