The Rescuer

The Rescuer

I didn’t always love Him. To love Him meant to follow Him, and truth be told, I followed every shallow desire but Him. He wrote His name on my heart when I was seven, but I understood love to be captured on a stage. If I performed, I was loved; rewarded. Good grades, making the cheerleading squad, honors in band, having the right friends, and following all the rules equated with acceptance. It was early in my teens when I grew tired of the performance. At 14 I drank something from a mason jar that burned my throat, and though I hated the taste, I loved the euphoria. The fire flowing down extinguished the performance, if just for a night.

At 17 and pregnant someone came to call. He was of short stature, rounded in the middle with waves of white on top. He walked slow and crooked up our washed out gravel drive, unhurried. He held in his hand something he said was just for me. A brochure with a cross inviting me to come, and rest from my weary running. “He loves you, you know?” And then he was gone. I didn’t even know I ran from the God who hounded, wildly…furiously. I gave off an aroma of pride mingled with shame and the scent of a God who gave up. I ran to places I never thought Jesus would go,

like the abortion clinic.

So there I sat, in a room filled with women decorated with brilliant threads of ethnicity. Sisters banded together by an Image, surrounded by husbands, boyfriends, mothers and friends all in support of a woman’s choice. Some holding shaking hands as whispers soothed the common ground of fear barred behind steel hearts. Some stared at the floor, while others leafed through magazines too ashamed to look up and meet another sister’s eyes.

Maybe if someone would have told us we were all sisters we could have looked deep enough into one another’s broken souls, joined hands, and with borrowed bravery opted out of all this…together.

At age 20 and on my third pregnancy, I had been listening to the same voices the rest of these women had been listening to, voices promising freedom for an all clear future. Clear of responsibility, clear of unwanted multiple children, clear of single-parenting. These voices helped to drown out the whisper hush of bones forming, hearts whooshing, brains weaving. Their language bore no sound, but if we were still long enough we could hear them, expand with them. The voices all around sold us freedom. A small price if we remained deaf to the ones void of speech.

And there I sat in a room filled with women shutting out the life forming quiet. All seeking the same answers to the one question we had anguished over for hours, days, weeks, “Should I have an abortion?” Somehow on this day we found ourselves in the middle of all that was wrong dressed up in right. It was then someone said my name, and there it hung…somewhere in between two rooms. I ached to stay in the room where I was drowning in sick and shame, the air thick with the stench of leaking blood and spilling hearts. I knew what would happen in the room beyond this circle of chairs,

a room where the knitting of lives were unraveled, falling into Hands of holy. I was desperate for a way out.

Once inside, I was told to undress, put on a gown and get comfortable on the table. As I laid there with knees raised, awaiting the routine ultrasound before the procedure, I turned my head to the side and scanned the line of sterile instruments, each in its place, orderly. Forceps small enough to enter through the small round of a cervix, yet powerful enough to crush a tiny skull lay next to a vacuum. The smell of disinfectant masked the invisible trail of intermingled blood of babies and mamas on the cold steel underneath of me.

Remember, it’s just a blob of tissue.

“Six weeks,” he said, and then he was gone. Time stood still as I began to drown in waves of emotion, His breakers washing over me. I was desperate for a life line, our life line. Was there any way out?

Halfway up the middle of a whispered prayer, the nurse returned and brought with her words of freedom. “We cannot let you have this procedure. In reviewing your information, we see you have a short history of taking anti-depressants, and it’s against our policy to grant an abortion to anyone who has been treated for depression without consent from the doctor who prescribed the medication.” It was like one giant love-wave swept in and ushered me out in a violent rush of grace. The One who releases captives and takes them captive for His glory had unshackled me; my bonds burst. I had walked in bound, oblivious to policy, hoping to gain freedom in exchange for a life. But it wasn’t the exchange of my baby’s life that bought my freedom that day, it was the exchange of Christ’s life for mine.

Jesus stooped low and drew a line in the sand for me that day. He roared and called me home. He has been rescuing me ever since. I’m not sure why I was spared from an abortion that day. In my mind I had already committed the act. So I stand with sisters who grieve what was and proclaim to them that no sin is too dirty, no heart too broken, no spirit too crushed, no human will a match for Love on a cross. Take my hand, and take His life.

Sleep or Savior?

So it’s been awhile, cuz those holidays hit like a whirlwind and kind of make a giddy mess that takes time to clean up.  It was a good mess, a grand mess, a sweet mess, as our rain bird was home from college and brought with her a house-guest for six days.  We baked, I chopped, and diced, and boiled and fried and filled that guest’s belly and made him mighty satisfied. Cuz that’s how I love much of the time, satisfying bellies.

