Rivers and Fires

I’m currently sitting on my bed with the gentle light of the afternoon sun leaning through lace sheers…quiet and subtle. My Bible open once again to Isaiah because that is the book that has most often reached into the depth of what my heart is feeling and unlocked hope and healing and who I am. 


The pages fall open easily to Isaiah 43….do not fear, you are mine, I am with you, you are precious, honored, I love you…words that are a soul balm that speak to a heart once broken but becoming whole again.

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1

Isaiah is a book that speaks to life as it really is…full of joys and heartaches, mess and miracles, and loneliness and love.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2

Isaiah deals with the times we struggle and wonder if we will even survive much less thrive. Flooding emotions that threaten to overwhelm the already weary. Fires that can heat up quickly and unexpectedly and make life feel a little burnt around the edges. These past years have been filled with passing through rivers and walking through fires. And yet, no one has drowned and no one has been burned because God is who He says He is and does what He says He does. 

I’m no longer surprised by rivers or fires…they are almost expected now…a fairly consistent part of life. Deep or shallow, there are rivers to wade through. Big or small, there are fires to walk through.  

It is odd to say but I think I’m used to them now. Used to the tickling of water on my toes as another river is set before me. The rivers aren’t daunting anymore because no matter how inconsequential or massive the river before me is, God does not let it overwhelm me completely…but rather just enough to know He is the One to handle it all, not me. 

Once someone told me that they thought I live as a victim. I had to think about that a bit, but I don’t think I do. I live in a reality that sometimes requires me to face more challenges than I’d like. But its just life. It doesn’t mean I don’t still smile, joke, and hope. There is no one to blame, not even God. Life is just what it is. Not perfect.

That does not mean that there aren’t moments of wondering what in the world God is doing. Why my children have to struggle so much with things…why I can so easily feel a failure at all my roles…why there is always one appliance broken or why the floor can’t be flat or why the car can’t be without wonky noises.

And although these things are nuisances, annoying, and getting old, really in the grand scheme of things, I’m seriously blessed. I’m continually reminded it is all about perspective…my focus. For the last ever so many years, God keeps bringing me back to Isaiah 26:3 (Amplified):

You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You [in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].

I can’t begin to determine how many times God has brought that verse to mind. He is continually holding my face in His gentle hands and pulling my eyes to His and reminding me once again that the only true peace is found in Him. Nothing else. 

Like Peter who when he focused on Jesus could actually walk on water, I can travel forward through the rivers and fires when my eyes are fixed on Jesus. 

“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 

Immediately, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.  Matthew 14:29-31

Golly is it ever easy to glance away…just to see how high the water has gotten or the flames have reached…to worry about my children and their very real struggles and challenges, to wonder if there is any way to help them, to make things work better…to find a rescuer here who can come fix pipes, jerry-rig appliances, identify weird noises, and maybe just fix up most of my mess. To find solid arms to rest in. Figure out when and how to write a best seller so finances are no longer an issue (That one might be a stretch.)

When I focus on Jesus…I see the love in my life, the blessings, the joy, the companionship, the peace that passes understanding.

A friend once told me that my family is like a beautiful chaotic bubble of love. I thought that was sweet, but that chaotic bubble of love can also be just plain chaotic…and sometimes it can burst! It is lovely though. The thought. Because regardless of the messiness of one parent and five children and all the personalities, thoughts, feelings, emotions, ideas, and such, we love each other completely. We annoy the heck out of each other, but it is all bathed in love. I am blessed.

My home is never ever ever perfect…my kitchen floors look more like a funhouse floor, two Golden Retrievers ensure there will always be a coating of dust on every surface, the dishwasher hasn’t worked in over a year so dishes in the sink are fairly constant, there is always laundry in some state somewhere, and everything (including me) is a bit worn and weary. BUT none of that stops us from celebrating a week survived. Friends who feel at home even when it isn’t perfect. That is a blessing. 

Sometimes I don’t want to write about my life because so much has remained the same and I don’t want people to read my words and see a complainer or a wallower or worry that they might “catch” my life. But it is my story…my calling. The living this life and the writing about it. Maybe someone else out there is feeling the same way about things…that something has to get easier soon. 

And not to be a downer or anything, but is that all there is to look forward to? An easier life…less stress, less mess, fewer challenges? I’m beginning to think that is not the goal…at least not for me. I want it to be sure…I want rest and peace and ease. I just don’t believe that is what we are called to, in fact, I’m pretty sure we aren’t. 

Trusting God is richer in this place…realizing that you got through another week, another challenge, another moment when you felt beyond able to handle it, or maybe it is just living and breathing and finding joy even when the world would look at things and wonder how. 

Yet again, I have to pause my musings and take a moment to recognize that I am blessed even as I write about my struggles and challenges…so blessed. 

It is difficult for me to not expect the same challenges and difficulties to repeat in an endless exhausting loop. But God says that he is doing a new thing…do I not see it? Honestly, sometimes I don’t. I don’t see the new thing because I’m still dealing with the catastrophes of yesterday or last month or last year  or years ago. I’m still wondering how I’m going to move forward and God is saying I’ve already made a way in your wilderness and streams in your wasteland. 

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19

There is a path forward and even when there are rivers to cross, He has got me. There will be no waves overtaking me. Even when the little fire becomes bigger, I might feel some heat, but I will not be burned. Each step is new…each is hope and faith and love bound into one confident step forward…believing that God has me.

You are my witnesses, declares the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he, before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed – I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses, declares the LORD, that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it? Isaiah 43:10-13

By Sue Birdseye

Single, divorced Mama of 5 - walking this path with a lot of hope in my Lord and a fair amount of humor at life! Praying that you will be blessed, encouraged and find something to chuckle about in this ridiculously exhausting, chaotic single parent life.

4 comments

  1. Thanks Sue – a nice posting. We all need our faith restored from time to time when we see the sadness and anger around us and we generally don’t have to look far to see those facing much greater challenges than we. They need to know that our Lord (and we) Love them and that they must only accept Him as their Lord and Savior and place their Faith in Him.

    Like

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