I climbed a tree the other day, because I wanted to fill my lungs with the living breeze, to feel the wind lift the dust from my spirit, stir it to life, and sweep the cobwebs from my soul. Emerging from winter, worn out. Entering spring a bit stiff with the must and rust of year-long wrestling match still clinging to my elbows and knees.
I crawled into a patch of sunlight yesterday. Into that tipped-over gold that spilled yellow over the rocking chair, eyes closed, praying for the warm to drive the shadows from my thought and sear the sickness from my body.
Sometimes your jar of clay wages an ever-present conflict with maladies both persistent and insidious. The days slide dull through blurred vision, and you testily give your attitude a few bracing slaps each day, because for some terrible reason, when the physical is under siege, patience is the first deserter.
Over the battle-shredded radio waves, mostly static fills the ears with a dull buzz, pressing on to saturate even the spirit, if allowed the opportunity. Every once in awhile, threads of a broadcast break through, but now the voices sound foreign, unfamiliar, and the only recognizable phrase is the glaring announcement repeated again and again.
A program interrupted. Life interrupted. A declaration of war with as yet no foreseeable conclusion.
In a post-Calvary world where the hurried heart walks spiritually slow, how do you savor joy and time when each stretched-out minute feels as though it only prolongs an agony, smears salt in a wound?
Where does a fugitive find a day’s refuge or a soldier secure contentment when the desire of each second is for the nightmare to be over and the war to come to an end?
In such times life speaks a language you feel like you can no longer understand, and each word twists confusion and displacement that redirect your course with painful detours.
As an exile, you wander trying to keep the stitches of what’s left together. As a fighter you march into each day struggling to drive a ravenous enemy from the bones of your borders. And on the home front, you control the damage as best you can, looking to a horizon you pray will spell the dawn.
Life interrupted means a loss of control, a snatching of the map you’ve made to plot your course. Navigation flounders on foreign soil, and the only alternative to stumbling through the dark is to bend the knee and look up. Above the path of human navigation glitters a reminder woven into the fabric of creation itself.
On the darkest of nights, when thick ink fills the foxhole serving as shelter, stars glitter fierce and bright overhead, inviting the heart to remember, to recall that men were finding their way by the light of I AM long before the sonar and the GPS.
In drawn-out assaults where ugliness scrawls graffiti over grace and the mirror displays only a poor photocopy of the reflection you know, you thrash and fight to remember God is good. When you’re positive that whatever the difficult days were designed to teach you is a lesson you are thoroughly botching, your lungs fight to gasp out “Amen.”
The body: a battleground.
The life: war-torn
But even the ambushes that mount against you cannot catch your God off guard. Is even an emergency surprising to the one who stands beyond time? “Little by little, one travels far.”
The cross rose in victory that has already crushed the forces of the enemy, decimating his power. And though the way is often milestoned by suffering, the one who is risen bears our pain as his own and gently prunes the thorns from our hearts.
Maybe I’ll climb a tree tomorrow, stealing soft into a sniper’s perch not to watch for the enemy, but to sight and guard the weapon of joy provided as a shield to repel his strikes.
Perhaps I’ll secure a place of sunshine, praying for a spirit that cleanses the soul with peace amidst pain and de-fragments the static of an interrupted broadcast trying to drown God’s goodness.
The hands on the trigger may bleed, and the kneeling knees may bruise, but in the strength of the Father the petitioning lips can whisper, “And if not—He is still God.”
Chin up, broken-heart, for He is near. Take heart, weary one. To suffer is not to sin.
Have hope, because the cross secured a victory that ultimately freed your soul from the chain of this world. The tomb was empty, and if there were one memory you could retain, that’s the one should choose, because it alone is joy enough to fill one thousand interrupted lives.
All work subject to copyright by the author. Use by permission only. 2016.