But I’m back updating this blog where I spin words and hope to brighten them with vibrant color, soften them with shades of earth, and still them with glass blue so maybe the canvas of them will hang in the backdrop of your mind somewhere, if God uses them to paint truth into your life.  So here I go….

Denial is a funny thing.  It takes the hand of self-absorption and runs head on into false hope.  I know because I’ve slipped my own wretched grabbing fingers into the hand that looked like comfort, looked like more…

somehow looked good and better…like what they have.

And so, unsatisfied with words of love, spun in truth, dripping with fatness, breathed out in a holiness meant to shake the ground on which I stand… these words…

no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (psalm 84:11...)

holy words…

sharp words…

wounding words…when you are tempted to believe He is a God who keeps from you,

not only challenged my faith, deepened my wonder, and stilled my insatiable chasings…

they blew up my love in a way that the scattered pieces somehow fell into place somewhere between heaven and earth…and hung there…

on the symphonic tones of a love song.  

Some of us move from trial to trial in this life.  Some of us resist and some of us simply sway to the rhythm that leads in chords of love.  Listen to the words of that old ancient psalter inspired by living Spirit breath,

Oh Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; nor do I involve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me.  

Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me.

Oh Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever”  Psalm 131.

In many ways I am one who has moved from trial to trial in this life,

walking in Wisdom’s shadow, cocooned in the night, breathing in a Holy exhale.

Some trials have undoubtedly rocked the corners that connected and held everything together…that four-cornered box that made sense. Unshakeable ground seemed to tremor and quake, threatening the sureness of steady feet. Like my first-born’s brain that got all shook up like a bowl of jello inside her skull when she hit that tree…ten years ago.  One life-changing event gave birth to residual on-going trials.  Health has been threatened, marriage has dipped its toes so far into selfishness there has only been enough oxygen for one, as waves of that old false hope and greener grass suffocated.

And those locusts have had themselves a feast on the soggy scraps of our drowned out union.

And here I sit so wrapped and swaddled in inexpressible joy, clothed in favored righteousness, that when I read words that have life,

and grant life

and grow life,

and EXPLODE life, like…

“…Oh You who hear prayer...” my deep gets all stirred up and finds its way out down my face during that dark. fourth. watch….the one just before that soft glow reflects off frozen snow.

Because don’t tell me He isn’t near, and that He doesn’t uphold all things together, and that He didn’t know me before I was born and set me apart and choose for me to be knocked off my throne of self and blown over by a love force so strong I can’t stand.  Don’t tell me He isn’t in control of every detail of my life and spoke my name before sperm and egg united, and has carried me from the womb into these years that mark themselves with strands of gray,

and sagging skin,

…Don’t tell me when He takes away He isn’t giving back 100 fold in joy and peace and hope and love and soul-knit relationships and a composed and quiet soul that finds its rest in His sovereignty and lovingkindness that can never be taken from me.

Don’t tell me that God of Moses and Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Job, Paul, Peter, James and John….doesn’t love me so fiercely He will stop at nothing to shape me into the image of His only and most Holy Son.  Even if that means trials…

and taking…

and pruning…

and sharpening…

and sleepless nights….as of late.  Cuz those sleepless nights challenge my comfort and ask…

what do I crave more?

Sleep or Savior?  

and then my soul waits quietly for my God more than the watchmen for the morning,

YES, MORE THAN THE WATCHMEN FOR THE MORNING! and that symphonic love song plays over me, and hems me in, in the dead of night…and I meditate on my bed in stillness…and trust that…

no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly…”

and my soul is composed.  Because I agree with the One who commands the morning, and gives to me life and breath and sleep, and tells those proud waves where to stop, and wounds and heals, and restores, and feeds the sparrows and clothes the lilies…in that dew drenched valley,

and set His gaze on me and made this wretched woman the object of His love.

I agree with the One who wrapped up more of Himself in brain injury, and sickness, and crashed into the two who kept their haughtiness prized like a trophy on a shelf, and shattered it so we can experience that gift of humility and servanthood and keep serving and loving and bowing as we sway like a pendulum on the Strong Cord that wove itself into us.

And those soul-knit relationships, you know the ones…the ones you call upon to say your name under that torn veil to the One who hears prayer...(Psalm 65).

When you ask and say….”I want to stay by my man at night and be blessed with sweet sleep and wake tangled up as two…will you pray for me?”

You can be sure they will pray, and that God will hear,

and that sleep will come, like it did last night,

and we were watched and held by God.