The other gold

Make new friends,
but keep the old.
One is silver
but the other gold.

You go through seasons in this life, droughts and times of plenty, harvests and times to plow and plant. What I like about the concept of seasons is that you are never in one place for long. I don't want to be here long.

This season of my life has been a hard one. Sometimes it's a hailstorm, here and there a few tornadoes; when it's calm it's a famine, a drought, a desert. Yet down comes the manna, in the old friend who sits in a worn chair, her hands hard-working hands, sore hands, just like mine. Sore from the cancer, worn from the constant opening of those stiff fingers to offer the precious treasures, to say, "God, yes, you can have this, too." Weary from the living out of the constant task of giving and releasing and suffering that means treasure in heaven instead of on this earth.

It's easy to lose focus in the dust storm. As all the landmarks of your world are picked up by the dust devil and your eyes sting with tears, you look out on an alien landscape that looks like it can't be traversed. Not with the supplies you have on hand, not with the skills you possess, not all alone like you find yourself. Where are you, God? you cry out with the Psalmist, and you skip the hallelujah at the end of the Psalm and read right on into the next wrestling match with God in the beginning of the next chapter. Do you see what is happening? Do you care about what I am losing? Will you really sustain me?

You read that joy erases the memory of pain (John 16:21). Your friend's smile brings laughter bubbling to your lips, and even days later, as you look over the pictures you took of her, awkward, self-conscious dear one sitting in the sunny bedroom corner, it is joy that mounts victory in your heart and wilts the weed of helplessness that dust devil planted in your heart just hours ago.

The power of the Gospel is that, no matter what the landscape of your life, no matter what you lose or gain, weep for or laugh about, you no longer have to spend time or energy thinking about or trying to control what others think of you. Only one person matters. And He is the one who is lavishing joy, squashing sorrow, paving your way, and showing you the road that you - you, and no other - are to walk in. He is the one to whom you repent, He is the one who not only forgives but forgets and rebuilds, He is the one who whispers so deeply of love that the lying dust devil is drowned out. He is your map through the wilderness. Your lover when others wound. Your comfort when the world is comfortless. Your Father, your Friend, your Redeemer. 

So crawl in. Crawl in to the redeeming love of Christ, be covered by His sacrifice and hidden in His grace. You don't have to take these darts to your soul. It is His shield that covers your soul. Have faith. Wield that shield. You carry His voice inside you where no dust devil can drown it out. strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:10-20)