dear you—take heart

I bought a t-shirt, and I’ve been living in it.
Take heart, I whisper to myself when I hear news reports.
Take heart, I murmer again when our rental application is declined.
Take heart, I sob when I hear back after a job interview and I’m not the chosen candidate.
Take heart, I breathe into her hair as my arms wrap around my daughter.
Take heart, I belt out in song in the car, when the sun is shining on a new day.

I know it’s not easy. I know you’re probably facing tough things too.
But taking heart is an active verb, a holding on with both hands.

I’ve (still) been reading through the Psalms. It’s my go-to when I don’t understand, when I don’t have the answers, when my prayers don’t seem to be heard.
Today I read Psalm 73.
Yes! I thought, Yes! The prosperous don’t seem to have any troubles. (v 5) There they are just enjoying life. They don’t have to worry about where they’re going to live, or what will happen if they don’t get a permanent job, or how they’ll pay the mechanic. Yes! Their hearts overflow with follies (v7) because they don’t seem to have anything important to worry about.
The Psalmists just seem to get how I feel. Yes I’m envious. Yes. It feels like I keep my heart clean all in vain! It feels like I keep believing and hoping all for nothing, every morning I’m rebuked—I’m told no to the house, the job. I’m stricken! Yes! (v14)

And always, in the Psalms, I’m given permission to feel.
To feel the envy. To feel stricken. To feel weary.
But then I’m reminded again and again to take heart. It’s not about the here and now.

“But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God” (v 17)

His counsel and wisdom are ours. He holds our hands, continually with us.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.

So I take heart again. Two-handed.
I write lists of what I’m grateful for in the here and now.
I entrust the future to Him.
I do what I can, and breathe prayers as I let it go today and watch the daisies dance on my doorstep.
I bring the little I can, I say yes, I offer my portion, I laugh a little and it loosens the knots in my stomach.
I look around at this, here; look what He’s given me!
I lather on things that smell good; lotions and oils, and I mascara my eyelashes and brush my teeth twice a day, and string up some twinkling lights. I stay up too late reading, I bake bread, and sweep the floor, and hang the laundry. I take fresh sourdough to work and the smell of it fills the workroom; by morning tea it’s almost all gone, and I’ve shared what’s in my hand while I shelf books and make jokes and smile inside that I’m here.

I let go of what I can’t control, and then I take heart and take it hard and fast and refuse to let go.

Because whatever you’re holding tight for will come, and we can simultaneously take heart and let go and dance.
Because if it’s not this messy middle today, it’ll be a different one tomorrow.
Because today is filled with the answered prayers of yesterday so take heart, He’ll overcome again, and again.

And again I’m grateful and the gratitude is what keeps us from sinking.

xx

Stories in the sky: how He speaks

Read: Psalm 19, The Passion Translation

It’s dark, because summer has slipped away. Even the birds are quiet still. Daniel is up first with his alarm, but I don’t hear him until I’m jolted from a dream by my body clock, and hear the clink of his spoon and bowl in the kitchen. Already I know that he’s dressed, and eating porridge. The next sound I’ll hear is the coffee machine growl to life.

I squint at the time. 5:44. I can’t keep my eyes open yet so I close them and roll over to a cool part of my pillow. He grinds and pours one shot, then the second, and I know he’s using our favourite mugs. He’ll put a lid on his to take with him when he leaves. I think vaguely that I hope the coffee machine doesn’t wake the kids, but there’s no noise from the bedrooms.

I pull myself up to sitting, and flick on the bedside lamp. I lean over to pull open the blinds too, even though it’s too dark to see anything outside. My Bible is open on my knees when he brings in the coffee to set on the bedside table, but I’m scrolling Facebook now.
A goodbye kiss, the click of the front door, his car starting and the garage door lifting.
I’m reading a New York Times article about Wuhan on my phone, Psalm 19 is waiting.

Then a text from Daniel, “Go look at the moon.” I hesitate, the bed is warm and maybe I can see it from the window? “It’s at the end of the street” comes another text.
I tiptoe past the cat flayed in the kitchen doorway and out onto dewy lawn.
There’s the moon, setting at the end of the street, and ginormous. Beautiful.
There’s me in my undies in the darkness, staring at the lightening sky and luminescent moon.

Then, back to the still-warm spot in my sheets, and the still-open Bible I begin to read my next Psalm. Nineteen.
God’s Story in the Skies
God’s splendor is a tale that is told;
his testament is written in the stars.

Space itself speaks his story every day
through the marvels of the heavens.
His truth is on tour in the starry vault of the sky,
showing his skill in creation’s craftsmanship.
Each day gushes out its message to the next,
night with night whispering its knowledge to all.

Suddenly I’m overwhelmed by the knowledge of this God who sees me.
He’d painted that giant moon there just for me, because He knew I’d stand there in awe, and minutes later I’d read about Him speaking through the skies.
He spoke through the moon, through the cold dew on the grass, through the streaks of pink in the cloud, straight to my heart; a reminder of his sheer magnitude, yet this personal painting of the skies, just for me.

I felt it in my chest, this inexplicable knowledge that God orchestrates my days, my hours and minutes. That nothing is a surprise to Him, nothing is missed by Him—and that He’s there, painting the skies just waiting for me to tiptoe out, lift my eyes and read His story.

“The rarest treasures of life are found in his truth.”

I’m so grateful for this rare treasure today.

xx