Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Narrow Place

Today is one of those days where the wave called “emotion” comes crashing over you and you have no power but to let it.  For whatever reason I was hit with emotion of missing Karis.  I can’t point to exactly what led me there or why, but I was hit hard. There is no getting out but to feel it and be in it.  Grief is so strange.  You don’t know how, when or why it will hit, but it does.  You continue to conquer it by allowing yourself to feel it.  I’ve noticed that what I thought would be hard (having pregnant friends) has not been my struggle, and things that never crossed my mind are where I’m getting hung up.  What’s been hard lately is seeing and watching sister pairs around me. Watching sisters interact that are about two years apart.  The way my mind works is that I will get the chance to be pregnant again, I won’t get the chance to raise sisters two years apart again.  I’ve noticed myself grieve on Avery’s behalf, a lot.  She doesn’t even know what she’s missing, but I find myself grieving for her.  Grieving that she may never have a younger sister like she was supposed to.  I’ve also grieved on Karis’s behalf a lot.  She doesn’t know the family and friendships she is missing out on.  I wanted her to experience vacations with us and to know what it’s like to be Avery’s little sister.

I’ve been specifically reading through Scriptures that talk about trials.  In the book “I Will Carry You,” Angie Smith looked up the original meaning in the Hebrew language and the word “trials” means “to bind, tie up, restrict.  Thus the noun comes to denote a narrow place in life where one is bound or restricted.”  I would agree that a trial feels very similar to a narrow place.  You feel bound, you feel restricted, you feel like the world is closing in a bit.

We are in Colorado this week at the Rocky Mountain National Park with family.  We have done some really cool hikes.  One of the family’s favorite hikes is summiting Long’s Peak.  Long’s Peak is the tallest mountain in the whole park, making this the hardest non-technical hike in the park.  This hike is not for the faint of heart.  I was asking Kory to describe it to me (it’s on my bucket list) and it was interesting. He started telling me about this part on the hike called, “The Narrows.”  He said it’s one of the scariest parts because on one side there is a rock wall that goes straight up and on the other side is a thousand foot drop off.  The part that you have to walk on is very narrow.  He said you have to get on your hands and knees because if you stand, your shoulders touch the rock that goes straight up and you feel like it will push you over the edge.  I imagined what that part must feel like.  Narrow.  On your hands and knees.  Holding on so you don’t go over the edge.  A place that feels restricted and tight.

I imagine our life as a mountain path.  Some parts are wide and smooth.  Some spots have beautiful views where we marvel at God’s gifts.  Some spots are steep and rocky.  Some spots we stop and play, eat and fellowship.  Some spots we are breathing hard and being mentally tough.  And then there’s those spots called “The Narrows.”  The thousand feet drop offs, where we fear if we don’t crawl through we may go over the edge.  Trials.  It’s where I’ve found myself these past two months.  I may be crawling, but I’m not here to stay.  I will keep moving forward.  Even if I’m crawling.

I’ve been drawn to the book of Isaiah lately and the intense trials they faced during this time period.  The Jews have been attacked by the Assyrians.  Cities are destroyed. People are being taken captive.  Judah is in chaos.  The King turns to Isaiah for help.  Isaiah quickly points to the Lord as the only one they can rely on and put their trust in.  

Isaiah writes, He (the Lord) will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.” Isaiah 33:6

The Lord will be the stability of our times.  Stability.  Stability in the narrow places.  When going through trials we long for some stable ground.  No matter what the landscape of our life may be, he is keeping us stable and balanced, so that we will not fall.

"If the Lord delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm: though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand"  Psalm 37:23-24

"I lift my eyes to the the hills- where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip- he who watches over you will not slumber."  Psalm 121:1-3 

God doesn’t promise smooth ground and easy hikes, but he promises to be our stability through it.  He promises to be a firm foundation that we can stand on when so much around us is shaken and unknown.  He is constant.  He is sure.  He is unchanging.  He is stable. 

Lauren Chandler, wife of Matt Chandler (pastor at the Village Church in Texas) says she held onto this verse when they found out Matt had a cancerous tumor in his brain.  She wrote a song called, “The Narrow Place.”  In it she talks about how we are living in the “already, but not yet.”  We are living in what is, and waiting for what is to come.  She explains, “In Christ, there is stability now in knowing that because of his work on the cross and his resurrection, all things work together for my good (Rom. 8:28); but there is to be a stability at the consummation of all things, when Zion is filled "with justice and righteousness."

As believers, we are all living in a narrow place.  This world is a narrow place.  We long for healing from this broken world.  We long for heaven.  But until then, we will be in a narrow place.  Jesus would you come and fill this place.  We need you.  Be our stable ground.  Be in our narrow place. 

“When you trust in the Lord, through the unfailing love of the Most High, you will not be shaken.”  Psalm 21:7

"Faith to Believe" Shane and Shane

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