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Caves and Meadows

March 21, 2008

“Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle” (Psalm 103:1-5).

I sat in the car, filled with excitement.

“Guess what!?” I told my friend. “I have a second interview! Isn’t that great? I’m so excited,” I almost whispered, letting the idea of teaching wash over me as I imagined the real possibility of having a classroom again.

Her brow furrowed. “That’s… nice, I guess… But do you really think you can handle it?”

I felt like I’d been punched – not because she wasn’t excited for me – but because she spoke my worst fear out loud. She gave a voice to the thing I fear the most.

The fear of not being able to handle my life haunts me. I think it is a unique fear, because when I talk with other people, their fears seem normal – mine seem irrational and born out of a broken life.

I appeared to handle my life well for the first twenty-five years. No matter what happened to me as a little girl, I would survive it. I told myself to keep going, saying out loud “it’s o-kay.”

“It’s o-kay” was one of the phrases that defined my life. Whether we were moving for a fourth time in a year, or I had to wear rubber bands on my arms to inflict pain on myself when I made a mistake – I would tell myself that it was o-kay. I was o-kay. Life was o-kay. Just keep going. Keep handling it, sort of.

Then, at twenty-five, I stopped being able to handle life. I gave up. I went into a darkness for several years that left me cut off from everyone in my life with the exception of my husband and my best friend.

The darkness felt safe. The decision to give up and not face my life anymore was almost total.

I crawled into a cave, a cave full of every memory and disappointment and abuse and experience. The weight of my past held me captive, and I couldn’t handle anything else.

I barely parented my children, I weakly offered myself to Hugh as a wife, I was the limpest of friends.

My failure, my inability, my inadequacy – complete.

When I realized I had nothing left, when no hope remained for my future, Jesus crawled into my cave. With his tender face and scarred hands, He wrapped His arms around me and began to lead me step by painful step out of my darkness.

Each day He taught me a little more how to depend on Him alone. Every day when I felt like giving up, He would speak quietly, “Not today, little one…Today you will laugh with your children…Today you will listen to your husband talk about his day…Today you will go for a walk.”

The months passed, and my dependency on Him grew. Jesus daily continued to teach me to handle the life He was calling me to live. “Today you will go on another walk…And today you will return those phone calls…Today you will read to your children…Today you will make an easy meal…Today you will go on one errand.”

Still later, “Today you will join a Bible study…Today you will begin writing…Today you will take on this responsibility at church…Today you will spend all day laughing and playing with your family.”

Slowly Jesus showed me how to handle life. He is the One who rebuilt my soul when I had nothing left.

So when He began to say, “Today you will think about teaching…Today you will imagine a job again, Daughter…” I was not scared – only amazed that His redemption over my once-broken life and dreams would be so complete.

So, if I do get this job, I can’t handle it – my friend is right.

I can’t handle anything.

But I have learned who does handle everything in my life. I have learned Who I depend on for each day, each decision, each failure, each victory. Instead of fear, I can be confident that He will teach and lead me in this new season – He has taught me everything else.

The same Jesus who crawled into my cave to rescue me is now leading me to a green, fertile valley – rich with His Presence and life.

He is my Shepherd.

I have all that I need.

He lets me rest in green meadows.

And He leads me beside peaceful streams.

He renews, renews, renews my strength!

He guides me along right paths –

I’m bringing honor to His name.

Jesus, I love you. You crawled in next to me when I was the worst mess. You rescued me because You love me. I long to touch you and wrap my arms back around your neck, Lord and tell you over and over, “I love you, too, Jesus. I love you, too.” Thank you for your death on the cross, the ultimate expression of your love – In your name, Amen.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. March 21, 2008 10:14 am

    Good for you! Both for the second interview and for the wisdom in fully relying on God. Because there’s no way *anyone* can handle teaching with HIM!!

  2. Carol permalink
    March 21, 2008 1:01 pm

    This post gave me goosebumps and brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for reminding the rest of us of The Way to handle life.

  3. March 21, 2008 2:12 pm

    Jess, I love you and I don’t even know you IRL 🙂
    You’ve had some thought provoking, spirit nudging posts recently.

  4. March 21, 2008 4:27 pm

    Your entire life is pointing at Jesus, Jess, how he loves and how he saves. I love what you wrote.

  5. March 22, 2008 12:06 am

    Oh to know how to turn the corner from depending on others to fully depending on Jesus. I get it some of the time, but then find myself leaning on my husband or a friend or someone or something else. I long to be led out of this cave as you have been. To finally learn deep in my heart how to depend on the only One Who is dependable!
    Thank you for your insights…

  6. March 22, 2008 9:53 am

    Finding your blog was simply providential … I have a finished teaching application on my desk … right here next to me … and every morning I say to myself- “you failed miserably at trying to do it all before, why is this time going to be different?” Thanks for sharing the your answer!

  7. Laura permalink
    March 24, 2008 1:56 pm

    From one who uses her bed as her cave, THANK YOU for that visual. Jess, you made me well up today. I love your blog. God Bless you my sister.

  8. taylor k. permalink
    July 30, 2008 2:38 pm

    it seems as though you and i have so much in common. i am so happy i found your blog! 🙂

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