As perpetual tiredness has kept me in through many glorious fall afternoons, I am seized by a familiar frustration. I wrote about it last spring, and it is a good expression of this long, long lesson of learning to be still:
I’m laying on a couch, as I have every day since last Friday, when I got the second of two knee surgeries. I was supposed to resume work and regular activities today, but a stomach bug has succeeded in keeping me here. It’s beautiful outside, the bright clear sunshine of a Fairbanks spring, the scent of new life in the air and water dripping from the eaves. It’s not for me, though; imprisoned in my livingroom, I have memorized every detail of the ceiling.
I love life. Today should be snowball fights with my roommates; sledding with my niece; preparing lessons for my students and bantering with them in the classroom. I should be planning my wedding, only two months away; getting coffee with friends; running on slushy trails.
Sickness and travel and injury have conspired over the last three years to drastically reduce the activity and relationships that used to fill my life to bursting. I thought that last year, coming off eight months of mono, I had learned to accept quietness and a slower pace of life. But here I am again, restless and depressed, exiled from the world of activity and adventure that I love.
I turn my face into the couch, trying to focus my mind to prayer and hoping for the forgetfulness of sleep. The words of a song—or is it a verse?—come into my head: “Your love is better than life.” I have sung it, worshipped God with it, thought I believed it. But here is a new challenge: Would I rather have Jesus’ love as I lay imprisoned in sickness, or would I rather have the happy, exuberant life I have known? My thought process is certainly saying that “life” is better than whatever I am experiencing now. But I know that Jesus’ love exists in the present reality, not in future longings or past remembrances or fictional imaginings. Another verse comes to my head: “Better is one day in Your courts than thousands elsewhere.” I do believe these words, truly. I’ve forgotten them, though: I’m sitting in His courts but looking longingly out the window.
In a moment, my attention snaps to the truth: I am sitting the courts of my God, in the presence of His love, and I am spending my strength longing to be elsewhere!
His love is better than life; He has shown me that over and over. Eagerly, I turn to Him, releasing all the longings and if-onlys and self-pity. The couch is no longer a clutching jail but the warm arms of my Jesus; the sunshine outside is gift, not a taunt. My heart overflows with thanksgiving and I am living in my delight in Him and His delight in me. It is a beautiful day.