In the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley, there’s a scene where Elizabeth (Knightley’s character) is spinning around on the family barn swing as the seasons pass before her. The scene is soaked with the weighty rain of emotional residue from her best friend Charlotte marrying Elizabeth’s ridiculous cousin Mr. Collins, who’d originally tried to propose to Elizabeth. On top of that, Elizabeth’s sister Jane had a sort-of-flame Mr. Bingley who just up and left, and then Elizabeth is thinking about the lack of propriety concerning her family in general, particularly her mom and three younger sisters, though she loves them…There’s just a lot going on, and something inside her knows that this is just the beginning of how the relationships in her life are going to evolve.
This is the scene and the feeling that came to me as I stood outside of the home in which I now lived, eleven in the evening, with a cold, winter rain coming down on me. My thoughts lived in the emotional residue of the past few weeks, and anticipated the emotional roller coasters to come, both as I left the new familiarity of North Carolina to return to the Shire in New York for a time, and as I prepared for and embraced Jacob’s homecoming in the spring. I felt like I rested in the quiet of a storm.
The day had been long. I spent four wonderful hours of the morning talking with Kathi, one of the ladies discipling me…Jake had been praying for deeper friendships and encouragement with the women around me while he’s gone, and his prayers have been answered evermore. The time with Kathi had been like medicine, and God settled me once again in His love and grace, and dispelled much of the shame I’d been struggling with. This is the first time in my life where I have people who are dedicated to discipling me, and prioritize challenging me and encouraging me and helping me walk with Jesus through this world. I’ve realized that if both Jesse and Kathi are committed to discipling me, then I should really take advantage of that and let them be my designated “externally processing” people and “asking all of my questions” people. Since realizing that and deciding to exercise boldness in asking them questions and sharing my life with them, God has really used conversations with them to reassure me of His trustworthiness, sovereignty, justice, and power.
After spending time with Kathi, I drove over through the cold and windy weather to The Coffee Scene. I’d experienced a burden and I had been challenged by Kathi to pray for Jake and for those couples struggling with infidelity in the army (not that Jake has ever done that or that I believe he would, but the enemy is crafty and a tremendous foe, and it would be ignorant for me to not pray for that area of our marriage, and infidelity is particularly rampant in the military).
“God shapes the world by prayers. Prayers are deathless. The lips that uttered them may be closed in death, the heart that felt them may have ceased to beat, but prayers live before God, and God’s heart is set on them, and prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them; outlive a generation, outlive an age, outlive a world.” —E.M. Bounds
“So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.” (Ezekiel 22:30)
The familiar hodge-podge of a playlist, including Ozzy Osbourne and Echosmith, serenaded me as I took in the warm atmosphere of this coffee shop. The deep reds and browns of its interior enveloped me as I prayed for Jake in my mind and ordered some hot tea. I was introduced by one of the regular baristas to a barista-in-training. The barista-in-training’s name was Bree, and I memorized her face and assigned it to her name so that next time I came I could talk to her more in depth.
I sat at a high table and read my Bible, praying through the reassurance God gave me in Psalm 34. Sometimes I subconsciously believe that by trusting God I’m somehow missing out on something, or that He just expects me to trust Him whether I receive or am reassured of anything or not…To some degree the latter is true; God deserves my trust. But it was good to read Psalm 34, where it says “Those who seek the Lord lack in nothing” and “Blessed are those who trust in the Lord.” I think I’ve heard that concept so much that I forgot what it meant, and didn’t quite get it until now. Trusting in God offers the greatest “return”; the only way I miss out on anything is by not trusting Him.
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.” (Psalm 34:8-10)
Before leaving The Coffee Scene, I had a conversation with the older gentleman at the table next to mine after he’d asked me what I was reading. I stopped at Hannah and Matthew’s house to catch up with them, since they’d been out of town for some time. After time with them, I headed back “home” to get some homework done and eat dinner before heading out to Berean Baptist Church for the Christmas program.
And now I was back here at “home,” post Christmas program. I thought about maybe taking a walk around the neighborhood in the rain, just to think and pray aloud to the God who’d sent the rain in the first place. But I went back in my memory to middle school—yes, middle school—when I was stuck in worshiping my emotions and being a slave to their power…Man, Jesus went through puberty and did not sin! He was clearly the Son of God. When I was in middle school, I would walk in the rain to gain attention from the guy in my life who didn’t care, to feel like my life was worth something. I shuddered at the thought of where I used to be.
How do people really change and get out of the ever-deepening pit of selfishness and fear without Jesus?…On a somewhat related note, how do people stay married without Jesus?
“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” (Psalm 34:15-18)
I fought the desire to follow the spiral of my emotions and walked inside, continued to pray, started settling down for the night, crawled into bed, and fell asleep praying.
“Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence. For all day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning. If I had said, ‘I will speak thus,’ behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children. When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me—until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end.” (Psalm 73:13-17)
“The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.” (Psalm 34:22)