“You did it: you changed wild lament into whirling dance; You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers. I’m about to burst with song; I can’t keep quiet about You. God my God, I can’t thank you enough.” -Psalm 30:11-12
Tetelestai. “It is finished.” The last words Jesus uttered as He hung his head and committed His spirit unto His Father. Words that destroyed the grip of sin. Three words that broke every sorrow, lie, torment, shame, disappointment, and fear. Words that shattered the gates of hell and all of satan’s schemes. It’s the part of the story where I feel that what the world saw as defeat, all of heaven waited in quiet, holy anticipation to reveal the glory about to unfold. It looked completely hopeless a few short days before the story got real good. The night looked most bleak, and the sky most dark, right before the dawn came bursting in. And it was in the heavy moments between Friday and Sunday, of weeping and mourning and counting what was so lost, that I’m so sure felt like the most desperate days of all.
But if only they could have known what was coming. If only they could have grasped what was taking place within the suffering and the questioning and the confusion and their grief. If only they could understand.
“In all this wounding, God is opening the way to the central chamber of your soul. There He plans to set before you a feast. This, I tell you, is the banquet place of the Holy Spirit. Only when the heart can hear can we receive the experience of being loved, of belonging to the Father. And pain is often the megaphone that awakens.” — Paula Rineheart
You can rest assured the Father of Father’s delights in you. He extravagantly delights in who you are. He’s reaching for you in every moment, rejoicing over you, pursuing you. Every moment, every setback, every disappointment, every victory, becoming an invitation to live loved, to live whole. To dance among seas of wildflowers, knowing that nothing can touch you when you’re so lost in perfect love. No lie can hold you captive when you’re this caught up in abundant life. It’s in this abandon we realize that our process with the Holy Spirit is anything but a place of arrival. It’s in the committing of ourselves over and over and over again. Surrendering to His glorious plan, the one just beyond what we can see. The one that refines us. The one that makes us complete. Laying down our desperate need for control, so that we may be carried to the riches in store. It’s in this marvelous, holy undoing where the transformative power of the gospel is made real.
All so that we may turn into love.
What if we were a people that dared to let our brokenness catapult us into a place of wild hope, bold faith, of beautiful surrender? Bill Johnson said, “His thoughts for us are for our welfare, not our calamity. They are creative, hope-filled thoughts.” Therefore I drink deep from the wells of His faithfulness, because my Savior knows the end of the story better than I do. Because Jesus bankrupted heaven to hold us close, because the veil was torn, we now have powerful authority by His name, peace that surpasses understanding, hope as an anchor for our souls. We have to move beyond a place of complacency. I can confidently acknowledge this because I set up camp there far longer than most. It’s more than the chills during our favorite worship song. It’s more than corporate meetings, more than a pretty story, more than our hallelujahs on Sunday morning. It’s an ongoing interruption. A holy undoing. A waking up with wonder every morning to sit at the feet of Jesus. A mighty unraveling of all we thought we knew. He’s so much better than we thought.
“Going through the wall breaks something deep within us: that driving, grasping, fearful self-will that must produce, that must make something happen, that must get it done for God (just in case He doesn’t). He gives us these walls to purge us of this deep, stubborn willfulness to run ahead of Him. While I kick and scream, God slowly teaches me to wait.” —Peter Scazzero
Scripture tells us the Father is going to do whatever we ask of Him, but so that our joy would be made full. Pause. Jesus is so deeply kind, He refuses to allow us anything less than the abundant life He died for us to receive. Refuses to leave us in our bitterness, our anxiety, our desperation, our uncertainty, our disappointment, our longing. We can rejoice through every sorrow because He will never stop coming for His bride. He’ll chase you down until your soul awakens to the depths of His love, and the best part is He doesn’t stop there. We’ll spend our whole lives and never exhaust the goodness of who He is. It’s taken me a long time to understand that my waiting in sweet anticipation with Him is never in vain. That learning to trust through the valley only pulls me further into the shadow of His wings, and the promise of what’s to come. It’s all a heart needs, to simply be held. To be held by a King that hung on a cross to have you.
So dear friend I want to tell you, in case no one gave you permission, it’s okay not to be okay. Our thin places make room for His peace to be made evident. Our fragile pieces allow us to press into the presence already around us, and choose abundant joy. Knowing our sorrow only makes the story sweeter. Knowing His arms are the safest ones to fall into. Only then will that unfulfilled desire, our hearts’ heaviest ache, or the healing yet to come, pale in comparison to the way He holds on. So we linger and we rest and we rejoice in who He is. And we let our pain wash over us, knowing it won’t take us out. Knowing we won’t find the Shepherd by avoiding the pain; we find Him weeping next to us. Catching every tear. Carrying us to the glory around the corner. As Steffany Gretzinger declared, “it’s not that we don’t mourn, it’s that we dance while we cry.”
I pray that the songs of our lives would be sang with wild intention. With graceful humility. With a profound confidence. Made up of brave and glorious choices, grounded in who our Father says we are. Rooted in the knowledge He will always come through, no matter what Friday evening looks like. For when you are friend to the one that sings lullabies in the midst of battle cries, you can rest safe and secure knowing you are free. Hand chosen by God. Held in the sweet and glorious tension, knowing Sunday morning is on it’s way.
“Now I see redemption growing in the trees; the death and resurrection in every single seed.” -Kari Jobe