Weak Like Bull
Having recently broken my wrists has presented me numerous challenges I was not prepared for.
I can’t lift anything. I can’t push anything. I can’t twist either wrist. This has meant a substantial challenge in nearly every pursuit. I wrote my last novel in 13 days. I’m currently hunting and pecking with two fingers to write this blog post as gingerly as possible. I can’t cook, really. I can’t clean much. I have trouble getting dressed every morning. (Buttons just suck!) Using a mouse and keyboard tire me out. My wrists ache and scream each night. Sleeping isn’t fun or rejuvenating. I have a house I’m trying to sell which is currently covered in primer. And that condition is owed, purely, to the assistance of some dear friends.
It sure does seem like the bones where my complaints come from aren’t located in my wrists though.
Having gotten off social media, I don’t have empty well-wishers. I have genuine people, genuinely reaching out and offering to help. I have my friends, my real friends, picking up the slack for me. And I say all that because I realize that this injury is the specific culmination of numerous refinements happening in my life this year. This year I am in pursuit of freedom, real freedom. Not some illusion of freedom offered by getting all my wishes granted. Not the false freedom of proving myself. Not the dark and sick freedom offered by good health and good wealth.
And I’m seeing that freedom come through weakness. I’m not batting a thousand. Much less, in fact. I’m dead broke, a little depressed, barely able to do simple computer work, and struggling with sinful pride and greed. I’m in the low place. And you know what? I asked for this. I asked for real connection to God. I asked to be closer to Him than I have ever been. I asked Him to humble me. And. He. Has. Answered.
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite. Isaiah 57:15
My mentor who doesn’t know he mentors me, Ray Ortlund, pointed that scripture out to a group I was in and said that there are two places God is. One, the highest place, the holy place. Can I be there? NEVER. I sin almost by the minute, most days. I could never be in the high and holy place by myself. But what about him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit? Could I be there? Could I be on the ash pile? Could I be where it’s deep enough for no light to reach the bottom?
In fact, I am feeling that darkness at the moment. But what Ray also said was that most of us don’t want to contemplate those extremes. Instead, we want what he called the “mushy middle.” Just enough good feelings to keep us enslaved to them, but no real freedom. Just enough get along to go along, enough comfort to keep our feet warm at night, enough money to take vacations and make our kids like us, enough high to mitigate the crushing shadow of existential dread.
I prayed, earlier this year, that God would humble me. I even tweeted it when I was tweeting. And here I am. I am either where God can give me life or approaching it. That word “revive” in that verse, is Hebrew and it means to give life. Real life. Real freedom. And it’s only coming through weakness, through brokenness. Not strength, not success, not the mushy middle. No, it’s going to come in the valley of the shadow of death.