Surely God is good to those who are pure in heart,
But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
It's strange to me that living in a distant land doing something I'd never done before was easier for me than "living the dream" that I've had these past few months. But perhaps not so strange. It was easy to admit and surrender that I had no idea what was going on in circumstances where I was helpless to take care of myself. In class, in the grocery store, in the airport, in the post office, on the bus, on the street, in Karaganda I was pummeled by my own helplessness, and it was easy to give in to that. I needed help, of course I did. I think faith is a little like Florence says, "It's over and I'm going under, but I'm not giving up, I'm just giving in."
Here, in my "element", in my home culture, in a city that I love, studying what I love, doing work that I love, here I ought to have been comfortable, here I ought to have been master of myself. Here I should have been strong enough to do as I ought to do. Here I should be others-center, self-disciplined, industrious, composed. But instead here I have hated my helplessness, and I have counted His help as something available only to those who aren't in survival mode. Here I have struggled to duck-and-cover behind the shield of His help, I have resisted trading the shreds of my self-efficacy for His gentle guidance. But what can I say that David hasn't already said better?
When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
I feel the hunger to testify, to express in some sort of public way that my God is real to me, near to me. That my God is the reason I can face my students with a smile on my face, that my God is the reason I can roll out of bed in the morning. I have felt like a mess, I have burdened myself with the guilt of a hard heart, piled with doubts that I was capable of abiding, recipient of anything more than cheap grace. I am not capable. I am a mess. But my God is my helper, my protector. The only strength I have in my heart is the portion He has given me. It sounds a small offering indeed, but what He is doing in me is a painfully wonderful open-heart surgery. And I love Him, I love Him, I love Him.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.