Sunday, April 28, 2013

When You've Lost Your Way

It's a Sunday morning in the middle of March when I wake up sad.

It's been pressing in for weeks, all this change and uncertainty weighing a heart right down.  But this is the morning when the tears start falling before I even climb out of bed.  And this is the morning when I know it sure and strong.

I am discouraged.

I walked into the month of March with great hope expectation, laying hold of that one promise God spoke over me loud and clear:
See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:19

But the answer is no.

I don't perceive anything new at all.

There's no path opening up through the wasteland of a life and there's no stream flowing into this parched soul of mine.  There's only more bad news, more setbacks, more I-can't-take-anymore-of-this days.

The whole world's awakening under the warmth of spring rains, everything growing and blooming and being born.  But what I really want is for Winter to come back and cover us all, so I won't have to be alone--the only one still buried in the mud while everyone else is made new.

I spend the days of March with an emptiness beating inside, my skin wearing thin and my resolve wearing out, and I walk through Resurrection Sunday feeling nothing but broken.  As if God's walked right out of the grave and left me behind in the wreaking dark, still waiting for resurrection.

It's not until the first week of April that I can finally put a finger on what's eating me alive, and it's this:  Hope's left me.  I don't know when it left or where it went or how to get it back.  I only know the aching gaping hole right through the middle of me where hope used to be.

And I can't get that one line of a song out of my head--the one we sang on Resurrection weekend about a merciful Savior and a deep hunger for grace:
Oh, we've hopelessly lost our way!

I see it now, how being lost isn't what makes a person hopeless.  No, it's the being hopeless that makes a person lost.

The kind of lost that can leave a person wondering if there's any reason to keep fighting or if the only way out is that one awful leap from the burning building.

I haven't been this kind of lost for a long stretch of life, but that's the place I find myself as April unfolds.  And the naming of the darkness, it's both devastating and delivering all at the same time.

Because who really wants to say it straight out that hope's left you in the night and you don't know if you're even going to keep breathing?

But then, who can keep from drowning right here in the icy waters when you don't even know which way's up--which way's God?

So I name the dark Hopeless and I decide to keep on breathing and I grab hold of this one thing:  The darkness and I, we are not the same.  We are not one.  This darkness might have itself wrapped clean around me, and it might be trying to drag me straight to the bottom of an ocean.  But I've finally figured out which way's up--which way's God.

Because it's the middle of an April night when that one line of a song comes back to me and I finally remember what's right before it:
You offer hope when our hearts have hopelessly lost our way.

And we might all want hope to be engraved clean through the marrow of us, where it can't be lost or taken or buried under the aching dark of a life.  But it hasn't been that way since the day we fell from grace, right there at the beginning of our story.  Now hope's what we've got to hold onto with our hands and our hearts and our whole lives.

But this is what I finally hear God whispering to me here in the night--when you've lost your hope and you've lost your way, you haven't lost God.

When you've lost your hope and you've lost your way, you're not hopeless and you're not worthless.

The darkness and you, they are not the same.

And precisely when you've lost your hope, God holds out His hand and offers it right back to you.

The saying yes to hope when you feel nothing but hopeless, it might seem like the craziest, most terrifying leap of all.  But it's not a leap in the dark, it's a leap into the light--and aren't we all more than a little ready for that?

I know I am.

I'm saying yes to hope and I'm leaping into the light and I'm holding out a hand to anyone who wants to come with me.

Because there's enough hope for every last one of us and God's lighting up the night to show us the way home.

Won't you come with me?


The last number of weeks have brought a kind of darkness I haven't seen for a very long time.  I am deeply grateful to all of you who have reached out to offer a hand or a heart or a shoulder without even knowing how desperately I needed it.  You've given me the courage to leap straight out of this dark.  And if anyone's out there and feeling a bit hopeless?  I'm holding out my hand to you--yes, you, Friend--grab tight and we'll make our way home together.

And the song that's been haunting me for weeks?  I recorded this little video of me playing and singing "Wonderful, Merciful Savior" in my parents living room, complete with the antique clock ticking in the background.  Because sometimes, even when you can't speak or write in the dark, you can still sing.

{If your reading this in an email or a feed reader, you can click here to view the video directly}