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Living Outside the Frame

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination.  With that comes an onslaught of people remembering.  Vividly picturing where they were.  What they were doing.  And how life was forever changed.  We were locked into a show on National Geographic that created a meticulous recapping of the event.  Play by play commentary. Fifty years later, they narrator said, we’re still searching for answers.

In the midst of navigating November, and remembering the life-altering event that took place just last year, I watched as men and women, alongside the parade route an entire lifetime ago, were still overcome by emotion in telling the story.

Five decades later.

It’s somehow encouraging to know that the emotion will always be there.  Yet I have a record player inside my head with the same four words on a constant turntable: don’t get stuck there.

My alarm went off today and my eyes were greeted by the grey fog of an early fall morning.  Near freezing with the window open, I cuddled down warm into the down blanket and husband heat, silencing the chime for another six minutes.  Soon, responsibility outweighed comfort.  With the fireplace on, my favorite sweater wrapped tight, and coffee steaming, I began to read.

Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, bound in affliction and irons… they fell down, and there was none to help. Psalm 107:10, 12b

The words were just a piece of a story.  An early morning eavesdropping on a conversation in which one man is giving thanks to the only LORD for His great works of deliverance.  That’s it, I thought.  They’re sitting there.  In the shadow of death.  I want to walk through the shadow of death when my life journey requires it.  But LORD, please don’t let me get comfortable and dwell here.  I don’t want to pick out the curtains and draw up the floorplans for this new type of sorrowful normal.  I want to print an amazing photograph and hang it on the wall of a joyful home where I will walk by it daily.  And remember.  But I want to live in the joy.  Not in the frame.  Because when I live in the frame, I get stuck on this one gut-wrenching thing:

Unanswered prayer.

I want to believe.  To hope.  And not sit in the shadow of death, in the sadness of what He chose not to do, and the jaded cynicism of hope deferred.

I was working on a personal project this weekend that required a login to Shawna’s blog for the first time in nearly a year.  I came across this post, and am re-posting it here as a reminder to myself that nothing is impossible for Him.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 11:22 am (seven days after her diagnosis)

“Nothing is impossible for You.”

I sat down a Starbucks table – the same Starbucks where God and I wore out my Bible together a lifetime ago through endless hours studying, praying, and journaling.  I sat, and I stared at my journal.  Discouraged.  Disheartened.  Feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders, and then feeling guilty because I’m not even the one carrying this disease.  My brain didn’t want to rejoice.  My brain didn’t want to count the gifts in this season.  My brain didn’t want to worship.  But my heart kept repeating that single line.

“Nothing is impossible for You.”

As I opened my Bible and began to read, the verses came tumbling to me.  And my pen couldn’t keep up quickly enough.

This… this new normal that makes us feel like a leaf tossed about by the hurricane winds of Your sovereignty… this new reality that makes hearts across many miles hurt so badly that it’s difficult to breathe… this new normal that saps strength, drains emotions, and makes even the strongest in their faith scream at You…. this is not impossible for You.  This isn’t beyond Your power.  It’s not difficult for You.  For You, God, healing is as easy as taking a photograph is for me.  It’s second nature…. no… it’s really just your nature.

You are a God of boundless, bottomless mercy.  When human skill and power are quite nonplussed, with You are strength and wisdom sufficient to master the problem.  All the powers of men are derived from You.  All the actions and directions of the doctors are governed by You. (Matthew Henry)

Thank you, Jesus, for  promising that the things which are impossible with men are possible with God. Is anything too hard for the LORD?  Ah, LORD God!  Behold, You have made the heavens and the eart by Your great power and outstretched arm.  There is nothing too hard for You.  You even say Yourself “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh.  Is there anything too hard for Me?” (Luke 18:27, Jer. 32:17, 17)

You are the God Who parted the sea for Moses and separated the river for Joshua.

You are the God Who made a staff grow blossoms and made a stagnant pond sweet.

You are the God Who fell a 45 foot high, 6 foot thick fortified wall with the shout of an army.

You are the God Who danced with three men in the furnace, untouched by the flames.

You shut the mouths of lions, open the mouths of donkeys, and bring symbols of hope in the mouths of doves.

You turn water into wine and cast demons into swine.

You make the lame walk, the mute talk, the blind see, and leprosy flee.

You raise men from the dead.

You cure the incurable.

You forgive sin.

Nothing is impossible for You.

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