big enough

I began working on this blog post several weeks ago… and then, life was interrupted… I still want to share it with you, but now with a fresh revelation of what it looks like to trust Him.
I was sitting in my living room, dutifully typing case notes for work, when I heard the soft cooing of a bird. I didn’t think much of it, birds often sit on the sill outside one of our living room windows, the weather has been uncharacteristically warm, and the birds are a little confused (so are the flowers).  It was actually a sweet, pleasant sound reminding me of the promise of spring right around the corner.  Peaceful.

But those feelings of peaceful disregard vanished in a second when that cooing bird began to completely FREAK OUT and I realized IT WAS IN MY FIREPLACE.

Insert complete panic here. Not the bird’s. Mine.

I am not generally a fearful person, but the sounds of a screeching, screaming bird attempting to fly in a 4x4 area of space, banging against the glass front definitely got my heart racing. I sat frozen on the couch, wishing beyond anything that my heroic husband would walk in the door and, as he has done before, open the glass doors, catch the bird, and take it outside.

But alas, it was just me and the cat. Who was very, very curious.

Still sitting completely still I pondered my options.

Rescue the bird. Of course, of course… OF COURSE THERE IS NO WAY I CAN RESCUE THE BIRD! What if it got out in the house? What if it TOUCHED ME!? My entire body trembles at the very thought. No, a rescue would not be possible for this girl.

Let the cat INTO the fireplace?  Certainly seemed to be where he wanted to be, and maybe the most annoying cat in the world could finally find himself useful. Maybe… but maybe not. There is no way I could stand to watch the cat kill a bird, but more importantly WHAT IF THE BIRD GOT OUT WHILE I WAS TRYING TO PUT THE CAT IN? WHAT IF IT TOUCHED ME!?

For the moment, benign neglect was the only thing that I could come up with. Which meant my official plan was to sit on the couch and do absolutely nothing. 

The bird would calm down, and I would focus on my work. The bird would freak out and I would focus on staring at the inside of my eyelids.  Great plan, right?

It was. For about 30 minutes. When the creepy black bird found a half an inch gap between the fireplace screen and the brick… and began trying to worm its way out. Its head was FULL ON outside the confines of the fireplace at one point and I may or may not have been screaming.

I attribute it to God’s mercy on this weak servant, but the bird couldn’t squirm through any farther and fell back into the fireplace. Fearfully I sprang into action- I needed to close the gap.  Grabbing a nearby bath towel I carefully approached the fireplace (think the Crocodile Hunter facing off with a dangerous cobra).  My hands were literally shaking as I made my first feeble attempt to stuff the crack full of bright pink bath towel.  What if the bird tried to escape again, right NOW? WHAT IF IT TOUCHED ME!?  I realized quickly that I couldn’t approach this task gingerly. I just had to go for it. And so quickly and firmly I stuffed the entire perimeter of the fireplace screen with towel.  This approach had an unintended bonus- the glass was now shrouded, which either lulled the bird to sleep because it was dark or convinced it to fly straight up, because the bird completely calmed down.

Back on my couch afterwards, heart still beating a mile a minute, I marveled at the level of sheer terror I had experienced over the previous thirty or so minutes.  It was completely, utterly ridiculous!  Here I am, a full blown adult human afraid of a bird that would fit in my hand (okay, gross, gross, gross- that would mean I WOULD HAVE TO TOUCH IT).  What was more, I have had pet birds before that I gladly let sit on my shoulder, and on my head, and nuzzle against my neck. So it’s not birds themselves. It’s just a strange, non-pet bird that is trapped in my fireplace that elicits such fear.  

Intellectually I know that it’s completely insane to have that level of fear toward something that I knew could not hurt me. The worst thing that bird could do to me is touch me. Yet the fear was there.

Isn’t this same thing true for most of our fears?  We worry and stew over things that either we can’t control, or that can’t control us… when we have Psalm 27:1 that reminds us The Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life-of whom shall I be afraid.

Yet, for the most part, we don’t live like that is true. I know that God was in control of that stupid bird in my fireplace. And that had I let Him, He would have gladly reigned in my out of control emotions so that I could have opened the fireplace doors, caught the bird, and let it go as I have seen my husband do before.  I mean, I am bigger than a bird, I am sure I could have handled it. Yet instead I gave full reign to my fear, instead I focused on the horror of that thing actually touching me.

Whom shall I fear? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31). Is there anything bigger than God? Anything that He cannot cover? Anything that is outside of His reach? Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save. (Isaiah 59:1)

Are we living in the light of this truth? This truth that God is for us? This truth that He is able? This truth that He is big enough?

A few weeks ago I was having one of those solve-the-problems-of-the-world conversations with a couple of my friends.  You know the kind, where conversation goes from family to politics to work to church to faith and back again… and it all makes sense. 

At one point I made the statement “either God is big enough, or He isn’t… it really is that simple”.

Truth is my friend did not exactly love that statement. 

Maybe you don’t either. Maybe there is a part of you that rises up, that says I’ve  oversimplified things. That your situation is more complicated than that. Maybe there is part of you that wants the responsibility of the worry. You don’t want to have to give it over to God completely… sure you know the end result is in His hands, but you want to worry your way to that point.  Or maybe you’ve found yourself in a circumstance where it feels like God is not coming through. The path ahead looks dreary, and you are wondering where the good plans He promised are.

But the truth is… either God is big enough to cover your circumstance or He isn’t. And if He isn’t, then He isn’t the God that has revealed Himself in scripture. He isn’t the God that spoke the universe into existence. He isn’t the God that parted the Red Sea. He isn’t the God that sent manna from heaven. He isn’t the God that raised Lazarus from the dead. He isn’t the God that is coming back, who has conquered all…

But what about those times when the answer is “no”. When a God big enough to bring about the miracle that would save your loved one, doesn’t. When the job falls through. When the house is in foreclosure. When the prodigal child stays in the far country.

