Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Looking Back, I See His Face

I just finished my new favorite book a few days ago.  I wish I'd finished it sooner--I wanted to devour it the day it arrived in the mail, but motherhood duties called and so I was forced to take time reading it through.  I think I'll read it again with a pen and highlighter for notes in the margins! 
One Thousand Gifts:  A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are was written by Ann Voskamp who blogs at http://www.aholyexperience.com/.  I first heard of her blog and book from other moms at Five In a Row, and was intrigued by her unique prose and perspective.

So many passages in the book spoke to me.  I had too many "A-HA!" moments to even count!  Not to mention the thoughts of "I wish I could share this part with so-and-so . . ."  But by far the following passage spoke loudest to me.  It had me thinking "did the Lord have her write that just for little ole' me?"  In fact, I wanted to share so much of the passage that I had trouble cutting it down for this blogpost!  I tried to include enough to provide context, but stopped at typing out the entire chapter!  Read and then look back.

Look back to see His face . . .

Remember and give thanks? For what? What if remembering doesn’t kindle gratitude? What if remembering just leaves third-degree burns?

The words sear. I know their voices and I remember their faces and the sun spills from window glass, slants gold across steering wheel. Eyes on the road, yellow line dashing like a line on hold, I wait, just wait. In the wait, memories blister. And in the still, Spirit comes and He whispers a name.

And I see a world through His lens: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32 NIV).

He gave us Jesus. Jesus! Gave Him up for us all. If we have only one memory, isn’t this one enough? Why is this the memory I most often take for granted? He cut open the flesh of the God-Man and let the blood. He washed our grime with the bloody grace. He drove the iron ore through His own vein. Doesn’t that memory alone suffice? Need there be anything more? If God didn’t withhold from us His very own Son, will God withhold anything we need?

If trust must be earned, hasn’t God unequivocally earned our trust with the bark on the raw wounds, the thorns pressed into the brow, your name on the cracked lips? How will He not also graciously give us all things He deems best and right? He’s already given the incomprehensible.

Christ our Crossbeam.

The counting of blessings is ultimately summed up in One.

All gratitude is ultimately gratitude for Christ, all remembering a remembrance of Him. For in Him all things were created, are sustained, have their being. Thus Christ is all there is to give thanks for; Christ is all there is to remember. To know how we can count on God, we count graces, but ultimately there is really only One.

And the radical wonder of it stuns me happy, hushes me still: it’s all Christ. Every moment, every event, every happening. It’s all in Christ and in Christ we are always safe and “how will He not also . . .?”

When bridges seem to give way, we fall into Christ’s safe arms, true bridge, and not into hopelessness. It is safe to trust!

We can be too weak to go on because His strength is made perfect in utter brokenness and nail-pierced hands help up. It is safe to trust!

We can give thanks in everything because there’s a good God leading, working all things into good. It is safe to trust!

The million bridges behind us may seem flattened to the earthly eye, but all bridges ultimately hold, fastened by nails.
It is safe to trust.

Each bridge I need cross, from one moment to moment the next, is wholly safe, each leading me deeper into Him and closer to Home.

And I hear that hurting voice again, her and me and all those aching voices I have known and they still cry: There are moments that as sure as I bruise don’t feel like good things have been given. What of all the memories where Christ seems absent? When the bridge shakes and heaves, when “how will He not also?” reads more like “He will not.”


Trauma’s storm can mask the Christ and feelings can lie.

I draw all the hurting voices close and I touch their scars with a whisper: sometimes we don’t fully see that in Christ, because of Christ, through Christ, He does give us all things good—until we have the perspective of years.

In time, years, dust settles.

In memory, ages, God emerges.

The when we look back, we see God’s back.

Wasn’t that too His way with Moses? “When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back” (Exodus 33:22-23 NIV).

Is that it? When it gets dark, it’s only because God has tucked me in a cleft of the rock and covered me, protected, with His hand? In the pitch, I feel like I’m falling, sense the bridge giving way, God long absent. In the dark, the bridge and my world shakes, cracking dreams. But maybe this is true reality: It is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can’t see and our world seems to free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us, I-beam supporting the earthquake. Then He will remove His hand. Then we will look.

Then we look back and see His back.

I look in my rearview mirror. The bridge I cross on the way to the chapel has fallen behind hills. I can still see, in memory, the river’s winding light, mirror on moving water.

God reveals Himself in rearview mirrors.

And I’ve an inkling that there are times when we need to drive a long, long distance, before we can look back and see God’s back in the rearview mirror.

Maybe sometimes about as far as heaven—that kind of distance.

Then to turn, and see His face.

Thank you, Ann, for reminding me that some of our hardest moments and battles have also been the most precious and beautiful when viewed from this side.  We should consider ourselves blessed.  The Lord has chosen to shower us with His glory in many a sweet, sweet moment.   

No comments: