“I am like a broken vessel.”
“But as for me, I trust in You…”
Help is on the way
He’s come to save the day
What I’ve learned in my life
One thing stronger than my strife
Is His grasp
So hold fast
–Mercy Me, Hold Fast
Someone I know is falling apart at the seams. I have been watching them make all the wrong choices for some time and now I see them paying all the retail prices on their purchases. On a recent day my heart hurt watching them get pummeled by life. In a ten hour span of time, this poor soul could barely come through one crisis without getting sideswiped by another and their already “very bad day” culminated with the most dreaded phone call they had ever had to answer. I wince for them even now as I recall watching the emotional bloodbath they were dragged through. It was pathetically painful to watch. R-rated, even.
I desperately want to reach in and rescue them but that is a pipe dream. Could they have come through the worst of it? Possibly. Maybe. Ummmm, no. Not by a long shot. There is still a Valdez-sized clean-up ahead. A gargantuan slick on the ocean. And pieces and shards of life scattered everywhere, much like flotsam after a wreckage at sea.
(God, show them a hope. Gather up the pieces of the mess they have made and put them together again. God, get the glory. Take them to the place of Grace where peace rules and heaven is graspable.)
I wish they could have been with me tonight as I prayed with a man whose body is covered–every inch of it–with an auto-immune disease only one in a half million suffer with. There is no treatment. No cure. It must run its course, sometimes taking as long as four years. It is painful. It burns. It is horrific. I went to pray for this giant of a man of God but, marvel of marvels, he prayed for me! Tears ran down his face and swollen arms were lifted to the heavens as he thanked God for his valley! “I know Your purpose in this,” he cried out to the Lord in triumph. “You reign in me! I am Yours!” he shouted to the ceiling tiles. The man laughed in joyful surrender. Laughed!
He is a man who is walking in peace.
I wish my loved one could stand in the same faith of a woman I know who is in the hospital tonight. She and her husband were recently faced with the most difficult decision of their lives: should he stay home and be by her bedside or return to the mission field? What would you do? As in everything in their lives, they took it to the Lord. With reckless abandon, her husband is en route to their field in a hostile country where countless millions need Jesus. Did they choose ministry over marriage? Heavens no! They chose God over ALL things…
I have no doubt that her hospital room is a sanctuary of heavenly peace tonight. I just betcha that that plane ride her husband is taking, though filled with second-guessing and painful separation, is met with a grace worth the risk.
I wish, oh how I wish, this soul could have listened in on a phone conversation I had with a lady just yesterday. It was her sad misfortune to send her son away to a home for troubled sons for a full year. Next month she and her husband will be able to visit him for the first time in six months. She told me that it has only been recently that she can say his name in her home without breaking down. Now she is carried by a grace that sweeps her to peace-filled places and she smiles knowing God is shaping her son and he is finding out for the first time who he is in Christ. His letters home are a diary of the power of God to transform. Predictably, even in the Body of Christ, some have questioned her move, even gone so far as to be angry and think she has thrown the poor child away. She listened for awhile and even agreed somewhat. Until, that is, the glassy calm seas of peace surrounded her and told her to have faith. He is the One who rules the storm. You haven’t thrown him away, My Child. You have given him to Me.
There is no safer Place.
Speaking of “Place,” David gave the secret of his oft-tormented existence. In the Hebrew Hymn Book, chapter 31 and verse 12, he says of himself that he is a “broken” man. The word he uses is also used of Adam in the book of Genesis when he is told to “tend” the garden. It means to break up the soil for planting. God’s minstrel is saying that the hoes and rakes and plows of life had ripped him to clods and bits and uncovered his earthiness.
What a sad predicament, and one to which we can all relate.
But (oh, don’t you just love the Biblical “buts”?), two verses later he lets us in on a little secret. He says that when he is in such a bind, he “trusts” in God. The word translated “trust” is an active verb and it pictures a place where David runs to when he is broken to bits, scattered hither and yon, like jetsam from a dashed sea vessel. He finds a tide that will carry him to a Harbor of Refuge where he can safely winter out the storm. Or in the field of battle when the bombs are bursting in air, he is stolen away into a citadel of protection. He tells us God is a Person who shows him a Place everytime and in any situation.
The couch where my friend suffers from the horrific skin disease has become David’s threshingfloor where God shows mercy and healing (2 Samuel 24:18). The porch where my sister in Christ waits for her son’s return is her Baal-perazim (1 Chronicles 14:11) where God “breaks through” against the enemy. And that courageous wife in the hospital tonight? She’s really in Ziklag where David “encouraged himself (literally, ‘latched onto’) in the Lord” (1 Samuel 30:6) despite great loss and popular opinion.
Take a page from David’s hymnbook. Run, don’t walk, to the Place God has prepared for you in your calamity. He is there. He is able. He will come through for you.
Sad to say, my friend right now is not ready to take the way of restoration. “I’ve gotten this far without God,” they glibly stated. “I can get myself out of this too.” That’s just their pain talking. I know them well and I know that in time they too will run to Jesus. And when they do, I can predict the outcome: He will gather them up, love on them, put them aright and set them free.
I know. I have a story too.