It’s a Timing Thing

Maybe it’s because God is timeless, so the restrictions of days and months and years don’t really apply to Him, but I’ve always felt like God can be slow in His answers. Really slow. Like, I asked Him a question four months ago and He just now decided to grace me with an answer.

I’m not complaining, because the answer was actually quite timely and maybe I didn’t need to know four months ago. Maybe I only needed the answer when it finally came to me. Maybe God has better timing than I ever gave Him credit for. And maybe He’s sitting up there in heaven saying, “You mean you only figured that out just now?” (Because, as it turns out, God is not the only slow one in this relationship.)

I find it amazing that, while God is not bound by time, timing is such an important part of His work in our lives. God doesn’t always give answers on the day we ask questions because we may not need the answers until a little more time has passed—be it four days, four months, or four years.

And it’s like I’ll never learn that God has the answers all wrapped up for me as He awaits the perfect timing to hand me the gift of knowing. It’s like I’ll never be content to wait for His timing even though I’ve learned His timing is always perfect.

Because sometimes I just want an answer.

Whether or not I truly need the answer in that moment, I’d prefer not to endure four months of silence. And wouldn’t it make sense for me to simply store the answer in the back of my mind until the day I really need it? Why am I left with the questions and never the answers?

I think sometimes God must laugh at my ignorance, and not in a mocking way. Not in a way that makes Him roll His eyes and sigh in frustration because I still don’t understand. No, I think God must look at me the way I look at my preschoolers when they try to explain the mysteries of life. When they come up with a story that is so outrageous to those who know the truth, yet makes perfect sense in the naive logic of their minds. Yes, I think God smiles at me like I smile at them, knowing that one day I’ll know the truth and my childish imaginings will seem so silly even to me.

And though I know this, I keep coming up with my own explanations to questions that are yet to be answered.

I forget that it’s a timing thing.

I forget that the answers are on a need-to-know basis and I do not yet need to know.

And sometimes I get discouraged. And sometimes I forget…

God’s timing is so much better than mine. God’s timing is, in fact, perfect.

And maybe it’s okay that my questions remain unanswered for now, because the answers will be there when I need them most.

It's a Timing Thing

Bleeding Hearts and Useless Words

There’s a word that keeps resurfacing in my prayer journal—an adjective I keep using to describe my heart.

Bleeding.

My heart is bleeding. Cracked. Broken. Rubbed raw and aching with the harsh realities of life.

Some of it is my fault—decisions I have made, bitterness I have harbored. But some of it… Some of it is completely out of my control. The only contribution I made to that pain was deciding to love too deeply, but I promised myself long ago that I’d never apologize for that.

So here I stand.

Bleeding.

Which is why I’ve been silent here of late. The words have slipped right through the cracks in my spirit. And I’m laughing to think that I had all the answers right up until it came time to use them, which makes me wonder if perhaps they weren’t the right answers after all.

Because when your heart rumbles and shudders with the force of an earthquake and your soul rips apart at the seams, you find that answers aren’t a strong enough foundation for the process of rebuilding your life.

So what is? What remains when everything else lies in ruins?

It’s simple, really. Simple and short and perhaps a bit cliche:

When answers fail—when words are rendered worthless—love remains.

…Which is a difficult concept for a writer to wrap her mind around. You see, words are pretty much my life. I live off them and in them and for them. I’ve read as many as fourteen novels in a single month and still didn’t get my fill of them. Words. Piles and piles of words.

I’ve never believed in letters that don’t wrap around from front to back. I’ve never learned to stay within the margins of my pages. And when I’m broken, I resort to poetry and prose.

But I realized just the other day that I often fill the silences with fluff as if I’m afraid of fresh, white pages. I realized just now that I craft entire paragraphs when only one sentence is needed. And maybe the message I’m trying to get across is found somewhere in that 500-word-essay, but there’s a chance it got lost amidst all the scribbles in the margins. And after all my assurances, condolences, and cliches, you still stand there. Bleeding.

Because I gave you pages of poetry when all you needed was a simple confession.

“I know that you’re broken. I’m broken, too. But I’m okay to be broken for you.”

Maybe all I needed to say was, “I love you.”
As cliche as that sounds, I love you.
Forever.
For always.
Yes, even in this.

Or maybe I don’t need to say anything at all.

Yes, I think for now I’ll just remain silent and bleed right along with you.

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Some Questions Are Better Left Unanswered

It seems like every time I turn around, someone within my online community has been debating the goodness of God. Is He good or is He not? Does God really love the world, or is He spiteful and vindictive? Because how could a God who claims to be Love allow so many things to go wrong? Why does He stand back as we endure suffering and pain?

I nearly lost my family on Easter Sunday. They were driving home from my grandma’s house when a car came flying across the interstate and nearly crushed the family minivan. Except, somehow, miraculously, it didn’t. And my family is alive. You can bet I was praising Jesus so hard I was weeping when I heard that news.

Last week, my young friend Mackenzie lost her dad to cancer. How can it be that a mere six weeks after I praise Jesus for sparing my father, Mackenzie loses hers? Is it fair? Is it just? Can I call that the work of a loving God? And if I can, would I still be saying the same thing if I had lost half of my family in a horrific car accident and Mackenzie’s dad was miraculously healed of cancer? Would I still believe in a God who loves if everything had been ripped away from me?

I’d like to say I would. In fact, I honestly believe that I could. I honestly feel that, under all the hurt and anger and confusion, I would still hear that still, small voice saying, “Rebekah, my child, I love you.” And I’m 98% convinced that I would believe it. Because I’ve believed it for twenty-one years.

Because I have lost people I love before. And yes, it was hard (and still is hard some days). Yes, I was angry and asked questions that haven’t fully been answered up to ten years later.

But you know what I’ve realized in the midst of the pain? Sometimes Love does things that don’t make sense to the beloved. Sometimes bad things happen so better things can come. Sometimes the losses we experience make room in our hearts for greater joys. And beauty really does come from ashes… eventually.

In case you were wondering, these aren’t the words I would tell Mackenzie, because they aren’t the kind of words that heal so fresh a wound. Because, deep down in her heart of hearts, Mackenzie knows what I know. She knows that God loves her. She knows that everything happens for a reason. But right now, those answers aren’t what she needs to hear.

Maybe the reason that God elects to leave so many questions unanswered is because He knows that what our hearts truly seek isn’t answers after all.

God’s silence in the times that we are hurting isn’t a sign of His indifference; it’s His way of standing alongside us in the midst of a myriad of empty platitudes. Maybe He doesn’t offer answers because He knows what we really desire is to be understood in a world that can only try at understanding. Maybe He holds back the words because He knows that what we truly need is simply to be held amidst the awkward shoulder pats and sympathetic smiles of the people who don’t know how to handle our grief.

Knowing the answers doesn’t take the pain away. It won’t give our loved ones back or miraculously heal our broken hearts. But knowing that God is there to carry us through when we don’t have the strength to carry ourselves… Well, sometimes that’s the only thing that drags me out of bed in the mornings.

So, for now, I’m content to leave my questions unanswered and keep my God close by. Because I choose to believe that Jesus loves me… even when He doesn’t say it out loud.