When Tomorrow Threatens to Fail You

Job 38.19 Where is the road to the home of light? Do you know where darkness lives? Photo // Simeon Hughs @ Creative Swap
Job 38.19 Where is the road to the home of light?
Do you know where darkness lives?
Photo // Simeon Hughs @ Creation Swap

{The following is an excerpt from this project.)

I’ve always assumed I could work on our intimacy tomorrow.

“Not tonight. Tomorrow night, I promise.”

“I’m exhausted. Can we do a date next weekend?”

“This project is due. I just don’t have time.”

“Are you serious? After a day like today you want me to be what?”

And the excuses continue. Always tomorrow. Always next time. Always later. It never occurred to me that tomorrow wasn’t an option.

It was almost midnight and we had both fallen into bed. After a long week, I had successfully curbed his flirtations and snuggles. I had almost dozed off to sleep when I remembered I had left a large amount of money my wallet which was still in the van. I jumped out of bed, retrieved the wallet, and was about to slip back under the covers when my husband called me over, “Hey, babe, come here.”

You know that moment when your body responds faster than your mind can process? His tone made my stomach flutter and my eyes darted toward the crib. “Is the baby okay?”

“Yeah, but I need you to feel this.”

He had me palpate a lymph node under the arm which had been killing him for weeks. “Can you feel it? It’s on one side and not the other.”

I’m an internal processor and am not subject to showing immediate emotion or alarm. “Yes, it’s probably a cyst or an infection or something.”

“You’re probably right.” And we snuggled under the cover, each alone with our own fears. The only sign that either of us worried was the unwillingness we had to roll over. Knee to knee, calf to calf, we pretended to sleep until sleep finally came.

The next day included a visit to the doctor and the entrance into the waiting room for answers. Yes, it was a mass. Yes, it was concerning. Yes, there were hundreds of possibilities. Yes, cancer could be one of them.

I am quiet when I process and I process by formulating a plan of action. Suddenly, nothing felt safe. Nothing was certain. One ping-pong sized mass had fallen to earth and disturbed the sweet rhythm of our family of seven. Our everyday chaos was certain and expected. This was new, unwelcome chaos. The name of this chaos was Uncertainty. As I drove my oldest to track that afternoon I quietly willed this twist in the plot of our lives to erase itself. This wasn’t part of my story. This wasn’t something I was going to write. This was an unwelcome interruption. Nothing the size of an overgrown grape was allowed to rock the solid foundation of life which was my husband.

And I realized how many plans I carried for tomorrow.

Tomorrow I would spend time with the kids.

Tomorrow I would reconcile with my mother.

Tomorrow I would allow complete healing in my marriage.

Tomorrow I would slow down. Tomorrow I would bite my tongue. Tomorrow I would open my hands in generosity, vulnerability, and with love.

I realized how much value I put on tomorrow and how little I placed on today. It was time to put my big girl pants on and shout to the sky, “If a bomb is going to drop and my world crack, may there be an ever-flowing, over-flowing abundance of living water!”

If a man would learn to pray, let him go to sea. Photo // Jonathan Ashcraft @ Creation Swap
If a man would learn to pray, let him go to sea.
Photo // Jonathan Ashcraft @ Creation Swap

From a Distance

Did anyone realize they were spending their last moments with Jesus before His execution? He was repeatedly telling the disciples that hard times were coming—the bridegroom wouldn’t always be with them. Emmanuel was for always, but Jesus walked the earth for a season. At what point did they really understand that Jesus was warning them of their coming loss?

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three, 45 because the sun’s light failed. The curtain of the sanctuary was split down the middle. 46 And Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit.” Saying this, He breathed His last.

47 When the centurion saw what happened, he began to glorify God, saying, “This man really was righteous!” 48 All the crowds that had gathered for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, went home, striking their chests. 49 But all who knew Him, including the women who had followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

Who were these women watching? Why did they do so from a distance? Were they not allowed to get closer? Was this the distance they chose? Before we judge them and suggest they were missing their opportunity to serve the Son of God in his ‘hour of need’ let’s take a look at the few faces named that we know something about.

Among the women watching was Mary, the mother of Jesus. How did this young girl develop the ability to embrace God’s work in the present moment? The details given to her today begin to paint the picture of tomorrow and she must have realized the pain that would come when others find out she’s pregnant, not yet married, and claims that she’s conceived a child by Yahweh. Something along the lines of, “Yeah right,” was likely to slip out of several mouths.

