What God Doesn’t Promise–The Cloud

We’re continuing our series on the creeping prosperity gospel. This week, we’re exploring “what God doesn’t promise.” Today’s post is written by D.L. Mayfield. When she agreed to write, she had no idea that a family tragedy was about to upend her life. I think it makes today’s piece more poignant. She also touches on themes similar to those explored yesterday by Joy’s. Don’t you love it when the Spirit leads people in similar paths? In any event, consider her words and join us in the comments as we work this out.

The Cloud

I had a vision, today, while I was lying on the floor and praying the baby would go to sleep. It was me, standing straight and tall, the wind whipping in my hair. I was in the middle of brown-gold fields, alone in the sea of the prairie save for my daughter’s hand tucked into my own. As I saw myself, standing still and proud, my heart began to break. I watched as a cloud, dark and dense, came and picked me up, both my daughter and me, and carried us away. And I started to cry, no longer caring if the baby woke up, because I knew what it meant.

Replace the desolate prairie with my desolate life; replace the grass with concrete, the blue sky for inner-city buildings. I feel so alone, right now, tragedies piling up on one another, far away from communities and families and even my husband for the moment. I have never felt so abandoned, in all my years.

But the cloud was coming, to take me away.

*****

I volunteered to contribute something about this topic, on the goodness of God, on what he does and does not promise, several weeks ago. I had my ideas carefully laid out, my own answer for everything. In the space between those days, tragedy has struck my family. The kind that leaves you glassy-eyed and numb, walking through the days half-asleep. You get one phone call, it changes your life. You find yourself fearful to speak your prayers lest they do not get answered.

*****

Jesus is coming, to this bleak field, and is carrying me away into himself. I thought this cloud, this being swallowed whole, would suffocate. I thought this cloud at first to be a tornado  sent to rip me a part. I resisted, at first, wanting to stand alone in my desolation, to clutch tightly to what is known. But it turns out, this cloud is carrying me to safety, into a place where I finally can build up a fire within that originates from the eternal flame.

I am alone enough for the first time to be caught up in the love far greater than me and my world.

God doesn’t promise any way out of suffering, nor any way through life where we don’t come to this place. But what does He promise? A friend just prayed over me, and his words sunk in deep. Let her rest, he prayed, like Jesus did. How he slept like a baby in the midst of the storm, surrounded by wailing and moaning. Let us find moments of peace in this storm, let us dream and be carried away with Christ.

Friends, I need your help right now. What Scriptures has Christ given you in your desolate places? How have you experienced being caught up in his incarnation? Please share that we all may allow peace to enter into our dreams.

Post by D.L. Mayfield. Make sure to swing by her place today.

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25 Responses to What God Doesn’t Promise–The Cloud

  1. J.R. Goudeau says:

    Every single morning for months now, I’ve been stuck in Psalm 4. I can’t get past it. It says everything I want to say over and over again: “Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress…” I read it then the first part of Psalm 5, through where it says: “In the morning you hear my voice. In the morning I lift my requests before you and wait in expectation.” That’s where I am right now on a variety of fronts, not the least of which is our upcoming adoption: we are waiting in expectation. What Simone Weil calls hupomene, the state of waitingness. It sucks, but there it is. I’m waiting with you as you pray for your sister-in-law today. Thank you for your honesty and authenticity in this awful, horrible season..

  2. Pingback: Jesus be near « D.L. Mayfield

  3. One of the best verses of scripture I can turn to at any time really is at the end of Revelation: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!'” That simple verb cuts right to the heart of what I need most days. Just come. So often I find that I’m the one who has been waiting, not acting, and if I come, then I’ll find what I’ve really longed for.

  4. sethhaines says:

    I attended Catholic school growing up, and consequently attended weekly mass. One of my favorite scriptures, recited in every mass, is John 14:27. It’s been an anchor of mine since 4th grade.

    “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

  5. Beautiful, Danielle. Really raw and beautiful. Thank you for coming here and sharing while in the heavy throes of your own suffering. Mark 9 is where I take my cues on most everything: I believe, help my unbelief. God isn’t surprised by my weakness and delights in my moments of trust.

    Praying for you all.

  6. J.Ray says:

    I am praying the Spirit will sing a scripture, pronounce a psalm or whisper a Word directly to you. Suggestions of others can comfort and help guide, but the real Word, the living Word needs to come from the Spirit. And the Spirit is willing, even when our flesh (and our faith) fail.

