Insert Fulfillment Here

“How are you?”

“Fine,” or “Oh, you know, I’m ok,” or “I guess I’m a little up, down, and all over the place.”

These answers aren’t untrue, but they’re just vague enough to mask what’s truly going on. So let’s try this again.

“How are you?”

“I feel the ache of waiting. It’s this expansive hollowness, a vortex that gathers my contentment, and joy, and sense of purpose into this swirling mass of confusion and pain.”

What do you do when your body starts to fail you, and God responds by asking you to pray for your own healing?

Pray for healing? That feels like such a loaded request! Because what if I pray and nothing happens? Or I pray and God responds, but I can’t even tell if I’m healed because I don’t understand what’s wrong with me in the first place? Does God want to heal me of all my ailments, or just some of them? Will this healing be instantaneous, or take place over the course of the coming months or even years? Why would God heal me and not other people I love who face physical ailments far more limiting than than mine?

And then I realize that deep down I don’t question God’s sovereignty and power – I know that God is fully capable of healing me. My questions are rooted in doubting in God’s goodness.

I know God is able, but is God willing?

Then there’s the lofty promises God made me over a year ago. Yeah, there’s been growth, sure, there’s been change, but where’s the fulfillment?

There’s a song by Elevation Worship that says, “Walking around these walls/ I thought by now they’d fall,” and that’s precisely how I feel! But maybe my entitlement is showing. Because if I held up my end of the bargain then shouldn’t I get to insert fulfillment here?

But I don’t get to choose when the seasons change. 

Just like the winter has kept its grip on Oregon far longer than any of us want it to, for the time being, winter continues to maintain its hold on my life as well. Which presents me with a choice: rage against the rain or accept it. We all know which will have the better effect on my mental, emotional, and even physical health.

So why do I choose the raging? Because it’s easier. Raging is a quick fix, a bandaid I can slap on to hide an ugly, long-term problem. It makes me feel better, but in a cheap way that doesn’t last.

I just started reading a book my roommate recommended called Hinds Feet on High Places, and in the preface the author says, “But the High Places of victory and union with Christ cannot be reached by any mental reckoning of self to be dead to sin, or by seeking to devise some way or discipline by which the will can be crucified. The only way is by learning to accept, day by day, the actual conditions and tests permitted by God, by a continually repeated laying down of our own will and acceptance of his as it is presented to us in the form of the people with whom we have to live and work, and in the things which happen to us. Every acceptance of his will becomes an altar of sacrifice, and every such surrender and abandonment of ourselves to his will is a means of furthering us on the way to the High Places to which he desires to bring every child of his while they are still living on earth.”  Wow.

Not my will, but yours be done. Can I choose it, knowing that the choosing won’t be a one and done, but that I will have to repeatedly lay down my good yet hopelessly flawed desires and plans in order to accept the unexpected and yet wildly beautiful will of the Father?

With the encouragement of God’s faithful presence in the choosing, my answer is slowly becoming yes and amen.

Further up and further in!

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Healing Takes Time

Today is the one-year anniversary of the earthquake in Nepal.

I still remember the exact moment when I heard the news. It was a Saturday morning, and I had woken up early to go on a run. I randomly glanced at my phone to find several texts from friends, asking if I had heard about the earthquake in Nepal. I immediately googled “Nepal earthquake” and found story after story detailing a 7.9 quake that had rocked the country. And then I began to shake.

You see – I love Nepal.

I love Nepal with an inexplicable, steadfast, ferocious love. I’ve tried more than once to find the root of this love, and I have yet to succeed. My best explanation is that Jesus has birthed this love in my heart for reasons that I have yet to fully understand.

And on April 25, 2015, it didn’t matter that Nepal was a place I hadn’t yet been full of people I hadn’t yet met. Because of my love for Nepal, the earthquake wrecked me.

The hardest part was the not knowing. Not knowing the extent of the damage, not knowing how this would affect the country long-term, not knowing if I could trust media coverage of the aftermath, and not knowing if I would actually be able to go to Nepal anytime soon.

The uncertainty was excruciating, but God was faithful. I ultimately was able to go to Nepal, and although our trip was not exclusively centered on earthquake relief, being in the proximity of such a recent disaster taught me so much about brokenness and hope, pain and resilience, trauma and healing.

Fast forward to today.

Nepal is still hurting. Just a few days ago I read an email update from a missionary family who had visited a village near the epicenter of the quake that, a full year later, had yet to receive aid or support from anyone outside of the village. And that’s just one village among thousands.

In September, Nepal passed a constitution that led to an unofficial, winter-long fuel blockade from India that completely crippled the Nepali economy. Although the blockade is now over, between the earthquake and the fuel crisis, the country is still reeling.

Here’s the truth: healing takes time.

In our fast-paced, globalized world there is a new disaster on the news every day. When you pair that with the fact that technology has given us the shortest attention spans of any humans ever, it becomes far too easy to think, “wow, that’s sad,” maybe say a prayer, and move on with our lives, while the people who are hurting the most are left to clean up the mess alone.

Hear me out on this – I am not advocating for you to get intimately involved in every disaster. Compassion fatigue is real, and jumping from one disaster to the next only continues to feed your ability to forget about any pain that is not directly in front of you.

But, I am asking you to do a heart inventory in order to rediscover those things that break you. Find the things that jolt you out of your comfortable world and wreck you. And once you’ve found those things, pour into them! Because healing takes time. For every disaster there are years of rebuilding. And if we allow our culture to sell us a short attention span, we won’t ever stick around long enough to see healing through to completion.

So here’s my challenge for you today – do some follow up. Call that friend who lost their parent last year and ask how they’re doing. Pray again for those little village girls who stole your heart all those years ago. Ask your coworker who got the cancer diagnosis six months ago if you can make them a meal this week.

One year later – how will you respond? Are you willing to put in the hard work it takes to help someone heal?

Just remember, longevity speaks volumes about the depth of your love.

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“Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
“Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,
I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise,
your foundations with lapis lazuli.
I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of sparkling jewels,
and all your walls of precious stones.
All your children will be taught by the Lord,
and great will be their peace.
In righteousness you will be established:
Tyranny will be far from you;
you will have nothing to fear.
Terror will be far removed;
it will not come near you.”
Isaiah 54:10-14