It’s not easy being left. It begins in childhood, older siblings off to school and new adventures, friends moving away, the first taste of loss as we lose the elders in our lives.
And it doesn’t seem to get any easier as we grow up. Relationships fracture and become estranged. The first loss of a peer, too young, too soon. The first loss of a parent, too fresh and raw.
There is an insatiable fear of being left, being left behind, being left to jealousy of a life not experienced, left in grief, left in anger and sorrow.
Left because it’s our job to stay, as others experience newness. Left because it’s not yet our time.
Left because of the selfishness of others, or left because of our own selfishness.
There doesn’t seem to be the potential for grace in being left. We’re encouraged to see the good, seek God’s bigger plan in the midst of our pain and numbness. Encouraged by others who have never been left that being left is not the end of the world, when in fact, our world has just crashed down around us.
Or where is the grace in the everyday as we see others in our lives not consumed with the mundane pattern of diapers, bills, shift work and budgets.
Grace for the heart sore and travel dreamers. Grace for the bored and the tried. Grace for the grieving and angry.
In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. 3 Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. 4 The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit[a] of judgment and a spirit[b] of fire. 5 Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glory[c] will be a canopy. 6 It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.
Our grace comes twofold. It comes in the hope of our future restoration, and the shielding and purifying with-us of God in the present.
The knowledge that we, the remnant of our hopes and dreams, are called beautiful and glorious. That our unseeing eyes do not reflect how we are seen. We are recorded, noted, in the midst of the ashes of our expectations, we are seen as holy.
We, the survivors of loss and leaving, are the fruit of the land. Because out of us comes the reflected glory of God. The knowledge that he is the one who has sustained us. That we have been battered and bruised, refined and purified in what has left and been taken from us.
But we have remained. We have remained because HE has remained.
Though in our struggles we may not always see him, though the daily duties and drudgeries can hide his face, he is with us.
He is with us, a cloud of smoke shielding us from the poking and prodding of untruth and discouragement.
He is with us, a flaming eternal fire of warmth and light to drive away the chill of grief and burn off the heat of anger.
And over us, his glory stretches like a never-ending canopy.
He is shelter and shade, refuge and hiding place.
Though the storms blow, the hurricane force of life’s trials come at us, we are sheltered. Given a place to grieve and rail at the world, in the safety of his grace and truth.
And in the midst of the steady drizzle of discouragement, life’s dull patterns and lost hopes, he is a hiding place. A hiding place of hope and truth and guiding hands and gentle heart.
And we, when we seek his presence, when we assemble in all our states of brokenness, find grace for the everyday and the once in a lifetime. And we are sustained.