yet inwardly

kept bracelet

“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.”  -2 Cor. 4:16-17

 

Yet inwardly.

As God-followers, we must remember that for every outward reduction to our lives there is an inward renewal taking place. Soul renewal. New strength to replace waning fortitude. New life in exchange for that which is old, even when the old is mostly preferred.

We cannot always foresee the reductions coming. Sometimes they surprise us. Sometimes we are warned in advance of their arrival. Still and yet, when loss arrives to our familiar, we feel it profoundly. We’re quick to mourn its advent, even quicker to forget the deeper work of grace that is taking place underneath the pain, at heart-level. It is in this inward place where our soul advances. Where faith is shaped. Where eternal glory exponentially increases at a rapid rate.

We may not see the increase happening, but just because our eyesight is momentarily dimmed by personal pain doesn’t mean that something good isn’t occurring at a deeper level. What soil put to the blade has ever thanked the blade for its penetrating sharpness? Until the seed is planted, the earth watered, and the sun applied, the soil has no appreciation for this inward work of glory. The soil just has to wait and believe that, with every passing sunrise and sunset, there is something generous taking place beneath the visible.

As it is with the soil, so it is with the soul.

I’m fourteen days into 2014, and if there’s one word that best characterizes what I’ve experienced in these beginning weeks it would be simply and profoundly be … loss.

Not only have I known deep, personal reduction, but one of my children has as well. My parents, the same. We couldn’t see it coming on the backside of our 2013s; nevertheless, loss has arrived at the doorsteps of our hearts, and we are challenged to take hold of God’s inward multiplication despite man’s attempts at outward reduction.

By the generous grace of God, we’re all still standing in faith. We all still believe in the mighty work belonging to the unseen—the hidden places of our hearts where the Gardener’s inward work is taking place. Even in loss, there is increase. We just can’t see it yet, not fully.

What I can see and what I do know is this:

God is keeping me in his perfect peace. Why? Because I am intentionally choosing to trust him and, moment by moment, to place my mind next to his. Whenever I begin to fret and feel overcome by the arrows of chaos shooting poison into my thoughts, I move my thoughts to a higher place. There’s nothing mystical about this mind-movement; rather, it’s a choice I’m making—a fluid, uninterrupted heart-motion that begins with saying, “I trust you, God” and ends with my resting my head on his chest.

Therein, I am a kept woman, if only for a moment. Moments can accumulate into hours. Hours into days, and days into weeks … these past two weeks of continuing peace. I’m growing to expect this from God, and I am exceedingly grateful for his generosity.

This is an inward work by the unseen God. This is increasing, eternal glory. And today, this is enough to carry me forward.

How about you? I don’t imagine I’m the only one who is experiencing loss in this season. Perhaps you’re standing where I am standing, feeling the sharp blade of unanticipated reduction to the soil of your heart. Might I encourage you with the words of the Apostle Paul that have greatly encouraged me?

Yet inwardly.

There is an inward grace taking place just beneath your seen and visible. It may not feel like much right now; this reduction may have temporarily numbed you to the truth regarding kingdom increase. But when you get to the other side of this loss—when the seeds planted in darkness begin to sprout as glory under the splendor of God’s radiant Son—then you will know that there is more to this current grief than what can currently be seen.

So rejoice with me, ye sojourners on the road of reduction! Yet inwardly, the Gardener is sowing for increase. Rejoice, at least, in this. It’s something more than we expected, and it just might wind up being our preference in the end.

Kept in peace,

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10 Responses to yet inwardly

  1. Elaine, I’m not quite sure I can say in words how this post touched me. I think you know that my father fell badly on January 6th, and has been in the hospital for the last week. It has been a beginning to the year shadowed by sorrow, heartbreak, and difficult decisions. My mother is also struggling very much with this shocking development in her 61-year marriage. Reduction, indeed.

    But, I love what you have said about…”Yet inwardly.” Yes, I can feel the faith work that God is doing deep in my soul. And it is bringing me JOY.

    GOD BLESS!

  2. I’m so sorry for the losses your family has experienced, yet I rejoice in the beauty God will bring forth as a result. It’s a strange mixture…loss and beauty. It is refinement in the crucible of God’s grace. I pray you will feel His hand always holding you tightly, dear friend.

  3. Oh Elaine, I lift you and your family up to our wise and loving Heavenly Father. I understand all that you are trying to communicate in this post, as surely the past year unfolded for me thus! Thank you again for phrasing such monumental truth in the loveliness of your poetic prose. Seeking God’s greater will right alongside you.
    Love in the LAMB~

  4. Your theme scripture is ONE that has “kept” me through loss and grief. I’ve often focused on the section that tells me my affliction is “working for me a a FAR MORE EXCEEDING AND ETERNAL WEIGHT OF GLORY…”

  5. We are not alone, my family and me I mean, in loss and chaos. I do not rejoice at your ‘reduction’ but I am grateful for the ‘increase’ that comes to me as I read your words.
    “Whenever I begin to fret and feel overcome by the arrows of chaos shooting poison into my thoughts, I move my thoughts to a higher place.”
    Thank you, Elaine. Keep sharing.

  6. wifeforthejourney:

    How I have experienced my “outward wasting” here in recent days. Loosing my voice on Sunday and still battling ill feelings even with loads of vitamin C….if it wasn’t my body I’m sure my attitude would suffer from something else. Truly our flesh is weak, and we have this promise of renewal from God.It is a blessing to be kept by His grace.

    Love,
    Billy

  7. God is already using your anchor word for the year in a powerful way, isn’t He, Elaine? Your family has had a tough start to the new year — I’m so thankful God is keeping you in His peace. Praying for you, friend!

  8. As usual, you’ve lifted my sights.

    I wonder how many other “thoughs” and “yets” we will encounter in 2014? Praying for grace to minimize and release the “thoughs” while maximizing and embracing the “yets”.

  9. I have seen in your writing that loss has found you in the days of 2014. I keep praying that God will continue to ‘Keep’ you in His perfect peace as you journey this new year filled with it’s unexpected losses.

    “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you”

    When I read your key verse I am reminded that we cannot stay in His peace unless we are looking to Him for that which only He is able to provide.

    You continue to be a spiritual encouragement in my life.

  10. Yours is a heart bent in the direction of trust ~ a sure tonic when afflicted by wave-after-wave of loss. However it may feel to you, it is such a blessing to me to see how sturdy is your stance upon the high ground.

    Love,
    Kathleen