It’s been a long while since I posted anything. I didn’t intend to leave it so long but somehow my voice became swallowed and I have had to retrace my steps to find where I left it before I was knocked off my feet. In the midst of this winter I have had to re-learn my survival methods. It’s funny how quickly negative ways of thinking and being can become habit again when you think you’ve kicked them to the curb once and for all.
Christmas came in its strange, anticlimactic mystery and majesty. So much hope and promise in the Messiah’s arrival, yet the fuzzy glow seemed tarnished by my lurking sadness and the materialistic hubbub dazzled even more hollowly than usual. The lamenting tone of In the Bleak Midwinter and It Came Upon the Midnight Clear resonated more deeply than the raucous, rallying cries of more popular carols.
My fleshy, passionate heart had transfigured itself into a frozen lake, thick with ice; joyful greetings and meetings skating across the surface, never leaving a trace. I could sense life deep down beneath the solid surface but it would take a rock to smash a way in. Or perhaps a gentle thaw from the edges, inch by inch creeping back. Only God knew what was needed and to my shame I didn’t know how to heart-melt before Him voluntarily.
I didn’t intend to feel so winded by the IVF failure and the cat dying. I think I’m learning that we can’t always predict the circumstances that we will soar through and those that will see us plummet. Sometimes we surprise ourselves. I can see my errors. I had grown lazy at reading my Bible and a little bit out of the practise of prayer. Our new location has provided us with the grandeur of Psalm 19 on our doorstep and yet we miss our close circle of supporters nearby to help pray us through the tough times. And I had started listening to the voices of the everyday rather than the soothing sounds of worship. Worship music is still the quickest and surest short-cut I know to getting back into the presence of God and regaining what I have lost: my focus and my sense of awe at His limitless power.
A few days after Christmas I found myself watching the Queen’s speech on catch-up with my family and a single line in her address made me pause:
Such a simple, profound truth.
What are we going to focus on in times of difficulty: the overwhelming presence of the darkness or the determination to see a single spark of light splitting the gloom around us, illuminating our surroundings, dispersing shadows? How much longer did I want to sit in the sadness? Why was I choosing to comment on how little I could see or feel when I could be living up to the very meaning of my name – “shining light, bright one” – and choosing to shine in the face of the gloom? How had I come to forget the very essence of the Father’s nature? God is light. In him there is no darkness at all.
And with His light came heat and the gentle defrosting of my heart, helped along by a beautiful Christmas present – Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Jago. This book is aimed at children but with thoughts expressed so beautifully through words and illustrations that the weighty call of the Father is not lost on the hearts of its adult readers.
With each page God spoke to my inner child and reminded me of His love and care for me, His protection and promises, His hope and faithfulness. And little by little my heart regained its strength to hope again, to adopt again the perspective of heaven and to take God’s hand and allow Him to lead me forwards into the new year.