How to Have Confidence in Times of Change

Hi friends, I’ve missed you …but have been desperate for hours of filling up…more of Jesus.  My blog is empty but my spirit is slowly filling up.  Now it’s 3:30am and Xavier just had a nightmare and I am up with the early warblers…up with you because I have a story to tell, a story I will need to remember.

 

The holy oil seeped into the sidewalk quickly, spreading out from the shards of glass, sending up a scent of lilies.

 

I had been juggling again.

 

In my arms I carried a stack: a purse, a gallon-sized bag of tiny legos, a small Book of Common Prayer with my name in bronze across the front, and this small brown vial with a green top.  I watched helplessly as the jar slipped off the lego bag and bounced, shattering on concrete.

 

I leaned over the shards. They don’t tell you what to do at moments like this in seminary.

 

I placed my hands down in the oil, rubbing my hands together, sliding it around my fingers and the backs of my hands as if it was lotion.  Oil slid over the leather of the steering wheel as I drove us to the nursing home.  After our visit, Xavier playing legos on the floor, I form a cross on Mary Reames forehead, my fingers still slick with oil.  She looks up after the prayer with a smile of childish acceptance as I say, “You are marked as Christ’s own forever.”

 

Later, I walked in and out all day from my white concrete steps across the stain, through the perfume, to the minivan to pick up kids from school, to go to Walgreens, to the trashcan and back, inhaling in and out the cloud of Presence.

 

The oil had seeped into our soil and God was at work HERE on our 1/4 acre.  And maybe, just maybe, the oil drunk deep would bring His blessing. Hope rose unexpected. I shook my head at the superstitiousness.

 

Because yes, I know.  God is faithful with or without holy oil, with or without physical signs.  But, sometimes, don’t we need the stain, the continual awareness of God’s Presence in the midst of the daily doubts?

 

Today, it is me who holds out my hands for the miracle, who rubs in the Presence.

 

He knows that we are human, that we sometimes we need to hold stuff, physical reminders of His Presence, His grace, His faithfulness.

 

My Grandfather Farrington gripped his Bible firm as he slipped into death.  My uncle watched his fingers curl over the black leather, took a picture.

 

Sometimes, like Thomas, I need to hold truth, not just in my mind, but in my hands. I need physical signs that He, Creator and Redeemer is at work on the scaffolding of our future.

 

I for a full day last week, I held grace in two hands, inhaled hope.  And I recognized that the fear, held onto so tightly last week, the fear I had begged for God to take, had finally broken open.

 

Sunday night we took a drive along the lakeshore in and out of neighborhoods, watching the sun set over the water, listening to this amazing worship music, the children lulled to sleep in the backseats by the chill celtic sound.

 

We parked the minivan in front of South Haven’s lighthouse to savor the last blush and this hymn washed over us with its pipes and fiddle and renewed clarity:

Be still, my soul,
The Lord is on your side.
Bear patiently, the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to your God, to order and provide.
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul,
Your best your heavenly friend,
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul,
Your God will undertake
To guide the future as he has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake.
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul,
The waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while he lived below.

 

And ahhh, this is what God was whispering with the lily scent: I will guide the future as I have the past. Have confidence, dear one.  I’ve got this.

Summer Gross

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Comments

  1. I have gone through some difficult journeys over the last two months. With the death of a loved one (my Mother), I got very introspective. I feel that it is at times like this that God slows us down enough to appreciate what we can learn from BEING STILL in his presence. Doing that has helped me to hear the cries and pain of other individuals and family members that I would have otherwise been oblivious to. Amen, Lord…. I am appreciating my break.

    1. I love that Debbie. Be still so you can listen to the cries around you. Beautiful, friend. I’m so sorry for the loss of your mother…

  2. Oh, Summer, it’s been too long since I’ve “visited” here and I’m so glad to have dropped by. YES, I sometimes need physical reminders of my Savior’s promise to fill me and hold me and sustain me. The noisy world drains me dry and makes my head spin and I can get DESPERATE to hear His whisper. Sometimes I hear best at 3 AM — not sure how God will wake me once the kids grow up and no longer need a mommy to rush to their bedside in the dark of night. Praying for your soul to overflow!

  3. Marked as Christ’s forever. What holy words–like grace tucked between a stack of papers–they felt like oil on my heart. God knows the words we need to give us hope.

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