Things are still a little rough here. I know I mentioned it in a semi-humorous way a few posts back – trying to be light-hearted about it, but the truth is I am still pretty low and only slowly recovering from a despair to which I’ve never dropped before. And it is from so many places – such a combination of factors – that it is difficult to explain just what brought me here.
…we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life…
2 Corinthians 1:8
And yet it is here that I have experienced the love, grace, comfort, shepherding, and gentle voice of the Lord more than ever before.
Robert has given me time in the morning to stay in bed with a cup of hot tea, read my Bible, pray, and journal. (He’s been truly amazing, and has had his own renewal of heart recently.Mine seems to be a bit slower in coming around.) And every time I open the Word, the promises of restored hope and revival of spirit are right there…..
You who have shown me many troubles and distresses, will revive me again, and will bring me up from the depths of the earth.
He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me.
We went through fire and through water; yet You did bring us to a place of abundance.
The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst. I, the Lord, will answer them Myself; as the God of Israel I will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land fountains of water.
Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.
Two weeks ago, I took a whole day off. Went to one of my favorite New England locations – West Hartford, CT – cranking Sandra McCracken music for the entire one-hour drive. Went to the Whole Foods there, grabbed some lunch to go, and headed to the Barnes and Noble to eat, read, drink coffee, journal, and look over my Five Aspects of Woman
study for my small group that night. I say “look over” because I have done this study so many times that all I usually need to do is refresh my memory by skimming the lesson. The Lord had different plans. And evidently they had been arranged for far in advance.
I opened the notebook to the “Lifegiver-Redeemed” lesson only to discover that I had never filled in the blanks for this particular lesson, in this particular edition! So my time in the cafe turned into an hour and a half of reading the lesson, looking up assigned verses and stories, and answering application questions so as to be prepared to lead the discussion. You know, so the other young women in my group would hear the message and be impacted by its powerful truths.
The Lifegiver Aspect is all about the unique design of femininity that makes women not only able to give physical life through childbearing, but also enables her to nurture and pour herself out for the sake of others in many different ways. It is this very aspect of my life that has brought me low. Lifegiving has been the most rewarding and yet the most draining part of my life. On my Facebook profile, “Marriage, Motherhood, and Ministry” are what I listed as my “activities.” Nothing but lifegiving opportunities there.
In Scripture, there is a recurring theme surrounding women at wells. This is partly because getting daily water was woman’s work in those times. Water is also a symbol of life. Hagar was provided two different wells in Genesis when she was destitute, Zipporah met Moses at her well, Rebekah watered a servant and his camels at a well and also ended up with a husband. In Proverbs, woman is described as a fountain of lifegiving springs to her husband. And of course, Jesus and the woman at the well in John 4 – she comes for daily water; he gives her an internal and everlasting source of life – Himself. They are all lifegivers, and they are all in need of or receive renewed life themselves.
These were the stories I was reading as I prepared for my lesson, and these were the stories that the Lord was using to speak His promises of renewal to me yet again. I don’t think it was any coincidence that the lesson had somehow gone undone until that day. And the Lord knew way back, when I had the opportunity to skip it for some reason, that now was the time I would need it most. Yes, it was for the other women, but it was more so for me. Here is how the author of the study, Barbara Mouser, comments on this idea of renewal…
“The means of lifegiving is renewal. Belief in the importance of lifegiving is not the problem; finding the strength to do it is. But God’s gift of renewal means it does not all depend upon our strength. When we are out of strength, He picks us up again with gifts of power and life we knew not of.”
As I’ve mentioned before
, after studying each aspect in its created, fallen, and redeemed state, each woman is supposed to do something creative to share with the group demonstrating what she learned, or what the aspect meant to her. As I prayed about what my “Lifegiver- Life Lesson” would be this time, I kept thinking about water and wells. I remembered that when we returned home from Texas in January our tap water was a bit brownish and I didn’t want to drink it. Robert picked up a case of Poland Springs water bottles for me one day. The tap water eventually returned to a normal color, but I was really enjoying the taste of the bottled water – especially after a run – so Robert continued to replenish my stock. The day of the “life lesson” presentation, Robert and I were running together, and I heard a big truck coming up behind us. I still had not decided on what to present to the group, but as I moved to the curb and saw the huge green Poland Springs truck drive slowly by, I knew what I would do.
The picture above shows the small gift I was able to give to each of the girls in my group – a Poland Springs water bottle with the promises of restoration and renewal that I had been discovering attached. Water for the body, water for the soul.
And in the giving of that gift, I realized another provision of the Lord for the restoration of my heart….my husband. The man who brings case after case of Poland Springs water bottles home so that my supply doesn’t run out. Water that I don’t technically need, but that he desires to give me, because it brings a little bit of comfort and refreshment to my day. And this is only one of many ways he has served and sought to encourage me recently.
Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word….
And what did Robert’s sermon text just happen to be for this past Sunday? John Chapter 4 – The Woman at the Well. Another coincidence? Not a chance. It’s how He speaks, and I’m trying to hear and receive.
Drinking from the sacrifice of my Lord and my husband.
Restoration will come. I am so blessed.
…indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead….He on whom we have set our hope.
2 Corinthians 1:9,10