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These days I imagine myself as having a bunch of black balloons attached to me, following me wherever I go, whispering in my ears. Guilt, shame, fear – these three things fuel most of my moods, whether those moods are depressed, lethargic, agitated, still, whatever, the balloons stay. They’re powerful. They followed me to Morocco and hounded me one particular evening. So I went up to the roof of our hotel, listened to some music and did some knitting. As I watched the sunset over the old city of Fes I thought to myself that I have to learn to trust God, not the black balloons.

Over the course of 2013 so far it feels like I have capitulated to the balloons. When I wake up in a panic in the middle of the night I have sometimes been overwhelmed enough to wake up Mr Narky (no small task), unable to calm myself down, so convinced that the fears rampaging around my mind and body are real. They’re not real. Those black balloons lie to me, but they lie unceasingly. They try to destroy everything dear to me and it’s so hard to know what’s true and trustworthy when under their constant attacks.

So I get these little reminders every now and then, reminding me of what’s true. One was on that roof in Morocco, watching a sunset, trying to extricate myself from the weight of crushing depression. It came in the words of a song called Love Divine. It’s a new take on an old hymn by a band called Rend Collective Experiment:

Love divine, all love excelling
Joy of heaven, to earth come down
Fix in us thy humble dwelling
All thy faithful mercies crown
Jesus, thou art all compassion
Pure, unbounded love thou art
Visit us with thy salvation
Enter every trembling heart

Breathe, oh, breathe thy loving Spirit
Into every troubled breast
Let us all in thee inherit
Let us find the promised rest
Take away the love of sinning
Alpha and Omega be
End of faith as its beginning
Set our hearts at liberty

Come, Almighty, to deliver
Let us all thy life receive
Suddenly return and never
Nevermore, thy temples leave
May we be a blessing to thee
Serve thee as thy hosts above
Pray and praise thee without ceasing
Glory in thy perfect love

Finish, then, thy new creation
Pure and spotless let us be
Let us see thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in thee
Changed from glory into glory
Till in heaven we take our place
Till we cast our crowns before thee
Lost in wonder, love and praise

It’s such a beautiful song, full of comfort and hope. It challenges and inspires, guides and gives peace. It points to the truth. All I have to do is put my life in God’s hands, serve him, praise him, and then simply trust that I will find the rest he has promised.

Then at church last night we sang a song I’ve never heard before. I was struck by the timely reminder as I’ve spent this week so far in a bit of a fluster, having forgotten my rooftop lesson since arriving back in this damp country with my real life hitting sharply:

When we were in the darkest night
And wondered if our eyes would ever see the light
You were there, Lord

When we were in the stormy gale
And wondered if we’d ever live in peace again
You were there, Lord

You were there in the struggle
You were there in the fight
You were there all the time

We praise You – the God of our yesterdays
We praise You – the God who is here today
We praise You – our God, as tomorrow comes

So whatever lies ahead
Whatever roads our grateful hearts will come to tread
You’ll be there, Lord

We will fix our eyes on You
And know that there is grace enough to see us through
You’ll be there, Lord

You’ll be there in the struggle
You’ll be there in the fight
You’ll be there all the time

We praise You – the God of our yesterdays
We praise You – the God who is here today
We praise You – our God, as tomorrow comes

We thank you – for grace in our yesterdays
We thank you – for peace in our hearts today
We thank you – our joy, as tomorrow comes
We will trust you, God

You’re always closer than we know
Always more involved and in control
We will trust our lives to You –
The One who was and is and is to come

We praise You – the God of our yesterdays
We praise You – the God who is here today
We praise You – our God, as tomorrow comes

And then I noticed there are a number of new wall hangings temporarily hanging in the church. One has a poem on it which I noted down:

No choirs of angels
No round of applause
No hip-hop-hallelujahs
No song and dance

Be still
In secret

Draw with words and silence
The shape of your heart

This is prayer

Within this framework lay down
The fragile pieces of your life’s tapestry

Some beautifully made
Some tattered
Torn
Frayed

Some precious beyond meaure
Some worthless rags
The intricate designs
The random scraps
They are the patchwork of who you are

Every piece sewn together
By the unbreakable thread
Of forgiveness
Mercy
Grace

Woven from the love of God
Put aside the shadows of the future
Unseen, uncertain, unknown and unknowable

Live in the shining light of the present
And find peace in eternity

Be still
In secret

Draw with words and silence
The shape of your heart

Touch the power and the glory
For ever and ever
Now

This is prayer

I like this. It speaks of peace and comfort and trust. It reminds me of what trust is, moment by moment. And it reminds me that every scrap of me is welcome with God, that I don’t have to hide the shame-filled places inside me from him.

Till in heaven we take our place
Till we cast our crowns before thee
Lost in wonder, love and praise.

I suppose this is what trust is to me. It’s in not killing myself. It’s in living this life for however many years are given to me and trusting God for every year, every hour, every minute. This is trust at its most basic level. It is trusting that one day I will cast my crown before him, I will lose myself in wonder, love and praise, but until then I will trust him here. It is trusting that he is good, that he loves me, that he is in control of my life, that he has a plan for me, that he knows my purpose and that he will show it to me. Even more than that, harder than that, trusting him in the night when I panic, trusting him when I am consumed by fear, when paranoia has overtaken, when the black balloons are hounding me, no matter how hard it is to do, no matter how tempted I am to give up, forcibly dragging my will back to trust him.

And it’s being grateful for his gentle reminders when I forget. 🙂

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