A number of years back, while wrestling with the tough stuff of life, I spent nine days totally alone at a cabin in the mountains. The days were gorgeous; the nights cool; the smell of pine was refreshing; the sunsets were dazzling wonders of God’s imagination. I’m sure the sunrises were equally as dazzling. But, not being an “Oh boy, it’s morning. Let’s get up at the crack of dawn” person, I didn’t see those. 🙂
One day as I was reading, I heard a soft whimper, and looked into the eyes of the most adorable tiny cocker spaniel puppy which had appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Then, I could hear voices calling and calling for “Shenanigan.” The cabin was in the midst of dense forest, and I knew this little fur ball had picked his way through a gigantic maze of trees and tall grass looking for adventure. His adventure backfired, though, and now he was lost and afraid. I tried to coax him back toward the voices calling his name. But, he was having none of that. I was having none of it either, since I didn’t want to get lost in a sea of trees after locating his owners. So, we set off along the winding roads. Poor Shenanigan was torn. He knew he had come through the trees, and now this person was leading him away from where he had come. After a few false starts, though, he decided to trust me and began to follow right at my heels. It took about 20 minutes of walking to find his frantic owners, and with a little lick on my hand, he bounced back into his people’s arms.
Then, as God often does, He gently prodded me into realizing that I was much like Shenanigan. I was wandering around in a dense emotional forest.
The job I loved as Instructor of Music at a state university had simply disappeared when spoken promise of tenure was rescinded on the last day of school with a very terse letter. Suddenly my teaching and piano performance were not satisfactory after several years of praise. Since their notice was so late, they gave me another year’s contract – teaching honors classes – which made no sense to me whatsoever. No amount of questioning brought answers as to what had happened to change their minds.
A young man I dearly loved had simply walked away with a “Well, bye,” as he melted into a crowd of people, leaving me with a gaping wound in my heart.
A hurricane of broken dreams.
- * God, I’m totally alone. What do I do now? (Psalm 39:7)
- * God, where are You in all this? (Psalm 63:1)
- * God, do You love me? This doesn’t feel like love! (Psalm 109:26-27)
- * God, both of those things were the deepest desires of my heart. What happened? (Psalm 37:4)
It was during this time that I discovered the relevance of the Psalms. When I simply did not have words to pray anymore, I could pray those words aloud. There were prayers of –
Sadness – and joy
Anger – and peace
Storm – and refuge
Confusion – and clarity
In the midst of these emotional words were constant reminders of God’s provision and care – especially when I didn’t feel it. And, in the midst of these words were assurances that He does indeed hear the deepest heart cries. His responses often come, though, following those times when there’s nothing around but tall trees and deep grass – or a dusty and hot, or snowy and cold wilderness.
Solomon wrote: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12 NIV) God and I began to have loooooooooooong conversations about the hope deferred part, begging for the longing fulfilled part. Slowly, the truth of Paul’s New Testament words in Romans 5:1-5 began to sink into my soul.
(NASB) Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
And God’s hope does not disappoint!
During those days at the mountain cabin, I could not know there would be many fulfilling years as a professional accompanist, deep, lasting friendships, and joy in sinking deeper into God’s grace and mercy.
So, dear reader, my prayer for you is that you experience more and more of God’s hope fulfilling your deepest longings!