Thursday, June 18, 2009

the answer is always you, oh God

from psalm 71:

12 Be not far from me, oh God. Come quickly, oh God, to help me. 14 But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. 15 My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure.

I'm writing this out, copying these verses down, and all I can think to say is yes. Yes, God. I will hope in you continually, God, I will praise you more and more and I will tell of how amazing you are, how you are a God who saves--and then that part at the end, though I know not its measure. And it's just so true.

God, a lot of times when I read the Psalms I feel like I can't fully relate. Yes, I have known about hurting, crying out to God, but what do I know about religious persecution? About armies attacking my city? I've never prayed for you to deliver me from bloodthirsty men. But God, I'm reading this psalm and I know that you have delivered me. Someone told me once that in the story of my family is where my real testimony is, my real story, which really is this: brokenness and everything just so messed up and needing you so badly. And really that's everyone, I think.

This is all coming out jumbled and it isn't making any sense at all, but there are a few questions. The first is the one I ask less often now, but was the only question I knew to ask growing up. Why? Why to so many things. Why didn't I have that family that really loved one another and why didn't I have a dad and why was my mother so messed up and why did every day I ask you where you were in all of it and why didn't I see you and why did it never stop hurting? I look back and I wonder about abusive families, but I don't think too much about why. I know that we are broken, and I know you never intended for this.

The other question is one I always get asked and I never know what to say. How did I turn out okay? Well the obvious answer is you, God. But I don't think you're like a get-better-quick pill. Real hope doesn't work like that. All I know is that my God rescues and saves, that my God has had his hand on me all along. My God is more incredible than I could ever know.

16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone.

For what other purpose was I made? None, God! What kind of question is why?--the answer is always you, is always how you were reaching toward me and in all those places left empty in me, God, they were there so that I could see that they were filled by you, so that I could recognize my Father, and then once I did, I realized he was in more places than just the gaps.

19 Your righteousness reaches to the skies, oh God, you who have done great things. Who, oh God, is like you? 20 Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.

I look back at myself five and six years ago, and God, I don't know. There is no question now. I mean, there sort of is. But I read this and there you are and "didn't you know I was there all along?" What other purpose was there ever but this:

18 Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, oh God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.

I'm making less and less sense as I go along, but I'm understanding better. God, I thank you that you're growing me and teaching me and answering prayers, even the ones I only prayed a few days ago. I thank you for everything that's happened in my life, God, because more than anything, overwhelmingly, I can look back and see how you were working all along, how it's true that you never forsake us. How good you are and how much joy and hope and life there is in you. Even if all of it only happened so that I'd pray this back to you in this moment, so that I'd write it out and tell the people I know that you are a God of promise and restored life and just love--isn't that enough? But it doesn't stop there. Your plans are so much bigger than even that.

James said to consider it pure joy when we face trials because testing of our faith develops perseverance. But what about the joy in how we get to see the crazy amazing things you use them for, and use us for? God, I thank you for every detail of my life, for everywhere that's ever been hard because that was the first place I looked for you. And for how you have blessed me tremendously. How could I ever thank you? And God, I pray that you would help me to be thankful for the things that are still so hard with my family because there you are in it making something good, growing us together and toward wholeness.

And it's funny, because now I see how much all of it doesn't even really matter. If I never understood why my family was so bad at loving each other, it was only so that you could show me what perfect love is. In the end it just boils down to more of you. For everything that happens, ultimately the purpose becomes more of God, more of your goodness and love and hope. On the right side of the equals sign is simply God. His redemption of everything.
And when you go back to where things were adding up you see that God was in the equation all along and that our pain or fear or brokenness were nothing next to the greatness that is God and his purpose for it all.

Now I understand why there aren't any tears in heaven--it's almost like it's working backwards. He wipes them away in heaven and then you look back and realize that all along they were being redeemed for this, this being with God. You see? Through this thing that brought me despair, the very hand of God is visible--and in the end it's so much bigger than anything else so you look back and instead of seeing tears, you see God, because he was, he's all that ever was. Even though we're not with him in heaven yet, the journey toward home has all along been a journey with God. It reaches backward and covers everything. In the end I realize that none of what happened is really all that important except this joy that is in Christ and oh how I will praise him, my God, my hope, and I will praise him.

23 My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you--I, whom you have redeemed.
14 But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.

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