When Closed Doors are God’s Protection

Sometimes the world just goes sort of quiet, faint, dim.

And I find myself just numb to it all.

I don’t know how to react to the unknowns, to the uncertainties, to the discouragements, to the rejections.

And sometimes I’m not sure I really care.

Because wouldn’t it be just plain easier to hide for a little while? To escape to the shadows of solitude and aloneness for hours at a time or to linger under the covers just a little longer each morning?

when closed doors are god's protection

But if I’m learning anything from studying the life of Jonah with one of my Bible Study groups for the past several weeks, it’s that hiding, while technically possible by human standards, is not only a poor solution to the heartbreak of our humanness, it’s not at all possible with God.

Discouragement isn’t easy. Closed doors are downright hard. And the unknowns can threaten to suffocate.

But recognizing God’s protection and sovereign plan through it all somehow eases the pain, the tightness, the feelings that threaten to tell you you are somehow less-than.

So I stop talking and start listening.

And in the listening, I am reminded that God is in absolute control. Yes, He’s the sovereign God of this world from beginning to end, and I am only one small part of that, but He also loves me and cares for me and orchestrates all the tiny details of my life.

While this life may not be anywhere near what I would have thought or planned for myself, no part of this life surprises Him. And He won’t lose me. Ever. I’m not even responsible for keeping myself in His hand – He’s the good shepherd who holds onto me there and promises not to let go.

So I take a breath – I literally breathe Him in – then I put my head down and I do the work in front me. I take the next small step. I do the next small thing.

Until I don’t have to force it so much.

Until I no longer have to remind myself to breathe him in slowly and deeply.

Until I’m not so overwhelmed by it all.

And there’s a lesson in this somewhere that the stressed and exhausted part of me misses and glosses over and forgets far too often.

This journey of rest the Lord has me on this year is no mistake.

Every time I need a quiet moment. To just be. He gently reminds me once again that the rest that my body and mind and soul need and crave is only found in Him.

Sometimes this life breaks my heart. That’s just the reality of this broken and fallen humanity. And more often than not, from my limited perspective, this life makes absolutely no sense.

But I’m trusting these days to Christ’s sovereign and eternal hands.

And in that trusting, I’m learning what it is to abide, to just be with Him, to share in Him.

And I’m unspeakably grateful for every closed door that speaks of His protection and His plan.

So I go forth, I press on, with confidence in His will and His word.

This battle has already been waged and won. The victory has already been secured. Salvation belongs to the Lord.

I am His and He is mine.

Photo of the Week 2014 :: Fourteen

photo of week 2014 fourteen

Because I’ve been posting a photo that somehow reflects rest (which also just happens to be my theme for this year … you can read this post for more on that) every Sunday for the past fourteen weeks, and sometimes, there are just no words to capture such intentional soul rest.

But I’m curious … if you were taking a photo to define or explain or reflect rest, what would that image look like?

Leave me a comment. Or send a photo (with a sentence or two about it) to theinnerharbor{at}gmail.com. You might just get featured in this space in the not-too-distant future.

And also? Rest well today.

I Can’t Help But Think…

March 31, 1988 – July 29, 2002

Dear Russell,

I know. 26 is such a nothing-to-write-home-about sort of birthday.

But this year, even though I know this wasn’t God’s plan for you or our family and I firmly believe that His plan is always best, I can’t help but think about what you would be like and what our family dynamic would be like if you were here with us today to be celebrated.

i can't help but think

It’s just that Cooper and I … well, we’re so serious so much of the time. We can talk circles around philosophy and theology, and we really enjoy deep conversations that may or may not get us any closer to the answers we seem to be so desperate for, but we get so stuck in our own heads sometimes.

But you? You weren’t like that.

Don’t get me wrong, Cooper and I can be ridiculous in our own way (just ask Mom and Dad when we happen to end up in the backseat of a car together. We may be 30 and 28 respectively, but in that situation, we still pretty much act like 2-yr-olds.), but not like you. You didn’t take yourself or this life so seriously.

When you were busy laughing and acting silly and being the life of the party, no one could help but to laugh with you. You lightened the mood and eased the tension with your own sincere lightheartedness. I miss that sometimes.

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I also can’t help but think that at 26, you would already have a better grasp of what this life is to be about than I do at 28. Because all of the over-analyzing and existential angst that I tend to get hung-up on likely wouldn’t have interested you. I suspect you would have just known who you were and what you enjoyed and owned up to that. Not in an arrogant or uncaring  sort of way, but in a confident and okay-with-you-are sort of way.

And you definitely would have been the one that I would drag along to awkward social events. Because I suspect you would have been far more comfortable in those situations and somehow made them less stressful for me. I mean, let’s be honest, I did make you go to a small handful of youth group events that I don’t think you were all that interested in just because I didn’t want the group to be too small or weird.

Although kids still aren’t in the picture for me at this point, I also can’t help but think you’d be such a fun uncle. Don’t get me wrong, when the time comes, Cooper will be great at it, too, but you would have been the goofy one. The one who wasn’t concerned about what you looked like running around the yard or playing ridiculous games with little ones. The one willing to get dirty and into trouble with them. And probably the one instigating all the trouble.

i can't help but think 3

And on a more serious note, I would have loved to hear your approach to Scripture. That was a relatively new thing for you right before you went to meet Jesus face-to-face. In fact, we never really talked about it and I didn’t really even know much about it until after you were gone. That you had started reading Scripture just to know who God was and what He said.

Scripture is my heartbeat. And I can’t help but think that if you had grown in that knowledge here on this earth, you would have a different perspective on certain things than I do, and I’d probably learn a thing or two from you and be better because of it. But I know some things will just have to wait for the other side of eternity.

Happy 26th Birthday, Little Brother!

Your Sister Always,

Emily