Monday, August 26, 2019

Stability in a World of Instability



In the summer of 2018, my husband and I were on a medical leave of absence in Chapel Hill, NC. He participated in an experiment for a pharmaceutical company testing a new type of treatment for the rare disease he has. We were put up in a lovely apartment for three months. My husband's nephew also participated and so his nephew and sister were in the same complex and we got to enjoy each others company all summer long. It was an idyllic summer with lots of sunshine, new friends, new places to go, old friends to reconnect with, swimming in the pool and not a lot of responsibility. It was wonderful and my soul drank in every minute of it.


The apartment had it's own laundry room, complete with a new washer and dryer and wire shelving on an entire wall.  One day while I was doing the wash, I pulled the bottle of Purex laundry detergent from that shelving and a memory came flooding over me. I had gone to the Walmart in Chapel Hill by myself to buy that bottle of detergent because I knew I could get the size and brand I wanted there. I remembered the heat. I remembered clearly where I had parked the car. I remembered the traffic when I left the parking lot. But most of all, I remembered it was well over a month ago that all of that happened. We still had a lot of time in Chapel Hill. Leaving to go home was not even on my mind that day at Walmart. The memory was so strong my body could still conjure up how the heat had felt that day and I could still remember the entire summer stretching before me.

As I set about washing towels for perhaps the last time in Chapel Hill, and as I poured out the depleting laundry detergent into the lid, this wave of emotion just came over me - like when you are at the Jersey shore in the ocean, and you don't see the wave coming up on you until it is too late. It came out of nowhere and its dark shadows spread over my spirit that had been so gay a moment before. Our time in North Carolina was almost gone. We were leaving in six days. 

As I stood there with the bottle in hand, I felt how we cannot hang onto anything, I felt the fleetingness of life and moments. I felt my total lack of control over any of it, try as I had to hold onto all the moments and seize the day during our time there. The day was still coming that we would have to leave. A sadness hung over my spirit. It cast its dark tentacles into the depth of my normally joyful soul, unfurling gloominess and snuffing out all gladness in my being. This went on for awhile as I went about my work, and then, the comfort came. It came from God's Holy Spirit. It was almost as if he put the knowledge in my soul that come what may, He will never be moving or leaving or changing or depleting. He is the surety, the stability - the one I can anchor my soul in. The rock that is higher than I am. He is the ONLY sure thing in my life, or any of our lives. But what a surety he is. As the truth of this knowledge became apparent to me, it was as if the petals of my soul were unfurled by it. The darkness was dispersed. The truth in the Bible is something we can anchor our souls in. James 1:17 says "there is no variation or shifting shadow" with God and Malachi 3:6 teaches, "I the LORD do not change."  That is what makes God the rock we can utterly depend upon.
No wonder that David wrote in the Psalm 62: 
Hear my cry, O God
listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower...
I don't know what life has brought your way, but I do know that none of us can control it. I hope that you have found the rock that is higher than you are and are anchored in Him so that come what may, you have anchored your soul in God. When those moments come - and you never know when they will - remember the one who never changes and pray with David, "lead me to the rock that is higher than I." Thank God that because of who he is, he IS higher than us, he IS a rock and he can ALWAYS answer that prayer, because he is the LORD who does not change.




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