"We live by faith, not by sight."
2 Corinthians 5:7, NIV
Provincial: adj. Of or relating to a province; limited in perspective.
The hardwoods in my home are being refinished. My choice of stain color is called provincial. It is a medium shade and the sample looks so right when placed by the fresh, neutral walls and white trim. Imagining the contrast of the walls and floors and focusing on the look, feel, and smell of new is now turning impatience to anticipation. I hope provincial and all preceding choices will bring out the best in our home.
The shock of the sudden, involuntary transition the fire caused for Jeff and me still bears on our souls as the final, remaining reparations come to a close and we look toward returning home. In the midst of it all, we are and have been in awe of God's faithful handiwork and peaceful presence. God is amazing in his detailed weaving of our life threads. What began seven months ago as shock is growing into surrender. Seven months of struggle becomes weary. Seven months of stress-survival tells truth. Seven months of waiting sizes up a lifetime of seeing. Seven months of seized self moves once thought needs to the only desired compartment of the soul.
NIV). "And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times" (Psalm 12:6, NIV). Seven, in God's terms, can represent perfection. The complete work of Adonai, God, who is flawless authority.
By any measure, as a Christian, I am not flawless. If I told you I felt like refined silver, I would be lying. In truth, I will not be perfected until my journey on this fallen sod we share is over. I can rest in that fact, however, knowing God will continue his work of grace in every place he leads. He has planned this earthly journey for me, and he owns its map and my provision.
During this short, seven-month season of my journey, God has provided moments of solitude. Time is a gift. And time alone, when tied in small sprigs, is like delicate baby's breath. Fragile, elegant, and gracious.
These small sprigs of solitude were only the outer wrapping of God's gift. The real blessedness of this seven-month season has been an awareness of God's presence and his peace that passes understanding.
As we draw closer to closure of shock and aftershocks, God's mark on this unstable season becomes clearer and clearer. His holy hand has left its imprint on the whole landscape. And seeing his seal in the picture reminds me of my limited and God's unlimited. The two are incomparable. I, Andrea, very human, frail, full of questions, and short on vision versus God Almighty, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, complete in love and vision, infallible Savior.
Yet, I wrestle. . .
trying to find answers, to grasp rest, to see light on a dark path, to know how, to explain pain, to envision the finished work of grace and bear the rebuilding of our lives.
Jabbok River, while he stayed the night alone in darkness and wrestled with God until daybreak.
"So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man" (Genesis 32: 24-25).
Jacob, the man who always took the initiative, who always made a way for himself, who always felt strong, who always created solutions, was, in his lonely, empty place of struggle, made helpless by God. God dislocated Jacob's hip joint, which was the very strength of Jacob's ability to wrestle. Jacob was then forced to face his human futility. As he limped away, however, he was not dismayed. Why? He was blessed and had a new name for his new life that awaited him when he returned to his homeland. Jacob had been touched by God. Eternally challenged and eternally changed.
"Then the man said, 'Let me go, for it is daybreak.' But Jacob replied, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.' The man asked him, 'What is your name?' 'Jacob,' he answered. Then the man said, 'Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome' (Genesis 32:26-28, NIV).
"You have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."
"You have struggled" and you "have overcome."
"Yes!" God says to all who wrestle til daybreak for blessing, "You have overcome."
Struggling means I am human. Wrestling means I intend to conquer. Wrestling til daybreak means fighting for a forever-changed moment. It is holding on for a dawn of hope. It is hanging in there for an appearance of light, and it is denying fatigue and accepting brokenness. Wrestling til soft light is seen at a distant space means I have, in that night, overcome self. Overcoming self means Jesus reigns greater in me now than he did in a time past.
I have a very long path of daybreaks behind me, and a very long path of perfecting processes ahead of me. I will leave these seven months changed and a little more surrendered. I hope to leave the provincial vision of my pre-fire life and reach to embrace new vision as we return to our home.
As future testing seasons approach, I, hopefully, will not see them with dim, limited, provincial vision. I pray to see them with God's unlimited vision. Yes, my eyes can see what he visions when I submit absolutely to God's creative voice and will.
I am merely human and within my own power, so limited. We, who all originated from dusty earth, who depend on God Almighty to hold our world together, who trust his word for the air we breathe, can share the vision of our Creator! Through Christ, we can have faith-vision, and faith-vision is what overcomes the world. "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith" (1John 5:4, NASB).