This message has been swimming gently in and out of my vision for over a month, eventually coming into sharp focus, now glowing and pulsing at me like a neon sign.
The first time it appeared was on November 7th when we had made that first red-flag trip to Colorado. I happened to glimpse it on her refrigerator, scrawled in dry erase marker in her neat, unmistakable handwriting. I think it was blue ink. I didn’t ask her about it then but it struck me. No context at all, not even punctuation. Just, witness me
I wondered if it was song lyrics, or was it a hint at her own heart? That day I knew she was hurting and thought I understood, thought I could help. I did feel a storm building but had no idea how big it would be.
The following week is when all hell broke loose. We had come back to Oklahoma briefly and returned to Estes Park again, this time in a panic. She was in crisis and we found ourselves in a torrent of new information, one heartbreaking revelation after another. Those ten days felt like months, and we lived every hour on high alert and in fervent prayer.
One of the patterns that emerged then was the rhythm of our constant prayers. It was like untangling delicate thread as quickly as possible, to sort through all of our emotions and to cope with all of the shock and constantly changing details. We did a lot of talking to God, you know? A lot of crying straight out to Him. And in those ongoing conversations, my husband and I found ourselves just sort of describing what had happened, as if God didn’t know. Describing everything in audible voices, like desperate, emotional sportscasters, all the terrible things and all our fears, but also all of the incredible things God had done that day or in some particular situation. It buoyed us, fueled our “big asks,” which were numerous. And when we needed to remember, we called out so many of the miracles He had performed for our family over the years. Specific things. Big things! Unlikely things. It all just poured out of our bellies naturally, and often we could barely keep up with the stream of words.
After several days we began to see more and more that God was taking control. That sounds great, of course, what could be better? Except for how it feels at the beginning when He pries it out of your hands and as parents, you begin to panic. It feels like your child is being taken from your grasp, and truly it takes a while to realize there is no better place for her to be than in His hands.
The accompanying message was unmistakable:
Witness Me. Watch and see what I’m gonna do for her! I can do more than you could ever dream of doing for her yourself!
Friends, I still get chills thinking about that, the first time this washed through my thoughts and my body. Humbling, but encouraging. Thrilling.
Around this time Handsome and I both were coping with a growing hatred for the mountains. We woke up in a different hotel room every few days, staying as close to her as we could. Every morning after a broken sleep we saw these incredible panoramic views. We breathed in the strange cold air and just hated everything, every detail that we might normally have relished. It’s hard to hold affection for a place that tries to kill your child.
But God corrected us.
One morning, in particular, He showed me the sky and the mountain range in Colorado Springs and asked (not gently), “Do you remember Who made them?”
The sky broke apart in golds and silvers. Enormous shadows and frothy clouds slid down the slope of Pike’s Peak and it all hit me at once, so much sorrow and shame for my misguided anger. All my fear for her, an ocean of uncertainty, repentance for doubting God. I could not stop crying, right there in the breakfast room of a La Quinta, holding a Styrofoam cup of bad coffee.
It would be almost two weeks later, back at the farm again, wrestling with a brand new ugly reality and still reeling from her most recent departure, when the message appeared in much more than a whisper. I was rounding the dining room table, navigating Klaus and his fetching energy, having just done morning chores. One warm fresh egg was in the pocket of my quilted vest. No doubt I was in active worrying mode, trying to muscle my way into positive thinking. Sometimes that’s easier than others, you know?
And suddenly, Klaus at my feet and that single warm egg in my bare hand, in my pocket, those same two words slammed into view, this time into my actual ocular view, in neon:
Kind of startling. But in seconds all of my anxiety dissolved.
I stopped and said, “Okay,” and just started listing the things God had done that day. Then I went back to the day before. Then the day before that. And the energy built. I listed mundane stuff, because it matters too, but mostly I let my heart settle on the amazing answers He had been sending us, resolution like a wide, rushing river. Twists of circumstance and provision you would hardly believe!
Then He made me look directly at the worst of it all, every horrible fear, made me stare right at it, and held me the whole time, whispering again, saying, “Witness me, not the darkness.”
This is not the first time in life we have been warned against worshipping problems. Remember the Worry Door? And I haven’t even shared the sermon we heard the month after 9/11. God so clearly wants us to trust Him.
Okay. I had planned to actually list every single thing God has done for us this month, right here in this blog post; but that will have to be a separate effort. We do have a notebook full of memories from this ordeal, and we continue to add to it daily. It’s an ongoing drama but also an unfolding love story. God is so good and strong and generous. Despite all the grief, He is moving and answering. Mending our lives in unprecedented ways. Opening and strengthening our hearts and our relationships.
If you have been praying for us, for her, know that it is working. And thank you so much!
If you need prayer, know that it will work. There’s just no maybe about it. God is more powerful than your problem. He is more capable than you are to handle it. He might guide you to act for a while then remove it all from your grasp, but that’s okay.
Notice the things He does for you. Keeo your eyes fixed on Him, focused on the light, not the darkness. When the darkness seems to swallow you, close your eyes and remember Him from before. Bring that light back into focus.
Witness Him to yourself privately and to each other intimately, to the world around you. See His works for how beautiful they really are. Help each other cling to hope.
I am so sure, deep in my bones, that all of this matters a great deal.
Thanks for reading, friends. As always there is more to say. But I needed to share that much with you while it was available to me.
I hope you have a great Thursday and that whatever you are facing, you find a moment to witness Love in action. Let it take over your mind!
“Call unto me, and I will answer thee,
and show thee great and mighty things
which thou knowest not.”