Grapes, Boats, and Waiting.
Last semester was not fun, but then again, pruning never really is. Going through life together, in community, made it easier though. It is never easy to admit to being broken, but admitting it to silent aloneness magnifies the pain. Praise God I didn’t have to. During that season in my life, a friend showed me this verse:
For he wounds, but he also binds up;
he injures, but his hands also heal. ~Job 5:18
In a word, pruning. The constant, continual chipping away at my sinful state, at shame and sin and secrets that held me in bondage. The ‘chip’, ‘chip’, ‘chip’, of the Potter’s chisel on my already shattered clay-pot-of-a-soul hurt. But it left me longing for His healing touch. For him to bind me up. For his hands to heal.
And bind me up he did. Heal me he did.
For the past several weeks, it has been this verse that I have been meditating on and praying though. Praying, and praising. The Potter who made me whole again. The Gardener who pruned away the dead.
This semester I have been taking a Genesis class, and last week we finished studying the story of Noah. While going through some of these familiar stories, I prayed that the Lord would reveal himself to me in a new way, and that it would be as if I was studying the passage for the first time. Unfortunately, familiarity can take away the wonder of the story. And I wanted to read it with clean eyes and a fresh heart. I wanted to be wowed anew.
Noah and his family boarded the Ark, and then proceeded to wait for the Lord to shut the doors. For seven days that undoubtedly felt longer than the year they had spent building, they waited alone inside the Ark for the Lord to seal the doors. I can only imagine what that week must have felt like. For starters, they probably felt silly. They had been telling everyone for a year that a flood was coming, and no one believed them. Most theologians today believe that prior to what has become known as Noah’s Flood, rain had never before fallen upon the earth. They were waiting for an unknown future. They were waiting alone, ridiculed by those who thought that their obedience was ludicrous.
Praying over scripture is always a dangerous thing, I’ve found, but these two passages together made for a very painful combination.
Pruning. Waiting. Ridiculed. Alone.
For he wounds, but he also binds up;
he injures, but his hands also heal.
From six calamities he will rescue you;
in seven no harm will touch you.
In famine he will deliver you from death,
and in battle from the stroke of the sword.
You will be protected from the lash of the tongue,
and need not fear when destruction comes.
You will laugh at destruction and famine,
and need not fear the wild animals.
For you will have a covenant with the stones of the field,
and the wild animals will be at peace with you.
You will know that your tent is secure;
you will take stock of your property and find nothing missing.
I guess that answering the call of the Lord will hurt sometimes and leave you waiting alone in a boat for Him to calm the storm and return you to dry land. The hand of The Lord will shut the door and keep you secluded as he prunes away the things that are keeping you from Him. He wounds, but he also binds up. He injures, but his hands also heal. And I don’t have to worry about the ridicule and gossip that are happening outside the boat. You will be protected from the lash of the tongue. The Lord sings over me. He delights in me.
The storm that awaited Noah was unlike anything that mankind can even imagine. 40 days and 40 nights of constant downpour. Geysers sprung up from the deep, and combined with the constant rain, the currents and waves that came with that storm destroyed all of life, and redefined tumultuous. The waiting continued, this time a new kind of difficult. Waiting for the ridicule to end. Waiting for the storm to begin. Waiting for the storm to end.
The storm is raging. The pruning is painful and thorough. But I will know that my tent is secure. As He chips and clips away, I feel like I am losing things that I need. But, I will take stock of my property and find that nothing is missing.
Let perseverance finish its work, so that you will be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ~James 1:4
I’m safe inside the boat.