Tuesday Grace Letter:7

May 6, 2014

Kara, the writer behind the Mundane Faithfulness blog, has invited other bloggers to participate in a practice of grace- writing letters every week, each letter with its own focus. I do not know Kara. We live in the same city and some of my friends and family know her, but I have only followed her story in bits and pieces as others have posted her blog posts to their Facebook pages. Kara’s story is heart-rending and powerful and in the midst of her own suffering, she gives people a glimpse of Christ in her, the hope of glory. Today’s assignment is to write a way grace has met me to offer comfort.

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Dear You,

There is a song I used to listen to over and over again by Caedmon’s Call called Hold the Light. Every time I played it, I thought of you. It goes like this:

It’s been a long year, Like a long sleepless night.
Jacob wrestled the angel, but I’m too tired to fight.
Every Wednesday for two years we’ve met.
I’ve showed you all my anger, my doubts and bitterness.

There was no judgement in your eyes just the silent peace of God, that felt so real in you.

Will you hold the light for me?
Will you hold the light for me?

And I stay up late because I cannot sleep.
I don’t want to face the quiet where it’s just God and me.
I’m waiting for the gavel handing me the sentence down,
because I don’t believe forgiveness or even repentance now.

There was no judgement in your eyes, Just the silent peace of God, that felt so real in you.

Will you hold the light for me?
Will you hold the light for me?

I want to feel redemption flowing through my veins.
I want to see with clear eyes beyond lust and hate.
I want the war to be over, and know the good guys won,
and I want love to hold me to know I’m not alone.

Standing around a willow weeping, we were praying in the backyard.
In the chill of the night the friendship light reminded me who we are
…who we are, who we are

Will you hold the light?
Will you hold the light for me? 

Every single time I heard that song back then- during that dark valley of my life- and every time since I have thought of you. You entered my life when I moved here. I don’t remember the first time we met. But it seems that somehow you were always there, from the very beginning. Your hair grey from years, your face younger than your years, and your smile- the gentle and naive smile. You carried your authority well and I trusted you from early on, with your proven steadfastness.

I loved to talk with you about Jesus. You and I seemed to walk the same pages of faith, wrestling and leaning into places many others would not. Some of my favorite memories of you are those conversations about this walking Face of God, come to earth to be with us. You had this way, this gentle way, of always pointing me- all of us really- back to the love of God. And we listened. Because that’s how compelling the simple truth of God’s love is.

But then I entered into the deathly valley- a valley none of us knew was coming. If there were stormclouds on the horizon, they went unnoticed or ignored. So when the deathly valley sudden swallowed my husband and me whole, I remembered the words of my ordination mentor, John Weborg, who told me once, “Most friends will not go with you into the dark valley. It’s too scary and they aren’t sure they will get out. So don’t be surprised if you walk it alone.”

And it did feel lonely. For a long time. Except for you. There were a few others who ventured with us, but you were one of the few who walked closest to me, even though I knew in your every step that you were terrified of what was in there too, how hard your heart beat too in the wilds of suffering. But you did that. And so when I think of you, I think of how you met me in that place with the grace of your steadfast presence. In the grace of your humble ability to do what you could to serve me well. Sometimes that’s the only way we can see Jesus, through the very physical presence of people, and so you held the light out for us to stumble on our way.

I saw this grace in the way you would greet me each Sunday morning with a hug, and I could see in your eyes the way you analyzed every comment, every response, every body movement to determine my level of exhaustion. Without a word, you would jump in, serving where you could, carrying a heavy load, setting up or tearing down, or whatever was needed. I saw that grace when you stood in the back in prayer, holding me up with words to God, while I did what I was called to do, knowing how incredibly fragile my soul was on some particular days. Even though you were weary with a family growing up, you own personal struggles, and the weight of an entire mission organization on your shoulders, I saw that grace in our unending emails where I could pour out my fears and questions and doubts and worries through my fingertips, typing so I could ugly cry in the safety of my room or office, but still share the things I longed for God to show me. I saw that grace in the father-like way you cared.

You held the light for me, for us. You reminded us regularly of who we were. You determined to call me to remember that in the end, no matter what happens, love wins out. You held the light when I couldn’t.

That, dear You, was grace. At its finest. Without pretension or presumption. A grace that rolled up its sleeves and served where I couldn’t. A grace that got its feet dirty in the mud of the dark valley. A grace that met me in the ugliness of my story and wasn’t afraid.

I still find myself angry when I think of how our friendship ended. How in the end, the dark valley may have attached itself to you to cause you to turn a blind eye when others took advantage of that season of death. For a long time now I have been confused by that. For a long time I have been confused by your blindness to what was happening around us. For a long time I have confused that in the end the darkness won our walk as disciples and friends. And I still find flashes of anger and remember that of all the things stolen from us at the time, our loss of your friendship is perhaps one of the worst losses we have ever experienced.

But even anger at the way in which we eventually fell apart does not diminish the truth that you embodied the grace you had come to know so deeply in your own life. Anger does not change the fact that when I needed someone to come alongside- when both my husband and I needed that- you volunteered. Confusion and loss do not change the reality that in grace, you showed up. And so, even that rough ending is being forgiven, bit by bit, in that slow and patient way God has of kneading the kingdom’s life in us and all around us.

So, I thank you. I thank you for living into your brave commitment to Jesus. I thank you for choosing to love and live in faithfulness. I thank you for holding the light- dim though it may have been- so that I could see, even for just a glimpse, that God was indeed present in the dark.

Peace, Me.

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To read more Tuesday Grace Letters, visit here.

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