    As I walked through the dark days of loosing our youngest daughter, I heard the repeated refrain from the Spirit “what did you expect to see, a reed shaken by the wind?” This refrain carried me through my numbness, continues to carry me today. I still don’t know exactly all that it means, but I knew from where it came. I pray the same sense for you.

    • thank you so much for sharing. it does seem a little bit different for everyone, which i do love. and i also love how sometimes we can’t explain exactly WHAT the spirit is telling us, but we know that it is good.

    • sethhaines says:

      As an aside, D.L. and John… you all should meet. (a) John and Jane are 2 of my favorite people and they have my favorite place in Fayetteville for to sit and ponder; (b) D.L. understands “missional” (see her post at Deeper Church) and is actively living it out; (c) John and Jane have been active in missional work for almost… like… ever; (d) you just should.

  7. Lovely words amid such a parched landscape… like tables in the wilderness, I suppose. For me I’ve been haunted by words out of Deuteronomy, about the Everlasting Arms underneath it all. When we free fall and are ready for a cosmic smack against the bottom… there, even in the pit, are the Everlasting Arms to catch us, to break the fall. Those Everlasting Arms speak of strength and tenderness, of a perpetual presence amid life’s darkest places. And it hints at another anchor for me – that He holds all things together, that hymn in Colossians that Paul sang. Beyond my sightline, I trust He is holding this all together, holding me together, too.

  8. Julie Neidert says:

    Oh Danielle,
    I am so sorry for the pain that you are experiencing. I can only imagine your grief. I am so glad that you know Jesus. That you are His and that He paid the greatest price He could give. I know that He will comfort you. This was my go to passage that Jesus comforted me with…Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:1-5 NIV84). I love you sweet girl & I’m praying for you.

  9. Hi D –
    I read the post on your blog and linked to this post from there. I feel very stuck in a dark place of sadness over the depravity of this world and the sorrow all around and I am so sorry for what you guys are facing – it’s heavy … this week my heart has been so heavy but when I walk around doing my day to day tasks I keep repeating – jesus has over come jesus has over come (There’s a day that’s drawing near – When this darkness breaks to light And the shadows disappear And my faith shall be my eyes) — I’d be lying if I said this fully pulled me out of the funk but something about repeating “jesus has overcome” does help to recenter me.

    Praying for the dark to break to light SOON. Praying for your sister-in-law.
    tara

  10. May I just say ‘thank you’ for writing from the real? When the bottom drops out, we know – at an almost cellular level – how desperately we need a Savior, a Redeemer, a Friend. Praying over you these words from Ephesians 3 tonight: “When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your heart as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” This is my prayer for every and all situations – of consolation and desolation. May you know the love of Christ even in this desolation, dear Danielle.

    • thank you so much, Diana. i had a panic yesterday that this was too soon, too much for me to write out. I had all sorts of fears. but your encouragement has calmed them, which is in itself a blessing.

  11. Mary Gemmill says:

    My favourite verse is the one Diana Trautwein quotes.
    In my present valley of unending unwanted comments from an aging mother, I hold tight to Rom 8.28: all things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose; and These light afflictions are but for a moment [ 60+ years ? !!] but are working for us an EXCEEDING WEIGHT OF GLORY. I just have to believe good will EVENTUALLY come from the pain and suffering- and that in the END, we will be rewarded for enduing faithfully.
    My prayer for you is that God will our your God in all our circumstances. I pray that in every season of your life we will seek Him, rely on Him, press into Him. I pray that we will be rooted in God your God, so that when things do not make sense, you will know deep that HE IS GOD, and HE’S GOT THIS. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

  12. Mary Gemmill says:

    sorry- that should read-
    My favourite verse is the one Diana Trautwein quotes.
    In my present valley of unending unwanted comments from an aging mother, I hold tight to Rom 8.28: all things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose; and These light afflictions are but for a moment [ 60+ years ? !!] but are working for us an EXCEEDING WEIGHT OF GLORY. I just have to believe good will EVENTUALLY come from the pain and suffering- and that in the END, we will be rewarded for enduring faithfully.
    I pray that God will be YOUR God in all your circumstances. I pray that in every season of your life you will seek Him, rely on Him, press into Him.I pray that you will be rooted in God, our God, so that when things do not make sense, you will know deep that HE IS GOD, and HE’S GOT THIS. I pray in Jesus name, amen.

    • thank you so much. it is scary to think about how little i rely on God until my world goes crazy. but it is exciting to think about being in this place of deep communion for the rest of my life, now that the veil has been lifted.

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