Thursday, May 15, 2014

Crossing the Jordan

Let's face it. 
At "my age", myself and my peers are looking more toward the journey ahead. We are spending less time looking back over our shoulders and all that has brought us to this season of life.
Oh, there will always be fits of nostalgia, bursts of wistfulness. For the most part, though, it seems we are asking questions like Where am I heading? How are the kids doing? How are my friendships; are they current?
And we think about our legacy -- our non-monetary inheritance we will leave to our children and our grandchildren.
Have we taught them to love the things of eternity?
Have we lived out our faith in such a way that they, too, are storing up treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not corrupt?
Also these days we're doing away with mirrors; I am, anyways. Oh, they're handy for brushing hair and applying makeup and making sure there's no residual guacamole in between the teeth...but for our reflection -- to really see who we are -- we need to look into the faces of our peers. In the wrinkles, the laugh lines, the battle scars, the deep and knowing eyes, we see ourselves too. We see our own reflection.
We get this glimpse, this insight, this Aha! moment. And we get to really see how we're doing. 
What you may sometimes forget is, while you are looking to your friend for affirmation, she is looking into your eyes and quietly thanking God that you show up in the middle of her mess. You show up when she is hurting. 
She sees in you her biggest cheerleader. You may not realize this, but you are helping her navigate the crooked scary places in her own jagged journey. Yes, you. You come to the middle of where she is; the middle of her mess -- and you see her and know her pain because maybe you've experienced something like it. Maybe you've endured the pain and crossed safely to the other side.
In some seasons, it might be her turn to see you. And what she might see, reflected in your eyes, is your heart -- your heavy heart, heavy like a stone. A heart burdened with worry over a rebellious child. Or sad with regret over an argument, an unkind word, a rift in a relationship. She senses you are aching for things to just be okay again. Her gaze looks past the surface cheer and sees your bitter, closed heart, scabbed over with unforgiveness.
Unforgiveness gathers momentum, and becomes swift and deliberate, like a raging river. So there's this amazing story in the Bible. It's the book of Joshua in the Old Testament. In there, you'll read about the entire nation of Israel crossing this river in one day's time. They crossed while the river was at flood stage! What happened was a miracle: the priests were instructed to carry the ark of the testimony into the river. As soon as their feet touched the water's edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, while the water flowing the other way was completely cut off. Can you even imagine?
The thing about your heart is, God can restore it. He can do anything. Even bring a salve to your scabbed over hurts, gently unfold your fistfuls of fury.
He can run interference -- send in your testimony, carried by your friends, who hold your story and at the powerful hand of God, see you safely to the other side. You will look back and see that you have crossed the Jordan. And that's no small thing.

"Lord, help me to stand in the hurtful places next to my dear friend. Help me to gently lead her to the river's edge and together we'll dip our reluctant toes into our own raging waters of anger and resentment. May we find ourselves standing in the middle on dry ground. 
And may she stand on her regrets and use them as launching pads to better days  ahead.