As I aimlessly limped toward my 60th birthday, the more I wrestled daily with recovering from the unexpected demise of a 38-year marriage, a loss I didn’t choose, abandoned by someone I always loved.
I began to coddle secret thoughts that questioned the relevance of God in my life. How is God really applicable to me now? Would He remain with me amidst the broken shards of unfulfilled lifelong dreams?
I recalled God’s stealth grace that ensured I overcame much heartbreak while growing up: a stranger’s molestation when I was five years old, severe child abuse by a troubled perfectionist parent struggling with his inner demons, and a youth of relentless school-kid ridicule.
My soul’s lacerations became more acute, when as a teenager, my parents divorced. Our family’s possessions subsequently were soon after taken by bill collectors which my dear brow-beaten mother, working three jobs, couldn’t rescue.
The tumultuous time which ensued, created a gaping emptiness and affirmed that I was deserted without help or hope. My teen years were filled with substance abuse to numb deeply-embedded soul-pain.
When I was 21 years old, I married someone my mother adored because he wasn’t a hippie on drugs, or didn’t have the intellect of a turtle. He was a quiet, precious one, underappreciated and unnoticed by the girls around him.
I fell in love with his irresistible internal attractiveness which was so opposite the personas of the brash, self-centered boys who had recklessly trampled my heart year, after dating year.
I also loved him because I mattered to him; a concept completely foreign to me. Imagine! Quirky me, being thought of worthy of recognition and care for who I was, and not because of what I could give away.
Fast forward 38 years and I found myself scarred with a new branding of an “I,” rather than a “we,” and unwillingly parachuted into a barren wasteland, exiled, alone, clueless about my future as a single.
How did I end up here? How did I, as a talented, confident, capable, career woman miss the signs that caused me to wind up in an unintended destination, lost in a desolate, foreboding wilderness?
What good can come out of being in the middle of nothingness, exhausted and without resources? Though a Christ-follower for decades, I grieved in anguish, “My God, my God, have you forsaken me? How do I pack up 38 years of marriage and memories? How do I start over with three decades of life behind me?”
Now what, God? Now what?
Have you felt utterly abandoned, holding in your clammy, trembling hands, a “happily ever after,” reduced to shattered pile of rubble?
I completely understand.
Strangely, though, in the center of that wilderness filled with rocks and dead things, I found hope.
Actually, Hope found me … on my last breath, and at Ground Zero.
I’ve learned through a lifetime of hardships, that thankfully, nothing escapes the attention of my Creator. Nothing.
He’s mercifully using all the cumulative hurt, as bedrock to build and shape a new direction and promise-filled path.
“Do not earnestly remember the former things neither consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it, and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43: 18-19 AMP)
I ask you, fellow pilgrim, will you dare allow Him to daily, supernaturally infuse authentic hope into your heart for a new future? Will you cease looking back at what was or could have been and press on? Will you do so not based on how you feel, or what you see, but solely because He guarantees that He won’t leave you an orphan (John 14:18, Hebrews 13:5-6)?
Will you give Him permanent custody of your heart? I have, and I can joyously assure you that if you reach out to Him, with sincere expectant heart, He’ll never let go of His grip on your life. Ever.
Will you trust Him that much?
There’s a powerful vow which God makes that refers to the strength of the back feet of an adult female Red Deer. The stalks of sinew on first glance, seem skinny and incredibly feeble to support and maintain an upward ascent to safe landing. Surprisingly, this ruminant mammal effortlessly traverses jagged mountain terrain. Despite the treacherous landscape, it doesn’t lose its footing while leaping from crag to crag, because of its steady, even-toed hinds’ feet.
The ashes of your life will be used by God as substance to rebuild who you are, IF you want to be healed.
Only God can supply the sustainable strength that will cause you to burst forth from the ruins and become strong.
Like the Red Deer that’s equipped by God to move forward without fear or falter, so can I; so can you.
“Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, [though] the product of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation!
The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!”(Habakkuk 3:17-19 AMP)
My ability to move forward isn’t in a self-determined human ability to scale impossible cliffs or cope with lofty, impenetrable obstacles. Rather, it’s an unswerving liberty in knowing Who God is, the historically-affirmed, “I AM,” Who parts seas and resurrects the dead, and already has made me whole, through the seismic eternal power of the Cross’ completed work.
I no longer need to ask: Where is God in the wilderness?
He has shown me clearly: “I AM right here, redeemed Daughter, in the mist of the high clouds and in the midst of your low troubles. I never left. Now rest in Me, weary one, and let my strong Hands lift you to your intended destination. Fear not, I am with you, always.”
Moving Forward, by Israel Houghton