Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding.
Acknowledge him in all your ways,
and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NET)
My heart is so very tired.
This post has been slowly taking form and materializing in my own mind over the last several days. Weeks, really. I've felt as though I've been wandering through a thick fog which, for the time being, is here to stay. I've been fighting against it as valiantly as I'm able, hoping it will burn off. I'm exhausted. I surrender. [insert flying white flag here.]
In terms of relationships, faith, and life in general, I have come to the end of myself. No bridges have been burned, but familiar comforts have been stripped. While being taken to new heights and depths of faith, I simultaneously feel more clueless and uncertain than ever. I have reached a point where there is nothing more I can do. I am concurrently convicted and conflicted. I've come to the end of my own power. It is cold, it is dark, and I am in wholly unfamiliar territory.
Dear God, I am so terrified.
I've prayed for what you might pray for while in the midst of confusion: for clarity, for direction, for wisdom. None of these things have been provided. The only truths that have emerged are these: Faith is a choice, not a feeling. Faith is not for those surrounded by what is comfortable, familiar, or well-tested. Faith is for when it is desperately dark, when you can't see your hand in front of your face, when the next step you take might be over a precipice. Faith is for when your senses and your knowledge fail you. Faith is what you exercise when all conventional wisdom would say it's ridiculous to trust or hope. Faith is for when the only answer you receive is a question. Or when the answer is a deafening silence.
And so I've learned that there will be no clarity, no obvious direction forthcoming, no blaring red lights or voice from the sky proclaiming GO THIS WAY. And my wisdom? I've most certainly stepped outside the bounds of any knowledge or experience I possess. And so I'm left to lean upon God, to obey Him (sometimes blindly), to trust what He's promised. Ultimately, to trust Him. Like Noah did when he built the ark though the earth had never seen a single drop of rain. Like Abraham did when he held the knife over Isaac on the altar. Like Moses, who left behind a life of wealth and privilege in Egypt, having seen "him who is invisible" (Hebrews 11:27).
Nothing makes sense to me right now. I honestly do not understand what God could be up to, and I've given up postulating. But whatever work He is about, I know I'm slowly being emptied of myself and stripped of the things I did not even realize I leaned so heavily upon. I realize this is a good thing, even poetic in a way. To speak of it, it is such a beautiful concept: to be emptied of oneself so Christ can make Himself manifest in you. But may I say, ouch. The process of being stripped, emptied, cleaned out, molded, and refashioned is (at best) an unpleasant one. Tears come easier than prayers these days.
So when I pray, all I ask is that God would make something of all this. When my feelings beg to send me in a direction other than obedience and trust (which is the majority of the time), when I am tempted to reclaim old comforts, I am reminded that the ancients were not commended for following conventional wisdom or for paying heed to the opinions of onlookers. They were commended for exercising faith, for trusting the words of Him who could not be seen. They stood firmly on His promises and commands, building boats, raising knives against their children, defying those once called family.
They must have been afraid, but they did not let this drive them. In spite of what must have been an overwhelming feeling that obedience was insane, they simply did what God said to do. And so their examples shine in Scripture over two thousand years later.
In looking up the Scripture for this post, I looked at the roots for some of the key words in the passage. According to Bible.org, the word bÿtakh ("trust") has a dual meaning in Hebrew: in a literal sense, it means "to physically lean upon something for support" and figuratively, "to rely upon someone or something for help or protection". The commentary expands on this, noting that in this passage, "relying on one's own understanding is compared to leaning on something that is unreliable for support."
I've never thought of my understanding as unreliable. Nor have I ever obeyed God in spite of what (by all appearances) is most sensible. And I'm certainly not accustomed to putting aside the best-intentioned advice of those I'm in the habit of trusting implicitly.
And so my hope is that instead of just paying lip service to an abstract concept of trust, I would really learn to trust Him: that I would press my weight into Him, lean heavily into Him, look only to Him. That I would step forward even when I feel most like turning back.