Thursday, April 16, 2009

Walk with Me Quiet

Returning from a recent international trip, we felt like we were coming home. This place that my dad built 30 years ago is comfortable and comforting. Although we moved here just a little over 5 months ago and have been gone or hosting guests at least half of that time, we are relishing the feelings of familiarity.

On the sea of transition, we’ve sought the outline of the recognizable shore that would welcome us, anchor us, to a place and return us to the known. Instead, within 24 hours of returning from our last trip, the background shifted, revealing an alarming, dark crack in my universe. With so many “unexpecteds” in the last 2 ½ years, why am I continually undone when the landscape changes and shifts, when the shoreline disappears in the mist or jagged rocks appear where I remember still waters and a welcoming harbor?

We stood at the edge of the Pacific not long ago, watching the waves wash ashore, feeling the heart-thundering crash of the pounding surf. Anne Morrow Lindbergh speaks of “A Gift From the Sea,” and, indeed, there are many gifts from the sea. Often though, we feel ourselves beat up by each new wave that crashes over us.


I, and so many of those I love, have experienced wrecking balls in their lives recently. You know the kind - the events that take your breath away and change everything? For some, it’s a job that offered security for the last 25 years, vaporized overnight. For others, it’s a mysterious disease that threatens to waste health and years. For still others, it’s a ruptured relationship that should be life-giving and instead sucks every bit of emotional strength for days, weeks or years on end. The wrecking balls of our lives knock the wind out of us in so many ways – like the crashing waves, they pound us flat…

We ran across a familiar and popular T-shirt in the night market in Thailand with the emblazoned slogan “same, same, but different.” In my journeys, and in heart-to-hearts with women all across the globe – I have found that our stories, although different, are so much the same – we look for joy and too often find sorrow; we wish for healthy families and instead find ourselves on the un-fun side of dysfunctional; we long for deep intimate relationships with our spouses, families and friends and instead find ourselves betrayed in ways, large and small, by those closest to us; we long for rich conversations with those we love and instead find ourselves harried and tongue-tied as we rush to fulfill our life calling. Sometimes the shudder of one wrecking ball barely subsides when another sideswipes our hearts, leaving us gasping and breathless.

Perhaps one of the biggest wrecking balls in our lives arrives in a rush, as we become aware of some bit of knowledge about ourselves that has niggled at the edges of our lives for years. Is it possible to find oneself ambushed at midlife – wrecked, so to speak, by a small memory or revelation that opens up a tidal wave of unfulfilled longings or, worse yet, unexpected “junk?” This type of wrecking ball – when it arrives – is perhaps one of the most devastating. The landscape of our lives – that shoreline – seems so radically altered, we wonder if we’ll ever find our way back home. We seek still waters, but are capsized by giant waves or pushed back out to sea, not realizing the tide shifted while we weren’t watching.

Sandra McCracken with Caedmon’s Call wrote the following lyric for their album, Back Home, in 1999.

Walk with me quiet, walk with me slow
With watered down coffee and words of gold
I can feel the edges of these things
When I hear you speak to me, so walk with me.

Walk with me empty, walk with me strong
The hush of our voices, when the day seems so long
It is like a balm, it is like a jewel
It unravels all I thought I knew

Will you lead me, beside the still waters
Where the oil, it runs over, and my cup overflows
You restore my soul.

Tell me the story, where old is made new
The promise of ages, and all things that are true
When the shadows fall and the wrecking ball
Swings and tears me through the heart

Will you lead me, beside the still waters
Where the oil, it runs over, and my cup overflows
You restore my soul.

More and more, I’m convinced that, unless I’m tethered to Him, I’ll never find my way back home. As the onslaught of waves pushes against my forward movement, I must center my attention all the more on the compass of God’s word, spoken in so many ways – through the Scriptures, yes, but through the metaphors of my daily life as He walks with and talks to me, through the writings of other saints, and through the spoken words of those with whom I fellowship. But, at each point, I must attend to what He is saying.

Don’t you find that to be true for you? We need to remind ourselves and others often and regularly of how God’s truth is shaping our lives, leading us home, soothing those wrecking ball wounds that gape so alarmingly. As we walk and talk with one another, sharing God’s good gifts back and forth, our faith is buoyed up in the face of the storm. So often, within the storm, we can see nothing without. We can’t see the shoreline through the mist. What we think we know (that we are lost at sea) is skewed as we are disoriented by the wind and waves. We need a tug with a strong motor that will pull up beside us and guide us toward the harbor. When we’re strong, we can tug others leading them by still waters; when we’re empty, others fill us with the words that fuel us on our journey homeward.

David and I are doing that for each other as each wave jars us afresh into new ways of seeing… Of course, we’re walking with the Lord and by His Spirit, but He has set us in relationship with one another and we continue to learn day by day from our walk with Him and as we live with, learn from and walk in grace with one another. Thank you for walking with us. It’s our privilege to also walk with you.

Be encouraged as you journey homeward. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Let His words encourage you, strengthen you, and give you hope and confidence.

Hear these encouraging words from Amy Carmichael, who suffered chronic pain for most of the last 20 years of her life.

O Lord, our strength and confidence
Our eyes are unto Thee
Thou art the rock of our defense
Our song of victory
Thou who dost still the violence
Of any raging sea

Thou at the flood didst sit as King
What are our floods to Thee
To whom it is a little thing
To walk upon the sea?
We wait to hail Thee conquering
King of eternity

Only, O Lord our God, we pray
Teach us to do Thy will
Through windy hours and flying spray
Thy purposes fulfill
Until the word of yesterday
Thou speakest – “Peace, be still.”
Thou speakest – “Peace, be still.”

Walking with Him,


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