This is a guest post by a friend of mine, Michelle Lucio. She is a passionate Christ follower and a fellow misfit.
This post resonated with me in millions of ways… Mostly because she felt at the end of her rope and the Lord blew her up…
Which is the cry of my heart.
Spring was a rough season for me.
My course load at school was unbelievably heavy. My research position as a human trafficking awareness fellow required emotional stamina I didn’t always have. My heart shattered as members of my community experienced a serious tragedy. My closest friendship ended. My original, beautiful, big summer plans had disappointingly fallen through. I couldn’t sleep anymore.
I was drowning under books and statistics and hurtful words and a looming depression that I couldn’t shake. Some well-meaning people told me that everything was all right and that I needed to move on and just be happy. I felt paralyzed by the guilt of now knowing how.
The geography of my heart had become dry, empty. I was begging for Jesus to meet me here, crying out for an escape route, because I felt trapped within the margins of my own mind.
It’s a helpless feeling, to watch yourself slowly collapse and not know how to pull yourself up from underneath the wreckage.
There’s a really interesting dichotomy in the Bible regarding destruction and restoration in cities.
As a society, we understand that sometimes cities do really well and flourish and become centers for art and culture and everyone wants to spend time there, or move there, and the economy is wonderful and the population is booming and everything is marvelous, just totally incredible.
And then sometimes cities fall apart and suffer and have been betrayed by people or disaster or both and their complete history, their whole livelihood, is just wiped off the map and everyone’s disoriented so the people start leaving and they’re grieving because they don’t know how to even begin clearing up the mess.
In the Old Testament, the prophets write about the destruction of their homes and their city and the tragedy of the brokenness in their people. Destitute, disappointed, and devastated, the people are scattered everywhere. The ashes of the past still smolder.
God tells the prophets to tell the people that he promises to restore it. That he is faithful and will rise the city up again, stronger than before. That it will be really beautiful and healthy and entirely brand new.
In the spring, God whispers to me that I am a city.
I hold my breath.
I land in Oklahoma City in the middle of July. I’m preparing to project lead short-term disaster relief teams in Moore and it occurs to me somewhere between Orlando and Dallas that I have no idea what I’m doing. I know as much about drywall as I do about Japanese: it exists. But I am too exhausted to worry. I try to sleep.
The next day, I drive to Moore to meet with our ministry partners and have a look at the area. At this point, it’s been two months since an F5 tornado blitzed through the city, leaving devastated remnants in its wake. I turn left into a neighborhood tucked away behind a church, looking for some tents at the former site of the elementary school that was completely destroyed.
I stand in the heart of the wreckage, biting my lip. Very little has been left standing. What is left has to be totally rebuilt. The neighborhoods where children played and the hallways filled with pictures and the classroom walls covered with crafts are in pieces on the ground, are in a landfill miles away.
What happens when the safe places don’t feel so safe anymore? How do you go back?
I get back in my car to drive away and it occurs to me in one sweeping moment that I am this city.
That this city is me.
Ebenezer (n.) – stone of help; origin. from the name given to a stone by Samuel, in commemoration of the victory God gave the Israelites over the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:12).
I begin the process of rediscovering my Refuge in a barren city.
I am sitting at a stoplight with four bags of ice in my trunk when it dawns on me: If I am Moore, and there is restoration that is on its way for Moore, there must be also restoration that is on its way for me.
My teams in Oklahoma are made up of radically beautiful people. What a sweet glimpse of the Kingdom. This little makeshift tribe of mine is the hands and feet and arms and ears and eyes of Jesus to me. They remind me what it is to hold on to nothing but Jesus, of the wild beauty in climbing mountains with open hands. They radiate freedom.
They help pull me out from underneath the debris, and I trust them. Not because the threats of loss are gone, but because they hold my hand and lead me back to the only Shelter that cannot be destroyed.
So I’ll lay my stone down to remember what He’s doing, how He’s rescuing me still. And I smile because I think I am starting to see what He could see all along.
Wildflowers flourishing in the wasteland—quietly, faithfully.