2008ish was a difficult, trying year. My marriage was on verge of dissipation, my faith was near shipwreck and my unpredictable emotions often left me thoroughly exhausted. What was up was down- and what was down was up.
I was secretly lost, painfully tired and shamefully broken; and not a clue on how to obtain rest.
Yet, through my prone to wander heart, God gently reached directly and fearlessly into the mess, impressing on my heart to allow His Word to read my soul. To sit under His life-giving teachings. To glean from His matchless insight. To draw from His unfailing love. To gather His boundless hope. To obtain His immeasurable wisdom.
And, as much as I'd normally advise against this, I sat with the Bible on my lap; cleansing tears dropping from the overflow of my numerous imperfections onto His matchless perfections, all while whispering back to Him that wherever He opens His word, wherever He lands my eyes, this is where I'll camp out and study. Read and Digest. Consume and absorb. Cling and surrender. Obey and trust.
So, I blindly opened it. Having no rhyme or reason to where it opened, I settled in and snuggled up for the long haul. Smack dab in the middle of the Old Testament.
I was fascinated by the stories which often involved conquering, defeating and obtaining cities. "Cities" began to be a running theme, a continuing thread, a repetitive word God hand-stitched as He breathed life into His healing Word and into my parched heart.
Repeatedly and undeniably, I'd hear Him whisper, "You, Joy, are a city. Each time you read about a city I cared for, I rescued, I found, I restored, I redeemed, I rebuilt, I provided for, I protected, I looked after-- I'm referring to the city of your heart."
And although the heart within was unsettled, wounded, fractured and divided, this I knew with every fiber of my being- He was sharing I was His city, and He was rebuilding the ruins.
The word city soon took on an entirely new influential meaning in those early days of healing, and I began to find myself waking up before the 5:am alarm to receive His instruction hand chiseled deep within the city walls of the heart.
But it wasn't until a February afternoon while pulling into a California parking lot, I fully understood the impactful meaning and the life-altering definition of the word, city.
It was on this particular car ride where satan sat shot gun and aggressively exposed all my fears. Disclosed all my failures. Unconcealed all my deficiencies. Bared all my shame. Displayed all my regret. All.
The hope I had been receiving through Gods word of being His city, a city for which He cared, loved and promised to restore; was now strategically replaced with the enemy's convincing lie that I had done too much. Wandered too far. Sinned too often. Yep, it was simply too late for me, I heard loudly and crystal clear that February afternoon.
No longer being able to drive, I pulled into the nearest driveway of a store parking lot. Struggling to put the car in park, I placed my head back on the head rest and experienced a washing-over of intense hopelessness. "Maybe it is too late for me. Maybe God doesn't give second, third, fourth and beyond chances. Maybe this time, He's done rescuing me. Maybe this time, I've worn Him out. Maybe this time, I've exhausted His grace. Maybe this time..." I began to repeat and believe.
And without the slightest hint of hesitation, as if this were out of a meticulous movie scene, the song "God of This City" rung loudly through the car speakers, piercing straight into the ears of my heavy heart.
I had never heard this song prior to, yet immediately heard the word "city" sung like an angel hand delivering me a divine gift of perfectly timed hope.
My thoughts unhesitatingly drifted from satan's deceitful words and were now fastened on God's truth through the gift of this new song.
🎵"For greater things have yet to come,
And greater things are still to be done in this city.
Greater things have yet to come,
And greater things are still to be done in this city.
There in no one like our God.
There is no one like our God.🎶
For greater things are yet to come,
And greater things are still to be done in this city."🎵
The chorus repeated and repeated and repeated ...until God received my full attention and positioned my heart to look up and secure His make-no-sense grace while effortlessly responding in return, "I hear you, Father. It's not over for me. It's not too late. In fact, it's just begun. Nothing is wasted. Nothing. Greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done, in this city."
Grace. It's a beautiful gift, isn't it? An inexhaustible gift. In the muck of exhaustion, in the quicksand of brokenness, in the flooding waters of relational chaos, in the web of negative thinking, in the fog of doubt, in the pit of despair- grace shines its radiating light onto tomorrow's resurrection.⚓
You can be assured of this precious sister, God speaks this truth directly into your loved heart, while in the presence of the enemy of your soul, moment by moment:
"I turn your deserts into pools of water, the dry land into springs of water.
I bring the hungry to settle there and build their city.
They sow their fields, plant their vineyards, and harvest their bumper crops.
How I bless them!"
-Psalm 107 35-38
"I, The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.
Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes."
-Isaiah 58 11-12
My eyes may have never locked with yours. My path may have never crossed yours. But I know something about you. You haven't done too much. You haven't wandered too far. You haven't strayed too many times. You haven't fallen too hard. You haven't messed up too deep- for Your Maker, Your Creator, Your Father to not relentlessly, intently, joyfully, passionately and limitlessly rush to your aid and administer forgiveness, and healing, and grace, and love, and kindness, and rest into the former dry land of your beautiful city.
You are a city on a hill that cannot be hidden, denied, unloved, forgotten, rejected, left and/or lost; You, are the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14) Greater things have yet to come, greater things are still to be done, in your city.