But if we look closely, we see that it wasn’t the news of the Son of God entering her future that troubled her. Instead, Mary was troubled by the news that, “The Lord is with her.”

It’s the only place in the New Testament this word is used—and it’s used twice in this verse.

But she was very perplexed by this statement and kept pondering what kind of greeting this was.

The Lord is with you.

The Lord is with you.

Right now in this moment, my husband has taken flight to the eastern part of the country for a leadership intensive and I am sitting here, flipping between writing my thoughts here, for you, and researching swollen lymph nodes on the internet. Both are equally dangerous, if you ask me. The Lord is with me as I make mountains out of lymph nodes. The Lord is with me as I realize I need to mend this broken intimacy today so I can enjoy my husband in the now. The Lord is with me as I feel my lunch lurch in my stomach of nerves and uncertainty. The Lord is with us.

And yes, that is troubling.

If the Lord is with us, why are we allowed to experience pain and suffering? If the Lord is with us, why is life allowed uncertainty? If the Lord is with us, why isn’t He shielding us from hurt? If the Lord is with us, why aren’t these thorns or yesterday immediately eradicated from today so that I can be embraced by my tomorrows?

Would I ever learn to watch for what He’s up to if I hadn’t experienced the fullness of life’s brokenness along the way? Would I have a burning need to know what is happening on that cross if He hadn’t uprooted me from an old life and undone me in the new?

There was another woman in the crowd, watching from the distance. She’s a woman who displayed intimacy and sacrificed all her tomorrows for the sake of honoring Jesus in gratitude. She’s Mary of Magdala. She was a sinful woman, a broken woman, and it is said Jesus delivered her from seven different evils consuming her person. Mary shows us the intimacy experienced by surrendering today. If intimacy can be defined as knowing and being known, then Mary of Magdala displays true intimacy with Jesus and teaches us that knowing about God isn’t the same as knowing God.

Mary of Magdala knew where Jesus was eating dinner and the lack of hospitality awaiting him at the Pharisee’s house (Luke 7). She’d heard the religious leaders talking and scoffing and ridiculing his teaching. It seemed to her they planned to indulge their curiosity rather than their own spiritual appetites. An overwhelming desire broke over her. She grabbed the jar of oil, tucked it in her robe and ran for the Pharisee’s home. When she arrived, she peeked inside. She thought she could see His feet—unwashed—as he reclined against the table. She looked at no one as she pressed forward, falling at his feet, hot with nerves as she realized she’d forgotten a towel. No matter, peace washed her soul and freedom coursed down her cheeks. Nothing mattered—not the cost of the perfume, not the whispering of the leaders, and not the dust from His feet as it streaked her black hair rust.

Today. Today she was free to choose life. Today she was free to receive love. Today was more than enough.

These are the women who stood from a distance. These are the women who first witnessed the resurrection. These are the women who embraced every day of Jesus’ teaching and travels. They funded his ministry. They followed His path. They received His love and forgiveness.

If you're going to build walls, make sure to include windows. They are the best routes of escape when you are ready to be found. Photo // Kelly Sikkema @ CreationSwap
If you’re going to build walls, make sure to include windows. They are the best routes of escape when you are ready to be found.
Photo // Kelly Sikkema @ CreationSwap

So we, too, much choose. There is a work of God to be done in our marriages and tomorrow is too long to wait. We must encounter God now. We must position ourselves to be healed in this moment. We must let the walls down and let Jesus find us–for even in our lowest place we can touch the hem of his robe and His power comes and transformation occurs and we are healed and given a story.

And a story always ends. With Jesus, the last word is life.

I can encourage you to embrace life and embrace today, but I’ve already determined that those of us who have experienced ravaged intimacy which has distorted our sexuality prefer to embrace on our own terms and when or if we so choose. The real challenge for us is allowing ourselves to be embraced. 

So my challenge is to drop the arms. Not tomorrow, but today. And allow yourself to be embraced.

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2 thoughts on “When Tomorrow Threatens to Fail You

  1. Dear Marian, Lornell just had me read your blog about your respite time and When Tomorrow Threatens to fail You. My what powerful, transparent and insightful posts. It is a delight to read of the improvement in your relationship with Sage. We will certainly be on a prayer vigil for Nate. Love, Dan and Lornell

    1. Oh, the picture of you two reading and thinking and praying for us together is just awesome! Thank you so much! And thank you for your words on my writing. Those are precious to me, too.

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