there are times when looking back is healthy.  when its a good thing to look over your shoulder and see how far you’ve come.  to realize how much you have fought through, overcome.  other times, looking backwards is a haunting affair.  where the shadows you’ve been fleeing from seem closer than when you began to run.

im realizing that there are moments in scripture where God came, where God rescued.  moments of impossible circumstances where if God had not moved, all would be lost.

but that isnt how every story ends.

we trade words like vendors at a bazaar.  haggling, arguing, jabbing and throwing out our own barbs…  but never, never listening. never hearing the ache in the heart of the people we are closest to.  never seeing the pain in their eyes.  or the brokenness in the sound of their voice.

we’re a broken people, living in a broken world, pretending that we were able to put the pieces of our lives back together on our own.  pretending that our lives make sense.  that we can somehow, through self discipline, force our defining life-experiences to fit into the mold of what a christian life should look like.

we pretend our scars aren’t old wounds.  we joke and laugh when one of those words we trade so easily, hits home.  we wince, and cover it with a smile when someones off-handed comments strikes a nerve, and breaks off a piece from our hearts.

we pretend the abuse, the abandonment, the loss, confusion and pain arent as big as they are.  we pretend we can get along fine, that if we believe they dont really exist, then theyve somehow disappeared.

we, i put on a mask.  and pretend its ok.

i pretend im completely ok being 30 and single.  that i dont look with yearning to my friends who have wives.  whove found the one they want to spend the rest of their lives with.  who are buying a house, or having their first child.  who are dreaming bigger dreams, and praying bigger prayers.

i pretend that what has happened to my family is somehow ok.  that it’s not as big as it would seem if i just dont look at the issues.   i joke and laugh when someone makes a comment that strikes home.  i wince, and cover it with a smile.

i pretend like there arent moments when i wonder if this is it.  if this loneliness will be the one constant in my life.

i pretend like i’m ok. i stay moving.  never stopping long enough in one place to lose momentum, never allowing my masks to fall.

i stay moving, to stay disconnected from my heart.  to stay distanced from the one thing that could betray me.  the one thing that knows my weaknesses, my failures, my hurts and scars.  the one thing that could shatter my painstakingly created facade.

if i pretend i’m ok, i’m ok…. right?

for every instance of the miraculous protection of daniel and the victory of david over the giant, there are stories of heartache.  of people having to walk through the fire, to get to the other side.  these are the quiet heroes.  and these are the stories that matter.  because they are the stories that speak to where we are.  these stories are valuable, they carry weight.  why?  because we live in a real world.  and yes, there are miracles and i’m thankful for them.  but there wont always be, not in every circumstance.  there will be times when the seas will be calmed and there will be times when the storm will rage and we will have to do everything we can to hang on.

adam went through those times.  he had something he needed to learn.  something valuable.  something beautiful.  something utterly irreplaceable.  that could only be learned through the process.   adam needed to walk through his fire to learn the value of (eve).

Christ needed thirty years on this planet to prepare for three that would rewrite history.  david needed the battles with the bears and the lions, to be ready for the battle with the giant.  joseph needed to be a slave, to be ready to wear a crown and be the savior to his nation.  the disciples needed the storm, to see the power of the One they followed.  moses needed the wilderness, to find the courage to save his people.

the bible isnt just a book of miracles.  it’s a book of real people who lived real stories.  people who could pull up their sleeves and show you their scars, both figurative and real.  these were people who lived each day hoping for a miracle, while choosing to walk through the fire.  they knew the value of process.  they understood that to get from here to there, was a journey.  they knew it would cost.  they knew that they served a God who could intervene, and when needed, would do just that.  but they also knew they served a God who’s ultimate goal wasnt their personal comfort, or even that they’d escape unscathed.  they knew, deep inside of their being, that the story being told was bigger than they understood.

and they knew that through the fires, the storms, the battles and fear, that He was faithful.  that He would guide them safely through to the other side.  they knew, through it all, that there was hope.  and they never gave up.  and because of their determinedness, we have their stories.

there are things you and i will only ever learn going through the process.  and if you havent figured it out yet, you will not escape unscathed.  but the miracle of this life isnt escaping with as little hurt as possible.  no, thats not why we’re here.

we’re here to follow the One who has already rescued us.  we are here to be His light.  His voice.  His hands and feet.  we’re here to stand up for right.  and we’re here to show the mercy and grace we so desperately needed.

the miraculous that these stories contain arent that, in each instance, they were saved from trouble.  it was that through it all, He never left them alone.  that through the fire, the battle, the heartache, the pain, He was there.  He promised He would never leave.  and He kept his promise.

thats the miracle.  the miracle we celebrate december 25.  we are not alone.  He walks with us.  we have a mission.  He is leading us.  and we will get through.  and when we do, we will have stories to tell.  stories that will bring hope.

future of forestry – the earth stood still