Do feel trapped in a hopeless situation? Do you feel like there’s no way out, and God’s forgotten you? Do you wonder if there is any hope for your broken marriage, your upside down finances, your stalled career, your dissolved dreams? Well, come join me at the table, friend, and let’s reevaluate your position. From where I’m sitting, your story’s just starting to get good.
“Aslan is on the move. The Witch’s magic is weakening.”
-Father Christmas, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S.Lewis
I am starting to view the events of my life like I read a novel. I know it might sound trite, but if you believe that God is the Author of our lives, if you believe that He’s truly working all of this out for our good, and if you believe that He delights in bringing the dead to life, giving hope to the hopeless, and transforming the disfigured, then maybe–just maybe–we can see hints of him working in our lives . . . just like foreshadowing in a novel.
Right now, my life’s breath is really two things: my family and my book. And the funny thing I’m learning about writing is that the more I write, the more I read. I’m reading a lot of works in progress as I write a work in progress: the works of my friends in my writing group. And these baby books, each of them, are fantastic.
As we sit around our tables at Starbucks and share our manuscripts with each other, we ask each other a lot of questions. We ask a lot of questions about foreshadowing, detailing, giving too much away too soon. And we get better each and every week at tucking in foreshadows, layering in details, revealing slow the hidden motives and the bad intentions of our characters.
I believe our Author is the ultimate hand at this game of slow reveal, of teaching us to trust that the good is coming, giving to us so that we are sustained as we search, and guiding us into finding our way.
This morning, I’m working on the couch in my pajamas. Jack’s booming voice (I know, right? He doesn’t boom ever, but when he’s on the phone with a work call? I can barely concentrate!) carries down the staircase. And in these moments where we work from home, I’m reminded of something our premarital counselor said to us when I told her my parents worked from home. She looked at us and said, “Well, you’d better not hope that you’ll be able to do the same. That’s completely unrealistic.”
At the time I didn’t think much of that statement. I figured she was probably right. But now, here I am: Pjs, laptop, hubs upstairs booming.
How many times have I thought things were a bit too lofty to hope for?
Health and a family? For years, both seemed too ridiculously amazing to hope for.
Health, family, purpose-driven work? Nah. That’s asking too much.
Half-finished house with a hole in the floor? Our realtor advised us to take the insurance money and abandon it.
Now we have equity.
It continues. The relationships most broken? God most heals, miraculous.
Marriages ravaged by sin and destruction? Held up as examples for what God can do.
Couples who cannot, will not have children of their own? Yeah, right. They have twins. Then they have another surprise baby.
Kids surrendering themselves to the world? Kids anti-God, anti-sense, raging? God loves to make them our leaders.
I sit in a room on Wednesday nights and think with human eyes that there should be more people here. This effort needs to yield better results. I look at blog posts and wonder why the numbers aren’t bigger. Do you know Amazon even terminated my contract with them because after three months no one–Not One Person–clicked on an ad? With human eyes, I wonder how He will ever bring enough yield from so little, from so much brokenness, from so much scant. But then I chuckle to myself. Because I know He’s on the move.
Where there is void, expect God.
Thus says the Lord: In this place of which you say, “It is a waste without human beings or animals,” in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without inhabitants, human or animal, there shall once more be heard the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord:
“Give thanks to the Lord of hosts,
for the Lord is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!”
For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, says the Lord.
God reminds me again and again that he doesn’t transform abundance. He transforms nothingness. He divided nothing and made our planet. He breathed into dust and made humanity. He needs void to move. He needs us to expect Him to be God, not a helper or a banker or a doctor. What humans can fix and patch and manage, God transforms.
And He won’t do it the way you expect him or demand him to. He’s no tame lion. He’s wild. He’s bigger than anything you can imagine. But he is oh so good.
So if you want to know when God is on the move, look for the darkness. Look for the situation you can’t see getting better. Look at that house you’re upside down in, with a hallway-sized hole cut down to the foundation. Look for the hopeless friendship, the toxic, broken marriage, the diagnosis that feels like a death sentence. Look into your own sense of helplessness.
Look for people to speak these words over you: hopeless, impossible, unrealistic. Smile to yourself while they talk to you kindly about “managing your expectations.” Expect people to encourage you to turn away; expect to feel like a fool.
Now stay there until you see Him.
He’s coming for you, friend. He’s coming, roaring through black for you. Don’t turn away lest you miss it.
The story’s just starting to get good.