By Kaleigh Ward
Ever since I applied to the race last November, I’ve been dreading the month of August.
I imagined it would be a painful limbo. I would watch friends start new jobs or return to the college I loved so dearly. I would work through a long, tedious to-do list of everything I must take care of before leaving. I would pack and unpack and repack. I would see the days I have left with Grant dwindle to single digits. I would desperately cling to every family outing and friend lunch date, trying to make each moment last a little bit longer. I would watch friends plan weddings while I plan an eleven-month goodbye to a man I’ve loved for almost three years.
August seemed painful and scary, like standing on the edge of a cliff and counting down to one over and over again because you just can’t work up the nerve to let go and leap. Or like waiting on a shot while the nurse is out of the room, imagining all the ways it might hurt and all the ways it could go terribly, horribly wrong.
Now, August is
almost here. And my heart is pounding and my eyes are stinging with tears and my breathing seems a bit sporadic.
This past weekend, as I said my first World Race goodbye to a friend and spent a weekend with Grant for one of the last times, it really hit me that the last month is upon me.
And I hated the realization a whole bunch.
I felt scared and desperate. I wanted to cling onto each second and scream at time to just hold its horses for pete’s sake.
In my desperation, I slipped into some sin struggles I haven’t faced in a long time. My thoughts and words and actions weren’t exactly honoring to God.
Somewhere deep down inside, I was stomping my foot and looking up at God and saying, “Well, if you get to have it Your way for the next year, I’m going to at least do what I want for now because Your plan hurts and I don’t really like it right now, thank you very much.”
And so I’ve let myself eat what I want to eat and do what I want to do and feel what I want to feel.
Last night, I sat back and pondered what I’ve been doing and waited for a wave of conviction and guilt to sweep over me, shoving me to my knees begging for forgiveness for sinning against Him for the millionth time.
As I shut my eyes and waited for the blow, nothing came. So I peeked one eye open and looked around.
When I did, God gave me a vision of a little girl who had just gotten some really painful news from her daddy– maybe a loved one had died or she was going to have to move across the country and start all over in a new school and neighborhood. Whatever the news, she was scared and hurt. In her flurry of emotion, she began throwing things around the room, some of them breaking against the wall. She screamed things at her father that were mean and not entirely true but she just couldn’t help it because the emotions in her welled up and overflowed and she didn’t know how to respond. As she spun like a top out of control, her dad didn’t intervene. He didn’t scold her about how she isn’t supposed to throw and break things or punish her for her screaming fit and angry accusations. He didn’t do these things because He knew she already knew right from wrong. He could see the fear and hurt that propelled her and cared far more about her heart than her actions.
He simply waited until the emotional storm subsided and his little girl collapsed on the floor in a heap of shaking sobs. Then and only then did he step forward and scoop her into his arms. He comforted her and rocked her and dried her tears and fingered her hair and whispered to her about how everything was going to be okay and about how much he loved her.
He thought no more about the sins she committed in her fit of fear and rage. He loved on his little girl until she was still and calm in his lap.
As I took in the scene with my mind’s eye, God whispered to my soul, “This is me and you. I’m not going to push you down with a shove of conviction because I know you already know right from wrong. I know why you’re acting the way you are. I see your hurt and fear. I’m not going to punish you. But I’ll be here waiting. And when you collapse at my feet, I won’t remind you of all your wrongs or demand that you explain yourself. I’ll look to my Son’s blood on the cross and remember that you have been forgiven for this outburst for a very long time. And I’ll love on you as you sit in My presence. I’ll play with your hair and sing over your soul and wrap you in my arms.”
With that picture in my head, I drifted to sleep. When I woke up this morning, I collapsed in my heap of sobs at His feet. I told Him how scared I was. I told Him how much I hated goodbyes. I told Him that I didn’t want to face the month of August. I told Him I needed Him more than I’ve ever needed Him before.
Then, I sat and listened. As I did, He gave me another vision.
I was sitting on a bench that I once found off the beaten path on the back side of Furman Lake, a bench that is surrounded by tall trees and enveloped in stillness and placed in front of a rock engraved with the verse, “Be still and know that I am God.”
As I’m sitting on this bench, God walks up and sits down beside me and I lean my head on His shoulder.
I then heard the lyrics from a song we used to sing at church…
He is here, He is here
to break the yoke and lift the heavy burden.
Come and lay down the burdens you have carried
for in this sanctuary
God is here.
And as that song played in my soul, I asked God to carry the burden of August one day at a time. I don’t know what that will look like, but I know I cannot carry this alone. I know it will take a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit to get me through this month in one piece. And I’m trusting Him to do just that.
What about you? What burden have you been carrying on your own? What have you been fearing? What “sin splurges” have you gone on in a fit of desperation and fear and pain? Take it to the Lord. He hasn’t been furiously keeping a record of every wrong. He’s been lovingly, graciously waiting for you to exhaust yourself and return to Him so that He can love on you and nurse you back to abundant life.
“I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.”
My good friend Kaleigh is preparing to go on The World Race, a mission trip to 11 countries in 11 months, next month. Check back for updates on her preparations, as well as updates from around the world over the next year! Follow Kaleigh’s World Race Blog. — Tiffany