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}

12 comments:

  1. the healing and grace our hearts always hunger for..yes. Hang tight Courtney, keep singing, these are the times that He uses to bring us full around.

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    1. @Kathleen: Thank you, Friend, for encouraging words here. You know that line you quote from the song--it strikes me especially now, in the wake of all this darkness, that even in the midst of the hopelessness, there was always still that hungering for healing and grace. Hungering for Him. What gift. Grace to you tonight and always.

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  2. yes, Courtney, you and darkness are not the same: when darkness envelops and presses in on us, it's unbearable precisely because we know darkness, far from being us, is our mortal enemy. you're not darkness, you're a light. and it is true of created and finite lights, as it is of the uncreated and infinite Light, that they shine into darkness. if we are faithful--even when hope seems completely out of reach, even when we are "eating the bread of sorrows" and "walking in darkness"--that is powerful witness, giving glory to God, and sustenance to others: i'm sure your dogged faithfulness has illuminated the path of more people than you or I will ever know. but it's such a hard thing to give light to others, without having any to bask in yourself, and i can't say how happy and thankful i am that your darkness is lifting!

    grace always,

    chris

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    1. @chris: I can't thank you enough for always whispering hope to me. My "dogged faithfulness"? Thank you for seeing faithfulness in me when it's hard to see it in myself. May God bless you beyond measure for all your prayers and encouragement on my behalf. And yes--I am rejoicing over the darkness finally releasing its grip. You don't realize how much you *don't* feel like yourself until suddenly you do feel like yourself again. Feeling it sure and strong now, that God is good and He can pull me out of the deepest pit.

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  3. You don't know what your words mean to me. I look for them, and they have become like lights that shine in the darkness of a storm: leading me home. We, both of us, are finding our way into the light again, and it's so true...it's the hunger for the embrace of God's grace that helps to draw us away from the grave. Thank you for being transparent. Thank you for being real.

    You are so loved. You are so loved. You are so loved.

    Bernadette

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    1. @Bernadette: Dearest Friend...thank you for seeing light here in my words, in my broken journey through the dark. Thank you for walking hard roads with me. Thank you for being brave and leaping out of the dark. So grateful to have companions even in the darkest days. And you coming into my life? Proof positive that God IS good. Always. I love you.

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  4. Courtney... I'm just catching up with this post, and friend - I didn't expect it, but I needed this like woah! I woke up Monday in the dark, and it just wouldn't go away! I'm overwhelmed at life circumstances, at friends who doubt God, at loved ones who stopped praying, at Christians who aren't being the body of Christ. I just felt dark, dark, and more dark. I've spent the past two days at home just wanting to shut out the world. I'm a hope addict, so this is so out of character for me. I have been meaning to visit your blog for weeks now, and this today spoke to me right where I am. Thank you for sharing! And you have a beautiful gift of music!

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  5. p.s. I LOVE your new blog design!! It's beautiful!

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  6. I am so very sorry to hear that the darkness has come to visit you this week, Kim. You reaching out to me in my own darkness was such a comfort to me when I didn't even know how to ask for help. I am thankful my story here--or rather the story God is writing with my life--is offering you back a bit of that hope you held out to me when I so desperately needed it. And knowing that He's using my heartache to minister to other hurting hearts? Yes. This is hope and healing through and through. Praying for you, Friend, and eagerly awaiting His deliverance on your behalf. You have been a gift to me on a hard stretch of life's road and I pray that I can be a bit of the same to you along the way.

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  7. Thank you, Kim! I've been slowly working on things here at the blog this week (I have *no* idea what I'm doing, so it's taking me forever!) and trying to make it a bit calmer and more inviting. Your blog is one of the ones I've been looking to for inspiration, so thanks for that! And thanks for trying out my new comment system. I really do think there should be a prize for being the first :o)

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  8. yes, we can often sing when talking fails...thank you for sharing this song - it's new to me, but a keeper. =) love you.

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  9. I am surprised that Wonderful, Merciful Savior is new to you, my well-read, well-sung, worship-minded Friend! Happy to share it with you, Dear One--it is full of heart truths. Can't wait to catch up with you in person soon!

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