For His anger lasts only a moment,
but His favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 30:5 NLT
I’d like to take a moment to talk about time in relation to the Cross. This verse made me so angry a few days ago. I’ve endured more than a few dark, weepy nights without the promised joy in the morning. I’m tired, people. I’m tired of the nothingness broken by bouts of weeping and repenting followed by brief flashes of His joy followed by… a new round of nothingness. What is happening?!
I’m experiencing the aftermath of my little god’s death – and my own. Moving into month five of cigarette-free living, I’ve yet to experience the steady thrum and bliss of resurrection life that I’ve always found on the other side of big repentance. A friend was telling me about his attempts to quit smoking. He said that he’d tried many times, but never made it past three months. I was celebrating my six-week mark at the time and wondered about that. I don’t wonder any more. I get it!
I feel like I went from a Technicolor world to black-and-white. Some days, the only reason I don’t go buy a pack and light up is because I’m so mad at God. I’m so mad at being in the wilderness. I’m so mad that I still don’t really feel excited about anything. I’m so mad at feeling so dead, so often. I’m so mad at God that I refuse to start smoking again because I want to be able to say, “You didn’t hold up Your end of the deal! You’ve left me in acute misery and nothingness – that’s my reward for obeying you?! Well, watch me stay clean without YOU!” Sound familiar?
“Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?” they complained. “There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!”
Numbers 21:5 NLT
I am the Israelites in the wilderness. I understand why they were such whiny, angry twits – because I’m one, too! Everything they knew was gone. Life in Egypt was terrible, but they KNEW what that life held, day in and day out. They knew all the ways that they could comfort themselves. In the wilderness, they were completely and totally at the mercy of God. And they knew nothing! They wanted to be freed from slavery, but they didn’t want that freedom to cost them anything. I know this well.
In Foundation of Repentance, Martha said the following:
“We want to be filled with the Spirit, but not laid in the dust.”
“We want ‘the anointing’ but not the emptiness and
destitution of self that vacates man and welcomes God.”
“We want the glory, but not the nothingness.”
I am the living truth of these statements right now.
So why am I telling you all of this? Because this is also part of being a disciple. Like the Israelites, I’m wandering in the wilderness until the old me is dead. I’m not out here because God is a sadist; I’m out here because the old me is screaming and kicking still. I’m being disciplined into a whole new life, freed from the compulsion to move from one comfort to another, one little god to the next. That’s not living.
I’m sharing the grit of my daily reality because I’m probably not the only one who will spend some serious time in the land of sand and buzzards. And I want to offer you hope. In the midst of all of this, there’s a strange calm in the very core of my being, immovably quiet and unperturbed by the death and nothingness that has the rest of me falling apart. “Abide in Me, and I in you” is real and present and the true foundation that cannot be moved by the storms of life (Jn. 15:4). The life of Christ is undiminished, and it is the anchor that holds me fast. I am not alone and I have an Abba.
For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said,
“In repentance and rest you will be saved,
in quietness and trust is your strength.”
Isaiah 30:15 NASB