with us in the fire...

from tim keller's new book...

If you believe in Jesus and you rest in Him, then suffering will relate to your character like fire relates to gold. Do you want to know who you are – your strengths and weaknesses? Do you want to be a compassionate person who skillfully helps people who are hurting? Do you want to have such a profound trust in God that you are fortified against the disappointments of life? Do you want simply to be wise about how life goes?

Those are four crucial things to have – but none of them are readily achievable without suffering. There is no way to know who you really are until you are tested. There is no way to really empathize and sympathize with other suffering people unless you have suffered yourself. There is no way to really learn how to trust in God until you are drowning.

But God is with us in the fire. He knows what it’s like to live through the miseries of this world – He understands. He is near, available to be known and depended upon within the hardship. He walks with us, but the real question is – will we walk with Him? If we have created a false God-of-my-program, then when life falls apart we will simply assume He has abandoned us and we won’t seek Him.

 

(i wrote this post back in november. i didn't finish it. i still don't think it is finished. but it is done enough for now...)

this has been a rough fall. (ha. the joke part of that you won't get for a little while. come back to it later. then you will laugh...) 

first, my eldest leaves for college. she is doing well. i am doing well. most of the time. some of the time. then something will hit me (again, another joke that you won't get for a while. wait for it...) and i will remember that she is gone. and isn't coming back for a long time. and that it won't be the same when she comes back. it's just hard. somedays more than others... 

then i had a little car wreck. really it wasn't much more than a fender bender. on my way to sub at the middle school. i was turning left. and someone was coming a bit too fast and we crashed. and it was my fault because i was turning left. the insurance company totaled my car. because it was old. and lots of miles.

so i have a lovely new (to me) car. a 2010 honda pilot. i love it. but i don't love that our insurance costs went up. and that this car cost more than the insurance settlement.  

in the middle of all this i thought i had an inspiration for what i was supposed to be doing career wise. our church has adopted a school and i wanted to offer to work in the classroom doing my shakespeare curriculum and do what i did in the school that i taught in back in atlanta. the school that i developed this shakespeare curriculum for had the same kinds of low scores on their language arts tests and the curriculum was precisely written to help in those areas. so i was so certain it was a match of my skills and a need and maybe a way to get back to teaching... i prayed that God would open the doors if it was the right timing. but that door was closed. the principal set up a meeting with me but then wasn't there at the meeting time and then just didn't return phone calls or respond to emails about me coming into the school. it was very disheartening.  

and then i get a call to do some more subbing. a few days in a drama classroom! i did one day, LOVED IT, and then that night took a nasty tumble in a parking lot and broke my fall... with my face.

yes, i broke my face. the optical floor (bone under my eye to be exact). and i had a few days of double vision and am now going on a week of looking like i lost a bar fight. 

now do you understand those "fall" jokes back in the earlier paragraphs? ha ha.

not really terrible suffering. but it has just been one hit after another the last few months. there are days when i don't have enough to do and then days when my calendar is filled to the brim and i can't seem to make things even out. there are days when i am satisfied with still being at home and think it is the most important thing i could ever been doing and days when making one more meal or cleaning one more toilet seems to be more than i can handle.  

and i don't know what to write about. or why i bother to write about anything. so i haven't been writing. have you noticed? 

but i have been listening. to sermons. to my prayers. to God. to music. 

like this song...

Your ways are higher than our ways
And the plans that You have laid
Are good and true
If You call us to the fire
You will not withdraw Your hand
We'll gaze into the flames and look for You

 millie her friend ellen when they were here for spring break. at our new fire pit...

millie her friend ellen when they were here for spring break. at our new fire pit...

so these days you will find me gazing in the flames and looking for Him. He has not withdrawn His hand. i know that much is true. even when i don't know much else...

isaiah 43:2 ...when (not if but WHEN) you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.