Tuesday, November 28, 2017

To Begin Again...

I muffle out a sarcastic chuckle as my clumsy fingers fumble their way over this dusty keyboard and claw their way through cobwebs on this old abandoned blog. Here I am about to write a post titled, “To Begin Again,” yet I haven’t even a clue as to how to write the first sentence.

Where does one begin?
And who even reads or writes blogs anymore these days?

Writing used to be as natural and necessary to my existence as breathing.  A way to untangle a messy heart and make sense out of it.  A cathartic exhale of all that clogs and falsely distorts and gives room to inhale Truth that cleanses and brings clarity.  It’s been nearly three full years since I have opened up this blog and written anything (January 2015 was my last post).  So where do I begin when I can't even remember my own login password here?

There’s been too much life experienced in these past two years...
Life that had silenced and took away words...
Life that couldn't even be reduced to words...
Life that made me feel disqualified to dare to write again...
Made me believe I never would...
And vow that I never could...
Too much change...
Too much rubble...
And too many ashes...

After all that, where does one begin again?

Right now, in this moment, I write on the other side of it all.  But my journey didn't begin here.  It began in the thick of that rubble and ash ruin, where I was truly at the end of myself. I'm living proof that that's where it can begin...

At the end of ourselves.
Hands lifted high in surrender.
Knees bowed low in humility.
In the rubble.
In the ashes.
In the ruin.
That's fertile ground for God's best work.
It's there we can find that the end of ourselves may really be just the beginning.

I am not even sure how I came to stumble upon my blog today.  But I did.  I’ve avoided it for too long. For months, going on years.  Intentionally not going there because looking back was too uncomfortable and painful.  But this morning, I took a little detour here...a step back in time. And I allowed myself to pause through the discomfort.  I found myself re-reading post after post from months and years long past, and I began to allow my very own words to minister to my heart in this present moment, reminding me of where I’ve been and how God’s faithfulness has been woven tightly throughout every rip and seam.

Over the years I’ve witnessed God’s best work in and around me.  And I’ve most certainly seen the enemy’s best work too.  Work that not only stole my words for a season, but threatened to steal my faith, everything dear and sacred in my life, and my very soul too...leaving me in a pile of rubble and ashes wondering how I'd ever begin again.  That was two years ago.

But I did begin again.

It wasn't an overnight cure and transformation.  Just as picking up this blog where I left off nearly three years ago and writing this post today sure aint going to win me no Pulitzer Prize (I threw in that grammar just to ensure so).  No, it started with day-in and day-out baby steps of surrender. One agonizing, blistered and bloodied foot in front of the other. Some days it was a desperate crawl on scabbed-up, calloused, worn-out, bended knee.  But it was a start.  And it slowly propelled me forward.

Beginnings often start small and meager.

I think too often we give up before we give God room and ground to work. It becomes too tough. Too difficult.  Too long.  Too much work.  So we throw our hands up in impatience and frustration and call it quits.  Or better yet, we force an Ishmael out of our lives when all along God has been planning an Isaac for us if we could just patiently stay the course of faithfulness and obedience until the promise comes.  If we would just pursue His will over our own.  But, we are quick to throw in the towel and call things on our own terms.

Well, at least that’s what I did.  Years of promises that I knew God had personally spoken over me and my family, yet had remained unfulfilled, cracked me wide open.  And when I say years, I don't mean one or two.  It was SIX years of walking the narrow road with unanswered prayers around every corner, with valleys I felt too deep, and desert stretches I thought too long.  And it brought me to a breaking point and took me down a road I had never planned on walking. And that road, though wide, brought me nothing good while on it.  All the life and fruit in me had nearly withered up and fallen to the ground.  Until one day I found myself spiritually suffocating and starving and couldn’t take another dry-boned step on my own.

But those dry-brittle bones eventually led me back to God...The Giver of Life.  When your lungs beg for air you'll run to wherever you'll find oxygen.  He is life to me. So I ran like mad to find my way back to Him.  And those ashes of prodigal ways proved to become fertilizer for new life.  Life that has been redeemed, restored, renewed, refined, reborn. Rebuilt on a foundation so unshakable with a deeper and greater love for God than I ever felt imaginable. I once longed for the woman I once was and wished I could find my way back to her. Now, I have no desire, for I'm changed.  A better version has awakened and emerged from the rubble.  I bear the scars, and always will, but they tell a story of redemption.  And they spur me on to become all that He has purposed and intended for me to be...a woman truly and wildly after His own heart.

And after two years, I can confidently and humbly declare these truths:

-He rebuilds on the ruins (Jeremiah 30:18)
-The end of oneself gives way to the fullness of Life within  (Matthew 5:3-10)
-Unfathomable, undeserved beauty rises from the ashes (Isaiah 61:3)
-He works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28)
-What the devil intended for harm, He intends for good (Genesis 50:20)
-Blessed is she who has believed that the LORD would fulfill His promises to her (Luke 1:45)

So, it's obvious no Pulitzer Prize will be knocking on my door anytime soon, or at all, for that matter. And though I most likely write for an audience of One today, and for any days to come...as a word girl who believed she had been silenced to never write again, today I took another step forward. Though small and meager, to begin again...