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The Morning Light

It’s interesting that this weekend I swam in caves.  Full of joy.  Knowing now how true the words that form Ecclesiastes 3:11 are.  Even though I wasn’t sure then.

He makes everything beautiful in His time.

After Shawna died, I took a break from my Bible.  I gave myself the month of December to grieve, no strings attached.  No expectations.  No guilt for the roller-coaster of emotions I couldn’t manage to get control of.  And I didn’t open my Bible for an entire month.

I couldn’t.

All I could see were promises of hope that she and I were mutually encourage each other with.  Surviving cancer for her.  Miracle baby for me.  Verses that provided the skeleton for prayers of healing and prayers for life.  Everything was trite.

Words ring hollow in a heart pierced by pain.
– Ray Stedman

I’m comfortable talking about what He has made beautiful.  I’m uncomfortable talking about the beautiful-making process.  The crying yourself to sleep at night, and then waking yourself up crying just a few hours later in the pitch black darkness.  The sitting on the counter top in the kitchen staring out the window and unable to move because every single bone in your body feels so heavy.  The heart-rending and heart-mending process of His Spirit making everything beautiful.  Sewing it all back together.  With perfectly imperfect jagged lines and rough edges that smooth over with time.  Isn’t that what today’s social media habit is about?  Bragging on the finished and beautiful and hiding the snotty cry and not-so-pretty in-between?

I flipped back through my journal a couple of days ago.  Back to those first days of recovery.  The early making-it-all-beautiful moments.  The only section of scripture that I felt comfortable enough to land in was Ecclesiastes and its tender nest of cynicism softened with poetic wisdom.  I’ve referenced it here before.  Twice actually.  But looking back on it now, from a He-has-made-it-beautiful place, I was overwhelmed by the information on those pages.  I was so aware of swimming in the deep pools of sorrow and entirely unaware of the trees laden with fruit surrounding them.  Literally falling off the limbs and into my outstretched hands desperate to grasp at anything to keep me afloat.

(8:25am) Friday – 1/25/13

Good morning, LORD.  I miss this.  Miss time with You.  Digging in.  Digging deep.  It’s now been nine weeks.  Nine weeks exactly today that she died.  And slowly… I heal.  We just came back from Atlanta and I freaked out a couple of times there.  One in the middle of the tradeshow.  Out of nowhere the tears come like a flood.  And I panic.  Think I shouldn’t have come.  I should have stayed home.  In bed.  Where it’s safe.  But baby birds don’t learn to fly if they never leave the nest.  This little sparrow needs to re-learn how to fly.

More than once in that month of December of 2012, I carried a glass of wine up to the bathtub, sinking in until skin wrinkled soft and water sat cold.  And then the cool water drained and hot water filled, and I soaked longer still.  Often, during those long baths, I would sink down low, ears beneath the surface of the water.  And breathe deep.  And slow.  And be calmed by the sound of my own breathing.  Literally taking it one slow breath at a time.

“The letters of the name of God in Hebrew … are frequently pronounced ‘Yahweh’.  But in truth, they are unutterable. … This word {YHWH} is the sound of breathing.  The holiest name in the world, the Name of Creator, is the sound of your own breathing.  That these letters are unpronouncable is no accident.  Just as it is no accident that they are also the root letters of the Hebrew verb ‘to be…’ God’s name is name of Being itself.”
– Rabbi Lawrence Kushner (quoted by Ann Voskamp)

LORD, help me to breathe, I prayed.  Help me to be markedly aware of Your presence.  Your Being … being enough.  So that the words that fill the lines on these pages don’t become lies to me.  Help me to live the hard eucharisteo, gratitude for that which makes no sense to me on this side of a broken, sorrowful world.  May these words that I’ve held at arm’s length some day become life to me again.

And then I wrote down a verse that now holds so much significance for me.  So much truth.  Because I’ve turned it upside down and backwards and can truly say in full confidence that I have seen both of its beautiful, shining sides:

Weeping may endure for a night.  But joy comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:5

And then I began digging.  Like I always do.

Tucked into the middle of the definition for weeping is one little phrase that makes me stop in my tracks: ‘a dropping, a distilling of water in the mines (Job 28:11)’.  A reference to a chapter in which Job realizes that affliction is to him as the refining fire is to gold.  But not just any gold – gold specifically refined by men inside of a mine.  It’s contrasted with gold found in the beds and sand of rivers which does not need the same refining that the gold dug from a mine does.  The water of the river has already done that for you.

So interesting, this idea of Treasures of Darkness.  Once you find it, you have to chew on it.  Turn it over and over.  Think on it.  Until you find the true stone of value within.

Job 28:3: “Men makes an end of darkness by exploring the darkest depths with torches, carrying out his search with utmost perfection; he most thoroughly searches the stones of darkness, whatever they may be, embedded in the darkest bowels of the earth, and of the shadow of death and the thickest gloom.” – Jamieson, Fausset & Brown

The commentary continues, describing the miner cutting channels to drain off the waters hindering his mining.  Finally, when the waters are gone, he is able to see the precious things in the earth.  “He restrains the streams from weeping; a poetical expression for the trickling subterranean rills which impede him.”

Literally, weeping may endure.  But joy always follows.  Only now, 18 months later, have the waters of sorrow fully drained.  And I’m able to see the glory of truth that remains behind – colored over by joy.  Making everything beautiful in its time.

And then I ran along the river of cross-references for awhile:

Ecclesiastes 3:4 – absolutely, there is a time to weep.  But there is also a time to laugh.  For joy.

John 7:38 – He who believes in Me as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.

Psalm 46:4 – There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of our God … God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved, God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.  Because joy comes in the morning.

And then comes Ezekiel 42.  Yes, there is a time for weeping.  I have to grieve.  But then I must heal.  And the only way to heal is in the depths of His Spirit.  Diving into the living water of fresh-water caves.  When I weep for a night, God, help me to cut off the tears and dive into Your rivers of living water in the morning.  Because they bring healing.

Breathe out.  {YHWH}  Breathe in.  {YHWH}   Some how.  Some way.  I will find joy again.

Five weeks before we moved to Maui, a girlfriend sent me a text containing these Spirit-whispered words:

I was sitting outside yesterday, reading the Word, and God just put you on my mind.  I just felt like He was saying that you are right where He wants you and there is so much joy and blessings ahead!  The joy comes in the morning and your morning is here!  I’m so proud of you!

Breathe in.  {YHWH}  Breathe out.  {YHWH}.

It was the longest, most sorrowful night.  And the morning light has never been more beautiful.

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