Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Age-Long Minute

“Hold us quiet through the age-long minute
While Thou art silent, and the wind is shrill;
Can the boat sink while Thou, dear Lord, are in it?
Can the heart faint, that waiteth on Thy will?"
Amy Carmichael

          My prayers are peopled with friends in that age-long minute right now. There are those recovering from life-threatening health issues, facing fear and even despair at a changed future – and some helplessly watching their child in that spot; some waiting for test results and hearing frightening words and predictions for themselves or their child; and there is the mother watching her child trade safety and goodness for a life on the streets and a quick fix.

          I know the age-long minute well; I know the lying awake, staring into blackness, heart pounding, spirit crying out in terror. I know jumping at every phone call or siren, waiting for results or for that thing which I fear to come to pass.

          And that – fear – is at the core of the age long minute; the terror that the thing we most fear may come, and we dwell on it, chew on it, and though we hate it, we savor it and taste every bitter swallow. A friend reaches out with wise words when I find myself in that place, and reminds me to think only on that which I know to be TRUE.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

          And so, each time, I weeded through thoughts. Many times, situations seemed bleak, but paring down, there was what I knew to be true. Symptoms? Yes. Someone making bad choices? Yes. A lifetime of suffering? That was predicting the worst. A future destroyed? Again, fear running away, taking hope and joy captive. I learned as I went – and am still learning – to take the truth, accept it, and do what I can when there is something to be done. And then the rest – those things most feared – they must be left at the nail-scarred feet of the only One wise and strong enough to handle them, turned over and given with hands now open to clutch the hem of His robe.

          And even in the darkest times, there were things that were right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy, and thinking on them and giving thanks brought peace, pushed away fears, made a subtle shift and allowed God’s light to shine in. I know this is the medicine most needed, even when the first swallow is hard to take.

          Do not fear, for I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
Isaiah 43:2

          In that age-long minute, clutching tight to Jesus in the boat with us, He gives good gifts. My mother, a cancer survivor, reflects that she would not trade the cancer if it meant trading the peace she felt during that time; it was that precious. I have grown and changed through those minutes and would not go back to being the unscarred, self-confident 30-year-old I once was. I pray for ease, but I know that I hear His voice most when I am hard-pressed and I press in.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9; 16-18

          “Can the boat sink while Thou, dear Lord, are in it?” In the boat, in that minute, we are not alone. I pray to remember, and am thankful for those who remind me.

Trusting in Him,