purpose & pain

lately God's been reminding me of Who i belong to - the master Creator and Storyteller bending low and whispering truths to counter the lies. and i've been overwhelmed by the way He chooses to pull us close. it's not just a tender nudge of our hand, a slight push in the right direction. nope. this wooing ย is violently beautiful and reminiscent of poets who experienced the same wind-whipping knowledge of His presence - batter my heart, three-personed God.

earlier this week, i almost missed it. scrawled on the pages of half the church, carolyn custis james writes of conflict within the Story of God. she says it's easy to imagine living as God's image bearers in the garden of Eden. but here?

"what does it mean to bear God's image here...in the mess where the fall is much worse than we ever imagined?"

she then quotes peter - the book that keeps pulling me in and reminding me the reason for my suffering. don't be surprised when bad things happen to you, he says.ย these sacred words that bring the reality "we experience but wish to deny: that we and our world are broken, that this side of eternity we will drink deeply of that brokenness, and there will be thorns we can't shake off that accompany us to our graves."

and i sat there reading, tears falling freely, wondering how she knew.

wednesday night i spoke with storytellers at my church. i mentioned how i was in a season where God seemed to be screaming my name. everywhere i turn, His heart for me beats wildly through stories and creatives who are answering His call. it started four years ago and the trickle of realization has turned into a downright deluge at the precise moment my emotions are tapped.

and i know now: my Savior hard-wired me for understanding the conflict within a story so i can point others to the Conflict - we are all broken. we are all messy. and we are in desperate need of the Hero.

and so my feminine heart danced when i read the words of James -

the challenge for us is not to insulate ourselves from conflict (which we ultimately can't do anyway) or to accept it fatalistically, but rather to lean into the conflict - to face it head on and to engage it. we must ask the hard questions about God, about ourselves, about the state of things in our world, about the meaning of hope and joy and purpose. but we must also respond to what conflict asks of us.

...we must also respond to what conflict asks of us.

i think about this past year. about the hurt, the anger, the questions, the doubt, the joy, the pain, the breaking and remolding only to be broken again...

and i know He's refining me. i know the violent beauty of His wooing results in my freedom and healing. but what then? even in the midst of my pain - even if my past becomes the thorn in my side i'll never escape from - what's the purpose of these trials here on earth?

this is where the hope keeps. because in the midst of our pruning a greater story takes place - one of redemption and purpose.

that's when i feel the rush of His whisper against my cheek - the warmth of His hand leading me into His presence.

My purpose for you waits within your greatest pain, child. rest in Me. believe in my Story for you.

and i think of the Cross - of the fabric-splitting grief and the grittiness of new life.ย i really have no other choice but to believe.

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i am giving away a copy of half the church - recapturing God's global vision for women. if interested, let me know in the comments why you want to read the book - and i'll announce the winner on monday.

Posted on April 8, 2011 and filed under books, story.