“Yet I trust in this moment You’re with me somehow and You’ve always been faithful. So Lord even now, when all that I can sing is a broken hallelujah, when my only offering is shattered praise, still a song of adoration will rise up from these ruins. I will worship You and give You thanks, even when my only praise is a broken hallelujah.” -Mandisa
If you have been present with me at all through the last three months, you will know that 2017 has not been easy for me thus far. It has truly been a difficult season, but I am so thankful that I serve such a faithful God and that He has placed such wonderful and patient people to walk with me through this season.
Last December, before Christmas, I fell into what I felt was a desert place. I felt trapped in a desert place spiritually..but not only did I feel like I was in a dark desert place spiritually, I was also in a creative desert and for me that is a special kind of hell because art has always been my therapy, my shalom, my freedom, my oasis, my escape. This was literally the first time in my entire life that I was in a place where I was unable to create anything..it was frustrating for me to even draw doodles on my notes during class. I was leaving class crying most days because I was so lost and confused that I wasn’t able to create anything for weeks because anytime I tried to paint anything, my mind would go completely black and I would forget everything I had ever learned about art and I then I would have nothing to paint, so I would just sit and just cry.
There was one night that had nothing to paint, but I knew I needed to paint…I stared at a blank canvas for 45 minutes that February night and just cried. As I stared at the blank canvas, I finally saw a sunset in my mind and so I painted that.. After I painted the sunset, I saw a cactus in my mind, so I painted a few of those cute and awkward little things. And I ended up painting this desert place:
Though I was able to paint this, I was still in my “spiritual desert,” but as I was reminded that week through the amazing girls in my small group, the desert seasons in life tend to be seasons for refining and preparing. While I was still unable to feel the presence of God, while I had no song to sing, while I had no prayer to pray, and while I had no picture to paint, I knew that I would make it. Because even though this desert seemed so desolate, I knew there was not a place where I would go that He had not already been. And while I this desert season got a lot more dark and difficult, I was surrounded by amazing people who refused to let me walk the dark and desolate journey alone and for that, I am so incredibly grateful.
Now, the point of this blog is obviously in the title, “gravity” and I promise that I will get to that and you will understand why this blog is titled what it is, but first, I want to define a few terms (if you know me, this should not surprise you at all).
- the force that attracts a body toward the center of the earth, or toward any other physical body having mass. For most purposes Newton’s laws of gravity apply, with minor modifications to take the general theory of relativity into account.
- extreme or alarming importance; seriousness.
- synonyms: seriousness, importance, significance, weight, consequence, magnitude, etc.
Both of these definitions are important to know.
- resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering.
- synonyms: loyal, faithful, committed, devoted, dedicated, dependable, reliable, steady, true, constant, solid, etc.
On February 15, in probably the darkest part of my desert, we did an “African Bible Study” for our chapel service and we focused on Titus 2:7-8. In this Bible study, we read these verses in multiple translations and gosh I am so glad that we did.
Someone read out of the NIV:
7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
Someone read out of the ESV:
7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
Not much of a difference…
But then my roommate read out of the KJV, and this is what rocked my world and reminded me that I would be okay in my desert place:
7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
…did you catch that? Because I asked her to read it again so that I could be sure I heard her correctly and that my sleepless nights weren’t getting the best of me. And when she read it again, I heard “gravity” again and then my mind went twelve thousand directions (give or take a few).
But before I get too far down that rabbit trail, allow me to back up ten minutes, because I was journaling during worship that day and this is what I wrote:
life sucks. it is utterly horrible and dark and desolate at this moment in my existence. these worship songs keep talking about God’s “goodness” and how “wonderful and powerful” He is. if He really is so good and wonderful and powerful, why is he keeping Himself from me? why can’t i find Him?r why is this so difficult? right now, i see no goodness in Him. i feel so alone and abandoned. they say Mother Teresa didn’t experience God during the last 20-30 years of her life, but i’m not her. there is no way that i can keep seeking God if i can’t feel Him or see Him. why am i in this place?
This was my journal ten minutes prior to hearing this Titus passage in the KJV. This was ten minutes prior to being reminded that everything would be okay. This journal entry was truly the dark before the dawn.
After meditating on the different translations, we were supposed to pick a word or phrase that stuck out to us. obviously the word I chose was “gravity.” This stuck out to me because it seemed like a silly translation at first. But as I was meditating on the word itself, I found my hope and that is the true purpose of this blog. After meditating on this word and what it meant to me, I journaled this:
As my classes lately have been full of the transcendence and immanence of God, this word strikes me in such a deep way. The fact that the God who spoke the earth into motion, the God who breathes galaxies into existence, the God who is vast beyond any human comprehension, the God who created the universe with such precision, creativity, and perfect order, the God whose power is so strong, made itself weak blows my freaking mind. This God is so vast and mysterious, yet so incredibly personal, thus proving His immanence. The fact that the God of such power humbled Himself and put on flesh for my benefit, doesn’t seem possible. As the Creator of the world, and all of the precision and intricacy that it requires, He is also the God behind the gravity I was taught about in school growing up. The science behind how we stay physically grounded on earth comes from our concept of gravity. Most people typically don’t question gravity a whole lot. We accept the idea pretty easily, though, there are a select few who spend their live studying it and the effects it has on humanity. Anyway, the point is
WE. DON’T. FEEL. GRAVITY.
We accept that it is there, it holds us to the earth; but we don’t question it when we don’t feel it.
SO WHY DO WE QUESTION GOD WHEN WE DON’T FEEL HIM????
WE DON’T YELL AT GRAVITY WHEN WE DON’T FEEL IT.
How is this fair to God?
Why do we accept the creation but question the Creator?
*insert mic drop here* hah. but really.
Seriously though. I had this insane “come to Jesus moment” while sitting on the floor in the sanctuary at Haviland Friends Church during chapel on February 15, 2017. God rocked my world and reminded me that it was okay that I don’t always feel Him, because even when I cannot feel Him, He is still there. He never left and He never plans to leave.
God is steadfast.
Gravity is steadfast.
Yes, I am finally on the second definition. Steadfast. Words captivate me. They always have and I am sure they always will. Word studies are truly my favorite kind of study. God is the source of gravity in my life, in all aspects: physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally.
Over the last month or so, the word “steadfast” has been burning hard in my head because of James 1:3
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness
When I came across these beautiful words, they brought comfort. Though I was still in my desert place, I knew that God was still faithful, that He was steadfast. Just as I rise everyday and rely on the steadfastness of gravity, the Lord proves His steadfastness every single day through His faithfulness. I was reminded that this desert place was refining my steadfastness and there was something so beautiful about that reality and my prayer quickly became the words of David:
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
I am finally at a place where I feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I have been reminded time and time again that this season was not in vain, there was/is a purpose for this season. While it has been incredibly frustrating and confusing, I have already experienced benefits of it. I know that the best is yet to come and I am so excited for those things, but I am also thankful for the experiences through the last few months. Something I heard that stuck out to me recently was:
It’s not the amount of faith you have, it is the fact that you have faith at all, it is the object of your faith that sees you through.
It wasn’t a vast amount of faith that helped me through this desert season. No, the reason I made it through was simply in the reality that I never completely lost my faith, even though it was an intense battle and some days, I thought I was losing it.
Tonight, as I write, I pray that the overwhelming peace I found while being enthralled with the concept of gravity finds you as well. My specific prayer for you is found in Philippians 4:7-
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”