The narrow escape

I have been in the hospital for four days. Dealing with chronic illness lays your soul bare and opens an ear to the whispers of evil. There are times when you go dancing with the inner demons, the triumphs of sin in the expanse of your life. You lift the ruby red blanket of Christ's sacrifice and allow those demons to jump back out from underneath, cackling and carrying you on their backs down the path of dangerous thoughts. I am not good enough. I am not worthy of the life I've been given. Look at all these awful things I've done! Do they not condemn me forever? Am I not marked as a wicked one?

The Jews of ancient times ascribe Lamentations to Jeremiah, the "weeping prophet". In my darkest times of soul distress and distrust, the words of this book scream like dervishes confirming my worst fears about myself:
All who honored her despise her, for they have seen her nakedness; she herself groans and turns away. Her filthiness clung to her skirts; she did not consider her future. Her fall was astounding; there was none to comfort her. All your enemies open their mouths wide against you; they scoff and gnash their teeth and say, "We have swallowed her up. This is the day we have waited for; we have lived to see it." As if it were a feast day, you call enemies to terrify me on every side. (from Lamentations 1 and 2)
I've danced in the minefields for one day too long. I am weak and weary. If I were writing a Psalm, I would repeat the words of David, Do not cast me from Your presence, but grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:11a & 12b) I gather things around me, books, Bibles, my thumbprint cross, the tattoo on my wrist that says, Choose life (from Deuteronomy 30). As talisman against the darkness.

I think back on this present trial, the worst of it 8 weeks long now, and there are a few things to rejoice in. I suffered 8 weeks of impulsive thoughts pushing me toward the place I have chosen not to go, and at the end of the 8 weeks I chose triumphantly with all the weapons at hand. I believe this turning, this repentance - the Hebrew word  שׁוּבָה transliterated "shubah", meaning a return or a turning away from - is counted by God above as gold, silver, and precious stones.

I return home stronger, although despair and hopelessness still nip at my heels. I have seen redemption worked out in my life again, and I have lived to tell the story, I love to tell the story -  because I know 'tis true; it satisfies my longings as nothing else can do (I Love to Tell the Story, by Arabella Hankey, 1860's).
Are you dancing with your demons? Are you surrounded on every side? May the blanket of white snow that is Christ's covering salvation return your demons to dust, and may you find peace in the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. My prayer for myself, and for you.

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