the space between is where
we hope to keep safe from the pain…
one of my recent discoveries has been the huge disconnect between the stories we tell, and the reality of our lives. we read in the old testament about these “spiritual giants” who were willing to sacrifice their first born, leave their homes for foreign lands, follow God through the desert and beyond. we read their stories and find it romantic and beautiful. we applaud them for their faithfulness, lifting them onto our shoulders above the crowd.
then we look at our journey and wonder at our stumbles and broken places. we don’t see the places where God has asked us to lay our own promises on the altar as anything similar to Abraham, because he was faithful and we have trouble giving it up.
i recently finished an amazing book (The Game of Thrones by George R. R. McDonald) where they dealt with this very same issue. the characters continually reference the old stories of princes and kings and valiant knights and the pretty lives they lead. in real time, however, life is gritty, raw, hard, and full of loss. one character, Sansa, in particular, struggles with this. as a young girl, she longs for the romance of the old stories, of a young prince sweeping her off her feet, of living the rest of her days a graceful queen. she quickly learns, however, that her prince is hateful and conceited, and being queen means nothing more than that you were willing to sacrifice anything for the title.
on the flip side, there’s young Bran and his brother, Jon, who find that stories still have truth for today. several stories center around the wild creatures who dwell deep in the woods. because they have not been seen by most for thousands of years, the stories get filed away as simply children’s tales to be told by nannies and old ladies. there is danger in this for our characters, and for ourselves, for their denial keeps them from plainly acknowledging the truth before them, from seeing the bigger picture.
the space between…
is where i’ll be hiding, waiting for you.
our house has been full of grief this week, from dealing with the harshness of disappointed hopes, to the emptiness of changing relationships, to the death of a community member. there have been prolonged moments of tears, unanswerable questions, hard silent moments with nothing but the sound of sobs.
it is easy in these moments to be swallowed up in the present-time reality of things. to allow the deep darkness of confusion take over. i find myself upset with God, telling myself i could never be like Abraham because he was so faithful and i’m so…not. or that Abraham could never know what it feels like to be me, how painful and wretched the actual giving up is, because he was so perfect, and i’m so…not. like Sansa, i stand alone with empty hands, bewildered and disillusioned.
a second look at the stories, though, reveals the truth of our common humanity. that even though we may move forward in faith, our grief can still extends to the very tips of our fingers and toes. Abraham may have had to realize that his love for God had to grow bigger than even his love for his only son, but the decision still ripped at his heart.
the stories point toward a bigger picture than the details we’re stuck in. they tell us of a God who’s not actually hateful, of a God who reaches out and keeps Abraham from sacrificing his beloved. the grief does not last a lifetime, the stories whisper to us. tomorrow or the next day or 100 days from now will reveal a sun rising again. do not despair, they say, because this is not the end after all. God will redeem everything that has been lost.
the space between the story and the reality is where we broken-hearted, weary, dusty pilgrims must dwell. our hope grows in the space between. . . .