Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Learning To Lean



As one who has trusted God from childhood, I thought I had learned how to lean on the Lord. At every crisis point of my life, I turned to Him in prayer, asking for His help and direction. I searched the scriptures for words of comfort and courage. I had faith that God would, and could, bring me through whatever situation life brought to me. I felt secure in what I believed and knew my faith would remain intact, regardless of my circumstances.
How smug I was in my faith. Though it never crossed my mind that I was better than anyone else because I trusted God, I had grown rather prideful of my relationship with God. I just knew that, because I loved Him so much, God would never allow me to be put to the test. I had come to honestly believe that God loved me too much to allow me to suffer in any way. Little did I know what life had in store for me---little did I know what I would learn about really trusting God.
My lessons began with the loss of a twenty year marriage. I loved my husband dearly and my whole world was shattered the day he walked out of my life. I was dazed, shocked, hurt, and so lost. My spirit crumbled within me and my heart shrank into nothingness. Two years later, the loss of a second brother wrenched my heart. I hurt so badly---David was my friend, my confidant, my protector. I felt as if a hole had been dug into my life and I was falling in. Several years later, a close friendship fell apart. Someone who had been the dearest friend I had ever had, no longer desired that friendship and, once again, I felt rejected and alone. Recent tragedies in my family (see my previous post) have, again, served to reshape my relationship with God. Finally, just a week ago, my brother, Daniel, and his wife suffered the loss of their daughter. She was 30 years old and passed away in her sleep.
During these times I found myself weeping and wailing before the Lord. I cried out, "Why, Lord? Why have you allowed these things to come? What have I done that has provoked your anger?". I felt betrayed by God and could not understand why He had allowed such suffering to come to me. I searched my heart and life to find something--anything--that would give me a clue as to why God had, literally, pulled back His protective hedge. Why was God allowing these dark times, these "Dark nights of the soul", as the author Thomas Moore calls them.
Early one morning, as I was praying earnestly for understanding, the words of a recent message came back to me. I had heard a minister speak a few weeks before, regarding this very subject. I recalled his words, "When you were in school, you had a teacher. Your teacher went through each lesson with you. He/she explained each problem, covered each principle, and made sure you understood what was being taught. But, when it came time for the test, the teacher was silent. He/she didn't say anything, didn't answer any questions, didn't provide any explanations regarding what was on the test. The teacher was silent while the test was going on. The test was the only way the teacher could find out if you had learned what you were being taught. When God allows a test, He can be silent, too.".
It finally hit me. I was "taking the test". God was silent. He needed to know if I had learned the lessons He wanted me to learn. What were the lessons? Lean on Him when life hits hard. Never leave His side if I want to know the way. Stay close to Him if I want to make it safely. The only way that God would know for sure if I had learned how to lean was to allow me to be placed in a circumstance that was beyond my control. He took me out of my comfort zone, out of every thing that I was capable of handling on my own, and placed me smack dab in the middle of a situation that only He could help me through. My knowledge of His Word served me well---it became my handbook. The habit of prayer enabled me to go to Him with the slightest pain, the deepest agony, and talk to Him as I would to a dear friend. I was truly learning what it meant to lean on the Lord. It was a painful, but necessary, lesson.
I cannot say that I will never again question God as to why He allows what He allows. I cannot say that I will always come to Him first rather than try to find the answer for myself. But I can say that I have come to love leaning on the Lord. I have found safety, security, and refuge when I run to the strong arms of God.
All the sorrows and despairs of my life have only served to teach me, to prepare me, for the tests life is sure to bring. Though my heart may ache, my spirit sag, and my song disappear, I know where to run. I have the perfect hiding place---the shadow of the Almighty. Through it all, I lean on Him. He is, after all, the God who cannot fail.

In Grace,
Marie