Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Heron Road - suffering" by L.L. Barkat

In L.L. Barkat's new book, Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places, we continue through her story which is interesting all by itself. Enough was enough for her and her sister. It was more than an ultimatum to their mother even as young teenager girls. They were leaving to escape their stepfather and expressed hope that she would come with them. You imagine the scene as L.L. is truly an artist with words. And an artist with special intent, telling you her story unblinkingly and helping you see that story as well as your own in light of God's story.

Suffering was a part of L.L.'s and her sister's life, as well as their mother's. They were victims of a man who was bent on a path of destruction. Hopefully people will reach out to the Balm of Gilead through the gentle waters of Shiloah, knowing their need as they present themselves as the bruised reed they are. But for those who refuse to come to God in this quiet conversion sort of way there awaits the mighty flood of Assyria. Anything but pleasant as heads not only went rolling but were displayed on the city walls. But God's way of getting people's attention if his goodness and their own brokenness is not enough.

For L.L. and her sister the door of their father's house was open, so they made the difficult choice to leave their mother, if need be, so that they could at last do what they had wanted to do for so long. But now had the courage to follow through come what may.

Suffering does that to us. It makes us look for change. Naturally we shrink from pain, whatever kind it might be. And we want to find the cure for it. This makes suffering a most important ingredient in our lives to help us come to our senses and find our way home as did the prodigal son.

This has been true in my life in a number of ways. I remember how at the age of 17 my Old Gold straights just didn't taste good anymore. The friends I had who were into my music and getting good stuff just didn't seem much like friends anymore. My own life seemed empty and I was in pain. I knew I was a sinner and that Jesus is the Savior. That is when by the Spirit's working I finally committed my life to God through Jesus. Enough was enough. I was coming home at last.

I still experience suffering along the way, some of my own making, some from living in a fallen world with other sinners. In all of it, God wants me to find his grace and he doesn't particularly care how hard the place may be if need be, though God would have us find it in the more gentle way, as L.L. points out. But what matters in the end is that we do find what we need and all we need in God through Jesus.

Much good teaching in this chapter from God's word as L.L. continues to share her story of how she found God's grace in hard and hidden places.

What would you like to share from your own life about this, or anything else you might like to say?

I quote from L.L.'s chapter, "quiet conversion" one example, and chose not to note that here. I probably do so without knowing it, as well. I probably have done the same on other posts.

1. Stepping Stones - conversion
2. Christmas Coal - shame
3. Tossed Treasures - messiness

Next week: chapter 5: "Sword in the Stone - resistance"


preacherman said...

I can understand this post.
I hate the pain and suffering I have in my life. I've tried to get rid of the symptoms and not the cure. I have don't what I have to numb it. But, it wasn't until I gave it over to God that I have started to find releif. God wants us pain and suffering of various kinds to draw us toward Him. I have tried running and have found that you can't run from the Almighty no matter how hard you try. God's will is bigger than our sin, problems, and pains. I am thankful for the love and grace of Almighty God. He has been so good even when I am in such pain. I think I am starting not there yet but starting to understand what Paul says, "I have learned how to be content. In plenty and in want. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." His grace is suffecient.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

You are right Ted. Suffering does make us look for change - or a way to dampen the pain. It is a good thing to recognize whether the suffering is due to an outside force that can be walked away from, no matter how difficult physically or emotionally, or due to our own doing. I think that is the trick.

I am so glad that LL understood that it wasn't right, she didn't deserve it and she didn't need to stay and receive it any longer!

Rachel Mc said...

Suffering itself is such a curious experience/situation. I too have found God in my suffering, and I have marveled how completely God entered my suffering. During my worst situations, the same few people consistently entered my pain, didn't walk away, no matter how desparate the situation became. Those are the people I will cherish, and they have taught me God's grace. Now, when I can, I enter someone else's sufferings and share the burden. I think that is the best gift back to God.
I do struggle with watching my children suffer, from pain brought on by others. I particularly liked reading about LL's mother in this chapter. It takes courage to walk away from a situation.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks for sharing that. We need to be regularly in prayer for you. It's tough to have to undergo chronic pain like that, I'm sure. I don't know how God works in the midst of all that kind of suffering, but he most certainly does as we can see with your testimony here.

Ted M. Gossard said...

So true. It's easy for people to somehow believe they've brought such suffering on themselves when they're simply victims.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks for sharing your own testimony on this. Good to hear of the people that were at your side during your crisis. And you've learned from that to give the same help to others.

Sorry to hear of your boys' suffering. Good that you're there for them.

Mark Goodyear said...

This chapter was one of my favorites. I underlined and starred this passage:

"What looks to us like God smashing rocks off our painting is actually the natural outcome of our chosen medium. If we paint with stones, gravity will pull them into our path--sometimes violently so."

The thing I'd emphasize though, is that sometimes we get hurt when other people paint with rocks.

Ted M. Gossard said...

So very true. I did really like that analogy of painting with rocks and probably didn't do enough research on it to think I really "got it" very well. But the way L.L. describes it and brings it over to her experience as a youth along with her mother's (and sister's) is interesting. They had to live in an ongoing dropping of such rocks and suffered much as a consequence. She describes it well.

Anonymous said...

we all experience suffering and i do not know all the ways or why it looks like some more than is hard to measure or understand. i do know though that we all experience it. we all hate it and react in different ways to it. it is brought on in many ways and we make many bad choices every day that could bring it on to our selves or to others. it is a part of our fallen life that we continue to live here on earth. we will not escape it in this lifetime.

but, we are promised a comforter in belief in Jesus the Christ. the Holy Spirit is with us and in us in our joy and in our suffering.

we are on the journey to our Father God. and the road is rough in many places. but when we get to our Father God and he takes us into His arms and we live with Him again...then there will be no more suffering. no more suffering.

praise God

like l.l. for her step father, i also grieve for those that will not turn and walk the road home to the Father.

and i grieve for this world of sin.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks for your good thoughts here. So true, sister.

L.L. Barkat said...

Sorry so late in the conversation here. Um, I kind of painted with rocks myself on Sunday and had to go blogless as a result. Do we ever learn? (I hope so, I really do.)

Ted M. Gossard said...

I know what you mean, I'm afraid. I can be on the edge of doing that at certain vulnerable spots or occasions. And sometimes still do. Maybe in ways I don't even recognize, yet that do affect others.

I do wish I would have brought that out more in this post; is quite interesting and I went online to find out more about it but couldn't find enough to think I sufficiently understand it. I guess I just needed to take what you said in its plain sense. Just had never heard of such a thing, not that I remember!