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Why you can rest—even in the middle of the mess

There are those days when your country is burning around you and your heart within you. When your eyes sting from smoke, or shame, or emotions you can’t even name. When you wonder if you’ll ever see the end of the mess in your body, your soul, your world, and you’re not sure what tomorrow will hold.

What then? Just this. Where to rest? Just here—here in this one answer, this single thing to remember, to hold to, to live in. Here in this answer that’s big enough to hold you:

“Q:What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A: That I am not my own, but belong, with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil.
He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head, indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. . . .”

I struggle to write the final lines:

“. . . Therefore, by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him.” (Heidelberg Catechism, 1563)

I struggle, not because I’m not assured of eternal life, but because—honestly?—I can’t say I’m always heartily willing and ready to live for Him. I want to be, but there are layers of self-centeredness and desire for control that keep rising like smoke within me, clouding the horizon and obscuring the truth of God’s goodness.

And so I return again to the beginning, because it’s precisely in the middle of these smoky moments that I most need to remember that I am not my own, that my security does not depend on my ability to hold it all together but on the love of God who has made me His and sets me free and preserves me even when giant parts of me are trying to run from His love.

I go back again and again and there is always comfort in knowing that I am not my own—that when I can’t fix the mess in me, I’m still His, still held, still loved and wanted and safe.

And when I’ve sat long enough here in this love that keeps on loving no matter what, slowly the willingness returns and I can say, yes, I want to love this gentle, gracious God with my life. And finally I can see the gift in those last lines too. I haven’t made myself willing and ready to live for Him any more than I’ve made myself His. I couldn’t, and He never expected me to.

Thank you, Jesus. Please keep doing in me what only You can do.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Hannah

    Dear Caroli I am so glad to be receiving your blog again. My computer has been in storage since April. Today I am using Derricks. Today my day is in a mess so your words mean a lot. Love you Hannah

  2. Bonita Grace Dirk

    Hey. I recently went to Mount Sinai and in processing the experience with my spiritual director she encouraged me to think of how my life is a bit like the Israelites. Right now I don’t really know where I am going, and while I do want to trust in what God will do, there are definitely “layers of self -centerdness” and desires that lead me to choose anxiety and doubt just like the Israelites at times. I am trying to remember all the good things he has done for me, where I’ve come from and trust. Thanks for another reminder in that direction!

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