27 January 2017

Music Day - Crushing Hand

"God is in the business of throwing us curve balls, because His aim is to form the image of Christ in us.  He will do it by whatever means it takes. When I fear this process, it is because I don't really believe that He loves me. After some thirty-two years of being a Christian, I am only beginning to see just how much He does. His hand can crush, yet He chooses to lay it gently upon us."
        ~ Terry Scott Taylor, 2002 (Full interview here.)

Over the past year I have written and not posted more than I have written and actually published. There are many posts in my drafts folder full of frustration and anger and pain -- my personal writings even more so. I've begun to forget how much you readers actually know of the past two years and how much was written but never published here.

Suffice to say the last two years were horrendous. Death on every side, divorce on every side, woundedness, broken-heartedness, and just plain old life. By April 2015, I had completely given up on God, although the aforementioned things would continue well into the year 2016. I believed God existed, but I absolutely did not believe He gave one single crap about me or my breaking heart. And I believed this -- doggedly, relentlessly -- for two years (although I believed it in some milder form or another much longer than that).

At the very end of last semester I had a conversation with the director of my program -- ostensibly about singing, but very quickly it turned into the spiritual, and how frustrated I was with God. How I felt He hated me or at the very least had turned His back on me.

"Why do you think He doesn't care about you?" he asked.

Suddenly the answer I kept giving to that question -- 'just look at the past two years, do you think it matters to God if my heart lives or dies?' -- seemed inadequate. Lacking an alternative answer, I spread my hands and shrugged.

"He wouldn't care about everyone else and not you," he said. "You're not that special." (Possibly the strangest word of encouragement I've ever received.) He continued, "Kate, I guarantee He cares about you." He went on to talk about how he's seen God's hand in his own life, despite his own difficult circumstances at times. I hung on to every word. Maybe something here would connect. Maybe this thing I so badly wanted to believe and couldn't would finally make sense.

It didn't -- not immediately. I don't know that it ever will completely. But the conversation as a whole -- and my own inability to satisfactorily answer his gentle questions about my position -- percolated in my mind over Christmas break. What if I was holding onto an unnecessary amount of bitterness? What if -- maybe -- God still did notice I existed?

The thought chipped away at me. I opened my angry mind a tiny crack to a possibility that I hadn't allowed myself to entertain in a very long time. What if -- maybe -- God didn't hate me?

This is where I am now. There's still a ways to go -- I'm still not entirely convinced He loves me, but the fact that I'm questioning the idea that He hates me is much closer to the idea that He cares about me than I have been at any point since December 2014.

To trust this silent God still seems like insanity. He is so unpredictable and He is so withdrawn and He is so, so quiet. But people, artists even, who have gone before me into this blind trust of the same Being -- people like Terry Taylor or like my program director -- continue to commit their fragile human hearts to Him decade after decade. Is it enough for me to trust their long-term experience of Him as ultimately good and loving and follow their example?

I do not yet have the courage to sing every line of this song and mean it. But I appreciate the sentiment -- and I can identify with the struggle in it.

Title: Crushing Hand
Artist: Lost Dogs
Album: Nazarene Crying Towel
Year: 2003
iTunes here; YouTube here.

You know my name, wound me
You know my frame, heal me
You lay Your crushing hand
Your mighty hand
On me gently

Do what You must and save me
I'm in the dust, now raise me
Lord, I believe, help my unbelief...

Acoustic guitar with heartfelt poetry and the harmonies of Terry Scott Taylor and Derri Daugherty (of The Choir). What's not to like?

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