I woke this morning to a chill in the house. Nothing like the chill in my heart the last couple of days. I can't seem to find peace. Can't seem to feel the closeness to God that usually keeps me warm. Can't seem to feel His presence anywhere around me. My Bible sits across the room...I go and pick it up and sit it in my lap, hands on the cover. It has an old name tag from a mission trip stuck on the back...memories of serving the Lord in a community where love covers so much and brings smiles to the faces of children. It has marks on the cover from being carried in my purse and suitcases. It's gone on trips, retreats, vacations, walks and bike rides at the river, to my back patio. It has notes inside from Bible studies, and sermons - all written down the edges of the pages and squeezed in between the columns of words.
Words. God's words. God's voice. Will it speak to me today? Will my heart hear it? Will it give me some measure of peace? The peace, the confidence, the filling of the emptiness that I crave today? Almost I am afraid to open it. Almost I expect silence...I fear. What do I fear? Why do I think God will leave me alone? Why do I listen to the words that say I am nothing, I have nothing to give - and nothing to receive? That I am alone and will stay that way? Why do I listen to that voice that shouts at me that I am worthy of nothing and no one? Why is it so loud - grasping me by the shoulders and shaking me til I can't breathe?
And yet, slowly I unhook the band that holds it closed...I hold it in both hands, my thumb running over the edge of the pages, silver and smooth. My heart pounds just a little...anticipating, fearing, daring just a little to hope... There are bookmarks, index cards, slips of paper, notes stuck in among the pages... What will God say to me today?
Oh, Isaiah. I love the book of Isaiah. I've opened to Chapter 35 - there IS actually a bookmark there...but these words catch my eye immediately: "say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come,..."
....and I feel those hands on my shoulders loosen....
.....and that nasty voice starting to fade away....
Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you."
and further down the page....
They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
One last sigh to let out the sadness, one new breath to let in a little bit of joy. Straighten up just a little, take in another stronger breath, read the whole chapter. The title says "Joy of the Redeemed." Is that me? Am I redeemed? Me? Just a little warmth creeps in now, and I feel my Savior push those other hands away as he puts His strong arm around my shoulders and quietly whispers "I AM here."