Being the romantic that I (Chris) am I love to sit on a cold dark day and drink in the cloudy and tempestuous sky. That’s because the sky is like a canvas to me. And like a canvas I prefer it be filled with a spectacular image of some kind and not just blank. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it gives me something to look at. I appreciate the warmth of a sunny day as much as the next guy. It’s just that an empty sky does nothing for me, in much the same way that a blank canvas doesn’t. I enjoy the substance.
Now God in His infinite wisdom has chosen to do something quite different in our lives. And I imagine it’s because He doesn’t view the world the way I do (I mean how can He? He is so far above it all). Instead of blessing our pre-existent life together, He has forced us to begin again. Instead of blessing our little work of art, He has chosen to erase it & paint over it. Now at first glance this seems like a horrible idea. Who wants to work hard at something only to have it destroyed in front of their face? Not me. But as God would have it we are finding out that neither of us really knows what living is all about and it shows. Every difficulty we face together lately in this season only seems to deepen that reality.
You see as Americans we pride ourselves on our sense of accomplishment and sanctification (at least for Cindy & I) has always been something of an accomplishment. We have invested a great deal of time into working at it and value our growth. But it turns out our God is NOT an American at all and is not impressed by any of our accomplishments not even our (poor) attempts to grow in sanctification. He values the person and as such is more interested in their overall health & development than their personal accomplishments, even the ones they do in His name. It’s not that He doesn’t appreciate what they do, it’s just that He already accomplished everything for us on our behalf in His Son. And He knows that we will never come close to doing what He has already done for us in Him, no matter how hard we try because we are finite & limited by our personalities (the reason He sent His Son to begin with).
So the Master has taken it upon Himself to expose the futility of our previous efforts by smashing our paltry little works of self improvement into tiny little bits. And that is really the point. What do we do when the Creator decides to destroy something we have worked so hard to accomplish? How do we respond to our sudden unemployment, handle a divorce or rejection by a loved one. How do we endure the loss & pain, grieve for our stollen health or live with a newfound handicap? How we do move forward in life when the Creator Himself has cut our legs out from underneath us? What do we do with the blank page when it is God who does the erasing? How do we let go of what we cannot change? How do we trust the One who led us here to begin with?
These are the questions burning in my mind as I contemplate the place that God has us. How do we trust the Lord in our uncertainty if it is God that led us here? How do we trust Him when our gut impulse is to complain at Him for all the terrible things that have happened to us, to challenge His judgment or question His goodness towards us. How do we trust the One that led us TO the pain to begin with? How do we rest in the God of the blank page? And yet in spite of being tempted to think such foolish thoughts, to ask such faithless questions, to think that we somehow know better than the One who made us, I am compelled to remember His faithfulness toward our family and trust Him yet again even with the uncertainty of the blank page HE created. You see the truth is the problem is not Him. It is me. I just don’t understand the beauty of uncertainty, the glory of the decimated life or the naked dependence that comes from knowing nothing about the future, being completely powerless to do anything about it even if I did.
Again that is really the point isn’t it? Sure I might speak of walking by faith but it is only ever in the abstract. I might quote the right Bible verses with the best of them and look real spiritual to others. But at the end of the day when push comes to shove and I am prompted to step into the unknown, if I am honest, I am terrified of uncertainty and resistant to change. I cling to my comforts instead of my prayer closet, my television instead of the Bible, my intellect instead of God’s Spirit (I mean is that not why Jesus had to live & die in my place to begin with?). But that is no way to really live.
The Ancient of days did not sacrifice His life so I could live mine in fear and desperation. I was set free for liberty was I not? At least that’s what the Bible teaches me (Galatians 5:1). Being afraid is not living in freedom. And it is certainly not the liberty we have in Christ. But why am I sharing this with you? Why be so transparent all of the sudden? If I’m honest it’s because I do not believe my wife and I are in some extraordinary place of sanctification, the exception if you would to the “ordinary” life. I think it’s that for the first time, we are finally beginning to live the way we were created to: in the sanctifying liberty that comes from a total dependence on the One who made us & saved us in Christ, by surrendering our own efforts & relying on His.
