the lingering in the harvest .

“Just let God love you”

– T (02.07.2020)

Just let God love you. Just let God love me. How? That’s the burning question, isn’t it? How do I just let God love me? It seems so simple, yet the more I repeat that line, the more difficult it seems to be. I returned home at the beginning of this month, a ‘changed woman’ as T named me upon seeing me again for the first time. I smile because it’s the 19th today and it’s also 19 days since the defining moment amidst my journey took place; my week with God that changed everything. 19.. I used to dread that number and all the weight attached to it, but now I smile because God’s given me a new 19 – Isaiah 43:19 , “Behold, I am doing a new thing.. I will make a way”.

As I write this post, I draw from experiences over the last couple of weeks; times where my Jesus was made most known to me – there are so many moments as such. Isn’t it beautiful? The way God inserts Himself into every aspect of our days? The way in which He makes Himself known to us at times where we didn’t know, but we needed Him most?

There was a rainy evening not too long ago, I found myself driving out to the riverside and desperate for Jesus to meet me there. As I drove, I ever so vulnerably poured my heart out to my Father; I told Him everything. I was sobbing and desperately falling at the foot of the cross, pleading for God to show me where He was amidst my aching brokenness. My heart began to wonder if He would show up for me again.. In that exact moment, I remember looking out the right hand side of my car and through my tears and the rain, behind the clouds, behold there was a rainbow. My Promise Keeper was reminding me of His presence and His promise to always be with me, His promise to carry me and safely hold me. I looked down at my right wrist.. Isaiah 41:13“For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you; ‘do not fear, I will help you’”… My God showed up for me, He held me and reminded me of His faithfulness.

Earlier this week I remember laying awake in bed at what some may refer to as an ‘ungodly hour’, but for me it was the most Godly hour because He met me there. I woke part way through the night and as I tossed and turned, I tried desperately to fall back asleep before the day began. I couldn’t shake the feeling of needing to pray, so I did. An hour or so passed and I once again tossed and turned, in hope of gaining a bit more well desired sleep. But you see, sometimes as desperately as we want something, God wants something different: “spend time with Me”. I couldn’t shake those words either and before I knew it, I was (dare I say reluctantly) turning on my bedside light and reaching for one of Ann Voskamp’s books that I’d newly purchased – The Broken Way. My reluctance toward waking up at that so called ‘ungodly hour’ quickly changed, as that time spent with God became the renewing my heart desired more deeply than the renewing that comes from sleep itself. My day began at the foot of the cross, in the early hours of morning. Laying in bed before the crack of dawn, how was I to know that my evening would hold a very different view? What would prepare me for the unnerving turn of events that led me to the familiar hiding place in my room? That caused the old yearning for release to arise from deep within? Leaving me teetering along the edge that I’d run so far from?

There’s are lingerings in the atmosphere. We all experience them. Some lingerings may be strong, some may be faint and some will coincide with others. In my case, there’s lately been lingerings of heaviness and sadness, of longing, despair and suffering. However amidst all those lingerings, if you were to look just that little bit deeper, you would see that there is only one lingering that never ceases to exist. I think back to when I first began this post a week or so ago, I was sitting on the grass with the golden glow of the evening sun shining upon me. Warmth radiated through and around me, I felt close to God there; as I did again in the early hours of dawn. The atmosphere by the riverside was filled with a lingering peace, the lingering of God’s divine love. Contrast to that, the lingerings that evening were lingerings of self destruction, worthlessness and a soul breaking grief. Earlier this week wasn’t the first time in the last few weeks that those lingerings had haunted me, but they were strongest then and despite the renewing my soul received that morning, it was too weary to fight in the evening.

When I think of my God, I think of Him as my shield, my protector and safe place; my home. Then in moments of weariness, I stand to question where He is? Where was He just earlier this week when I lost the battle? But you see, the question isn’t ‘where was God?’ – it’s ‘why wasn’t God there?’, and it’s directed at me. Who am I to question where God was, when I know full well that I was the only thing standing between myself and my Protector? You see, out of every lingering, there is one that I said remains always; the lingering of a divine and unconditional love – a love like no other..

I am right to think of God as my safe place, but in order for me to tangibly feel safe I need to allow Him into my atmosphere. It comes back to the concept of letting God love me. I can not expect God to protect me when I stare hell in the face, not if I’m preventing Him from entering into my atmosphere. Where the devil lingers, God is waiting to be invited in so that His divine love can linger in an overwhelming and all consuming way. Choosing to hone into God above the raging devastation can be as simple as two words; “God, please”. If you can’t muster more than that, then that alone is enough. God is teaching me that when evenings like I’ve experienced over the last few says roll around, I can’t keep my bricks up in hope of them keeping me safely trapped from the undesired lingerings.. I need to once again vulnerably allow God’s lingering to pierce through those bricks and wholly encompass my atmosphere; so that I may be safely held within my brokenness.

