Please welcome Tina Pinson to Faith in Writing. She has written a guest post for the Gratitude Fridays Feature. Tina will be doing a giveaway of her ebook “Christmas in Shades of Gray.” Leave a comment for a chance to win.
Thanks… I guess.
By Tina Pinson
In everything give ye thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
– I Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV)
God, how could you take my mother? My friends? God, I don’t understand, why did you let them die? I prayed hard and they died. Don’t you hear me? Am I invisible? God, you’ve healed other people why not them?
These are questions I’ve asked in the last few years (and probably before). You may have had the same questions at times in your own lives.
I wish I could tell you that I leaned on the Lord and held fast to the truth that He was there with me. I would be lying.
Well-meaning people say joy will come and to be thankful that my loved ones are with the Lord.
I told myself those things too. Probably told others on occasion. The platitudes sounded empty in the midst of pain.
I hang on and plant a smile on my face to cover the fact that I’m breaking apart, all the while walking through the mist and trying to deal with more life circumstances. Yeah, that’s right, life was still happening. I didn’t get to crawl away into a cave, lick my wounds, and deal with my grief. I didn’t get to hole up somewhere and be left alone. I had things to take care of.
God, why can’t you take me out of this? I don’t want to deal with it. I’m tired. I’m, I’m… I pump my fist, I’m angry. Angry because it seemed God didn’t care enough to do anything about it and he certainly wasn’t doing anything to sooth the pain I felt or do anything to make my life easier when he saw me falling apart.
And truth known, even if scripture talks about being thankful. I didn’t feel very thankful. I lost people I loved and I was supposed to be thankful? Hmm?
I hate to admit it, but that was me… And the longer I dwelled there, the darker and heavier life felt. I dragged along like a tired slug. A petulant child with a bad attitude.
I felt bad and God was not there to fix it. Isn’t that what God was supposed to do? Fix it?
Oh, I would search for God. I prayed, but he seemed distant. Where was he? Probably off taking care of everyone else. Didn’t he realize I needed him? Surely, he wanted to meet my stipulations to prove he still cared. Then I could trust. Then I could believe that he had my well-being in mind.
But, he was there. All the time. In spite of me. Every so often when I stepped out of the mess I was wallowing in, I could sense him. I could almost hear the whisper of voice and catch the caress from his hand on my cheek. A cool touch across my brow.
“I’m here, beloved. I didn’t abandon you. I’ll never leave you or forsake you.”
“I know you hurt. I cry with you.”
“I love you.”
I could feel his arms enfold me, and I’d lay my head against his shoulder and cry. And you know what? He let me grieve. He didn’t say get over it, he said cry. I am here. … Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5b
It’s awesome to know that the God I serve, the one who loves me, never told me not to cry, never told me not to grieve. And he is big enough to carry me and my broken heart.
Over time, as grief and anger abated, I saw things with clarity. I found that I could be thankful that my mother and friend weren’t suffering anymore. Did I miss them? Do I miss them? Yes. But, I was thankful that, because of God’s love in sending his son, I would get to see them again. And now my mother was with my father, and every so often when I lift my head I can see them with the Lord.
The following forward from a series I have been working on — called Shades of Gray — sums up my feelings.
Who is like unto thee, O Lord among the gods?
ho is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?…
Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed…
– Exodus 15: 11,13a (KJV)
Here I stand, looking out across a dull nothingness… a crossroads of my life perhaps. Here, there is no definition, only confusion to chart my way. I should be used to this. It seems to be the way of my life of late. But I am scared to walk anymore. I’m scared to take a step in any direction, lest I fall into oblivion and find myself lost.
“I will never leave you or forsake you,” a Voice calls to me.
I’m certain I know the speaker… I have heard His voice on occasion. I am afraid to answer lest He comes to walk with me and sees the dismal path I tread. Then I think to myself, maybe I should answer, maybe He should walk with me and see the mess my life has become. He, after all, is the one who was supposed to chart the course of my life, to plan it out. He was the one who said He had nothing but good for me. From my vantage point, He didn’t do a very good job.
“Come help me,” I tell Him, my tone laced with smugness even I can’t hide. See how far gone my mind is? I even consider trying to hide something from the living God. As though I can.
“Come with me,” He says in answer. He waves His hand, and I am transported to a room with clear crystal walls, and I didn’t take a step. The Lord stands before a painter’s easel, holding a palette of paints, a palette full of gray hues that should hold more vibrant colors. It is, to me, confirmation that He is to blame for the dismalness of my life.
“Why have you brought me here?” There is an underlying rudeness in my voice.
He smiles in spite of me. “To see the painting of your life.”
I try to mask my snort. I’ve seen my life, I want to tell Him. I’m the one living it.
“Child,” He whispers. Sadness defines the softness in His eyes. “You have not lived in the glory and joy I prepared for you. You have not walked in the places of rest and security I created for you. You have not dwelt in the peace which I died to give you.”
