I remember the day he broke my heart. After a week long vacation of exploring his neck of the woods and getting to know his family, he told me we were “over.” The next morning he drove me to the airport and put me on a plane headed north, back to my parents. I was devastated. Nothing… no words, no Kleenex, not even the kind nun sitting next to me could absorb my grief.
Some pains need some time to work themselves out of a heart. Perhaps you understand.
This particular pain would be no different. I spent the rest of my summer licking my wounds, even having thoughts of transferring to another college. My parents were wonderfully supportive. I don’t think they’d ever seen their baby girl cry so many tears. They loved me back to functioning health, and when September rolled around I made the one mile trek back to college (a hometown school) with a stiff upper lip and a gaping wound.
Asbury College was and still is a relatively small campus. Everybody knew everybody, and everybody knew—almost before returning to the fall semester—that I was suffering with a broken heart. There was a huge “elephant in the room” walking through the campus grounds that semester; everywhere I turned, he was there… not the elephant, but the boy that I loved. He quickly moved on to loving someone else. My heart’s pace walked a bit more slowly. And I never thought my tears would end.
But they did, and now some twenty-seven years down the road, I reflect on that season of my first heartbreak and just exactly where the turnaround began.
It began with the Word of God.
I’ve been a church girl all of my life… loved Jesus, known Jesus from the cradle. I’ve heard his stories, sung his songs, claimed his love, and walked some faith from the earliest of articulations. Along the way, there have been strong moments of clarity regarding my commitment to Christ, and my sophomore year in college would prove to be one of them.
As a teenager I began to lightly study the Bible. My youth pastor and his wife beautifully depicted for me what it meant to walk in discipleship with Christ; as a youth, I memorized a lot of Scripture as a requirement for participation in various missions’ trips. But rigorous Bible study wouldn’t happen for me until my late thirties. Up until that time, it was a gradual “heating up” of my heart and my developing a rich appreciation for what God’s Word could do for me.
In the fall of 1984, God turned up the heat a notch, and I found a scripture (perhaps it found me) that would become my saving grace for that painful season. I don’t know how I happened upon it, but as I did, I was sure that God had penned it into holy writ as a postscript just for me. I didn’t know what to call it then—“it” being when the Word (Logos) of God becomes a personal, spoken word (Rhema) to my heart. Thankfully, my lack of understanding didn’t get in the way of my receiving. Instead, I let it wrap its blanketing warmth around my heart. I quoted it over and over again until it became my certainty, and today (ever time I think on it or hear it quoted by another), I cannot help but attach a memory or two from that season alongside it.
It was the anchor that held me…
“Therefore, we do not lose heart; though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. Therefore, we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:16-18)
Twenty-seven years ago, my heart was in trouble. At eighteen years of age, that break-up was the largest “momentary trouble” I’d ever faced. I’m so glad that God doesn’t weigh out our needs before giving us his Scripture… as if some verses are reserved for those more sorely troubled. We’re blessed to receive the entirety of God’s Word as a personal anchor for all seasons, whether the heartache is perceived to be big or small.
My heart has moved on from the summer of 1984. My light and momentary troubles have changed over the years. There were more heart “aches” to follow that initial one, and as they arrived, even more of God’s Word to comfort and anchor my weary soul. But I’ve never forgotten that beginning “word” that helped me through that rough patch, and friends, I don’t suppose I’ll ever forget the current “word” that has helped me through this recent rough one.
It “found” me in much the same way as 2 Cor. 4:16-18 did in 1984… almost as if God had penned a postscript into Scripture just for me. Even though I had read it before, I’d never read it through the eyes of personal suffering. It gripped me seven months ago. It grips me still. It has been and will continue to be the anchor that holds me in the days to come…
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:10-11).
God himself… restoring me. God using the best of what man has to offer me, but in the end, God himself… restoring me. Renewing me. Making me strong and firm in my footing and steadfast in my faith. Father God laying brick upon brick between mortar mixed by his own hands, making sure that the broken walls before him are restored to a beauty not yet seen. A loveliness not yet imagined.
Many doctors, nurses, friends, family members, and even strangers have held my hands in recent days, speeding me on toward my recovery. But only One has held my heart, making me his priority and making sure that I arrive safely there. Only God is capable of such healing. Only God knows when enough is enough. Only God holds the words, writes the words, and speaks the words that can truly tether a soul to eternity.
Perhaps today you need a word from God as well. Perhaps you’ve already claimed one as your personal postscript from his hand. Perhaps you’d like to use one of mine. God’s Word is a foothold for all seasons, including all manner of heartbreaks, heart “aches.” If your heart is filled with ample tears in this moment, then God’s Word is you answer. It’s filled with truth; it breathes everlasting. Dig in and take hold.
To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Peace for the journey,
PS: A special thanks to Sheri for starting a scholarship fund for my attendance at She Speaks this year; I am humbled by her kindness.