Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Perfect Fit

Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops... at all.

Emily Dickinson

Her bright, smiling face greeted us as she descended from the Greyhound's steps. Her right hand gripped her guitar case, in which was hidden the instrument that was dear to her heart and ours, as it had provided many moments of peace in a little country church, in the steady, green pines, of the south Georgia plains. Annie's hair was the same. Combed back, with tight curls pulled away from her long, slender face. Her gray wavy strands flowing neatly past her broad shoulders, her simple floral dress buttoning to her nape and flowing to her shins, and her shiny black oxfords made Annie the same gentle companion we had known twelve years before in our small, rustic pastorate.

Her visit to us in the north Georgia hills was a sweet surprise. A phone call a few days previously had announced her intended 300 mile venture to visit old friends. With joy, with heartfelt thanks for her kindness and motherly concern, we received Annie into our little ranch-style home, which was distanced from the road but in direct view of a Blue Ridge mountain range. Her face glowed with the delight of one much loved who always loved back with grace beyond what she received. The joy she brought us, the hugs with which she warmed us, and the tender words of blessing and truth Annie spoke to us brought present peace and hopeful hearts.

Annie's visit with us that weekend was God's good gift. A timely solution for a specific season of doubt and discouragement in the lives of a young couple, struggling with an arduous church, failing finances, and two flourishing sons, both troubled by our troubles. The times were lean, . . . heavy, . . . hazy,
. . . even wistful. My dear husband was tired from a weedy, thorny garden he did not plant, and I, . . . I was ill, despondent, discouraged, far from the wife and mother I wanted to be. I had allowed the unsavory weeds and sticky thorns to embitter my soul and prick my heart. I had allowed poor health to turn my bright heart into a misty harbor of doubt.

I had drunk from the well of Marah. And the Lord, in His divine providence, sent from Heaven, ordered a word to set me free. He wanted to reclaim a wayward daughter, who had fallen to the weight of despair and confusion. My sin? Failure to believe when I did not understand. A lack of hope in hopeless times. The choice of a stone heart. The willingness to be an empty vessel that had no courage, no warmth, no joy to offer my family or my church. No faithful prayers to pray to the faithful One.

Annie's sweet prayers and wise words lifted our spirits. We had a weekend of blessing, prayer, singing, rejoicing. My children even sang, praised, believed. As we took Annie to the bus station on Monday afternoon, my heart was so sad to see her leave, but I was much more distressed by my own cool spirit. I still struggled with such pain and arrogance. We pulled into the bus station and all got out of the car. My husband took care of her luggage. As she turned to bid me farewell, Annie spoke two words. Two short words that seemed so simple, yet they pierced my heart, struck my soul like a sword, and wrapped around me like a sweet vine. She grabbed my hands. "Hold on." "You, hold on."

And I held on. I clung. I wrapped my arms around the truth of God's word, and I did not let go. I cleaved to the Rock of my salvation, to my Redeemer, to my Best Friend. To El Shaddai, God Almighty. I clung to Him. I could not let go. Not ever again. Were there further times of discouragement? Yes. Did I ever again suffer an ounce of fear? Yes. Did I ever again feel like quitting, want to resign to an easier life? Oh, yes.

But, . . . .I clung. I hoped. I believed. I trusted. For I knew what was true. And what was true and what is true is that God sees, understands, cares, and He will not have His children lost in a pit of despair and disgrace, for He is mighty deliverer. The Psalmist said that He would have lost hope unless He had believed He would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13).

The sin of unbelief is quite sly. It creeps around like a serpent, waiting to strike its intended. It patiently waits on the scent of hopelessness, and follows any bitter trail. But thanks be to our God, our Lord, our Savior, who lovingly guides us home, who through His tender mercy, leads us back to His safe haven.

Dear friends in Christ, He loves you today. Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you. Bow before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Believe. Trust. Pray. Seek. Allow Christ to bring His sweet healing waters to you and give you a hope that will never fade.

May His everlasting love go with you. May the Lord's strength give your weakness perfection. May His peace be your beginning of hope. Hope that is new. Hope that is pure. A hope that is a perfect fit for your present need.

