Heart and Soul

But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Deuteronomy 4:29 NKJV

But from there.

There is where we find ourselves. At the least, feeling stranded in our homes. At the worst, embattled by the fight for life against a spreading illness.

I just can’t speak to the latter. The reports leave me speechless. But from there, I must not be voiceless. I can pray fervently for loved ones on the front lines. I have to call out for God’s help.

And I cry out: Pray with me.

While we wave to the delivery people — pray with me.

While we wash and spray and mask — pray with me.

What do we pray? Pray to seek God.

And pray to seek God with all your heart and soul.

You might not be all that familiar with the interiors of your heart and soul. They may seem too rundown to explore safely. Or they may seem to be too cluttered to be of use.

But from there is a place to start. From a heart and soul dependent on daily routine, mirroring a calendar jammed with notes and appointments that aren’t relevant anymore, now that much of your world has closed down around you. From a heart and soul given little attention in day-to-day life, that may seem too fragile to comprehend the strain and stress of others around you. From a heart and soul that you may not have spent much time wandering through, not while there were trends and goals to chase.

As you pray to seek God with all your heart and soul — in whatever shape they may be — seek to find His face, and seek to find His hand.

Why God’s Face?

If we find ourselves experiencing a sense of isolation as we pass each other wearing masks, that experience may actually derive from a pre-existing condition: our lack of intimacy with God. We may know God only by rumor. Maybe we know Him by brief introduction, and over the years, we’ve fallen out of touch. One way or the other, we can find ourselves unfamiliar with God.

But from there, seek God’s face so that you can discover the joy of God smiling on you, singing over you, seeing you. (Numbers 6:25, Zephaniah 3:17, Genesis 16:13, Psalm 16:9,11 NIV)

Seek God’s face, so that your face will begin to turn to His. So you can begin to fix your gaze on Him, since we tend to walk in the direction that we’re looking. Seek God’s face, so that you will know how to approach God.

As you approach, God is drawing near to you, and to your need for peace and joy.

I keep my eyes always on the LORD. Because He is at my right hand, with Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8 NIV

Why God’s Hand?

If we find ourselves constantly monitoring the news for signs that people in charge are acting to relieve the concerns of this situation, we will find that good efforts are being made.

Still, if we measure these leaders by their responses to this crisis, at some point we will eventually find them faltering, and our anxiety will rise. For example, when nonessential businesses remain open, it seems economic concerns have outweighed public health. When we read that hospitals continue to lack protective equipment for staff, we may begin to see inaction in addressing the lack of resources. At these points, anxiety becomes dismay.

But from there, seek God’s hand, because He acts in righteousness and in power unlike anyone else.

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 NIV

Unlike people at any level, God is immune to incompetence. He possesses the unlimited power of Creation, intervention and communication. (Psalm 8:3-4, 1 Kings 19:11-12 NIV) And unlike people at any level, God is immune to corruption. He acts in compassion and grace, reserving just judgment for a future time. (Psalm 103:8, 1 Peter 2:23, Numbers 23:19 NIV)

Our hearts and souls remain in need. But from there, it is God that we must seek.

In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3 NIV

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up. Psalm 5:3 NKJV

Lightness of Being

butterflies

Some said they’d noticed that she seemed to be getting tired.

Others were just amazed because she didn’t seem to be slowing down much at all.

Whenever someone shared that they had begun to think it would soon be time, I listened carefully, curious to see what they had seen.

Each time, I heard only those seasonal things – the observations of aging that relate to movement, appearance, etc. The things already familiar to her children; we had been taking note and sharing notes for years.

She had a temper, and folks still called her sweet. I’d seen her fully charged, and I’d seen her weary. And this was true for all the years, traced from my childhood to the current day. I’d seen her revved-up and revved-down. Fragile and formidable.

Many times over the years, she’d share childhood memories, with the joy of remembering and recreating them to share with us. Often, she’d lament that she couldn’t go back to the days when she was the baby of the family. What she always called the innocence of youth.

Sometimes the tone of world-weariness puzzled me, because these were my sweet years of early memory. And after the three of us left home and my father passed away, she admitted to some loneliness and depression. These were most visible in the years right before a seemingly destructive storm relocated her to my home. There she became part of my boys’ sweet years of early memory. Her distress at being relocated from her lifelong hometown gave way to the affirming thrill of discovery, as she began to navigate a new town.

And when she was able to restore her home and move back, she continued to flourish, her faith deepening as she saw her own restoration and that of her hometown around her.

More and more in every conversation, I would hear her say how blessed she was. All the more after an accident led to long recovery from a broken ankle, instead of a fall that would have likely been fatal. In recent years, when she praised God, she did so with increasing awe that he not only cared for her, but that he still found purpose for her here.

She was childlike joy packaged in a woman who was a walking tour-de-force. That was quite a gift. That’s quite a legacy.

Her funeral was amazingly both triumphant and warm, and I was thankful to see each and every one who came to show they cared. My sister and brother, as we loved and lived through this moment together, asked how I was doing. I could honestly say that while sorrow shows up – that each time, it finds my heart filled to standing-room-only capacity with joy. And it is just as quickly crowded out, retreating back through the door.

Joy that so many would celebrate my mom, and celebrate her so well. Joy that I had her so long – long enough to share with my children – and that I had her in the first place. Joy at the forceful impression she made on who we are, those of us in her family and in her community.

So when I asked myself whether I saw any indications right before she died, I only saw … a lightness of being.

In those seasonal changes of aging, I saw the coziness of one who remains warm in winter. She could watch an old TV show and laugh, as though it hadn’t been on earlier that day. She listened pleasantly as I thanked her for encouraging me in a work dilemma, even though her pause made it clear she didn’t recall speaking into the situation with words graced by God’s perspective.

Most of all, each time we spoke, it was how she marveled that she was still here, and that God was so good to her. The words were not new, but the wonder had grown. This was the lightness of being that I saw. And it was the best indicator of a life transition that there ever could be. Because she was genuinely prepared to go home, thankfully more than she realized.

What lightness of being we know, when we allow God to be sovereign. When we begin to trust and give Him glory so.

The lightness of joy.