Trust, even Afflicted

One of the first concrete experiences I could point to when I I began looking for  ways God asks my trust in Him was one I couldn’t even remember, and yet I knew it was certain: my adoption.

My adoption was the first indication of God’s love for me, but really it began at conception and the decision of the young woman who carried me not to terminate her pregnancy. God was at work through all that, and yet it took me almost half a lifetime to have my eyes opened to it.

I am enriched with that knowledge—there are moments when it overwhelms me—of being a life choice by someone I will never know. And yet, my trust can still flag in ‘dark’ moments that pull me away from trusting God, despite that He’s shown me a most impressive love in my being here on this earth. It’s those dark moments that cause me to teeter toward falling or tumbling into disbelief and doubting God hears me when I call out.

This is a real area of concern for me, as I’m currently working through a personal quagmire that’s lasted many months and at times brought great despair. I’ve found myself asking how can a God so good be so silent to my pleas. Am I the one spoken of in the Psalm for the Afflicted? (Psalm 102). In truth, there has been more good than bad in my life, yet I still wrestle with doubt, wondering where God is leading me, and how I’m to confidently walk with Christ. I haven’t yet seized the surety—the unfailing absoluteness—of not doubting God’s plan, and that pains me.

I long to develop a spirit that’s stronger than my doubts, one that recognizes the promise and context of Psalm 46:10 to “Be still and Know that I Am God.” In my stillness as an infant I never crawled…I went straight to pulling myself up on nearby furniture and walking.

My goal on my earthly journey is to pull myself up and walk in trust with Christ.

Wet Wood, Dying Embers

I’m a fan of chiminea fires in the fall. I have a special little place in the backyard that I call my fire grotto, where I spend as many crisp yet still comfortable, idyllic fall evenings enjoying the popping and crackling of a good fire. But we’ve had a lot of damp and rainy days this past month, making for wet wood. Not the best kind of wood for roaring fires, but I persevere. Like tonight.

Most of the time, the wood bested me, its soggy surface a better match for producing thick, murky smoke rather than dancing flames. Instead of pops and cracks, I was getting low whimpering hisses and asthmatic-type wheezes. At times the smoke seemed like fog had settled over my grotto. In truth, it seemed a little too close to how I myself have been feeling lately, as though my faith walk has been hindered by a fog of uncertainty with some things I have going on, and which I seem to be stumbling through rather than seeing my way clearly.

As the sliver of moon rose above the shadowed treetops in my backyard and the ruddy gold western sky transitioned to a muddled pinkish-orange, and then to lavender hues, the wet wood succumbed at last, and burned brightly for a while. I sat still, asking God to be with me as I contemplated my tepid faith of late, until the fire died to embers.

For several minutes afterward I remained, sitting in silence, watching as hot spots in the embers spontaneously ignited, creating a burst of flame and energy, the pattern happening over and over against the backdrop of my now dark backyard.

It seems now a simple enough message: there always will be periods where we are asked to make something from less than optimum conditions; there will be times when it seems futile to even try.  And yet, we must, especially during periods of drought or excessive rain in this earthly life, because there is something we are meant to learn. Even wet wood can be reinvigorated, reignited, if we have the patience to keep our fires stoked and wait for the smoke to clear.