Can I be real and raw with you for a second? Because there’s sadly nothing new about what’s happening in Virginia, North Korea, Washington DC, or the privacy of our own homes tonight.
Have you ever fought so long and hard with your own inner demons that nothing real seems real, time has no meaning, the words of others are heard as if through deep waters, and it feels not only desirable but easy to end it? Easy to drive off the road into an icy river, an intentional, calculated “accident.”
I was nearing a new season of independence and my ugly heart, seething with bitterness and pride, had spent a few years losing sight of love and the purpose of loving. It wasn’t until a very real God spoke light into my darkness that I could breathe and see value in breathing.
In the early days of His relentless efforts to pull me out of that place, I was conflicted to say the least. How strange, to be met in my despair not just with something chipper church-goers called “hope,” but the hope of a better place, a place with no more sorrow and no more sin. So why bother with all of this brokenness?
The temptation to drive off the road into the mid-winter Mohawk pulled more, not less. I began understanding what Heaven meant and the realness of a loving God, but it didn’t make me want to live, not here. Not in a world where people stab other people with knives and obscene words of hatred over the stupidest things, where children starve and get cancer and are seen by some as no more than play things. Every fiber of my fiercely angry being ached to behold His glory and be held in Heaven.
It doesn’t really matter what, exactly, brought me to that place, but it was the beginning of the end of myself. It was time. Time to hear the call. The call to hope. It didn’t initially come by eloquent prayers in reverence, I’m sorry to say. It came by screaming into my pillow until a migraine knocked me out and waking to the comforting cold of night.
“You can come home if you come home, my girl, but today I want you to live in this world where people stab other people with knives and obscene words of hatred over the stupidest things, where children starve and get cancer and are seen by some as no more than play things… because they need to know. They all need to know that what they ache for is Heaven. I want to calm your screaming demons now and give your voice a new word. My Word, speak it: Hope.”
You can’t walk through or past my life and not see it everywhere (both literally and figuratively, or at least I hope that’s true). It’s written on my walls, key chain, shirts and heart and I feel urgently compelled to tell you why: because it exists.
Hope exists in the God we so often mock and ridicule and resent and nail to an old, rugged cross for the crimes and offenses that are not His but ours.
Hope is not a gift for the worthy. We don’t know “worthy,” we’re tattered and torn, tattering and tearing; the controversial posts in our news feeds and our violent reactions to them on any given Tuesday attest to that. Hope is an anchor for the downcast, weary souls that ache ever so deeply for no more sorrow and no more sin. It exists and it exists in the one true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in the Jesus of Calvary, in the Spirit of truth, and only in Him.
Pray your living heart out in eloquent reverence or scream it into your pillow until you have no breath left, but know this: It’s this hope of Heaven that we ache for, dear ones, and only the most relentless and fiercest Love will see us through.
May Ephesians 5 be our battle cry against our own inner demons first.