I remember reaching a particular point in my journey last year where I was laying on the bathroom floor, convinced without a doubt that I’d never make it out of this alive; as far as I was concerned, there was no God who cared for me and there was no hope for my future; I was as good as gone. And though by the grace of that very same God, I have never again found myself as deep in that position as I was then, I have still found myself some days dabbling with those same lingering thoughts and feelings. These last four or so days especially, have been days as such. At the end of last week I woke and the pressure of all that I’d been holding in a neat box with a bow on top, had exploded and the waves were coming in an abundance of devastation. I remember trying to pull myself out of bed but all I felt was a desperation for the waves to wash me up at the foot of the cross, where I would receive an abundance of love; the lingering of God’s divine and unconditional love. Reaching out to my people, I asked for prayer that God would meet me and safely hold me, that He would carry me for my feet didn’t know how to walk. For hours, up until the moment I parked my car outside of E’s office, I sobbed more heavily than I thought possible. My heart cried out to Jesus when my words failed me, I remember muttering “Please Dear Lord”.. and then the tears came. The lingering presence of God before me, behind me, beside me, all around me and within me; God was with me.

T sent me a text a while ago but her words remain circling through the corners of my being; “I know God loves you in your brokenness”. She knows, without a doubt she knows and has faith that God loves me in my brokenness. If she knows, how can I doubt? Who am I to be ashamed of my brokenness when the Creator of my very being loves me regardless? How many times does God have to remind me that I am safely held? That it’s okay to break because He is holding me and catching every shard in His hands? I’d usually punish myself for not being able to grasp this concept once off, but I am learning that it’s a concept we all lose sight of from time to time – God will never stop reminding us until the day we are reunited with Him. The truth is that over the last few weeks, God has reminded me of His love for me, more times than I can count and in more ways than I can begin to describe. I have intimately known the darkest of times but I think Ann Voskamp put it beautifully when she said that we can see silhouettes of Jesus amidst our brokenness. Jesus was broken, He experienced our brokenness and showed us the way through – the Father. We are wholly loved and safely held in our brokenness. I’m learning to allow the weight of that statement to seep deeply into the crevices and mend the cracks of my broken soul.

I often find myself ashamed of my brokenness, angry at myself for being broken. But as humans we were made in God’s image, and was His heart not made to be broken too? Brokenness brings forth our weakness and creates a container for an abundance of God’s glory. We don’t always speak about our brokenness, sometimes it’s too painful to revisit past traumas, but I’m realising that at times out unspoken broken can speak louder than our words ever could. God knows our brokenness and He loves us through it. Nothing in this world is immune to breaking, Ann’s husband put it beautifully: “the seed breaks to give us the wheat, the soil breaks to give us the crop, the sky breaks to give us the rain, the wheat breaks to give us the bread and the bread breaks to give us the feast”. Is the gift of life not the most precious gift? God gave us life. Does not a mother’s water and the umbilical cord, both break in the process of giving new life? When ground breaks, is the water not received more fully and in the same way if our hearts break is God’s love not received more wholly? If there is so much beauty in brokenness then why are we so afraid of being broken? Amidst brokenness it is easy to question why, but why is the wrong question to ask. Brokenness isn’t about blame or justification. Brokenness creates a canvas for God’s light. Brokenness happens so that God’s power can be seen. Brokenness happens so that God can be made known. If my brokenness can reflect God in even the smallest of ways, then may I remain broken for the rest of my days.

You know that feeling of warmth that radiates through you when the suns light warms your skin? The hairs on your body stand tall and you feel certain that if you were to close your eyes you would simply fall asleep? Complete and utter peace and tranquility? The warmth I spoke of at the beginning of this post? Yes, well I feel that same warmth when I think about everything God has been doing within my heart..

I recently sat down with T and began sharing with her, she smiled so beautifully as she watched me passionately recalling all of God’s goodness over the week I’d spent alone with Him. I remember boldly making a statement where I acknowledged that it may be hard for her to believe the work God’s doing within me, but I that could assure her she would see the harvest in due time. I stand by that statement, the harvest will come and all those who look, will see the goodness of God. I never can say when the harvest will come in full but I know it has already begun and I have seen proof within small moments where God’s goodness is most prevalent; and if you look closely, I believe you will begin to see them too. You see, I don’t need to wait for the day I am “fully recovered”, or the day I publish my book, or the day I graduate from my degree, or any other day for that matter. The reality is that the day has already come and each day, is that day. Each day that God breathes His life into me, is a day where my life is His own and the harvest is continually sown and reaped. The last few weeks have seen glimpses of the harvest that is to come, moments where I have truely and wholly experienced God in ways I haven’t before, where I have known the fullness of joy and the deep assurance of hope for the life that lays beyond my safely trapped. But as I spoke of earlier, the weeks passed have also seen the familiar threats of an engulfing darkness and a deep pressing upon my heart that’s felt indescribable. May I tell you that it too has been beautiful though? It’s been beautiful because when I have found myself faced by that darkness and when I have felt that deep pressing, in my heart of hearts I have known that I haven’t been alone. Throughout each of the days, there has been that one constant and that constant was my God; He has been there all along and as has the lingering of His divine love.

When I think of a harvest, I think of a setting as on Little House on the Prairie.. the first thing that comes to mind is fields of golden wheat glistening in the evening glow. And yes, that sounds a little too cheesy or poetic for my taste too but for lack of better terms, we’ll go with that. I want to share something with you: About a week ago I planted my very first poppy seedlings and to say I’m thrilled would be an understatement. You see, I’ve been dreaming about growing my own poppies ever since T gave me my first bunch last October. T, TC and I have been chatting about poppies every now and then over the months, and I’ll admit that I’ve asked a lot of questions to ensure I would be prepared, for when the time came to sow and plant my seedlings. From the moment I decided to plant poppies in the new year, time went by and the anticipation grew, until at last the day came where I was able to begin the process of growing my very own poppies. I shared this excitement with TC and she joked that I am now officially part of the “poppy club”. Prior to buying seedlings, I had bought seeds only to find out that neither T nor TC had had much luck with them over the years. With little faith I decided to sprinkle some seeds into damp cotton and sealed them into a ziplock bag. A week or so passed and would you believe that the seeds I’d sown, have since yielded tiny sprouts? The reason I’m sharing about my experiences around growing poppies is because in a sense I think it is able to be related back to our every day lives in more ways than one. Allow me to explain.. So, God created each and every one of us with a plan for our lives in mind, He has dreamed up the most incredible things for us that go far beyond our imaginations and He has carefully ensured that He would be prepared when it came to supplying us with what we need. As humans we also have hopes and dreams of what our future will look like, we plant seeds each time we make a decision that works toward our future and we water those seeds each time we take action. God plants seeds too, each time He speaks to us while we press into Him, or when we hear a word from a friend, or read a devotion that opens the door for God’s voice to pour through. The seeds that God plants within us and around us, are watered when we dwell on what He says to us, when we surround ourselves with likeminded people and when we feed our souls with His word. When we allow ourselves to be mouldable and when we make ourselves available to Him, God is able to use us as His hands and feet, so that He may plant seeds in the lives of others through us. It’s important to bare in mind that whilst planting seeds can produce a harvest of light, there are seeds that the enemy may plant that hold the capacity to produce a harvest of darkness if we lean into them. I have sown and reaped harvests of darkness but as I now continue to surrender unto God, I have faith that a harvest of light will be continually sown and reaped.

I drove out to the riverside just a few nights ago, my soul was weary and in need of time alone with Jesus. I took with me a plant from my room and as I dug up the earth by the river, I gave it a home in the soil. You may think it’s foolish for me to have done so, but in a sense I sowed a piece of myself in the place where I feel so intimately close to God. I prayed over my little plant, and whether it grows or dies, it’s the symbolism behind it that matters to me. The little plant represents my faith, it died for a while and it’s only begun to grow again over the last few months. The riverside has become a large part of my journey, it’s become a tangible place where I go to seek out God and without fail He meets me there each time. It’s tricky to explain but I feel a sense of peace knowing that when I go to the riverside, my home is in Jesus and my plants home is there too.

I sat down with TC last week and we had chai lattes, that she’d especially bought for when I visit her at home. Our cuppa was thought to last perhaps an hour but it surpassed that hour many times before I found myself very late for work. We spoke about this, that and everything between. I found myself sharing with her about how drastically God had been changing my heart. She was moved to tears when I told her of the things He has been doing in my life and how after walking away, I had finally returned home. I shared with her about my pursuit of Jesus and my desire to suffer well, how I long to be God’s hands and feet and how I pray that the life I choose to live, will only ever reflect His glory. I revisited some of the things God has taught me whilst reading Ann Voskamp’s, ‘The Way of Abundance‘ and it came known to me that God planted those seeds many years ago. TC told me that she came to know Ann through my mother who gifted her a book almost an exact decade ago. It wasn’t until years later that TC read that book and God used it to bless her in a time where she needed it most. TC went on to gift T with a book by Ann and as time passed T was also blessed and in turn shared a book by Ann with me. You see, TC showed me that it’s as if years ago God knew that through Ann’s words, He would be able to reach me in ways I didn’t know possible and by planting the seeds all those years ago, He was able to bless others along the way. T has often drawn parallels between Ann and myself, if only one day God may use my testimonies to bless those around me as He has used her’s to bless me. Dare I say, He has already begun? I make that statement boldly because through tears, TC told me how God had blessed her and given her new hope whilst I shared testimonies of His goodness with her over our time together. In just that small space of time God used me as His hands and feet, through my words He renewed her hope and blessed her heart.

I mentioned in the beginning that I’ve begun to read a new book my Ann – The Broken Way. I began reading the book earlier this week and the first page spoke rawly of her battle with self-harm, I didn’t know it at the time but I’d find myself in those same familiar shoes that evening. Ann shared of her suffering and stated that no-one could tell her how to find the place where she always felt safe and secure and held. I remember pausing before underlining that sentence.. I could have written that, I have written similar and I have wondered the same. Prior to finding my safety and security in God and before realising I was safely held by Him, I searched for those three things in all places I could think of. T once asked me where I felt safe, I couldn’t answer her because home wasn’t my safe place and I frankly had no-where else. It’s only by God’s grace that I found my safety and security in Him, that He met me by the riverside and showed me that He holds me in His wraparound lingering love. Jesus always moves into places moved with grief. Ann went on to write that there wasn’t one thing more important in life than figuring out how to live in the face of unspoken pain, to figure out how to hold on and let go, to “learn how to let myself be loved”. I remembered back to how E and I spoke about sitting with the emotions, God sits with me there as I face the unspoken pain, He is teaching me how to hold onto hope whilst letting go and allowing Him to take control. I am learning to let God love me. I found myself in a situation where I was asked to describe the feeling I felt amidst trauma, reliving flashbacks of a brutal past I couldn’t answer aloud but the words that circled my mind were; soul crushing, deep, holding my breath, counting, tearing skin, crushing and pressing. Ann wrote that when we are faced with great grief we often look for a way out of the brokenness that cuts up the earth, sometimes we can physically feel the crush of cried on our brittle ribcage. She says that great grief isn’t made to fit inside out bodies and that’s why our hearts break. I said it in my last post, but we aren’t immune to suffering. If there is anything that we all all guaranteed in life, it’s just that: guaranteed suffering. It is ever so easy to ask God where He is amidst our brokenness but as I spoke of in the beginning of this post, God is always right there. Ann wrote what I deem as the most beautiful line: “And He [God] surfaces in patches of colour, the broken brushstrokes, the silhouettes of Him visible in the chaos”. The hues of the sky remind my of my Jesus, in every way possible I feel closest to Him amidst His creation. The dancing lights upon the gentle river, in every way remind me of Him. The silhouettes of the trees and the finest details, in every way remind me of Him. Blessed are those who cry, who mourn and feel loss, for they will be held by the One who loves them – there is a strange and aching happiness that only the hurting know, for they shall be held. I am breathing and learning how to let the abundance of God in. The harvest is here and it continues to be sown into and reaped from.

my heart feels joy because my Jesus is so good to me .

I think that at the end of the day, it all comes down to what T told me on the psych ward last year; “Just let God love you”. I have spent a lot of time pondering how I am to let God love me. In Latin, the word ‘let‘ translates to ‘sit‘; meaning ‘let it be‘. I suppose when looking at it from that perspective, it to becomes quite simple really: Just sit with it. When it comes to God loving me, there’s nothing I can do to change His love.. I just need to sit with undoubtedly knowing that He loves me. His divine and unconditional love lingers all around me. Whilst E and I spoke that Friday morning, I cried as we established just how strong the internal warfare has been. Yes, the real people food stuff had in fact been going fabulously, but inside I’d been crumbling. Sitting with the emotions, without any past coping mechanisms, has proved to be a lot more difficult than first anticipated. But that’s just it: sitting with it. God has been showing me that the process of sitting, is where His lingering love comes in. When I sit with the hard stuff, I am simultaneously sitting with His lingering love. It sounds a bit silly to write this down, but when I’m struggling in the sitting, I often like to imagine Jesus sitting next to me. And He is there, amidst God’s lingering love my Jesus is sitting with me in the hard stuff – I’ve at times even opened the palm of my right hand [Isaiah 41:13] beside me. When I vulnerably let my bricks go, God’s lingering love is able to pierce through so that God can love me – it’s the moment the evening sun radiates through the wheat fields, everything turns a glowing golden and warmth fills the atmosphere. I am learning each day to just let God love me. He always has, and He always will.

There are lingerings amidst my harvest, there always will be; but the only lingering that matters is that of God’s divine and unconditional love. How blessed are we to be loved by the One who created us? What a privilege to be able to let God love us? Gone are the days where I couldn’t remember the last time I’d meant the smile on my face or laughed a laugh that wasn’t forced; for now even on the hardest days, I am able to smile and laugh with a fullness of joy – found solely in Him. God has not forgotten me, He has not abandoned me because His love is all around me. God loves me in my brokenness – this I know for sure and this I choose to remind myself of each moment of each day.

The harvest will continue to be sown and reaped as time ticks on, my Protector is not done with me yet.

– c x

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