When you walk along Atlantic Terminal late at night, eating an entire baguette and talking to God, people tend to look at you strangely.
This morning, when I woke up, my heart was heavy. I felt a little better, compared to last night, but my heart felt like a stone weighing down my chest. What is my problem? Is it really just finals? Is it something else? What changed? Why do I feel so weird and confused? What’s going on?
There’s a wall between me and God, and while I think I know what it is, I’m not really sure how to go about removing it. It’s an uncomfortable thing, removing something from between you and God, especially when that something is yourself. Hm.
I took my World Literature final this morning, which, save my research paper on Samuel Beckett due Friday, means I’m finished with finals. Also save my second short story being critiqued tomorrow in Studio, but I don’t really have to prepare for that. So I’m done.
It’s weird…I don’t feel like it’s the end of the year. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
After my last class of the day I went and studied with Edward at a Starbucks on 7th Ave. I was reading Creation Regained when I came upon this passage:
“There is a spiritual discernment necessary if we are to know God’s will. There are many things about which the Scriptures are silent, but about which we must nevertheless seek to know God’s will….Sometimes we make a decision with full assurance of having found God’s way, but more often we do so with some hesitancy, remaining open to correction…But the point is that the lack of assurance or unanimity does not invalidate the basic Christian confession that there is a will of God for my life, that it can be known, and that I must seek it and act on it.” (Albert M. Wolters)
When I read passages like this one, I can’t help but say, “God, wouldn’t things go so much smoother if you just gave me a sign? Or like, had a tour bus drive by with Your will for me plastered on the side? Or have a meteor hit with a little post-it note attached to it saying ‘Hunter, do this?’ ” I’m in one of those spots where spiritual discernment and the Holy Spirit’s leading are clear, but I’m unsure as to how I’m to follow it. It’s not that I don’t know God’s will in this decision….it’s just that I’m not sure how to execute removing what’s in the way of my following it.
I’m just stuck.
As I continued to study, I went to my Bible, specifically to Ezekiel 36:22-33. Part of it says, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (v.26)
That made me wonder: what characterizes a heart of stone, and how does that differ from a heart of flesh? Granted, when God is speaking of a heart of flesh, He’s not saying that the heart He’s giving you is of the flesh, but rather tender and soft and impressionable like physical flesh. The heart of stone is heavy, weighing down your chest, a burden, cold, impenetrable, unfeeling. God wants to replace the heart of stone with a heart of flesh so He can change it, transform it, mold it, to make verses like 2 Corinthians 3:18 make sense. It says “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (ESV)
Without a soft heart, without a heart able to be moved, we can’t be transformed. Sometimes, in the case of having a heart of stone, God doesn’t just replace it with a heart of flesh: He first shatters its ore and breaks it in half. Make no mistake: He doesn’t break hearts just for the sake of seeing someone squirm, but rather He breaks hearts so they can finally be in the position where God can steal their affections and fill the void in their chest with something that lasts, something that fulfills them, gives them hope and enjoyment and love and understanding.
For a while I thought I had a heart of stone…actually, for a while I really did. But this is not the case here. It’s not a matter of being unfeeling or not being able to feel anything other than fear, anger, or sadness. My predicament that I find myself in (because I very stubbornly and idiotically put myself there even though God told me not to…*sigh*) is not a matter of exposing a heart of stone, but rather relinquishing the protection of my soft heart of flesh that God has put in me, and ceasing the attempt to feel things I don’t feel towards a specific person or thing.
Just not feeling something (kind of like not feeling particularly attracted to a scent of perfume, or not feeling excited about video games) is completely different from being closed off to the freedom God desires you to experience with the heart He wants to give you.
After we finished studying, we headed to a bookstore a few blocks away. Now, I’m tired, and like any normal person I get a little obnoxious and weird and spastic when I’m tired. Well, I ran into lots of things in the store and I thought John Steinbeck was Jack London (I realize that must be some kind of literary sin, but I’m going to exempt myself from it given my state of mind).
Edward was headed to Bible Study from where we were, and he wanted to pick up a dessert from a Key Food (just a grocery store, kind of like Path Mark or Price Chopper). So we went in, and I swear I felt like a little kid at a play McDonald’s. We passed a wall of baskets of bread and there were baguettes sitting there. I looked at them with wide eyes, gasped, and yelled “BAGUETTES!” I picked one up and vocally decided I would eat it on the way home.
After we exchanged witty banter across aisles and made everyone in the store think we were absolutely insane, we checked out…and I are my baguette 🙂
We parted and I walked home, munching on my bread and talking to God. As I mentioned before, people smiled at me and looked at me like I was a little crazy…but that’s okay 🙂 When I returned to my dorm (after finishing my baguette…yes, I ate the whole thing), I began to work on my research paper again and got everything finished save the conclusion.
All day today I was trying to get my mind to where it would understand and comprehend the coming of the final day of classes and finals, but it didn’t work. When Saturday comes, and I’m moving all of my everything out of my dorm, I’m still going to be getting mentally prepared to have World Literature on Monday morning.
The more I think about it, however, the more excited I am to go home. I miss the quiet. I miss the ability to run around barefoot without worrying about glass or needles or cigarettes. I miss my Shire. I miss the stars. But most of all I miss the people. I miss my siblings, my cousins, my parents. I miss my mom smiling at me with all her teeth showing. I miss Gracie trying to be a cool teenager. I miss Jimmy, well, being Jimmy 😛 I miss hearing my father’s saw buzzing in the garage and how he gets excited when he’s created something. I miss my aunt Joan and uncle Jay. I miss my grandparents. I miss my church family. I miss the Brocks. I miss singing with Hannah and laughing with Leah. I miss debating with Nathan and washing dishes with Jacob. I miss theological discussions with all of the Brock ladies while we drink water and entertain the little ones. I miss the uncomplicatedness of it all.
Oh yes, I’m homesick.
But then, as I sit and think about The Sticks, I can’t help but think about what I’m going to miss about The City: I’m going to miss being able to walk everywhere (yes, I’ll even miss the subway). I’m going to miss seeing the talk buildings and the gorgeous architecture and the jazz bands in the streets. I’m going to miss the exotic foods and the even more exotic people. I’m going to miss the books on the sidewalks that I can pick up whenever I see them. I’m going to miss the culture and difference. I might even miss the adrenaline rush I get from how fast-paced everything is. But, just like home, I’ll miss the people most of all.
I’m going to miss Rebecca being my fashionista and my encouragement and my friend. I’m going to miss Jenny’s jokes. I’m going to miss my and Adham’s ridiculous bickering. I’m going to miss the teasing that happens between me, Marco, and Arial. I’m going to miss studying with Edward and seeing new things in The City with him. I’m going to miss Sam and Maria as my city-parents 🙂 I’m going to miss lunch dates with Charlene and talks with Grace.
Now I’m getting doubly homesick.
So I don’t know what God’s going to do. Will He keep me here in the future? Will He have me go somewhere else? What will happen during the summer? What’s going to change and what will stay the same? Even though I don’t know the answers to all of these questions, and even though I’m kind of stuck in a rut right now, trying to figure out how to do what I know I need to do, I know that God is good, and that even when obeying Him isn’t really fun, it’s surely worth it in the end 🙂
“He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that He cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end…I perceived that whatever God does endures forever.” —Ecclesiastes 3:11, 14, ESV