Tears have been streaming down my face since morning. This New Year is well under way with sorrow. It is January 7th and my heart has already been languished of strength. It is anniversary grief over the death of a brother and the death of my sweet friend’s son to leukemia. It is grief over the death of my dear, dear counselor Jim, the one who ushered me into a relationship with the true Jesus. It is grief over the email that came to me this week, the one that ignited a burning pain in a shared wound. And finally, it is grief for someone I have never met, someone who is changing my life…
Kara Tippets is dying.
Do you know of her? Are you following her absolutely excruciating, and yet do I dare say, exhilarating journey to death? Exhilarating only because Kara speaks of a Love, a Person, a God, that only someone whose finger tips were inches away from His, could actually speak about. Exhilarating because this language of pain speaks to us in a way that invites Jesus into an interior room of longing, a room in the soul only He can enter and fill. When I read her words, my heart is ripped open and a cavernous thirst is exposed, a thirst I am familiar with- the kind that has me crawling on grief soil to feet of the Living Water. This Living Water that I all too often hold in a cup is an ocean to Kara and she is swimming in it. She has reached her bitter, beautiful end and I can barely see the screen through my tears. My sister put me onto her blog and now I have joined with a multitude of others in this world who are praying for her as she slips from the life she loves into the life she was created for.
Last month the Lord laid on my heart to begin to pray that I would intimately befriend a certain familiar truth in such a way that it would change the course of my grieving.
Nehemiah 8:10 boasts this:
“Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
There isn’t a soul on this earth who hasn’t or won’t wrestle with weakness. Some days it’s the kind that life requires and some days it’s the kind that death necessitates. Either way, these golden words promise that joy can actually be our strength. Most often, the kind of circumstances that make us weak and have us praying for strength are not ripe with joy. So what does this mean, “The joy of the Lord” and how can it make us strong? I am one week into 2015 and I am already desperate for a remedy to my weakness.
Today, because of great need, I am taking my flashlight and I am shining into my favorite corners of the Word. I am shining it into the dark corners of my heart. I am shining it on the saints who amaze me, the ones who have endured deep pain and yet, they smile in a way that makes you beg for their secret. I want to uncover this kind of strength. I will share much more of my gleaning in future posts, but for today, my words pale in comparison to the sacredness and beauty of what Kara has to say. Read her story and then run to Jesus. Run to Him and ask for the gift of true living. Not the kind that comes from your own beating heart, but the kind of life that comes from having your finger on the pulse of His. Kara exemplifies strength in awful, utter weakness, her body shutting down under the spell of cancer. But take in her words, see her smile with her precious husband and children and you will see for yourself- strength birthed from joy. Joy emerging from intentional thanksgiving and praise.
Kara Tippets, thank you for dying out loud for the world to see and for inviting us all into the realest way to live. The waves that you have made by your living and dying for His glory will wash over this world again and again.
Prayers, grace and peace to you.