Inside lie the seeds

I really should have taken a photo of the outside of this papaya, discovered fresh and quite obviously NOT preserved in any way chemically, at the Mexican grocery store in Eau Claire. Covered in mold, pock-marked with bruises and a hideous gray-green color, I had my doubts that anything lovely would be found within. Yet what that ugly shell held, protected and cloistered deep inside, was the most beautiful, soft orange fruit and glistening black seeds.

I have felt a bit hideous myself over the past three weeks. Rent open by the ax that was the marriage conference, battered and bruised by day after day on my feet, pouring my energy into food for 100 and trying to ignore the pain in myself, my husband, my children, I peered over the edge of my soul into the fissure there with some trepidation. I remember earlier days when spiritual crisis tore me open to reveal something quite different, smacking much more plainly of self and worthy of hiding deep within, far from the eyes of anyone but myself. (Oh, if only I could have hid the ugliness there from the Perfect One) As I approached that same precipice - the precipice where you gaze down into the deeps inside you and come face to face with the truth that lies buried there - I feared what I would see. The fact that there was a fissure, that I was again riven open, brought grief. When you ask deep, caustic questions that have no immediate answer, when doubt and consternation creep in, you are vulnerable. Where is the God of love? I asked. When will He send help? Why is this His timing? Haven't I suffered enough?

There was one dark day last week where I felt my soul closing like the flower that fears the night. Just like the flower senses that the light is dimming in the late afternoon, I felt the cool chill of the air as my soul shrank back from the face of God. I felt fear - for the first time in over a decade - that faith could die again. Facing that reality - that my faith is a fragile, shrinking, changeable choice - was not enjoyable at all. Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. (Mark 9:24) Yet when my faith shrank back from Christ in 1998, pulled away by pain and fear of death and anger over circumstances no 19 year old "should ever face" (culture's lie here in quotes), the questions that overcame it were so elemental. Then I asked does God exist? Why should I give self over for Him? What's in it for me? Why suffer for someone I cannot see?

He has answered those questions. Time and time again, with small details and circumstances that were so unlikely, He proved himself to me. I know, in a concrete way, deep in my soul, that He is there. And He is not silent. (Schaeffer) I know what's "in it for me", I know why I give self over to Him, I know why I choose to suffer for someone I cannot see. I have tasted living Water, lived on it and feasted of it for 12 years. Some of the lies I once believed will never ring true for me again.

And perhaps that is why I was torn these weeks past. Perhaps I needed to glimpse those seeds He has been faithfully planting in my heart over years of faith. What looked so ugly from the outside - pain in marriage; exhaustion of the body; tearing, burning, body-wrenching weeping - had some fruit inside that I never expected to see. What I saw is that He has knit me to this husband, deeply and irrevocably. That no matter what pain drives a wedge between us, it hits the hard, impenetrable Rock that is our foundation, and goes no further. Deep down there, at the roots of my marriage, are the beams that He built and established. A cord of three strands (Christ, Aaron, Genevieve) is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12) What I saw is that Living Water always satisfies, that the deep needs of my soul are met, with or without peace in my marriage, with or without time for reflection or self-care or even sleep.

I find myself emerging from the darkness of these last few weeks of sorrow and hard work with new hope for the future. That was one of the things that was repeated over and over at the marriage conference: in Him, your marriage will find hope. I doubted that, when the first painful work was being done. But in the end, of course, it is true. In Him, we will find hope. I still find myself speechless with mouth open in awe when I try to explain the reason concerning the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear (I Peter 3:15). The hope is there, no question. But how to quantify it, describe it, explain it?

And so, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good, I hope because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that Day. (Titus 2:13-14; II Timothy 1:12) I knew His name before, when I fell away from faith in 1998; today, I know so much more of His character and His love. I can say, truly, deeply, I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able.