October was a month. Good golly, was it ever a month. In like a lion and out like…an even bigger lion. An angry momma lion whose baby you’re messing with. Also, she’s PMSing. That kind of a month. Whatever genius is attributed to the phrase, “Time flies when you’re having fun” was misquoted. It actually reads, “Time flies when you’re having fun OR you work at an ad agency.”
It was a month full of new. New job. New home. New and significant work being done in my heart. As my friend Kelli said, “A whole new Julie.” Yeah, well New Julie and I are still getting acquainted, and the jury’s currently out on how we’re going to get along. She cries a lot more and washes her dishes more frequently, but still can’t figure out how to fill out that W-4 form…
It’s been three months since God brought me through a drastic period of reconciliation with Him, and little did I know how it would turn my life upside down. If I realized what a fight this was going to unleash, what God was going to shift inside of me, how He was going to change who I thought I was and what I identified myself with, I would have kept everything in the bottle. It’s just easier that way, right?
The other day I was describing this period as a free fall. As if someone had hurled me off a cliff; but 14 weeks later I’m still falling, waiting for the bottom to greet me. I wrestle with sin; daily, hourly, minutely. There are days I feel as if I’m fighting for my life, straining to hold on, to resist, to not let go. There are other days when I don’t fight and I let go, realizing that it was God who held me after all. And while I have Christ at my back pushing me on, it doesn’t lessen the fact that it’s an up-hill climb.
But here’s a confession: I kind of love the fight.
I hate the pain. I despise the temptation; the agony of falling down and being picked back up again; the crippling emotions that I constantly have to beat off with a club. But the fight itself? It makes me feel alive. It reminds me that I am part of something bigger than myself, and part of Someone who fought for me first.
God has been teaching me through the Old Testament, which is not typically the first place we turn for comfort outside of the Psalms. More specifically, I ended up in Habakkuk, a book that I have long labeled my “Favorite Old Testament Book,” mostly because I went to Christian colleges and still expect people to ask me what me what my “Life Verse” is. You get more points if you have an obscure reference that no one else has thought of. But Chapter 1 is fascinating. Habakkuk is teaching me how to fight and how to ask hard questions of God. This is how I imagine the dialogue unraveling in real life:
- Habakkuk: God, what are you doing? What’s the point of this? Why are you just standing around while all this happens around me? Seriously, I cry out to you with no answer. A little sign to know you hear me?
- God: Be patient. I am working here. You wouldn’t believe the work I’m doing even if I told you. You couldn’t handle it. Just rest and let me work.
He keeps wailing to God. But what happens next is the thing that got me. In the midst of this struggle and immediately following his questions, Habakkuk says, “I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.”
Wait. Did you catch that? Here’s the pattern: Sob. God. Sob. Faithful action. He doesn’t understand. He sees God nowhere. But he gets up regardless and goes to the place God has told him to go and waits for an answer, faithfully doing the work that God has him to do in spite of his pretty rotten circumstances. And don’t you kind of figure this is all done through tears and crying?
Habakkuk holds the secret to a clean fight above the belt. Wrestle with sin and wrestle with God. But don’t neglect the path you are to be walking while you’re fighting. If you don’t feel like it, too bad. It’s a forward-moving journey. Keep plugging. Make time to listen for God. If you don’t hear Him, keep walking. These are our options. Fight or stand still. God doesn’t make us suppress our emotion; we just have to obey in spite of them.
As someone in the ring wondering if the KO will come with the next hit, I can say through the tears that it’s worth it. I’m kicking and screaming, and I want to give up. But I know deep within, for the first time in years, who holds me.
Regardless of whether we feel God’s guidance, it is a good fight. Fight on.