Glory. Joy. Rest. Security. Peace. Are we discussing the same life? My life?
“How can you say that’s the life you have for me? I’ve seen none of those things.”
“Come, see them now.” He invites me to His side with an outstretched hand.
I am hesitant, yet there is an unspoken, unexplainable longing in me to be closer to Him. I move to His side, but I am too stubborn to take His hand. Is that sorrow that etches the lines of His face? Is that sorrow that fills His eyes in the moments before He lowers his hand and turns to draw the cloth from the easel?
I don’t care, I tell myself with a shrug as I take up a study of the glassy floor. I cross my arms over my chest, like a petulant child. My life portrait is there before me. But why do I need to look? Why should I wait for Him to show me what I’m certain I’ve already seen? The banal, dismal mess. The familiar distortions. The jagged broken lines I know as my life. Let Him look. I’m too afraid to.
“Look, child,” He says softly and again invites me with a wave of His hand.
I do His bidding and follow His hand until it lies firmly on the painting of my life.
“Look closely,” He replies, then moves His hand along the painting following an invisible line. I’m directed to patches of topaz, azure, umber, and emerald.
Is this some joke? I’ve never seen these colors in my life.
“They’ve been there all along,” He assures me. “Remember.”
I’m reminded of tranquil days with cloudless blue skies and green fields that crested to lands beyond forever. Here in this land of bliss, I ran unafraid along a golden path winding before me. I had boundless energy, and the sun kissed my cheek.
Where were the shadows so prevalent in my life now? I wait for them. Wait for the sullen grays. Wait for Him to move His hand with the assurance they’d be there.
But as His hand glides across the easel, all I see is color. Chartreuse, maroon, burgundy, and wine. Bursts of peach, orange, violet, and teal. Colors I can’t begin to name are delicately, yet liberally poured out on my painting. Deliberate brush strokes lovingly touch my easel to paint memories and moments. Some I have already lived, some I have yet to make.
Sunsets cast with vibrant indigos, pinks, and purples lined with flaming gold give way to shimmering moonlight. There, a silver orb hangs in an onyx sky dotted with golden, flickering diamonds.
I glance at the Lord, amazed. This Artist gave my life such color, such imagery, such life. I can almost feel the warmth emanating from the easel. It pours over me, filling me with a peace I thought long gone. I’m sure I hear music… a faded melody, so old I nearly forgot the words. But it plays in my head, and I begin to hum. Quietly.
Here before me stands a masterpiece. The painting of my life. Rich with detail, rich with love.
I am awed. Then my humming stops. I am saddened when I realize that rare are the moments I’ve seen the color and majesty of my life. Glancing at the Lord, I wonder how many times I stopped to pay the Painter of my life the homage deserved Him? I can probably count them on the fingers of my hand.
Yes, here with the Lord, my life spans before me in Technicolor. Usually, when I gaze upon it through my eyes alone, the only colors I see are muted. They are pewter, slate, and ash. Beheld by me, they are cast in shades of gray.
Even now, I wait for the shadows.
Ashamed, I look at the Lord. His eyes meet mine. They are pleading. “Trust me. Walk with me.”
Oh, that I could follow the Painter to lush fields and restful pastures. Oh, that I would see the beauty of the Master Artist’s creation — the creation that is me. That I would step beyond the pewter and grays that define my world and shackle me to moments of fear and live. Live in the Son.
The Master hears my silent cries and holds out His hand.
Tears fill my eyes when I see His smile. I reach for Him.
It’s Christmas time, but I’m not feeling altogether festive. Given the strands of tubing attached to me and all the off-sounding carols played by the machines keeping track of my body rhythms, and the packages of blood and saline tied up neatly on stands, I could be the Christmas tree. All I need is the Santa Express circling my bed to finish the scene.
Listen to me. Christmas is worlds away in my lonely old mind. And yet right outside my door people are celebrating. I’m not in the mood to celebrate. I’d rather talk to someone. Anyone. Someone like you.
Award winning author Tina Pinson resides in Grand Junction, Colorado with Danny, her husband of thirty-five plus years. They are blessed with three sons, and nine grandchildren. (w/ one on the way) Tina started her first novel in elementary school. Her love of writing has caused her to seek creative outlets in poetry, songs, or stories. She loves to draw, and enjoys gardening.
She hopes her stories, though fiction, will transport you to worlds beyond and touch your spirit and give you a closer insight to yourself and God.
Her books are available at major online retailers.
Then There Was Grace won the Epic Award for best Contemporary, Christmas in Shades of Gray finaled in the Epic Awards Paranormal Category, and Trail of the Sandpiper-Betrayed placed third ACFW Genesis Contest.
Don’t forget, leave a comment for a chance to win an ebook copy of “Christmas in Shades of Gray.”