I took the note out of the envelope and immediately smiled. Even though the strokes looked slightly more labored than usual, I recognized the handwriting without hesitation. It was my Mom’s. The cursive moved over the page with a familiarity I’d missed for months and spoke a visible reminder that God still answers prayers.
Following her stroke the previous winter, the first sign something was off was her inability to write. When she put a pen to paper, all she could summon her brain to scrawl out was something unrecognizable, like chicken scratch on the page. On the phone call with my Dad the morning it happened, the miles between us never seemed greater. I struggled with my inability to do anything other than get on my knees.
Although God was gracious to give quick affirmation that my Mom would survive this and not suffer immobility, for months my mind was burdened with other questions. Would she play piano again? Would she write and do the other things she enjoyed. What would the long-term effects be?
In the space of waiting, we can feel powerless. We want to believe God can do the impossible, but the bleak reality we’re facing can seem insurmountable. I think that’s how the disciples felt in the days after Jesus’ death. Can you imagine leaving everything you had to follow a teacher you knew was the Messiah and watch him perform signs no one had ever seen, only to then witness him beaten beyond recognition and killed? I’m sure in those three days were filled with more questions than answers.
Periods of waiting can either lead us to keep seeking or to return to the life we know.
When we don’t see a way to move forward, the life we know can seem like the only option. Some of the disciples went back to the life they knew- a life of fishing. I mean, can you blame them? This is where Jesus finds Peter and some of the others on the morning of the miraculous catch.
But we also see another response to the devastation. We see someone return to the place where she last saw Jesus. Mary Magdalene goes to the place where she thinks he’ll be. And of course, we know the rest of the story. He wasn’t there. But going to the tomb put her in the divine space to experience the miraculous.
“He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).”
When we face a storm we never saw coming, the best thing we can do is stand in the place we know the presence of God will find us.
Sometimes this means surrounding ourselves with other believers who can pray for us and speak life into us. Other times, it means getting into the Word, even in seasons when it just seems like black and white letters on a page.
Friends, God can find us anywhere, but when our faith is shaking and life looks nothing like we envisioned, we need to anchor ourselves. Our spiritual health can take a drastic turn if we don’t position ourselves to let God’s light shine into those dark places in our souls. Find that space of stability and stand there. Take the hand of someone who is a light and let her speak life over your situation.
When my Mom faced her health scare, I didn’t know what the outcome would be. My mind was tempted to wander toward worst-case-scenarios. But I kept coming back to the place where I had seen Jesus. His Word will never return void.
And one spring morning when I took an ordinary stroll to the mailbox, God reminded me he was there. Even in my questions and doubts, he was working the whole time.
If we want to see God in the midst of our struggles, we have to change the way we look for him. My book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God, is filled with practical tools and insights to help you do so.
Here’s what one reader said after reading it:
“Abby comes alongside her reader like a safe friend inviting you to step out of the fog and see the road in front of you with new eyes. Her vulnerable stories reminded me God has not forgotten my heartache, and He is whispering grace over me even when my spiritual sight is limited. Shift will uplift your perspective on the hard seasons and help you move forward with renewed hope.” -Lyli
You can pick up a copy of Shift by clicking the image below.
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