Thursday, September 29, 2011

He is that good (I get surprised)

My stubborn body marches across the campus, arms folded, books and pens and papers and a spare thank you card or two stuffed in my bag. I am praying a silent, challenging prayer. I glance up at the sky with its painted fall sunset and the trees that rustle with the wind, and I whisper to God: 
(Photo: Hannah Byrnes)
Okay. Show me. Show me You know what I'm going through, this unsteadiness, this smallness, this stress. Show me You know my heart, how it is bending and aching, and how it longs for a little bit of space away to think, how it aches to hold all of the beautiful people in this world but how it feels empty. Show me, O Lord, that You made me. That I can trust You.

I unfold my arms and continue into my apartment. I open the door to the loud chaos of home: I haven't blogged in forever. There is a pile of dishes waiting to be scrubbed clean. I have so much homework in this night that I don't think I will ever make my way through it. I am tired, and hungry, and cranky, and ready to forget about that prayer.  

After all, I say to myself as I pick up the sponge to attack the traces of peanut butter in the sink, I wasn't even really listening to myself while I was praying. I was making a to-do list in the back of my mind the whole time.

So imagine with me the surprise when He answered. 

Lisa-Jo emails with a crazy idea that might mean I get to see her in October, and though I would normally have classes, and work, and every possible obstruction, it is the only week that this one class was cancelled and the other class doesn't meet, and the path is smooth from Boston to DC.
(Photo: Hannah Byrnes)
And Cami whispers as she slides my breakfast on my plate on Tuesday morning that she wants to send me on a retreat, somewhere to get away and breathe, somewhere to sleep and rest and laugh and be still before God. 

Then I return home to my roommates last night only to find that we are all sitting there, a pan of brownies in the middle, laughing and listening and sharing our stories of drama and angst and uncertainty, but laughing at ourselves, listening to the wonder of Laura Marling, and the space stays full.

I threw up the challenge and He handed back the blessings. I gave Him my uncertainty and His gift back was the delighted surprise of His love. I pouted, and complained, and told Him every sorrowful difficult confusing and tumultuous thing, and I told Him just-exactly-how-impossible-all-of-this-was-and-what-did-He-think-I-was-supposed-to-do!

And He answered me with grace. 

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
         That I would see the goodness of the LORD
         In the land of the living
 Wait on the LORD;
         Be of good courage,
         And He shall strengthen your heart; 
         Wait, I say, on the LORD!

And now, I remember how impatient I've been, and how unbelieving, and how unsure. And I realize: sometimes the grace of grace is that it surprises us. Sometimes the grace of blessing is that it waits for an unexpected moment.  

May grace go with you, and surprise you. 


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