Friday, May 28, 2010

Faith's Journey to Hope, Part 6: The Most Beautiful Hands

To ensure I wasn’t dreaming, I felt the need to keep pinching myself. *ouch* No, this was real. Dream’s desire had become reality.

Walking into Diane’s beautiful home, I smiled. Although I had seen pictures, nothing compared to His presence welcoming me. A peace beckoned me to enter. A quietness called my heart to begin “Faith’s” journey to “Hope”.

She had prepared a room for me. A haven. A sanctuary. A bed had been readied. A treasured heirloom draped it in warmth. A stuffed, fury friend offered chocolate. (As an aside, this chocolate tasted really good early the following morning while sitting in bed with a cup of decaf coffee!) My attention was drawn to a basket. My eyes watered. Little parcels of love. Wrapped and dated. One to open each day while I was there. How do I receive such love?

Overwhelmed by the preparation that had gone into my arrival. Was it not enough that Diane had willingly opened her home to welcome me…but, now to extend all this kindness was more than my mind could fathom and my heart receive.

Each gift chosen personally for me. Beyond the content was the sacrifice. Sacrifice of time. Sacrifice of offering. Sacrifice of pain. The detail and effort did not go unnoticed. Specific Bible verses. Cards mounted on coloured card-stock cut in cascading curves. Hand-written messages on each one. Created by scarred hands. Pain endured for the sake of love. The assembly of these was no small task. Designed by beautiful hands. For beauty, true beauty is found in love. The very most beautiful hands I have ever seen. Hands that resist surrender to defeat. Hands that triumph over trial. Hands that love, care, protect and embrace. I only see beauty my friend. (I can’t fathom the effort it took to prepare this basket of gifts. Diane…am I really…really…really that loved?)

It is great love that endures such pain for another. Pain ‘from’ transformed to pain ‘for’. Scars received to scars redeemed. As I reflected on how beautiful her hands were to me, I realized I had seen these hands pictured before. They looked so familiar. Ah yes…her Father’s hands. Nail-pierced hands. Hands cruelly wounded and marred, yet held by love. Oh, no shame my friend…no hiding…no embarrassment…they are the most beautiful hands I’ve ever seen because they are just like Jesus.

Thank you for touching my life with His hands.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Faith's Journey to Hope, Part 5: Look


Upon receiving this final text message, my heart beat quicker, my eyes scanning every direction. Where was she? Could she see me? Was she watching even now?

From a distance I saw her white van. I honestly thought I would burst out of my skin. After waiting for what seemed like forever to meet my precious friend, these final minutes were the hardest I had yet to endure. If longing could only close the distance between us, her vehicle would have been travelling so much quicker.

Parking her van, I reached up to open the drivers side door only to find it locked. Camera in hand she was trying to capture this encounter on film. The delay only heightened my desire. Enough! I’ve waited too long already.

In a second the door opened and I will never forget that hug. Embraced in the arms of my friend, we were at last face-to-face. Distance dissipated. Patience rewarded. Waiting over. The twelve hour journey worth everything. I didn’t want to let go. I held on tight. My heart felt ‘home’.

‘Home’. A place of rest, belonging and acceptance. I suppose in many ways, with Diane, I had been there for awhile. She had welcomed me over the threshold of her life months ago, extending hospitality to my thoughts, dreams, disappointments, fears and failures. She had not turned me aside, away or out. Taking my hand, tenderly holding my heart, she listened, prayed, encouraged and received. Shame didn’t shock. Questions never ridiculed. Secrets held secure. Silence accepted and not pushed. Laughter shared. Over a cup of “virtual tea” she never rushed my thoughts, expected perfection or hurried my heart. Patient. Caring. Identifying. Loving.

The waiting over, we stood looking into each others eyes. Mine smiled. A word has yet to be written to express such joy. I will breathe in and cherish that moment always.

I am reminded of a day that will come when even this excitement will seem as nothing. Another encounter. Another wait over. Another longing fulfilled. Another face-to-face moment. Another ‘home’.

Anticipation over. Faith becoming sight. A call to ‘look’ that will linger for all eternity. That day's overwhelming joy and delight becoming but a mere suggestion of what it will be like to meet Jesus and fall into His arms, face-to-face. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

And so our ten days began. We have so much to share about Faith’s trip to Hope. I trust you will continue to take time to return and share in this story of friendship.

Diane…in case I forget to tell you…I had a really great time. Love ya my BFF. Hugs!

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Faith's Journey to Hope, Part 4: A New View

(Diane's part of our story continues. What a blessing she is to me!!!!)

Excitement leaped across the border as I read Joy's message, “It is set; I am really coming!”

I chuckled as I responded, “What are they going to do; toss you out of the car when you reach the I-95 and Richmond exit?”

Silence. An indication of apprehension. Realizing her fear was rising, my heart in sensitivity responded, “Don't worry. I'll be there to catch you.”

In less than a month Joy would be here. There was much to prepare, both in my home and in my heart. My world was far from perfect. It was one thing to open my life on screen, quite another to be seen. All safe guards would be removed. All covers gone. Ten days is a long time.

My life has been touched by trauma. Disability and divorce have fought to define me. Details aren't necessary, but in the aftermath of my circumstances, unwanted weeds had taken root and were strangling me with pain, loneliness, anger, resentment and bitterness. This is who I had become. These feelings had replaced God and I was allowing them to rob me of His healing work in my life.

I was questioning God. His purpose. His plan. Once an encourager, now I was the one in need of encouragement. Where was my help? Who was going to minister to me? Lord, don't you see all I'm going through right now? What about me?

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever exhausted all your resources and come to a place of desperate longing, needing someone to pour into your life? Regardless of how strong your faith has been or how assured your belief in God, the path before seems clouded and uncertain.

Still loving my family more than words can express, a void remains. Every waking hour I miss the sound of their voices...their fun...their pranks...their laughter...their touch...their love and need for me. Yet deeper, my love and need for them. Walking a path I would have never imagined and longing to be obedient to God, I desperately want to be daily making right choices that please and honor Him, my life giving testimony to the hope within. Battered and bruised hope, but breathing hope. Joy's coming would not remove the emptiness, but provide a temporary diversion.

With Joy I had drawn back the curtains of my heart and she still welcomed the view. Her desire to travel to Virginia was driven by her longing to minister to me. Realizing that time had long since wearied me with the weight of mountains magnified on the landscape of my life, she had already shouldered my burden, walking so close, her feet covered in the dust from my footsteps. Searching the horizon, my hope was fading.

Sometimes we're just looking out the wrong window.

Joy's coming shifted my focus. Choices had to be made. Would I continue to feed anger and pain, or throw my efforts into preparing a welcoming haven for my friend? I knew her heart too was searching for a sanctuary of safety and retreat. I began to ready my home for her visit. Special treasures purchased. Hand-made gifts a labor of love. As my attention and energy changed direction, God began writing two new words across my life. Disability and divorce were being redefined by Hope and Faith.

Today I see life from a new view. With clearer vision I know I am not alone.

How about you? Are you looking back through anger, pain, bitterness, fear or shame? Maybe it's time to see through the eyes of Hope and Faith.

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