I’m now back from my trip home and not really feeling like writing about it just yet. I’ve quite the week ahead of me with a lot of things that quite frankly I just don’t want to do, and am feeling pretty overwhelmed. I’m also back in counselling this afternoon after three weeks off, and dreading it. I don’t feel very capable at the moment.
I went to church last night, and probably should have thought that decision through a little more – I literally dumped my stuff in my flat after getting the train up, and rushed off, without eating or drinking, or stopping, and going to church when you’re already a little fragile is never a brilliant idea. I’m feeling very cut-off at church again, very numbed, and it was a bit too much for me. I started to break down and cry so picked up a Bible to give myself something to concentrate on and started reading at Isaiah 41. Verses 12-14 gave me something to think about;
Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war gainst you will be as nothing at all. For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you. Do not be afriad, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you’ declared the Lord, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. God’s protection isn’t just for when the enemy, whatever it might be, comes to us, and holds siege. It isn’t just for when something befalls us, and knocks us asunder unexpectedly. It isn’t just for the unpredictable, uncalled for bad times, isn’t just for the times when someone wrongs us and we suffer for it, it’s also for the things we wreak upon ourselves, the heartache that comes when we get too close to the flames and get burned. Searching for enemies, looking for trouble, ignoring advice and thinking we know better – there’s a lot of ways that you and I can make things tricky for ourselves. It would be all too easy for God to leave us stranded when we go off alone, against the grain, and find ourselves in trouble. As Jeremiah said, ‘man is born to trouble, as surely as sparks fly upwards’. It would be all to easy for God to crack out the whole ‘you got yourself into this, you can get yourself out’ rule, or start talking about making beds and lying in them, though this is the approach we often use. I really can be my own worst enemy, and often, I find myself convinced that because of this, God has left me as alone and stranded as I feel. I collapse under the weight of it. I curse myself for making everything so difficult, and tell myself that if I were more obedient, more sensible, that I would be over this depression by now. I find myself wishing once again, that I could escape myself for a while, that I could get away from this force that seems to bleed me dry. I curl over, and that space where I should feel God against me, inside me, is resolutely empty. I, am empty. I feel abandoned.
There’s a lot of things I don’t write about here, or talk about to anyone, and a lot of these definitely fall into the category of ‘seeking enemies’ – things that affect no one but myself, and are pretty self-destructive. Much as I try to follow the right path before me, I have a talent for blocking out the voice of reason and going my own way. This last year, I’ve sought a lot of ‘enemies’ – I requested placements that I knew would challenge, and possibly break me, and they certainly did. I’ve tread a dangerous dance of non-compliance with medication, non-co-operation with counselling, and doomed self-reliance rather than getting into step with what I should be doing.
This verse reminded me that God speaks in Isaiah, and indeed, through much of the Old Testament, about being so much higher and beyond us, for a reason. God does not shoot himself in the foot, but he sticks by us, when we find ourselves doing just that. He’s there, when the enemies are clambering over the walls, and when we misguidedly ride to our deaths against our own lack of capabilities. He doesn’t send a deputy to fish us out of our own messes, chosing to save personal involvement for more worthy cases; He comes himself, he throws us a guidewire and reels us in. He gets His hands dirty. He has no criteria for rescue, and possesses an unlimited supply of life jackets. In the first world war, there was a common belief that either a bullet had your name and number on it so to speak – or it didn’t; either you were destined to die, or you weren’t. I fall into the trap of thinking about God in the same way – either He has you flagged up for rescue, marked by a flashing dot on radar, or He doesn’t. Either He has me written in His book, held in His hand, belonging to His flock – or He doesn’t. This verse reminded me that the God I follow doesn’t go in for a binary world view; there are no haves and have-nots in the Kingdom of Heaven. We are marked by our belonging to God, not by our rejection. There will always be a lifejacket with my name on it, that God will always be there to reel me back in. That goes for you, too.