I've been thinking about Amber's recent writing invitation for just shy of two weeks now, trying to figure out what I would write about what God was up to in this season of my life. For much of my adult life, I would have had a ready answer, so certain was I of my intimate realtionship with Him, of listening to His voice and recognizing His fingerprints.
I remember pondering this verse for months from one of my many favorite, oft-prayed psalms:
"He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:" (Psalm 103:7)
What follows that phrase is a brief listing of some of the personality traits, or characteristics of God's interactions with humans. Though for many years I had read "ways" and "deeds" as a simple literary repetition for emphasis, at that time I began to focus on the difference between knowing God's "deeds" and knowing God's "ways" - his habitual ways of acting. It seemed to me then that seeing or recognizing God's deeds was a first and necessary step to knowing his ways, but that knowing his ways- his likely ways of acting, his inclinations, his motives- was an indication of intimate relationship and that was what I wanted - and what I thought I had. I spent a lot of time reading, studying and praying the Bible, journaling the movements of my heart and tracking His footprints in the lives of others.
But now....NOW what is God up to in my life? What has He been working on in this questioning, doubting, grieving, pondering and longing season of life, so filled with noisy celebrations of life concurrent with drawn-out mournings of disappointment and loss? My own questions have clamored for so much attention in this season that I've either been deaf to or highly suspicious of any questions God might be asking me. What questions or challenges might He be throwing down for me on which I've yet to stubb my toe? I do not know.
But I do know that I am still alive. For this day, this moment, I have been given life and health, sustenance and safety, and the ability to choose what I believe to be true and how I will respond to people and events. I have been given husband and sons and daughters-in-love and grandchildren to know, love and encourage; brothers, sisters, mothers and more to respect and love. Though there have been heartaches aplenty in this season, moments of joy and laughter have sparkled through my days like the bright morning sun transforms the surface of the bay into a million sparkling diamonds.
I know I have learned valuable life habits and insights in this season of withrawal and winter that I did not learn in other, more green and "fruitful" seasons of life.
At certain moments in these past 6 years I have whispered to my soul, "I have become weary in well-doing" (Gal 6:9) and "I do not please God now because I am not sure He exists, I am not certain of what I do not see" (Hebrews 11:1, 6).
At quite a few moments in these past 6 years, my husband of almost 35 years has asked me, sometimes with fear and sometimes with teasing in his voice, the question I have asked myself "Sandy, are you a Christian now?"
My answer, both to him and myself, has been rooted far more in my experience of God's compassion, patience and covenant, then in my intellectual struggles or even in my desire to live love and truth: "I do not think he has abandoned me, even though some days I doubt He exists." My answer is rooted in my experience of the psalmist's words of His ways that follow the "ways and deeds" phrase in Psalm 103:
"The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him...
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust."