It’s quite sweet, the way in which God writes with me. Truth be told, I started this post nearly 2 weeks ago. At that stage it was titled ‘gifts in His timing’, and I’d been dwelling on that concept since. A week ago God changed the title to ‘the current’ and over the last few days it’s become ‘the undercurrent’. Throughout the waiting period, God has proceeded to quietly whisper to the deep of my heart. It wasn’t until this morning, that God gifted me with the words to articulate what He’s been teaching me in the waiting.
We know that a current is two-fold; firstly, presenting as a current that flows in one direction, and secondly, presenting as an undercurrent that flows in another direction: steadily beneath and against the current itself. Some currents are calm, whilst others are brutal. It’s similar to the concept of suffering, in the sense that we are all assured one guarantee: in the same way that we will experience different levels of suffering, we will also experience different strengths of currents. This is the story of my battle between the current and the undercurrent.
As I stood in front of the bathroom mirror at work this morning, my heart scraped along the ground and I felt the gentle pressing of this question; Who is my God, to me?
You see, as much as God is the same and consistent through the ages, He is also individually different to each of us. Some of us see Him as more of a Father, others as more of a Leader, a Companion, a Friend etc. And whilst, yes, God is all of those things, He inhabits different forms for each of us, in accordance to our needs in that moment. Today my heart scraped along the ground, caught in the current. Today, my God was my Giver. Why? Because He continually gave me what I needed to get through that day; provision, care, unconditional love, connection, reassurance, security, safety, relationship, blessings, favour. Throughout the day, my Giver beckoned my heart toward the undercurrent that washed up at the foot of the cross.
On the way to work this morning it was nearly 7am when I stopped at Hazbeans to grab a chai latte, thinking that it would fix everything. However, it wasn’t so much the chai latte that would fix everything, but rather the spontaneous ways in which God inserted Himself into my day; reminding me of His love. The que to order coffee extended by 12-13 people, as I took my place at the back of the line I felt a sense of hopelessness settle over my heart, sweeping me deeper into the current. As I moved toward the counter, slowly, I felt my heart tug on every stone and crack in the pavement as it dragged behind me. Over time I ordered my chai latte and chose a spot to stand and wait. Like clock work T pulled up, to my surprise I checked the date and sure enough it was Wednesday; ironically also the 19th. We had pilates this morning, however I’d cancelled my sessions for the week on Monday and proceeded to forget about it up until I unexpectedly saw T. I smile now because in hindsight, I can see how in that moment, God gave me a piece of connection and relationship. I can see how the chats and giggles with T, reminded me subtly that I am still seen and heard. Here my Giver beckoned my heart toward the undercurrent. T and I parted ways, but my Giverfollowed alongside my heart as it dragged behind me. My day at work began rather abruptly as my boss, in her frustration with others, lost her temper with me a mere few seconds after I said good morning. I held back the tears that had been floating on the surface since my alarm went off that morning, I put my head down and carried on with my work. Mid-morning, I received a message from S. The friendship between S and I was still new but to my surprise, she had been praying for me that morning; she wasn’t sure why but I had been on her heart more than usual. The strings of my heart tugged as my Giver, gifted me again with a reminder that I am cared for, beckoning my heart toward the undercurrent.
My heart, still a little battered and bruised, but now also a little held and loved, followed heavily behind me and dared to ask where else God has been my Giver over recent weeks. For the last several years, my current has kept me safely trapped, carrying me nearer to Gollum, my safely trapped; a cycle of self destruction and mutilation, desperate attempts to be safe and secure. My current has nearly claimed my life over the years, in moments of weakness it’s washed me up to the doorstep of hell.
How can I shift into the undercurrent, so that even in the most brutal storms, I am still washed me up at the foot of the cross? Stay with me as I recount a collection of smalltestimonies, that reflect the big ways in which God has revealed Himself as my Giver. At the end, watch as He ties it all together and answers my hearts plea.
On the 10th of January, 9 days earlier, God presented Himself as my Giver in one of the most profound ways. It was 5:38pm and I was curled on the floor of my cupboard, in fetal position, sobbing as I fought against the current that lead to habitual self-destruction. Here, my Giver carried me through a period of great distress. Psychology and the science of human behaviour, teaches us that the calm down period after distress is 20min. Up until that afternoon, I would have habitually engaged in self harm, eating disorder behaviours, ETOH++, or just about anything that could have stopped me from having to sit with and feel my way through the distress. Instead, God gave me the tools to safely navigate my way through the period of extreme distress, my Giver sat with me and as He beckoned my heart into the undercurrent, I washed up at the foot of the cross.
I went to church on the Sunday between the 10th and the 19th of January. I wasn’t going to go, in fact that whole week I’d been planning to spend time alone with God by the riverside. However, I ended up at church and in hindsight I believe that was exactly where God wanted me, because it was there that He gifted me with the most reassurance that He is Lord of my life, my Giver, my Home.
The first gift I received that Sunday, was the gift of connection. Ever since I made the commitment to put God above all others, He has continually blessed me with safe and healthy relationships. When He is first in my heart, everything else falls into place. I remember pulling into church a little later than usual, T’s car was parked where I usually park and I remembered then she was in creche that day. I walked into the building, and where before I would have walked in bravely, I now walked in secure in God. I spotted O and family, and I headed straight for them. [Side note that once upon a time ago I wouldn’t have done this, however I know that each week we sit together and regardless of whether or not T is there, O still sits with me so I figured I could do the same.] Out of respect and probably a little bit of insecurity, I sat one seat away from O and we started chatting. Eventually he smiled and said ‘It’s not covid yet, you know you don’t have to sit so far away’. Laughter arose as I moved next to him and we proceeded to chat about my new car. On stage they asked for two families to join in a quiz, I jokingly nudged O and said he should go up.. my joke backfired when he laughed and said that they’d call me up as part of the family too. A series of small chats and laughs passed between us and over the course of the service, my Giver showed me that because I was so safe and secure in Him, I was now also quite comfortable with the relationships around me and I no longer held anxiety or fear. This has carried across many relationships within the church and I think it’s quite profound, given how far we have come.
The second gift I received that Sunday, was the gift of reassurance. I risked everything when I decided to choose God, it was a choice that required a lot of faith amidst great uncertainty. Sometimes I’m still not sure if I have fully given myself over to God, sometimes I worry that I’m not giving enough or that I am not near enough to Him to hear from Him. Overtime God continues to gently prove to me that I have chosen Him, that He is there and that He is speaking to me. Wednesday a week ago, the Wednesday between crying in my cupboard and going to church, was the first time God gifted me with the concept of currents. I remember sitting at hazbeans after my 3rd pilates class that week, I was watching the waters and read a devotion that spoke about where we receive our watering; from the dry wells of the world, or from the eternal spring that flows from the Father? At church on Sunday, I’m sure you can imagine the surprise I got when they started speaking about the undercurrent. It was shared that during a time when every bodily instinct screams to run, at the core of our beings is a subtle and gentle calling to grab hold of the undercurrent; to flow toward Jesus. My Giver, reassured me and confirmed my closeness to Him; confirming that He was teaching me, whispering sweetly to my heart even on the days that it drags along the ground behind me. The undercurrent will always flow against the natural grain, this is the current that flows with water from the Well; the Eternal Spring. The undercurrent is almost unnatural in the sense that it challenges what is considered natural and habitual, it is something we need to fight for and grab hold of amidst the storm.
But what about the brutal storms? What happens when our currents are washing us away, drowning us faster than we can swim?
I remember recently a time where I told God that I couldn’t swim. I begged Him in tears, to please stop calling me out further to where my feet couldn’t stand. Bless His gentle response to me; ‘My Child, why are you so worried about not being able to swim? Do you not know how I carry you?’. My Giver gifted me with a peace amidst all anxiety and uncertainty. It is because of His gift, that I am able to stand firm in the faith that even if my brutal currents pull me below the surface, I will be held and carried by my Father. It is below the surface, amidst the chaos of the storm, on the brink of drowning; it is there that we find the undercurrent.
Ann Voskamp first initiated me to the concept of allowing our brokenness to wash us up at the foot of the cross. This is one concept I have carried throughout my journey, and I believe it is the same in terms of our currents. Currents may be calm, but they may also be brutal. One thing that remains the same, is that in both good and bad times, our undercurrent is there; beckoning us toward the foot of the cross, in praise but also in desperation. Regardless of what season we are in, God calls us to draw nearer to Him; in praise and thanksgiving (Ps 100:4-5), in mourning (Mat 5:4, Ps 34:18), in every season (James 1:17-19).
My next questions to God was; what happens while we wait? What happens in the current? His answer was simple; ‘you have faith’. In the waiting, in the midst of the brutal storms, this is where we fight. In faith, we pray (1 Thes 5:16-18). In faith, we let God fight our battles (2 Chron 20:17). In faith, we trust that we are not alone (Josh 1:5, Ps 94:14). In the current, we will face a battle between our heads and our hearts, between what we know and what we feel. My Giver blessed me yet again when later this morning, S messaged me to say that “what I KNOW about God, is GREATER than what I feel right now”. How beautiful is the reminder that regardless of how we feel, and regardless of what currents are flowing in our midst: God remains the same (Hebrews 13:8).
If by now the answer is not already clear, then what remains is the question I first posed: How can I shift into the undercurrent, so that even in the most brutal storms, I am still washed up at the foot of the cross?
There are three verses in particularly that my Giver has given me, and that He has continually brought me back to each and every day. When all else fails and I find myself drowning amidst the brutal currents, this is what will lead me to the gentle and steady flow of the undercurrent, this will bring me to the foot of the cross: To be still and know that God will fight for me (Ex 14:14), to know that He hears me and answers my prayers even when I don’t know what to say (Is 65:24), and above all else He holds my right hand and I do not have to be afraid (Is 41:13).. would you smile too if I told you that Isaiah 41:13 was displayed on the projector at church on Sunday? Just another precious gift.
I will praise my Giver for the gift of the currents I have faced and will continue to face, for each of them, no matter how calm or brutal, provide me with the opportunity to learn how to get caught up in the undercurrent. I know without a doubt that I have grown in my dependency upon God, and that where I once would have turned to Gollum, I am now able to turn to my Father. In faith, I will seek out the undercurrent amidst every storm.
– c x (19.01.2022)