I lay awake, unable to sleep, frustrated by my inability to know how to respond to the strangeness of my life. A series of starts and stops…the crushing and dissolution of dreams and desires. I’m sorry that sounds so melodramatic but it demonstrates the level of self-pity I had succumbed to. Now you will laugh when I tell you that I got out of bed and went out to the hot-tub to pray, but if you’re wallowing in self-pity…..the hot-tub is as good as any place to do it.
Much of the blame for the predicament I find myself in, I have laid at the feet of my DH because I had so looked forward to a major shift in the focus of our life together when he would retire from his all-consuming career. This was postponed time and again, until eventually it became clear that retirement was not going to happen as long as health endured. I have much to say in my defense as to how DH’s choices have effected my life…or the loss of it, but I will spare you that for now. Suffice to say, that I was primed for turning a magical corner on the road of life and felt let down and dropped off on the curb.
Shakespeare said, (I think in Julius Caesar…and admittedly in a totally different context…)
“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”
I felt that the tide which I had so anticipated, had been missed in terms of our future happiness together and the voyage of my life was now bound in shallows and in miseries.
In any case, as I spoke to the Lord (from the comfort of the hot-tub) I felt reminded that He is the source of all my circumstances. DH is not God, although he may be a tool that God is using to prune me. So why should I be grieved at him when he is only a secondary cause and God is the prime mover?
Still it is frustrating…..waiting….. So I asked Father, “Could you please just give me one thing that I can do….?” Almost before I could finish framing the question, I had one word come to mind...and I have received it as my answer, though it is certainly not the answer I was hoping for. The word was, “BREATHE.”
The word resonated with me on several levels.
In John 6:28-29, we read, “Then said they unto him, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said unto them, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” Those verses certainly shed light on the meaning of Jesus, when He said, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
He really has not asked us to do a lot of things. We are His workmanship….and in every life, there comes a time, when we cease to do…and we begin to have done to us. Henri Nouwen in his book, Finding My Way Home, has a chapter called “The Path of Waiting.” In it he says:
It is important for us to realize that when Jesus says, “It is accomplished” (John 19:30) he does not simply mean, “I have done all the things I wanted to do.” He also means, “I have allowed things to be done to me that needed to be done to me in order for me to fulfill my vocation.”
Jesus prepared Peter for this event in his life as well, in John 21:18 where He said,
"Most assuredly I tell you, when you were young, you dressed yourself, and walked where you wanted to. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you, and carry you where you don't want to go.”
I have chosen (and been chosen) to have Father act in my life, in any way that He must to accomplish His will and purpose. This being the case, I have received the word, “breathe” as direction from him. It has been years now since I first received the word “rest”, and this word has a familiar resonance. I don’t know who originally said it, but it is still true that, “The trouble with living sacrifices, is that they keep crawling down off the altar.” We want to act….rather than be acted upon. But there is a time for both…and we must not neglect one for the other.
There is much talk in psychology about such things as “self-actualization”, “significance”, “purpose”, and many other like words. But if our value is one of personal usefulness and merit, where does that put the handicapped or the elderly, or the mentally ill?
On the other hand if our significance comes out of our identity in Christ...out of the progression of being and becoming a child of God...then does our life not have value and purpose, even when we come to the point that all we can do is to breathe?