Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Lord is Never Late

Reading in my friend Michael Kelley's upcoming book Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal, about his family's journey of faith through their young son's battle with leukemia, I found a passage of reflection taking me back in time. I do not know the fear and grief of having a child with a life-threatening illness, but when Michael writes --
I prayed. I petitioned. I cried. And I felt . . . nothing. Emptiness. Despair. Isolation. Darkness. Where was He, this God who so loved the world? Where was the great Healer? We needed Him there, in that cubicle of a hospital room. Doing something. Healing something. Springing into action. I didn’t need a Jesus that was sleeping in the boat while the storms raged around His friends. I needed a Jesus who was turning over the tables of sickness and disease and calling out cancerous cells like they were demons.
-- this I know.

I was taken back to the smell of the guest bedroom carpet, where my nose had been many hours of many nights, my eyes wetting the fabric as I cried out to God. You ever groaned? If you have, you'd know. I planted my face in that floor and prayed guttural one-word prayers til I couldn't speak any more. The lullaby music from my daughter's room across the hall haunted me. I felt alone, unloved, unaccepted, and unacceptable. But I knew I deserved it all, so I was trying to be as submissive to God's discipline as I could. But it hurt. Oh God it hurt.

I was clinging to the hem of Christ's garment in desperation in those days, beyond begging him for the restoration of my marriage, beyond begging him for forgiveness of my sins, beyond begging him to take away my thoughts of suicide. I just wanted to know he was there.

The Bible says "faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1). And by his grace I had that faith. A tiny sliver of it, to be sure, but I had it. Half a mustard seed maybe, clenched in my fist. All visible evidence to the contrary, I was still too afraid of the alternative. I was too scared to believe God didn't exist, that he didn't love me, that he didn't care. I was exhausted but my stubbornness and that speck of faith persisted even in the spiritual silence.

And then one night I heard the voice of the Spirit, not audibly mind you, but clearly, straight to my heart, applying the word of the gospel to me: "I love you and I approve of you." Because I had been exposing my mind to the gospel at that time, I knew he meant that he approved of me "in Christ," not that he approved of my sin or righteousness; that much was clear by the devastation I was in. Like the prodigal son, "I came to my senses."

In my pained estimation in those dark days, the Lord was moving much too slowly, but I knew in that moment that he is not slow in keeping his promises (2 Pet. 3:9). He was holding me all along, and his reviving word came right on time. I pray I will remember this in dark days to come.

The Lord is never late.

Don't give up.

For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay.

-- Habakkuk 2:3


Jason Wert said...

"I just wanted to know he was there."

Man, I know that feeling all too well. Heck, I live there. I'm looking forward to the day my nose isn't buried in berber.

BiF said...

Me too.

Jamie said...

Thanks for that admission/confession/exhortation.
Suffering in Christ, for Christ, and to Christ is strangely beautiful. There really isn't another way to having the Gospel emblazoned on our hearts. I too have been to that carpeted place and I am sure I will be there again.

brian said...

I was here in February. Ten years of lying and hiding. Oddly enough it was your post on Eric that put things in motion. What precious moments when Christ breaks through and breaks the fingers of wickedness wrapped around your throat.

Jared said...

Brian, Eric would be blessed to know that.

For others who may be interested, this is the post Brian is referring to:

Andrew Faris said...


I've seen you mention in a few places now some experience you've had of this deep emptiness and confession and such. Have you ever posted on the whole story? Hints make me wonder. Maybe it's the wrong kind of curiosity, but maybe it's not.

Andrew Faris
Someone Tell Me the Story

Jared said...

I talk a bit about my story in my upcoming book, but the most direct telling of my testimony is near the end of this message preached in Gahanna, Ohio a few weeks back:

Anonymous said...

As someone who's frequently been curled up in the fetal position waiting for God to pull me out of the darkness, I give my hearty amen. He is faithful, and He knows what He's doing.

Andrew Faris said...

Thanks for the sermon link. I'll take a look.

I really, really love your blog and appreciate what you are doing a lot. So thanks. It's a big encouragement to me.

Any idea when the book will be out? I'm anxious for it.


Jared said...

Oct. 31

brian said...

Jared- I've actually had the privilege of corresponding with Eric several times the past few months, keeping up with his and Brandi's story. Very sweet people, they do my heart good.

Side note- I reread my post yesterday, for clarification, the "I was here in February" meant I had my nose buried in my living room carpet pounding on the gates of Heaven... not I was here at your blog... even though I was, so I suppose it would work either way LOL. Love ya brother, run the race well!

Anonymous said...

Being candid and vulnerable are two pastoral qualities which are under appreciated, but very important.

Thanks for the encouraging post.