The truth is, these circumstances do not change who God is. He is still big enough. In fact He is big enough to know the very thing that will bring you to rely on Him in the most intimate way. He is big enough to know the end from the beginning, and to know the path that will lead you, and others to Him…
And those were the last words I typed before getting the call that a friend’s husband had been killed in an accident at work. And before my eyes, someone I love dearly was walking through one of my greatest fears. I lost my dad when I was just twelve years old. I know the grief of my widowed mom. The emptiness of a little girl’s heart. The confusion of a little boy without a dad. I look at my family and losing my husband is a fear that is not just a bird in the fireplace. What my friend is walking through is not just a bird in the fireplace.  Yet as I stand back and watch her walk through this valley of the shadow of death, I see in her steps, in her countenance, in her hope that she knows God is still big enough. God is still good. God is still able. God is still God.  He is still bigger than whatever fear is lurking behind the glass in the fireplace.  I want that kind of faith. The faith I see pouring from her, even in this darkest hour. The faith that finds a cross burnt into a potato chip and smiles with Jesus, even in the midst of deep, deep, deep pain.  

Faith that trusts God no matter what path He asks you to walk down.

I want that kind of faith. But I am realizing this week that I don’t have it yet. I want the kind of faith that trusts God, trusts His leading, trusts His plan… yet as I sit here typing this I know that God is asking me to take a step of faith for Him, with Him… and I am ever bit as afraid as when that creepy black bird was banging himself against the glass front of my fireplace.  This leading is not new… God has been showing me this next step for many months. Yet now that the time is growing near, I am afraid.

My own words ring in my head… “He is either big enough, or He isn’t”…

I know that this is true. I KNOW that this is true. I know that this is true.

But what will my mom say. What will Jim’s mom say. What will my friends think. What if it doesn’t work out like I hope that it will. What if I fail.

Do I trust God enough? Do I trust Him enough to take this step? Do I trust Him enough to provide what I need? Do I trust Him enough if He doesn’t?

Will I focus on the bird in the fireplace… or the God that spoke it into existence. When I think about that bird, the creepy black thing that elicited such fear… it occurs to me that countless times I have sat on my front porch, delightfully watching birds just like him dance across my yard picking up bread crumbs and nest-makings.  The sun shining off the green-black of their beautiful heads. The mornings that I have been awakened by their song outside my window, and the joy that has brought me.

He was only frightening when he was invading my space.

I can tell you to have great faith. To trust God. To know that He is big enough. But how is it when He invades my space.  How will I walk that out? I want that kind of faith! I have cried out for it… and He has answered those cries with an opportunity to walk in that kind of faith.

And so I prepare my heart to take the next step. I do not run hastily. Jim and I are praying. We know the path, we are just seeking God’s timing. He is big enough. It’s time I live as though I believe that’s true…

I covet your prayers, friend.

And I know... He is able.


He is still God

Today I cried out from my living room couch for mercy. Not a quiet, half hearted prayer… but the wailing sort of prayer that only our Father can understand. The kind of prayer that causes slamming of fists on a carpeted floor, and heaving sobs from the depth of your soul.

She has lost so much, Lord. She has given you her son, and she praised Your Name. She has walked through cancer, and she praised Your Name. Please Lord, please Lord, please Lord…

Not her husband.

He is a light in a dark place. A quiet witness to your glory in a work place where so many need you. A gentle giant who helps whenever, wherever, without complaint.  

She is a good person. A beautiful spirit. Kind-hearted. Generous. Hard-working. Patient. She serves You with such humility, Lord. She loves You with such completeness.

Do something big God. You are a BIG GOD and You can do anything You want! You can bring a pulse where there is none. YOU ARE ABLE.

When we cry out, He hears us. I know that He hears us. I know that His ear was inclined to my cries. I know that He is able.  I know that His arm is not too short, that His ear is not dull to our prayers.

He is big enough.

Yet today, He answered not with healing, but with Heaven.

I can say to you all the right things. That Heaven is the ultimate healing. That He will work all things to the good. That He is near to the broken-hearted.

But the truth is. Sometimes His ways do not make sense. This is one of those times. This is one of those times that our lack of understanding causes us to lean into Him even more heavily. This is one of those times when we can’t figure out the “why”, so we have to trust that He has one. This is one of those times when all we see is the darkness, and so we must believe that His plans are still good.

I have no answer, I have no explanation, I have nothing to say that makes this any easier, or that causes the pain to make sense.

All I know is that God is still big enough. He is big enough to heal the hurt. He is big enough to bring sense out of chaos. He is big enough to work even this tragedy to the good. Even when His ways confound us, He is still God. Even when tragedy comes, He is still good. 

And even though I don’t always understand Him, I still trust Him.

Father, I lift my sweet friend Carla to you. Lord only you are able to carry the pain that she is feeling. Only you are able to relieve the hurt. Only you are able to comfort her. I pray for Eric, that he would lean into you during this time. That as his heart aches for his father, he would know your presence as Daddy-God. Lord, I know that you are with them, that you are with Mitch’s mom, and the rest of the family, and I ask Lord that they would be able to feel your presence in a real way. That they would know that you are with them, and that you are still a good God. You are still a big God. And that your love for them has never wavered. God, I also ask that we would know how to help. How we can love them well, be your hands and feet, how we can listen to their grief without trying to fix things. Be near, Lord. Be near…we need You...