Monday, March 29, 2010

unexpected voices

Life's been rough. Real rough. 2010 thus far has been a process of God whittling away from me many things that I took much joy in - perhaps too much joy. I'm seeing where I've elevated things I treasure, like a relationship and a job that I love, to a place that only God should occupy. I will never suffer the eternal fires of Hell, because I have trusted in Christ, but I've been in the refining fire over the last couple months, and it burns intensely.

And in the midst of it all, I've desperately sought God's voice of comfort. And I've sought counsel from so many dear friends, and have received such sweet encouragement from family and roommates and church leaders and friends. And God has, at times, seemed quite silent, and that has been the hardest part. But He is a gracious God. And while I have not yet received my long-desired, "Thus saith the Lord to Krista: Do such and such at such and such a time, and such and such will happen in the future...", He has spoken in beautiful and unexpected ways. Some examples:

Two weeks ago, I taught Sunday school. I was beautifully distracted from my own distress as I led the kids through the account of Jesus' distress on the cross, and what it means for those of us who put our trust in Him. The kids were wonderfully responsive, and it warmed my heart. And at the end, several of the kids wanted to pray. I expected very general prayers or prayers related to what we'd just discussed, but one child prayed something I did not expect: "God, thank you that you give us all the things we need, and thank you that you don't give us the things that we just want but don't need." That little 6-year-old boy could not have known to prod my heart to thankfulness in this season, but God did know, and He spoke.

Last Sunday, I went to Romanian church in the morning. During a time of prayer, I just kept praying, Thank You, Lord, that you KNOW! He knows my heart, He knows my pain, He knows my sin, He knows my future. And He is good! This was what was on my heart. Later in the service, a man preached in Romanian about Jesus just before He raised Lazarus from the dead. And one thing the man emphasized was that God KNEW. God knew of Lazarus' death, He knew of the pain his family felt...and He waited, and He acted. The man preaching began to cry as He repeated over and over "God KNOWS!" And he reassured my aching heart yet again with the truth that just because God does not answer our prayers as we wish when we wish, this does not mean He doesn't know. God impressed this on my heart in prayer and then through this man's words and His own Word. And, once more, it was sweet to hear words of comfort in the language that God has graciously allowed me to learn over the last few years - there's something so different and wonderful about not just hearing truth in English.

Yesterday, I heard truth from a very unexpected source - myself several years ago. I was looking at old blog entries on my myspace blog (which I intended to delete years ago), searching for a quote I'd put on there from a book. And I found my own words from another really hard season in my life, when I was living in New York and doubting my ability to finish my internship or complete my degree, and was mourning the loss of a friend. And I spoke of how hard it was and how terrifying it was but how I'd been redeemed by my God and could rest in that. I was reassured yesterday not only by the truth that I'd spoken then, but by the fact that I'd spoken it. I've been, in recent weeks, frustrated by my seeming fickleness and inability to praise God with a joyful heart in trials, and there I was, doing just that, 3 years ago - praising God and speaking truth to myself and the people reading. And by God's grace, I will be there again, and I will look back at this period in years to come and see God's faithfulness and the way that He allowed me to persevere, and how somehow, in a way that only an omniscient and omnipotent God can devise, it will have served to benefit me and to glorify Him.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Be Still, My Soul

Without going into details, let's just say the last few weeks of my life have been intensely challenging. Work stuff, relationship stuff...and just plain old being a grown-up when it gets exhausting. I find myself overjoyed at the new birth of my little nephew and yet so saddened and anxious about other areas of my life.

I was digging through our sheet music at my house the other day, trying to find chords for a song our church does that Garrett wants to learn. 2 of my roommates and myself have quite a random assortment of songs srewn in various places in the house, and during my search I came across the song, "Be Still, My Soul." It's an old hymn whose tune is familiar but whose words were mostly new to me, or at least had been forgotten long ago. But oh, what a sweet balm to a weary soul. So because I can't say it better, and because maybe someone reading this is struggling with a soul that just isn't still as are the words:

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and bless├Ęd we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.