in pursuit of critical and compassionate living and thought. in surrender to courage & delight of Christ.
Today I felt weak. I am okay, but today I felt weak. Today my heart felt heavy and the redness of my frustration with ongoing invisible hurts and health issues we all inevitably face at some point seeped through my sleeves a bit. I mourned a bit, and I rested in the Silent Night of Christ’s comfort, his personal presence in me with a stillness of a quiet trusting peace and hopeful joy. In Christ, I’m okay – I’m very much more than okay.
In my heart I hear Jesus say, Be still my Beloved.
In my heart I hear Jesus say, Be still, I still stand in Victory.
In my heart I hear Jesus say, Be still in me, I stand in you.
In my heart I hear Jesus say, Stand up, I am risen in you.
Its almost exactly a year since I wrote the following post, “Standing by a Stronger Strength”. I have come very far since then, and I am humbled by Christ’s healing and strength in me. There is still much from this time that I still struggle with and that I am learning to daily trust Jesus with to walk me through. But oh, for his glory, how very very far I have come. Blessed, blessed be the name of the Lord Jesus.
“Just stand up,” is what I would always tell myself training for weightlifting, and what I still repeat to myself again and again on heavy days of life, and in difficult tasks and moments. I share this old post again with you for your encouragement – there is strength in Jesus to just stand up. I share this as testimony that there is victory and a future through the worst of times. I share this to remind you that He really does do the unimaginable for your good. The words below are for you now; in front of them I am so very humbled to say,
Here, I stand.
Eyes locked forward, I pull the bar in tight against my back, nestling my fingers around it like a rope tightening its knotted grip. I steady my feet in a stance I can be sure of and brace. Stepping back – one step, two step – I free the heaviness of the weighted bar from the rack. As I assume its responsibility, its weight becomes a part of me. And as my body braces tightly under its burden, inside I relax with focused assurance, and taking up its challenge, I sink down low. At the very bottom, everything is simplified: Make it up, or don’t.
No margin for error. No bonus points. It’s a one question test.
I pause for a split second and whisper in my mind: Just stand up.
And like a piston, delay, indecision, and doubt are denied, and I am become uniquely devoted to that one direction. UP.
I drive hard and steady expending everything against the seconds that tick away like a scoreboard for Gravity.
And at the top my moment of posture is poignant victory. Relief of the load is gained even before I’ve hastily reracked.
Freedom was in the victory, not the loss of load. I remember neither the numbers on the plates nor the slowness of ascent. I remember the one thing that actually mattered: I stood up.
Recently I have faced the hardest challenges I have ever faced. In my realism I feel falsely optimistic calling them “challenges” since I can picture no clear ending, no moment of surmount, no “over”. As romanticized as it sounds, my worst fears have all come true. I feel very literally – crushed. And as I have tried to stand, it has been like being kicked from behind the knee again, again, again, and again from one side, then the other. I have been near defeated. Certainly, I have felt it. By God’s grace and goodness though, I have not known it.
There was no remedy too small for me to benefit from. Just like standing from the hole of a heavy squat, there was no small muscle whose strength I did not need. Today as I walked home and my eyes filled with tears and my heart swelled with heaviness again I did what I have always done. I lifted my head as high as I could, raised my hips and shoulders and lifted my feet to walk as sure and poised as I knew how. I didn’t care who saw the tears silently streaming down my cheeks; inside me I was strong.
I have wanted to give up. I have wanted to run away. I have wanted to not be “here”, wherever “here” was. Disappear under the weight. I have hated the push upward to stand up again and wanted to cry out like a woman breached in childbirth. I fight the temptations of anger, jealousy, bitterness, revenge, self-defense, shame, entitlement, pride and defeat each day. I swat with defiance and desperation against the flies of “fairness” that swarm my mind. I have wanted to know for the first time why. I have cried with force when. I have beat the walls of my heart in fury till no force is left in me, and I lie down in surrender of my own efforts. The first time I opened up I was asked what felt like a thousand questions that ended with only one I was sure I had an answer to: “How have you dealt with this this far? Who has helped you?” God himself. He carries me. He protects and defends me. He calms me. He heals me as I go.
He makes me sing.
He gives me peace, and grace. He gives me strength to look up – up into the eyes of the real Enemy and what is against me and say I am standing up. Up into the eyes of those who have hurt or exploited, denied or disowned, slandered, confused, or unknowingly or knowingly caused me pain, and with sincerity, having remembered and been filled with grace that drives out my pride, say I love you. I am for you.To no credit of my own, I am hurt but inside I am free and full of love.
My joy has come from the deepest of places. Even in this time, knowledge of my salvation and the closeness and comfort of Christ stir me to dancing. For I am humbled to know that my troubles are indeed so very light compared to what Christ endured so that I could be near Him, so He could comfort me as He wished to during my moments of trouble. What pain is greater than to be forsaken by the world you came to save, to take on separation from the Father? To be rejected, spat on, and disfigured by those who would never know a greater love than His own? It is beyond crude. There was never a weight heavier, no responsibility lonelier than the cross. I fall to my knees knowing that while I cannot even fathom such love, I nonetheless experience it daily.
I am in awe and fear of the God who makes my heart new with a single touch of gentleness, and who has proven to me that His righteous follow-through against injustice cannot be stopped. Who is committed to fulfilling my secret pleading prayers for knowledge and justice even when I no longer know what is good, when I shrink before the very labour that is the deliverance. His passion is far greater than my own. As my eyes and teeth clench to stand, he holds my hand and whispers in my heart Freedom and victory is already here. I have taken your load. You will stand straight again, and remember the weight no more.
It’s an overused analogy, but going through difficulty is much like weightlifting. Expect to have to carry a load at some point, and prepare. We are told: “Strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. ‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed”. Put on all the armour of God. Protect your core, protect what matters most (Ephesians 6:10-18). Like a lifter tightens his belt around his waist – the pillar of his strength – so we should strengthen the core of our faith with the belt of truth. Read your Bible. Do it daily. You do not always get to choose when you will fight.
And when the load comes and you feel its weight – breathe in deep the remembrance of grace and sink into the knowledge of His faithful testimony. His peace is your strength.
On the ascent, do not seek to mimic the methods or shows that others may put up in their own fight. Do not choose to grimace. Do not equate passionate fury to devotion, nor believe that checking your passion at your door is weakness or delay. Do not think much noise is always stronger than a peaceful, steady, solid and quiet ascent. Choose love, choose joy, choose peace and kindness, gentleness and control. Do not put yourself down in thinking of lifts you missed in the past, or try to recount the weight on your back, or keep track of scores. Just lift. Do not become a victim to the bar but rather know that in Christ, you are already a victor. Do not think each passing minute of you getting up is any smaller a victory than the final stand. Do not fall with the weight; feel it, and carry it down steadily, pause to remember, and decidedly, devotedly get back up. Do not think a better show will somehow make you stronger, take no faith in the cheering or silence of the crowd, do not be swayed by fancy philosophies and tricks. Do not look to the right or the left, but straight forward.
Stick to the basics: Rest in Christ, and STAND UP. He will carry you through.
Some other key verses of reference:
2 Peter 1:2-4, James 1:1-27, Proverbs 4:25, Philippians 4:6-7, Luke 6:45, 2 Corinthians 10, 1 Peter 1:13, Romans 12:2, Philippians 2:2-8, Colossians 2:8