My family is taking a brief trip to see relatives, so I will be scarce for a few days. I look forward to catching up when I return. I hope and pray each one of you will be filled with hope and encouragement as you travel toward the weekend. Your faith and courage are a great strength to me, and I so cherish your comments. Truly, I have learned so much from your testimonies of love and belief in our Lord Jesus Christ. Many blessings to all.

17 comments:

  1. Beautiful. You should write your memoirs. Seems you have so many fantastic stories of the joy and pain of humanity. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. Hello Andrea, Thank you for stopping by my blog and taking a look at what I make, your comments were very kind. I have just been enjoying your post very thoughtful and full of feeling.
    best wishes Julie.c

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  3. That was SO beautiful!!!
    Thank you for sharing.
    Hope you are having a
    pleasant day!

    With Much Love,
    Miss Jen

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  4. What got to me about Annie was the line: Her face glowed with the delight of one much loved who always loved back with grace beyond what she received. What a beautiful description of an encourager. I'm so glad she was there for you at such a difficult time.

    Today I rejoice in your telling of it and the testimony of the Lord's sustaining love. You are such a good writer. For me, your stories are like reading some of these famous Christian fiction novels, but much better yet...your stories are true!

    Have a wonderful trip with your family! Love you, Andrea!
    Mary

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  5. Your posts are always so poignantly written, and always so inspiring. Thank you so much!

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  6. The Lord has indeed blessed you with the gift of phrase,thank you for the encouraging words today.
    May the Lord Bless you at all times with more than enough to continue on your walk in His service.

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  7. A friend always tells me -- "This, too, shall pass." And whatever burden, whatever grief, it does pass and so we more onward, secure in the love of our Lord.

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  8. I had goose bumps all over me as I read this post. Such honesty, and openness, the healing touch of Jesus came over to me as well. I will have to come back to read again. His work is beautiful in your life. May He be glorified all over again.

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  9. Another beautifully written post and I agree with the commenter that said you should write your memoirs. The Lord has gifted you with deep expressions of His love and mercy to share with others. I always leave your blog feeling blessed to have visited.

    Enjoy your trip!

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  10. As always your message has touched my heart. Some of my family face an uncertain and scary time today and your words have renewed my spirit for I know that God will be with them and guide them. Thank you for your words of wisdom.

    My prayers that you and your family have a safe and wonderful trip:)

    Blessings,

    Kim

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  11. Beautiful! You can't have a testimony to give him all of the glory without a TEST, right! He is molding us as if we were clay in His mighty hands. I am Humble that he knows that he can work in and through me!
    Warmest Blessings,
    Amy

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  12. This was lovely Andrea! Testimonies are always a strong way of blessing to others.

    I pray for a wonderful time with your family and hope to hear from you again real soon. :)

    Hugs & Blessings,

    Katherine

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  13. Beautiful post...so glad that I stopped in...hope you will visit me....I love your blog header..

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  14. Oh the books we dear preacher wives could write! "Holding On" would make a great title. Hope you all have a wonderful trip!

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  15. Hi Andrea,
    I'm always so blessed every time I stop by your blog. Thank you for sharing your heart and snippets from your life with us. I think you must be a woman of great strength to have been through all that you have, but we have a merciful God Who's desire is for us to grow more into His image. I see Him in you every time I read your posts.

    I hope you have a lovely time with your family and come home feeling refreshed and renewed in His love.

    xoxo Cori

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  16. Andrea:
    You have penned the penchant of my weary heart. I've been "holding on" for several weeks now, choosing the truth of God's Word even though my feelings have begged to the contrary. The fog is lifting, but it has been a hard-fought battle. One that many wouldn't understand, but in reading this, I believe I've found another heart who's been gripped by a similar torment.

    Maybe Annie will show up at the bus stop, even this day. In fact, I'm counting on it.

    Chill bumps, friend. Well said. Well lived.

    blessings and peace~elaine

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Thank you for visiting. I cherish your thoughts. You are special to me, but most of all, you are special to God, who loves you with everlasting love. May your life be swept into His joy and peace.

In the Wonderful Love of Christ our Savior,

Andrea