I posted those words in a blog post last summer, about forgiveness (they're posted on my wall, too). And I posted the lyrics to “Love’s Not Safe,” my prayer song for relationships.
Little did I know how God would test my statement of faith in His goodness.
In January, my prayer song changed. With all of my heart I joined the music:
Make me empty/ So I can be healed...
Make me empty/So I can be filled...
Make me lonely/so I can be Yours...
Til you are my one desire/ Til you are my one true love/
Til you are my breath, my everything/ Lord please keep makin’ me.
(Sidewalk Prophets, Keep Makin’ Me)
Mark 9:43-47, Matthew 15:1
When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Mark 2:17
God answers prayers, even when you pray in song. That should scare you.
One day, early last spring, my heart broke. I don’t say that sarcastically, nor do I mean it in a Texas style show of compassion. In a situation so complicated only God could unravel it, a crisis so spiritual the world would never even call it a fight, I wound up facing a broken friendship.
It’s not that I didn’t bring it on myself. Sin, even the sin of overvaluing people, has consequences. And God had whispered to me that it was coming, that I needed to turn my own eyes toward the cross, and that truth might have to be spoken.
Relationships are never simple; there’s so much more than what is on the surface. And in the weeks and months to follow, I was to learn that I am not the Healer. I could not fix what was broken.
I grieved: tears and prayers and questions. Never before had I understood what it was to question - not to question God’s existence, but His goodness, His Sovereignty, His love. Why, if He loved me, would He allow me to hurt someone in this way? Why did I hurt? How could He work good?
My song changed. It changed more than once in those dark days, and sometimes the songs were the clearest prayer I could express. But God, in His grace, heard the words I couldn’t express (Romans 8:26-27), even giving me the heart to allow Him to change my emotions.
These voices speak instead and what's right is wrong
And I'm giving into them, please Lord, how long
Will I be held captive by the lies that I believe
My heart's in constant chaos and it keeps me so deceived
But if I let these dreams die/If I lay down all my wounded pride
If I let these dreams die/ Will I find that letting go lets me come alive
So empty my hands
Fill up my heart
Capture my mind with You
(Empty My Hands, Sidewalk Prophets)
Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
I could not change those thoughts but God, in His grace, does not hold me as His child because I am good. Even in those gloomy days He knew I would not be made perfect by my flesh, but by His Spirit (Gal. 3:3).
Confession. Patience. Faith - that He works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose: to conform us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-29). Resting with God in the secret place (Psalm 51:6, 91:1). He healed.
Time. Lots of time. And lots of love from family and friends who tolerated me even when I was less than my best. Because the sting was still there. The wound was especially sensitive as I dealt with people. To express my opinions at church was a battle, to collaborate with my coworkers exhausting, to be slighted by anyone - well, I was sure I had poor communication skills, a bad attitude, and no ability to be a friend.
Mid-June was a turning point. And in September, the dawn cracked ever so slightly. My anthems, my way of preaching the gospel to myself, were again songs...
No matter the bumps/No matter the bruises
No matter the scars/Still the truth is
The cross has made you flawless
No matter the hurt/Or how deep the wound is
No matter the pain/Still the truth is
The cross has made you flawless
(Flawless, Mercy Me)
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: I Cor. 1:30
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. I Cor. 5:17
Still, one day in December, the curse of that heartbreak again loomed over my head. A disagreement at church, a conflict over what I thought was a kind deed at school. Tears filled my eyes as I told my friend, “I just can’t do anything right when it comes to dealing with people.”
She looked me in the eye.
“What does the Lord require of you?”
I whispered my response. “To seek justice. To love mercy. To walk humbly with your God.”
Micah 6:8 had been a memory verse for me years ago, and again recently in Sunday School. Suddenly I realized how wrong I’d been to flaunt myself against the gospel.
To seek justice.
Jesus has fulfilled justice. And He had turned my heart to do what was right.
To love mercy.
I had sought reconciliation. Nothing in me was angry. And Jesus offered mercy for my wrongdoing.
To walk humbly with your God.
To walk humbly. Believing God. Trusting that I cannot fix a broken world, a broken relationship, or a broken person, and because I cannot, I need my God. He is a “Good, Good Father” Who is perfect in all of His ways. We are searching for answers only He provides.
I had a few more rough days because life just seemed so far from what it “should be.” (I am sure I will have more.) And then came last week. A situation arose for which many of us had high hopes. It could’ve been a dream come true.
It wasn’t. But I am smiling as I write this, smiling as I have been almost all day almost every day since all the drama closed. Smiling because at last, God has given me my joy back. Not because I “did something.” I didn’t change my habits, or memorize a certain amount of Scripture, or learn to meditate, acquire something to fill the void left by my lost friend, or have a vision or conviction.
No, I am smiling because God’s grace, that mysterious gift I do not deserve, reminds me that I do not need any situation or any person for my joy. My joy is in Jesus. He is enough (Gal. 2:20, James 1:2-4, Rom. 15:13, Heb. 11:1, I Peter 1:8-9).
(Songs continue to minister, but the current words of the gospel speaking to my heart are Isaac Wimberly’s poem, “The Word,” linked below).