The Tale, The Test

Once upon a time in a land of giants, lived a woman searching for a dream.  The tall buildings and tall tales of love had left her scorned . . . what now to believe in?  “Who can I trust with the tender desires of my heart? she pondered.  And what would she do to make some sense of this story of hers that has not turned out like anyone had planned really?

Once upon a time in a land of lakes and rivers, backyards that you can really afford, and the modest building of boxes, lived a noble man.  He too had been scorned but by a shrewy one, shrinking his honorable stature in society and beyond.  And what will he do to calm the distant tempests of this life, to live in peace no matter what may come?

As fate would have it, the two dreamers met over the wires one cold Wintry day.  He warmed her with his intellect and she him with her remaining spark.  The love between them grew with passion, with promise of a happy ending together one day maybe soon.  So they married.  And life was good in the land not far away.

She learned to love the countryside, the bearded natives, the giant heart of her Sterjoy.  For in his arms she found love like no other.  “Jesus with skin on,” she would say.  Her night in shining aluminum for sure was now here.

He learned to love the green of the earth, the richness of organic life, the sweet spirit of his Jaboo.  For in her keeping he found respect as the man, the leader within that would emerge over time.  His delight he spoke of often; her delight to receive.

They found things in common:  to write, the open water, a furry Pupster too.  Road trips were a perfect match for his love to drive through the night with her lunchbox that was filled with all of their favorite things in tow.  Their families said, “at last!” and even the kids eventually came around as well.  Theirs was something unique crafted just for these years as all could see.  Their heartache had melted into a life that was lovely to the praise of the Lord who brought them together indeed.

Their biggest moment came four years later; no one saw it coming that fateful night.  ‘Twas a mystery at first as to why she was so sick and then why it would last so long.  They struggled and prayed, they searched and laid hands, they cried and they celebrated when hope would come for a little while at a rest stop in their lengthening journey.

Then things got uglier and she seized relentlessly day after night!  She reached for her Sterjoy with angst and often no words would come but the love between them would endure nonetheless.  He continued to slay dragons then try to minister to his wife late into the darkness without fail.  The toll was palpable yet they lived on, trying and hoping only to have their hearts thrown against the wall time and time again.  Herein was THEIR TEST.

Some tests take 2 hours, some longer, up to the duration of your life.  How will you respond when the buttons in the fabric of your character are pushed into your soul?  Most of us won’t know until it happens to us.  And if we make it to the other side who will care when it’s even worse at the next one waiting beyond:  oh no, it’s here again, the next trial?  When all you know matters not with the tears that collect on your worn sneakers that you are sure can take you no further, no further, I said no further, you are done!

They pondered and prayed some more.  They searched the Scriptures of Life.  Fellows held them up then held them out for a blessing, for respite, and neither seemed to come as the sunrise cast into its fall.  Then they realized that there were wounds in their hearts that their love had blinded them to . . . placing them on the chopping block or maybe for ransom and neither was able to make it different: oh my, just how?  They had done all they knew to do, that which prayer and inspiration had taught.  But it was their woundedness that needed to go first you see.  It had to leave whether she would realize her last breath or not.  To go on would require this.  How to keep the music playing in their hearts for each other was the real test right now!

So being the faithful man of God, Sterjoy separated the shrewy from his Jaboo.  He placed both on the throne of grace and turned his face to Jesus Christ for Thy will to be done.  He waited again.  He trusted in the Lord over all then waited and waited once again.

She being the receiver of the Spirit’s voice, obeyed in a way like never before.  She trusted even in the time when crisis came around again:  like a weak muscle that got worked but had only brought forth a crawl thus far.  And as she would trust and trust some more until her mind won over her heart, until both of them became strong.

Their story has yet to end while one thing they now know for sure.  The trials of this life are never wasted when the Lord carries you through in his chariot of grace, of love, and His promise for so much more.  Those two lovers hold out for the hope of heaven and know there they both will find rest.  Their love will be perfected by the Giver whose thoughts exceed the sands of the beaches where their lives have taken hold.

This day she has learned to believe her beloved and he, the heart of his dear one.

couple at sunset, couple by the shore, kissing, sunrise, couple at sunrise, Christian marriage, Christian couple

Gentle Reader, this story is a perfect image of the Groom as He envelopes His bride of Christ, His holy church.  How fitting a tale.  How fitting a test for us all. Sterjoy and Jaboo will live happily ever after one day without tears for trusting in the One due our complete respect:  our Lord in shining honor! He is here for these precious ones in their time of need. He is there for you my dear friend too.

Oh yeah. JJ

 

Finding Love Again

It’s as if I always knew that something was missing . . .

My first wedding day was lovely:  filled with pretty flowers, pearly alencon lace, and all the details that were meaningful at the time.  I was a new believer in Jesus Christ and in love with a young man named Craig.  We settled in the west suburbs of Chicago, worked in healthcare, and got busy with the tasks of fixing up our townhome.  In time Craig would lead us to a smaller Bible church from the seeker-friendly mega church that helped lead me to faith in Christ.  In time I joined him at that little church.  I also learned that Christians really do know how to have fun, meaningful lives rich in the knowledge and living out of the Word of God.

Then when Craig had to leave and decided never to return, my life turned upside down for about 4 years.  My last surviving grandmother, my youngest brother, and my mother all passed away out of state from where I was living.  I moved five times and my personal items were either donated to charity or stored in seven different places.  I had to change jobs three times and endured two work-related injuries.  The condo fire followed, displacing me for three months in a bare rental unit provided by my insurance company.   It was there, staring at the blank walls devoid of all of my earthly possessions and reminders of who I was that I discovered what else was missing:  my Heavenly Husband.

Isaiah 54:5 (NIV)

For your Maker is your husband— the Lord Almighty is his name— the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.

The Bible is full of analogies comparing our relationship with the Lord as a marital relationship.  Jesus is the Bridegroom and the church is His bride.  Our Heavenly Father is the husband and we are His beloved.  The imagery of an intimate relationship is too much for us to grasp fully yet challenged me to make Christ real in my life on a daily basis.  So I went for it fully:  when I got in my car and was in a down mood I invited Jesus to ride with me, take the wheel, and be my constant companion.  Before long I realized that I had placed Craig in a place in my heart not made for him.  Some of the disappointment I experienced in our marriage came from not understanding the VERY LARGE place in my heart reserved only for the Lord.  In time, that place grew larger, infilling the emptiness in my heart, filling me completely.

When I met my intended beloved, of course I still had a few kinks to work out in the man-woman relationship department.  One shift was clear however:  my need for wholeness was to be met by my Heavenly Husband not my earthly one.  Placing too much responsibility on my new husband to meet all of my needs, love me, provide for me, and guide me wasn’t fair to him or me.  The One who will always be there perfectly on-time with all the right stuff will only and always be my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I am grateful that Steve is a mighty good second I must admit!  Pastor Bill Hybels at Willow Creek Community Church said it best one Sunday service:  trust God.  Love people.  Trust God to meet all of your needs.  Love people including your spouse as imperfect brothers and sisters in Christ . . . just like me.  All of us have much to give and will fail at some point as well.  Only God is perfect.  The Lord is to be our first love.

With a perfect God, and a personal relationship through His son, Jesus Christ, we are free to live more lightly each day with the ones we love.  We can extend grace, grant forgiveness a little more easily.  We can love others and grow closer in fellowship despite all of our foibles.  And if you’re like me, you will find love again in all the right places.

Psalm 84

How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka,  they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.  They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.

Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty; listen to me, God of Jacob. Look on our shield, O God; look with favor on your anointed one.

10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. 11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold     from those whose walk is blameless.

12 Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.