I'm determined to get this pinned down, one way or another . . .
Let me shift directions just a bit. Back to the Katrina stuff.
Most of the Christians I know carry a deep sense of grief over both the devastation and the political infighting over this, fueled by the media's stupidity--ONE person did not cause this hurricane, and it takes TIME to figure out the logistics of the rescue and cleanup efforts--just one more example of how our "microwave" society expects results "yesterday." But not only do we grieve the tragedy itself . . . we feel this may be a taste of something more to come. (Check out http://www.elijahlist.com for one slant on this . . . whatever your denominational bent, there's lots of food for thought here.) This isn't just from "out-there," prophetic organizations, either . . . these are prayerful believers from all corners of Christianity, saying the same thing . . . God is preparing us for something big . . . we need to have our spiritual ears open and be ready.
Of course, this is nothing more than what God has been telling His people for millennia.
Now, the piddlin' details of life intrude. I'm trying to get ready for this conference. Or rather, trying NOT to think about getting ready for the conference. Last week I spent reading and scoring contest entries for one of the RWA chapters I belong to . . . a mostly fun job, a little tedious, and lots of thought required. It also means I've been in "editor" mode and not working on my own story, which requires me to be in "first draft, just write it down" mode. Then, as I was finishing that, some of the stress of the past several weeks (it's the beginning of our homeschooling year--I'm officially schooling six now--and all the drama surrounding my writing, plus family/marriage issues, plus some new responsibilities at church, plus all the Katrina stuff, plus some errrr usual hormonal stuff) finally combined and crashed down on me, and the result was a 2-3 day pity party/tantrum fit at God over how unfair it is that He expects me to do all this, and that He keeps me on such a short chain, yada yada yada.
In the middle of all that, during one of my private Bible reading times, I read the prayer of Solomon during the dedication of the temple. I was struck at how prophetic that prayer was--and how over and over, the solution of any trouble for God's people is to come back to the altar and beg God's mercy, and how the emphasis of that prayer is that we keep our hearts loyal toward Him. Ironic . . . when in the next chapter or two, Solomon himself strayed from wholehearted devotion to God, by the many women he took and kept and loved. (I could go off on a whole commentary on Solomon's marriage mores, but I won't. Not now, anyway.) Sick at heart over how this incredible man strayed spiritually, after building the temple and organizing such intense worship that the temple was visibly filled with the presence of God, I turned over to another portion of Scripture.
My Bible fell open in Isaiah. I started to go elsewhere, then decided to check out that page . . . and my eyes fell upon the passage that reads:
But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the LORD your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I gave Egypt for your ransom,
Ethiopia and Seba in your place . . . .
You are My witnesses, says the LORD,
And My servant whom I have chosen,
That you may know and believe Me,
And understand that I am He.
Before Me there was no God formed,
Nor shall there be after Me.
I, even I, am the LORD,
And besides me there is no savior." (Isaiah 43:1-3, 10)
My first thought--and what my mind has been snagged on for days--is that this is the passage the Lord has given me as a comfort just before the births of several of my children--particularly before the more difficult ones. So, rather than focusing on the "I will be with you" part, I've been focusing on the "oh, great, another labor and birth to endure!"
Ungrateful human, I am. The God of the universe assures me that He's with me and will make a way in whatever endeavor He's chosen for me (see the rest of the chapter), and all I can think of is the hardship and suffering it might take for me to get there? Sheesh.
But there I've been--stuck in the same kind of terror that used to grip my throat in the days before I went into labor with each of my children. I knew the Lord would bring me through those, one way or another (after all, what does a Christian have to lose--if we live, wonderful, because that's more opportunity we have to accomplish His purposes for us--but if we die, that's immediate entrance into Glory, with no more pain or tears or doubt or grief) . . . but the getting there . . . oh, the getting there. And the Lord had already whispered to me last year that since He'd asked me to walk a slightly different, perhaps harder road in the physical area of childbirth and family life, why did I think the path to becoming the writer He intends would be any easier?
Now I feel He's telling me, it's time to lay aside the self-pity and petulance . . . get ready . . . what you've longed for is coming . . . but it won't be easy . . .
So, is it OK to be terrified?
My dear friend Lee reminds me that true bravery is being scared spitless and doing it anyway.
Alrighty, then . . . I'm going to focus--again--on preparing for this conference, and whatever the Lord has for me there . . .
In between the prayers, of course.