As noted before: I read a lot of books, several of which I’ve already mentioned. And I have wonderful resources in friends who are way down the road ahead of me, theologically speaking; they are excellent guides and mentors as I seek to understand God.
In addition to the books pictured above, I’ve also re-read “The Shack” by Wm. Paul Young (and I plan to read “The Shack Revisited” by C. Baxter Kruger, who explores the trinitarian theology that undergirds the message of The Shack). Add in a smattering of “life after death” books.
And when I combine all of those messages, themes, ideas, and truths and add in my own experiences, I begin to find convergence.
• that those of us who seek are also being sought. It’s not a one-way street.
• that God sees me as an individual with individual needs, and a need to know Him in – as my friend (another Kathy!) puts it – a “custom-made way.”
• that God loves us in a million different ways, delights in every single one of us. In “The Shack,” God often says He is “particularly fond” of [insert anyone’s name].
• that this dark place, “the valley of the shadow of death” (or “the Dark Wood”), is also place of transformation, of becoming. The door that takes us here – death, depression, loss, grief – delivers us into a time and space that is harder than hard, yet can result in incredible growth. In the words of Eric Elnes, the Dark Wood is “where you meet God.”
• that sometimes the miracle we receive is, ultimately, a “shift in perception” (credit to Marianne Williamson, via Tom Zuba).
• that anything I want more than God is, in fact, an “idol”… that I have to continually work to give my deepest desires back to Him and trust that He, who is Love and Goodness and All Knowledge, will deliver exactly what I really (as in truly/good for me) need.
That last one is really, really hard. My need to see Mark, to hold my son… is like a huge, pent up wave that has no means of expending itself; maybe this is another reason why I often dream about tidal waves. Recently, as I slept, I saw I was standing inside the lower floor of some structure – a big building – facing a thick, plate-glass window, outside of which was an enormous wave, constantly curling toward us. I keep hoping for that dream (or visitation) I’ve heard others talk about: where Mark would appear and we would have a REAL conversation. I’m really TRYING to trust (nnnnggghh!) that God has a better plan, since that hasn’t happened. And you might think I am an absolute nut job for actually expecting Mark to visit. Whatever. I yam what I yam.
Recently I was reading Isaiah 40:27-28. I don’t remember if another writer suggested this or not, but I substituted in my name where the text actually says “Jacob” or “Israel.” So it reads like this (and maybe you can insert your own name if you feel God has not heard your deepest cries):
Why do you complain, Emily?
Why do you say, Emily,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God?”
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.