“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 and preserve me.
I want to be safe.
Desperately need life to be okay.
Live a life with no dissolution, disease, disappointment, death or divorce.
But that’s not life. And sometimes life says ‘hello’.
And when cancer takes away your friend, father figures fracture you, and your leaders leave you — the kid rebels and your church dissolves, and even your great marriage doesn’t always survive the best of days;
You find yourself faced with disappointment so deep that you don’t quite know how to process it — or who to trust, or how to begin all over again.
So I scratched around for closure, struggled in the shadowland, wrangled with the big whys of life.
When it’s not always hunky-dory, I am Habakkuk of the Bible, who wrestled thin with God, who questioned Him through and through —
“Why do hearts get halved in hurts?
Why must promises be broken?
Why are significant presence withdrawn and purity defiled?
Why are there deep loneliness and premature deaths of babies and dreams?
And where’s the certainty in your most trusted 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, 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 can know the One to safely trust and wholly believe.
We can question the impossible, 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 on to higher ground so you can see how He sees, see 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 I’m so desperate to have, but never knew how to find.
Right there at the mountains, there were motorcyclists revving up their engines on rugged, dusty roads.
There were construction workers rounding up their wires on the stilts of five-storey homes.
And a monkey happily swinging from tree to tree. 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 at this noisy side of the street, in the small places of traditional rooms and all the unlikely places of our lives that I see. I see the answer to the closure I need.
What would make you happy even though you may be baffled by suffering?
What would satisfy your heart for closure when life seems to have broken you apart?
It’s your belief in Him — grace garlands your great pain when all you see is Him.
Somewhere on a hill called Golgotha, on beams intersecting as a Cross, One sinless man sacrificed Himself to save us from all our sin, ourselves and our sad.
He suffered so 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 is dark and births hope anew.
Visions are often formed in the valleys.
And this is the closure we’ll ever need: God knows.
God knows the answers to Habakkuk’s relentless prayers and desperate pleas way before they were voiced — He knows 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 will taste the God who is always faithful, who will never leave, who is your perfect Father.
It’s on this quiet side of the mountain, in my small traditional motel, and in the unknown corner street cafe, with dirty, buzzing roadside street stalls, I feel Love flowing.
Everything that has happened in our life isn’t meant to break us but make us.
The presence of God is here, the healing tree already provided, way before our heart is torn and our hope is robbed.
So we too can believe it:
Every pain can propel us to wait for the Kingdom,
Every heartbreak can be fuel for His power.
So then you there in your lowland, or wherever you may find yourself dumped in your deep disappointment;
Find on a rooftop room somewhere —
Be like Habakkuk.
Find a high place to bend knees low and pray.
High up here, 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, know that all will be redeemed to shape you.
He will never be too late for you.
Let’s 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 they go away enriched.
Birth dreams into motions till 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 pasts un-erasable and the futures uncertain,
Even with your questions looming and your regrets hanging —
God provides the closure.
He rebirths Bethels, opens your future and holds your hand steady.
(Thank you to A. Suryadi for pics 11,16,18)