Thursday, April 26, 2012

the ache is His, too, letter twenty-nine, hilary to preston

On Tuesdays and Thursdays around these parts, Preston and I write letters back and forth. We share the wonder of mystery, grace and our encounters with mercy. We hope to hear from you in the comments and imagine with you about this walking out in faith. Read the letter I'm responding to here, and another beautiful piece by Preston you must read here.

Dear Preston,

Peace I leave with you, my own peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid. 

I read your letter and then your life, unmasked, before I had the chance to sit down at my own computer to type back to you a small piece of this week, of this bigger journey of grace, of hunger. And when I read your life, unmasked, and I thought about what I can possibly say, because what your words point to is delicate and unsayable (yes, Rilke's words sit next to me) - and I am insufficient.

Your heart hurts because you love your thesis in deep and unsayable ways. You gave yourself to the work, as we are commanded to do. You stretched farther, and challenged yourself, challenged others to envision something beyond the traditional thesis, beyond the traditional so-called scholarly way. You forged a new path. You cleared branches and stumbled over unseen rocks. You were captured by a vision of something good and beautiful, and you followed it.

And I tell you the truth, that this will indeed be honored in unexpected ways.

I wonder if we who study and wish for ourselves academic titles and honors and responsibilities, if we forget how God sees us. I know He delights in our very being, in our existence. I know He delights to see His children inch pieces of the puzzle together. I know He delights when we learn. But I don't think that delight is measured very well by academic honors. By grades or comments or critiques. I don't think God's pure delight in how you journeyed towards Him over the past year is measured by any of the measuring tools we love from our perches in this strange ivory tower.

He delights to watch us be. He has been delighting all along. And so I whisper to you, and slip this note through the URLs and the trackbacks to you: He who takes great delight in you will honor your work. 

For there is no waste in God's economy. Even our aches are His. Even our broken bones and disappointed hopes. Even our falling down. He gathers us up, our fractured and chaotic selves, and delights in us. Nothing has been wasted; nothing has been lost. I'm convinced of this. I'm convinced that even though everything I say is insufficient, He is not.

The ache of this is His, too. And He offered us peace in the midst of our fears. He offered us His own peace, not as the world gives but as He gives. The ivory tower cannot give peace. It can give the most tentative, fearful, hesitant, we-could-lose-it-at-any-second affirmation. But it cannot give to us the peace which passes understanding.

He holds our aches and offers us peace. And I pray that you hear Him in these next days, still with His offer to give not as the world gives, but to give you His own self.

He who delights in you will hold and transform your ache into something beautiful. He will honor your faithfulness. He will bring peace to your heart.

May He be ever near you now.


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