Resignation is not just the sigh that groans with something gone wrong. Such a sigh can be redemptive if it does not let go of the Haunting we have all experienced of something presently lost. Resignation is the acceptance of the loss as final. It is the condition in which we choose to see good as no longer startling in its beauty and boldness, but simply as "nice." Evil is no longer surprising; it is normal.

It is from this place of heart resignation where many of us, perhaps all of us at one time or another, having suffered under the storm of life's loss, give up on the Sacred Relationship. But our heart will not totally forsake the intimacy and adventure we were made for and so we
compromise. We both become, and take to ourselves, lovers that are less dangerous in their passion for life and the possible pain that comes with it — in short, lovers that are less wild.

Those of us who have been drawn to understand that God is our Father through conversion in Christ recapture the Relationship again — for a while. The Relationship we thought we had left behind once more appears out on the road ahead of us as a possible destination. God is in his heaven and all seems right in the universe.

But this side of Eden, even relationship with God brings us to a place where a deeper work in our heart is called for if we are to be able to continue our spiritual journey.

It is in this desert experience of the heart, where we are stripped of the protective clothing of the roles we have played in our smaller stories, that the Message of our loss reasserts itself. Healing, repentance, and faith are called for in ways we have not known previously. At this place on our journey, we face a wide and deep canyon that refuses us passage through self-effort. And it is God's intention to use this place to eradicate the final heart walls and obstacles that separate us from him.

Because of Jesus, we have every reason to be known as people of deep hope and joy. But does that mean we are going to be running around singing and dancing and smiling every moment of our lives? Are you able to? Am I? Is that what it means to “rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice”? (Phil. 4:4 esv). 

I hope by now that you know I don’t think so. If we were only doing that, skipping around with glee, we would be a people whose character is an inch deep, refusing to live with honesty and integrity. Remember, hard times come, and you must be willing to be present in them and feel the sorrow they bring in order to have joy. Your capacity to feel the one affects your capacity to experience the other. The two are connected. A soul deadened to the pain of the world and to your own life is numb to the joy available to you as well. As George MacDonald wrote, “Beauty and sadness always go together.” (Within and Without)

These days, I am experiencing joy increasingly. It sometimes feels like a fire in my chest. I have known my sorrows, just as you have. My temptation is to run from them, fearing that allowing myself to fully experience them will overwhelm me. They are a tidal wave, and I don’t know how to swim. But then the sorrow refuses to be ignored or stuffed or numbed or run from any longer. I must stop and give it space, allow the sorrow and sadness a voice. To feel it.  Here’s a secret: our feelings have a life span. When we allow ourselves to fully feel our grief—to embrace it rather than shun it—the feeling of relief and release comes more quickly than we could imagine. The wave shrinks. We are buoyed by it. The sea calms. And we realize we did not drown. It won’t destroy us.  We were created for Eden, yet we live in the valley of the shadow of death. Of course we ache. That’s normal. 

Yes, there will be sorrow in the living. But even there, we will have many choices to make: either to let our lives be defined by sorrow or to dig into joy. It is as Ann Voskamp said, “The secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.” (One Thousand Gifts) 

How do we cultivate a heart of joy even amid shades of sadness? How do our hearts develop their rhythm, becoming increasingly synced with the heartbeat of heaven? By cultivating a heart that is thankful.  As we celebrate July 4th as Independence day let us also celebrate the gift of forgiveness God has given us through His Son Jesus Christ.  Yes, life is a hard road sometimes, but that road leads us to the promises God has given us.  A promise that Jesus will always be with us whether our dreams come true or not and a promise for the next life.  Jesus has promised to prepare a place with Him for eternity for all who trust in Him.

Pastor Dave