My family and I have spent the past year dealing with some of the most difficult situations of our lives. We have faced loss, betrayal, anger, confusion, and pain. This past year I think that I have cried more than ever.
I wish I could say that I have spent this time clinging to the Lord and that my faith has grown by leaps and bounds. But that would be dishonest. I have struggled to turn to him, while wanting desperately to hear his voice for me. There have been times when I have turned to him and his faithfulness has been a comfort to me. Other times, I have been distrusting of anyone and everyone. I feel as if I am living in fight or flight mode. There have been times when only the head knowledge I have of God has gotten me through the day. I don’t feel safe. Some of those in my life who I have gone to for advice my whole life have been the very people who have cast me aside and made themselves unavailable to me. My foundations have been shaken. I am not sure how to handle this.
I can say that the lessons I learned from the joys and sorrows of last year have come into play. Never once have I felt the need to ask God why is he allowing this. On the contrary I have been consistently reminded and held by the knowledge that he wrote every one of our days and his plan for us is better than our own, and infinitely better than our enemy’s plan. I have questioned his timing, and once again submitted to it.
One of the things that I have been thinking about the past few days is Cremé Brulée. If you have never had it you should try it. The beautiful soft silky custard has a extremely thin layer of burned sugar on top that when you crack it, it mixes with the custard adding a delicate crunch throughout. It is magical! The crust cannot be any thicker or any thinner or it will ruin it. It reminds me of some things I would like to share.
All the news stories and movies and media we are exposed to on a daily basis can cause us to build up a crust around our hearts. It makes us numb to reality and crave fantasy.
Going through something like we have gone through makes us hyper sensitive to reality. So much of the crying I have done is from being exposed to other’s pain.This morning as I read the blog of someone I have known my whole life share a story of loss that I didn’t know before, I sobbed at her pain from thirty years ago. Even stories of people I don’t know, impact me more than they ever have. It is as if the ability to be numb to anything is gone. I am raw like sashimi.
Maybe one reason God has allowed me to go through this past year was to bring me to a place where he can teach me to have a thin perfect crust like créme brulée.
One amazing thing that has happened in the past year is that John as become assistant pastor of our church. As we begin our ministry of leadership, I really believe that the cremé brulé crust is important. I think sometimes God allows us to go through tremendously difficult situations to keep us feeling things that we would otherwise be numb to. It keeps us looking to him, and keeps us feeling other’s hurt, and joy in ways that we just don’t respond as strongly to otherwise. Leadership requires more than a passing interest in other’s lives. We have to be able to feel for them and share in their experiences and allow them to share in ours. We can’t be so numb that we cannot empathize with others. We cannot have such a wall around our heart that we don’t let others to share our hearts.
The good, the bad and the ugly serve to be a base for the glory of God to be highlighted in our lives. Think of a page in a book. All of the information contained on that page is important. But if you are studying, it is the highlighted parts that you pay the most attention to. If you hide everything but what is highlighted, the context is lost. It is the same in our lives. It is all the information that is important. Our success, our failure, our pain, our sin, our faith, our experiences, all of it that causes the work of God in our lives to be highlighted. The highlighted parts are the most important. The Glory of God and his amazing grace.
I remember my pastor’s wife crying with me when I locked my daughter in the car when she was six months old. It was hot and we were praying the ambulance would get there soon. She was more than just sympathetic she actually felt the distress with me and shared in that experience. That was over 10 years ago and I will never forget it. That is the kind of Pastor’s wife I want to be!
Ministry is hard. It can be rewarding, and it can be painful. If our crust is like créme brulée, we have the thin shell of faith that still allows the vulnerably that allows us to let things break through to get to the beautiful heart that God has given. It allows us to share in each other’s lives and find our protection in Him. That sugar on top cannot be raw, it must be burned to make the crust. We can go through the fire and God can make us into the perfect balance of delicate crust and soft silky custard, that reveals the Glory of God and makes us relatable to others. The crust is meant to be broken without ruining the desert. We can allow our shell to break while knowing that won’t destroy us! Only God can give us that crust. Oh Lord take the pain that I am going though from this fire. Help me not to put up walls but to allow you to work in me so that my crust is what you want it to be!