The Your stories blogs are a place where women can bravely and authentically tell their story as it really is. We invite women to collide with Jesus and share how He is meeting them, transforming them and redeeming them. We hope this “your story” meets you in yours…
As I settled into the one and only mat in the yoga studio, the story of 100 year old wood boards stretched out beneath me as far as my eyes would choose to see. The beauty of streaming early evening light prompted me to keep my promise – show up, begin, root in and rise up, travel the spectrum of all that honors, extend out from hip to heart, sternum to shoulder blade and gather courage towards my fingertips, float the hands to prayer and let the tears flow into the uneven cracks of ‘so much loved’!
Have you been there – the inner there – rotating and twisting inwards to meet oneself while the woven fabric of your structure is stuck in places others have determined, loss has determined, self has determined? I think we might share the echo of a story, and perhaps if you will allow me, I believe it goes a bit like this…
And I then in my promise kept, heard the quietest voice of the CALL to move between the mountains of pain and gift in ‘climbers repose’ to be met in the Valley of the Call to Joy.
It is in the valley the echo is amplified, carries the voices further, and returns!
The seeking eye can align, the comforting ear can identify, the gentlest touch can adjust the hold on rock and rope; then the Lord asks you to pause, asks you to be present on a precipice of the unknown, indeed nimble on every ledge, and He answers years of prayer in ‘return’:
I see you
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)
I trust you
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. (Psalm 143:8)
I know you
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken, nor my covenant of peace removed, says the Lord who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10)
Hello I’m here, you are not alone
Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. (John 15:4)
I see you have already turned the page, knowing the next chapter of this promise we together move within; do you recall the valley melts away below, and the ebb and flow of rising timbers and precious undergrowth create a deeper footing – a stronger hold into the foundation that ascends to where the road of Living Word and stillness meet?
I once hired a young women for a seasonal holiday position. During the interview process I was struck by her boldness when she asked for “redemption” – clearly an area I had no authority to give on any level; she said her word was good though her skills were lacking! I had never been on this road, so I put on my armor and prepared for the journey ahead. And what a road this was to travel on! The dendrochronology of those timbers was one of the darkest valleys I’ve ever heard of and then she told of the JOY that saved her life. You see she, as we, exit the valley and embark on all the moments He waited for us, He wrapped us up warmly, He sang us to sleep, and He wrote us into eternity:
“What do you pray” she asked me “when you have nothing to offer?”
“How can I fold my hands together” she asked me “when I have broken so much with them?”
“When I didn’t know a love that was real” she said to me “how could I be worthy of asking for God’s love?”
Silence by silence by silence
“I know those answers” she said to me
“I have been sober and drug free for 3 years. I decided to bring myself to a place called thank you, and it has been the greatest JOY I have ever know” she said. “It is the only prayer I have ever said. That’s it”, she delivered with a candor not only from a valley etched in perfection, but also a road such as that to Emmaus – might we not each desire such a companion as . . .
Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us? (Luke 24:32)
It is here I started SEEING the expanse of His beautiful valley and how Christ CALLS us into His pure JOY. God holds us, protects us and always ‘belays’, for clearly I had no authority to be given it on any level!!
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever. (Psalm 23:1-6)
Road ventures into journey as I sequence the memory of the studio perimeter, leaning into the union of closeness, “pray here” He calls to me; into the fractured places of my depravity and the bonded broke-open-ness of our human heart crevasses – I pray! Together as intrepid adventurers of boldness, do not forget that we learned to practice the pause of leading up into this new posture on the road to abandoned JOY. In fact this journey is ever more familiar as we are invited to roll up the mat, put back into their bags the carabiners and ropes, and look not up but down, across the valley floor from where the ‘search’ began so many woven together years ago.
O Lord you have searched me and you know me. You know where I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence. If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:1-6)
We adore thee. Thank you Heavenly Father that I am so much loved… she is so much loved… he is so much loved… we are so much loved. WE ARE HIS JOY.
As you inhale this breath that is life I invite you to consider, what if your valley is not your fight, what if instead it is your freedom by His grace, and the pen that writes your chapters is His light? Can you imagine how beautiful that verse would be…