“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
Sometimes all I want to do? —— is just the meandering.
Meander back to the path I used to know.
Travel home on the routes I used to take.
Lose my love and give my life to those who’d protect me, and preserve me.
I want to be safe.
Desperately want life to be okay.
Live a life with no dissolutions, disease, disappointment, death or divorce.
But that’s not life.
And sometimes life says hello.
And cancer takes away your friend, and your fathers fracture you, and your leaders leave you, and the kid rebels, and the church dissolves, and even your good marriage doesn’t always survive the best of days…
And you find yourself faced with a disappointment so deep that you don’t quite know how to process it — or who to trust, or how to begin all over again.
I once scratched around for closure, struggled in the shadowland, and wrangled with the big whys of life.
And in this journey of life, when it’s not always hunky-dory, we can be the Habakkuk of the Bible who wrestled thin with God, and questioned Him:
“Why do hearts get halved in hurts, and promises broken? Why must significant presence be withdrawn and purity defiled? Why are there deep loneliness and premature deaths of babies and dreams, and where’s the certainty in the most certain relationships?”
How do you make sense of all that fracture you, and allow what breaks and bruises you to make you bold instead?
I want to safely process these disappointments before they give rise to disillusionment —before they take me out.
Disappointments and losses can come as small whispers and make you believe that sadness is your lot in life and you’d be forever alone, forever orphaned.
You hunger for an answer, clutching deeply for any sort of cure.
We can question all we want and still see no blossoms to the fig tree and no olives in the fields.
We are one with Habakkuk, crying for some sort of crazy relief, craving for some measure of completeness —- but sometimes?
We may need to wrangle with these big whys of life before we know of the One we can safely trust and wholly believe.
We can question the impossible and voice our deepest darkest disappointment, and learn through and through —
Big issues can be wrestled out with God rather than worked out with man.
The big can be small, and the impossible possible as He moves us from wrestling to resting, from questioning to quieting, from being in pain to being in praise.
He really can turn all our pain into gain.
And disappointment can lead you back Home, rather than astray and away from Home.
He will lead you to higher ground so you can see how He sees and how all of life unfolds before Him.
And I remember it now — it was down the back of those mountains.
It was there where I stood in all those majesties, and for once see all His ability that could erase all of my frailties.
Though 2018 is one of the hardest years to understand in my life, I’m beginning to see that He can give the closure that you’re so desperate to have but never know how to have.
There are motorcyclists revving up their engines on rugged, dusty roads on their cheap diesel, and construction workers rounding up wires on stilts of five-storey homes, and I see a monkey happily swinging from tree to tree, and I wonder —
Does the Habakkuk of this world ever stop wrestling with God?
Do they ever stop feeling the heart-wrenched need for answers that can only be found deep in the valleys of God?
And it’s this noisy side of the street, in the small places of traditional rooms, and all the unlikely places of our lives, that the Kingdom comes to me, and I see.
I see the answer to the closure I need.
What would make you happy even though you may be baffled by suffering?
It’s your belief in Him, because there is a gift of grace that will be yours when all you see is Him.
Because somewhere too on a hill called Golgotha, on beams intersecting as a Cross, there is a place a sinless man sacrificed Himself to save us from our sin, our selves and our sad.
He suffered so that we can see:
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.” (Isaiah 9:2)
The shadowland of hurts will forever cause us to stumble around in the darkness, but Light punctures all that’s dark and births hope anew.
Visions are often formed in the valleys.
And this is your closure: God knows.
God knew the answers to Habakkuk’s relentless prayers and desperate pleas way before they were voiced — He knew that:
Babylon will finally fall.
Injustice will not always prevail.
The evil will one day pay.
The righteous will eventually flourish.
Cancer will finally concede.
The broken promises in our lives will be renewed by Him in a new and different way.
And our lives will regather.
And in the process of battling through our disappointment, we’ll learn a quality of God who’s always faithful, who’ll ever be constant.
And it’s this quiet side of the mountain, in the small places of traditional hotel rooms, and the unlikely places of corner street cafes, and roadside street stalls; this Love flows.
Everything that has happened in our life isn’t meant to break us but to make us.
The presence of God is here and the healing tree already provided — way before our heart is torn and our hope is robbed.
So we can believe it —
Every pain can propel us to wait for the Kingdom,
Every heartbreak can be fuel for His power.
So you there in your lowland, find on a rooftop room somewhere.
Be like Habakkuk.
Find a high place somewhere you can bend your knees low and pray.
High up there somewhere, you need not look down, you need not look back.
And He promises that those who wait and watch will end up worshipping and witnessing.
Take the meander.
I know life hasn’t always turned out the way you hoped it’d be, but let time take its course, no matter what tears at you, because He is shaping you, and He’ll never be late for you.
And in that process, we can climb our watchtower and stand at our post, because God will speak and we need to write.
Write His Word on walls of souls so they can come back to life.
Write the vision that encourages the heart, so readers will read and run.
Speak over lives so poor that they go away enriched.
Birth dreams into motions so destinies are formed.
And let your word water every fig until they bud again, and the field bears again and your praise flows unhindered again —
because here and everywhere, with past unerasable and futures uncertain —
even with your questions looming and your regrets hanging:
God provides the closure.
He rebirths Bethels, and opens your future, and holds your hand steady.
(Thank you to A. Suryadi for pics 11,16,18)