My husband and I sat across from each other at a new cafe in a nearby town.
He looked tired and stressed. The usual merry twinkle in his eyes was absent, replaced by the utter weariness that can result from a lengthy wait. We have been in an infuriating holding pattern in recent months, the result of incompetence and seemingly endless miles of red tape.
As I listened to him share how he was feeling, my heart was extremely unsettled.
My husband is a rock. I am the emotional one and he has spent a considerable amount of time over our 21 years of marriage reeling me back in, speaking calm words of reassurance and always making me smile or laugh out loud.
Yet he is human, just like me. He is subject to the same frailties, fears, doubts and insecurities we all share. I dare not place unrealistic expectations on his broad shoulders, looking to him to be to me what only Jesus can be.
But sometimes I do.
We finished lunch and strolled hand-in-hand through an art gallery.
The afternoon sky became grayer and cloudier and his cell phone remained stubbornly silent. I felt a heaviness settle on my heart.
I wanted to FIX this.
I wanted to burst into this person’s office, demand that he do his job and give us what we want already.
But more than that, I got brutally honest with Jesus. “You could fix this,” I reasoned with Him. “Haven’t we waited long enough? What are You doing? For the life of me, I cannot figure it out. This all seems so pointless! Can today just be the end of this, please? Do we really have to wait another day????”
One of my most cherished books is Jesus + Nothing = Everything. The author (and my pastor from when we lived in Florida) writes about the glorious fact that everything we need, we already have in Jesus as a result of the eternal and abundant life He purchased for us on the cross. I love this book. I practically have it memorized, I have read it so many times. Page after page is highlighted, underlined, starred. I give copies away as gifts. I love the message. I know it is true.
But this afternoon, in a moment of both ruthless honesty and exhaustion, I wanted my own way more than I wanted Him.
That looks really ugly in black and white.
But you know what? That is what faith looks like. It is often a messy, difficult process. A wrestling match of the heart as we seek to deliberately place the truth of God’s Word over our tumultuous, often unreasonable feelings. Or yield to His (perfect) way as opposed to demanding our own (short-sighted, selfish) way.
Jesus did answer my prayer this afternoon.
He said no.
The phone call we had been hoping for did not come. The waiting would continue.
I took a shower. Cried a little. Felt sorry for myself.
But then, I grabbed my Bible and went to my knees.
It always goes back to this … to Him, the One I love the most with all my imperfect, fallible and fragile heart.
He sees all the ugly that no one else ever sees. Yet He loves me unconditionally, wholly, completely. Nothing I say or do surprises Him. After all, He called me to His side when I was still His enemy, still hopelessly lost in my sin.
He calls me His bride. He tells me that He delights in me and rejoices over me with song. He offers to give me beauty for ashes if I will only trust Him. He redeems and He restores. And He is always about the business of melting my heart of stone and transforming it into a strong and soft and loving heart like His own.
Even when I act like a spoiled brat and look to the creation to give me what only He can, He welcomes me with open arms.
I read His Word, allowing it to penetrate to the depths.
My heart is quieted, soothed by His love letter.
The darkness of self-absorption is gradually replaced by His healing light.
The peace that I had forfeited by my stubbornness once again settled like a blanket over my troubled heart.
Fear gives way to renewed hope in His goodness, whatever comes.
Pride is replaced by humility, as I am once again reminded that I am but dust.
A fretful, complaining spirit gradually disappears as I focus on gratitude.
A closed fist, clenched in defiance earlier today, is relaxed into an open hand.
My will is once again aligned with His.
I make the decision to trust His timing and purposes.
I ask for (and receive) His sweet and freeing forgiveness.
I can fix nothing and no one. I can’t even fix myself. Jesus is the only One who can fill that job description.
I am the clay who will (again) make the choice to yield to the Potter’s loving hands.
And when I do that—when you do that–bondage gives way to freedom.