“I don’t want this.”
“This isn’t what I planned”
“I don’t like this pain”
“But I don’t wanna say good-bye”
“I don’t want this to be over”
Sorrowful thoughts that ruminate in my mind, sometimes to the point of exhaustion. I know how to do all the things to move through pain, but it doesn’t mean that makes it any easier.
I am being dragged into a season that I don’t prefer – being forced to face more loss. It’s a detour. In Aaron Sharp’s book I Didn’t Sign up for This, he talks about when we come up against a detour, our human reaction is to fight and struggle our way out of it. He states, “What is natural is to live on the edge of panic, spending all of your time, energy and thoughts trying to leave your detour.” This is the brains natural response to pain and fear. We are wired to avoid pain at all costs. We struggle and fight in an attempt to get back to “normal”, but often times a detour completely annihilates normal, and the normal you used to have – no longer exists. Rather than struggle to get back – we must SURRENDER to the detour in order to move forward. How does one do that?
Grieve and let go. Allow the pain and lament to wash and transform us. Richard Rohr states, “All great spirituality is about what we do with our pain. If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it to those around us.”
As I sat in the pain, the Lord brought Abraham and Isaac to mind. I think Abraham had a detour come out of nowhere when God asked him to kill his son. We know his behavior said, “yes Lord”, but I wonder if deep inside his gut, he felt sick. “I’m sorry, what Lord?!!! How am I gonna do this and survive?!!!! I waited so long for this child. It was such a roller coaster for Sara to finally become pregnant, if anything were to happen to this child, I would die.” And you told me all my descendants would come through my son!!! This is awful, I don’t want to, I can’t! How will I do this?!!!” “After all this, God tested Abraham, God said “Abraham!” Genesis 22:1
I imagine God whispering in his spirit, ‘Abraham, are you willing to lose this love? Do you trust me?’ Abraham went through with this despite the known grief and placed the one thing he loved most, that would crush him to lose- on an altar! The Bible says, “he tied up Isaac and laid him on the wood, Abraham reached out and took the knife to KILL his son.” Gen. 22:9-10
I got this visual of laying my relationship on the altar – all the people I have been clinging to so tightly. I imagine God whispering to my spirit; “Rochelle, do you love me more than you love this person? Do you love me more than you love this relationship? Do you love me more than you love your image or security? Do you trust that I am your protector, defender, sovereign, and I am in control here? I do not cause harm against you. I don’t manipulate you. Do you trust that? Can you let go, honey? I got you.”
Fear of loss can be such a powerful thing in our lives. It can hold us back from a new adventure, stepping into a new season, or keep us trapped in something that is unhealthy, because we fear being alone and in pain. People and relationships can become idols in our lives so quickly as they slowly take the place of our need for God. I can see when an idol takes over as I begin to think I can’t survive without that someone or that some thing.
Do I fear God more than fearing being alone? Losing someone when I say ‘NO’?
The redeeming part of this story? Abraham’s OBEDIENCE and cooperation with the Lord. He freely chose to listen to God and follow thru with this crazy plan!
The message version states, “I swear – God’s sure word! because you have gone through with this, and have not refused to give me your son, your dear, dear son, I’ll bless you – OH! how I’ll bless you!” (vs. 19)
“Sister, because you have gone through with this and placed your fear on the altar – you have not refused me! Oh! how I’ll bless you!”
Before the promise of blessing; the angel said, “…Now I know how fearlessly you fear God; you didn’t even hesitate to place your son, your dear son, on the altar for me.” (vs. 12)
The FREE – WILL CHOICE that Abraham made to sacrifice Isaac shows his heart fearlessly fears God more than any other fear! And THIS is why Abraham is listed in the “faith hall of fame”. “By faith, Abraham, at the time of testing, offered Isaac back to God. Acting in faith, he was as ready to return the promised son, his only son, as he had been to receive him – and this after he had already been told, “Your descendants shall come from Isaac.” – Hebrews 11:7
This story led me to ponder the verse that begins, “Pick up your cross and follow me”, The next part of that passage says; “What good is it – if you gained the whole world, but lost your soul?”
What good is it to gain a “picture – perfect” life on the outside, but lose your soul to a tyrant hiding behind closed doors in your home?
What good is it to “keep it together and serve more”, but lose your soul because you are burned out, resentful, and over-functioning?
What good is it to make excuses for your husband’s behavior, minimize his pornography addiction, but lose your soul because you cannot find the safety to heal in your own home?
What holds us back, as women to place fear on the altar?
What should go on the altar? Fear of loss, failure, judgement, shame, and loneliness?
Is it worth it to lose our souls because we won’t go back and look at our own wounds, tend to our battle scars that are still infected? Allowing our pain to be transformed?
I don’t want to lose my soul because I’m ruled by injustices done against me. No. I want to lay down the broken pieces of my life and gain my whole life by allowing Jesus to put the fractures back together. I don’t believe this can happen until we lay the fear on the altar, and take the step of letting go of what no longer serves us, because a warrior fights for her soul. A warrior embraces pain, even though she is scared.
THAT is the cross to bear! “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it… Don’t run from suffering. Embrace it. Self-Sacrificing is the only way to finding yourself – your TRUE self.” – Matthew 16:24
My Dear Sister,
I imagine seeing you from across an open field – I am standing at my altar, laying down my fear of loneliness, loss and shame. I see you there, standing by your altar – ready to move forward and lay yours down too.
Whatever it is, wrap it in burial cloth. Say good-bye and lay it down.
I believe in you. I believe that you will overcome the loss because God’s love is greater in you and guides you gently as you take each next step. Lay it down girl, let it go and don’t look back.
Take His hand and step away from the altar… He will take care of the rest – let Him do this for you and trust that He knows the way.
“Amidst all of the uncertainty of this season, something beautiful is growing here, and one day you will look back and see that all along, all by grace, you were blooming.” -MHN
You are not alone.