And He didn’t do this in a foreign country or even in the bush of Africa on a missions trip, but right here smack dab in the middle of the global center of endless creature comfort, in the freest nation on the planet. The sovereign Creator chose to expose our inward slavery & destroy it by destroying what we hold most dear right where we are at. He decided to strip us of our comfort, our strengths, our dreams & our lives right where we live and replace them with something infinitely more valuable than anything we ever had on our own. By seemingly destroying our lives, and redirecting them, by ultimately demolishing our finite goals & rendering our family immovable and broken He has actually begun the process of healing and restoring to a far more blessed state than we ever imagined. It’s just that He had to destroy us first in order to do that. He had to expose & destroy the different idols we created for ourselves out of even good seemingly biblical things by first destroying our capability to do anything other than trust in Him for everything we have (a glorious & terrifying truth if you really think about it).
So here we are in the hand of the God of the blank page we know not where, but finally and tangibly free, learning to walk by faith in the practical things, to be led by the hand of the invisible, to lean on the arm of the intangible, to rest in the work of the Divine. We are learning to follow the leading of God’s Spirit in the little things & the big, to confront the darkest parts of our personalities in faith that we are already accepted in the Beloved, loved in Christ. We are learning to live a life of love outside of our petty fears, to live a life without the burden of the former things that only ever dragged us down, to rest in the finished work of our savior & rely on His love. It is a far better life than we ever imagined, far better than we deserve.
I want to encourage you to grow in the way that you perceive our Heavenly Father, to view His work in your life in a different way. I think at times we believe & pray as if God wasn’t able to do anything without our help: to think that we must first instruct Him in prayer if He is to do anything right in our lives. I know I have been convicted of late by this in my own life. And I think the point bears repeating. We can trust the Lord to lead us no matter what it looks like. We don’t need to fear His judgments or His wisdom. He is always good to us no matter what we do. It is in His nature to do so. It is never His faithfulness towards us that is on trial but our faith in Him in light of that truth, that is. So the question at the end of the day is really not is He good enough to trust in but are we going to trust Him no matter what He does or how we feel or are we going to rely on the works of our own hands and trust in our own understanding?
I know we have never really profited from leaning on our own understanding and I am sure it is the same for you. I can think of no higher more blessed life for the saint in Christ than to rest in everything on the One who made it all to begin with. Will you join us in walking this way and put your faith in the God of the blank page? I promise it will be well worth it in the end. I have seen it for myself.
The Nitty Gritty with Cindy:
– She is still moving forward in her recovery thanks to all of your many prayers and the tender mercies of our God. In fact she recently had a pet scan and it came back negative which means she is still in remission (yay!) She still suffers from neuropathy & has trouble remembering things. But she has come a long way. And we are VERY grateful for the improvement. Please continue to lift her in your prayers as you think of her though. She still definitely needs them.
-Josiah is getting so big and is almost ready for Kindergarten. Becca is such a cutie & quite the little communicator. Noah still gets nose bleeds and has trouble communicating but is improving a little every day.
Some Basic Prayer Requests to consider:
– Pray for Cindy as she begins to watch the kids on her own once a week.
– Pray for Noah as we look into different options for helping him further with his development & special needs
-Pray for Cindy as she makes preparations to get Josiah into school and for the special aid and understanding of the faculty regarding her physical state.
– Pray for our marriage & our family as we continue to walk through the recovery process
-And pray for our family as we consider the future
We are grateful to each of you for your continued love and support. You are the life blood of our little family, the means by which our God has chosen to speak and work and act. We thank the Lord for each of you and pray for your own continued blessing. Lord bless you.
-Chris and Cindy