Friday, August 3, 2012

Did He really say that?

It was morning. I was bathed, but not yet dressed, standing at the ironing board pressing the skirt I was going to wear that day. Our stereo rests on a cedar chest that is positioned right next to the ironing board. Mostly, I like quiet in the mornings, but this particular day I felt the need for a little music. I reached over and pressed the buttons on the stereo to power up the radio. I went back to my ironing, moving the steamy iron back and forth in rhythm to the music.

The next song on the playlist was by Group 1 Crew. It was a familiar song, but you know that moment when after humming along for weeks, you finally pay attention to the lyrics? Well, yeah, this was that moment. Here’s what I finally heard:
So your life feels like it don't make sense
And you think to yourself, 'I'm a good person'
So why do these things keep happening?
Why you gotta deal with them?
You may be knocked down now 
but don't forget what He said, He said
I won't give you more, more than you can take
and I might let you bend, but I won't let you break
and No-o-o-o-o, I'll never ever let you go-o-o-o-o
Don't you forget what He said…
The title of the song is “He Said.” What struck me that morning in the midst of a mundane task of ironing is, did He really say that? Where does it say that God said that?

I know. I’m beginning to sound just like the serpent in Genesis; “Did God really say…?,” aren’t I?

But really. Did God really say that? Which scripture verse are they referring to? I’m asking because I don’t know. Seriously. Where does it say that He won’t give me more than I can take? If ever I needed that verse, it’s now.

He won’t give me more than I can take?

Really? Because I think I passed my limit about a month ago.

He won’t let me break?

Really? Because there are broken pieces of me strewn up and down the Atlantic coast from Florida to Massachusetts. Some of those pieces I’ll never recover.

Now, I have been wrong before but I can’t find that in my Bible. But here’s what I do find…
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
2 Corinthians 1:8-11
Paul said he was experiencing hardships that were beyond his ability to endure, so much so that he felt that death was imminent.

Life was so hard, it was killing him. He felt like he was dying.

To live like Jesus feels like dying.

I need to tell myself that again. To live like Jesus feels like dying because that’s exactly what Jesus did. And there was a reason for it. Paul talked about that too. He mentioned the reason before he even started talking about life being so hard and feeling death looming.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Here’s the thing. To say God won’t give me more than I can handle is basically saying, “I can handle it.”

And if I can handle it, then I don’t need God.

But I can’t handle it. My track record proves that. I have a million broken pieces of evidence to corroborate it.

I'm just like the skirt I'm trying to iron. Wrinkled, worn, jostled through a wringer, tumbled around in a hot cylinder, and pressed often with a burning, steamy iron to try and make it look like I'm brand new.

I am not new. I die a little bit every day. Some days more than others. Some days a lot more than others.

It’s then than I need the God of all comforts. As much as I might want them to, and as much as those who love me may try, there is not a human soul on this earth who can put all my broken pieces back together or make the grim reaper stop breathing down my neck. Only the God of all comforts can do that.

He knows what it’s like to be broken. He knows what it’s like to feel death coming.

He's the only one who can make my life feel like I'm wearing a brand new dress for the first time. A dress that's never been subject to sweat and dirt and harsh detergents and without a hint of fading. Even if I have to wear that new dress to a funeral.

So, let me tell myself over and over again: To live like Jesus feels like dying.

That makes me feel more alive than anything in this world.

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10