January of another new year comes to a close. I look up from my desk of papers, notebooks, and sticky notes, all the earmarks of resolution making, planning and preparation. Surrounded by penciled-in musings, highlighted hopes and ideas, I let the honest, nitty-gritty truth rise to the surface. This new year, I’m really clinging to the hope that —
You’re still here with me, Lord.
I can’t help but notice the striking similarities between this time last year and now. If you had asked me on Jan. 27, 2019 what fills my days and weeks, I would have said … I work part-time as an office assistant and care for my father at home. I write and read every day, go for coffee with friends, enjoy outings with my sister, babysit, walk my dog.
To be sure, many new and wonderful things happened in 2019. At Easter, I settled into a new church home, through which I’ve met individuals and families who are now dear friends. In August my beautiful niece Emerson Grace was born. Some of my summer highlights included buying a car, having two articles published, and visiting botanical gardens with my family. Good things and God’s abundant grace covered my 2019 days, and I am grateful.
Still, the “sameness” of my physical activities and daily routine cannot be denied. More than a restless desire for something new (although that creeps in at times), I am facing the fear that God is ready to say “Christina’s doing alright” and let me be. We are approaching 4 years since my dad’s diagnosis, and amid the challenges of his decline, we have formed a routine to care for him at home, bringing an odd sense of normalcy to my daily life. Sometimes the regularity brings comfort, but the nagging thought remains,
Lord, are You still here when life runs like clockwork?
When Dad is stable, laundry is folded, and dishes are washed, when tears are shed but laughter still erupts, when mornings and days and evenings all begin to run together – are You still active and working? Does Your care continue when our lives look “a-okay,” and we seem to be managing well enough? When I have nothing new to report to a kind friend asking how Dad is doing, are You still here?
As these questions and fears roll around in my mind, I look for solid ground. Yes, my own experience of God’s provision in the midst of the mundane is encouraging and bolsters my hope, but the firm consolation I seek – that the Lord is still here with me – cannot be found in the deepest parts of me. It is found in God’s truth, and who He says He is in Scripture.
The Biblical truth that’s been settling in and displacing my fear that God will leave are the words of Psalm 139. We often like to zoom in on verses 13 & 14 – For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. These verses are beautiful and true, but I want to pull back and read the chapter as a whole, that we may gain a fuller view of the nature of God. Take a moment to read the entire passage below, out loud if you can.
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them come to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand — when I awake, I am still with you.
The truths we are quick to pick out – God’s protection over us, His care in forming us, His thoughts toward us – find their root in His eternal attributes. This chapter is ultimately a celebration of God’s character, not simply a boost to our ego. We are resting on a firm foundation when we let these words sink in – God is declaring to us who He is – and in these words we find unparalleled comfort and hope.
The comfort, the peace of mind I crave is not found in my circumstances but in the character of God.
The words of Psalm 139 ring true even when my days move along with little change. I don’t need to wait for calamity to strike or new opportunities to unfold because right now, on the ordinary days, I can trust that You are still here with me, Lord.
When the days slip by unnoticed, You have not changed. You have not withdrawn or disengaged. You, our God, are discerning and wise. You know all things. You see all things. You are the Creator, the One who made us with caring intention. Your presence cannot be contained. Your strength and might cannot be matched. The wonder of You, our God and all Your marvelous deeds are beyond our comprehension.
As these January days lean toward February, what comfort I can rest in, what solid ground I can stand on. You are still here.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
News for the New Year
This month, I began the draft for my next book! The process of writing, jotting down themes, and piecing together memories is altogether daunting and wonderful. Writing this book, a memoir focused on caring for my father, feels, simultaneously, like the wildest and most natural pursuit. The blog posts I’ve been writing for the last 16 months include a number of the themes and truths I will be weaving into the book.
I’m excited to share this news with you all, and I would especially covet your prayers as I move forward. I know I cannot write this book apart from the help and guidance of the Lord Jesus; so thank you, in advance, for your prayers on my behalf.
As I give more of my attention to the book, I will ease up on the number of blog posts. I will continue to share my Moody Publisher book reviews with you, so you can expect future posts to coincide with a book review.
Whether you know me only on the page or we see each other regularly, I want to thank each one of you for being a part of my blog community. With so much information at our fingertips through books, articles, and social media, I thank you for coming to Sweet Dependence to read what the Lord has put on my heart. I value your readership and appreciate the encouragement you write in the comments or speak to me in person. Your words bless me and push me to continue writing.
Through this blog and now another book, may the Lord Jesus receive all the glory!
Grace and peace to you all,