on through the valley

Yesterday our pastor opened his sermon with Mary's Magnificat and her complete submission to God's will for her.  Then he told us what that submission cost the Mother of God: shame, suspicion, dismissal, whispers, pain, loss, death.  

Yes, he said, there's a redemption and a glorious prize at the end of God's call, but before that there is the walking through, the sharp piercing of the soul, the cross to carry all the way to your own painful death  - and each must be fully entered and known.

I can hardly imagine where this valley we walk will end.  The road ahead is more dark and fearsome than the eighteen years behind.   Perhaps a visit from an angel, a word from on high, would strengthen our own weary bones.  I read Mary's song and I wish I was younger, still fresh with hope and ignorant; wish praise would still burst forth from my mouth so easily - not have to be dragged from within in sheer determination.   But I am not young and fresh and full of promise any more;  I am tired and broken and sad in ways I can never tell you here.  

Yet, fool that I am, I still believe. 

I found this in the Miroslav Volf book yesterday:

Divine grace comes often to us through the ambiguities of life, not apart from them."

It's true....and perhaps the reason why I am so uneasy with the Christian world I find myself a part of.  This faith I have to live isn't something that can be prettied up and plastered on a snazzy website or engraved on dinnerware or distilled into a greeting card line.   I don't even know how to swallow that silliness anymore and I'm sure not going to offer it to the other people I know who are bruised and weary and lonely and sorrowful as I am.  

Mary didn't live a Hallmark faith either...her path seems  Divinely-designed for poverty and shame and loneliness and gritty reality.  That knowledge is what keeps me hanging on:  that despite all voices to the contrary, the path of God is for the confused and broken and despairing. 

I believe; I have to believe in a plan and a good God or there is no use getting up tomorrow.  But I will get up and I will keep putting one foot in front of the other and I will keep dragging praise from the depths because I do believe and I'll keep on going through this valley.