Wednesday, August 02, 2006


There are days when all I can see are tangled threads and a jumble of serged stitches designed to keep edges from fraying.

On those days, I like to read again this passage from the book Finding God by Larry Crabb. He wrote the book after losing a brother to a plane crash. I read it nearly ten years ago, shortly after I had lost my own brother to cancer. I want to read it again if I can find my copy (and I will find it, eventually), in light of the current issues in my life. I really don't remember that the rest of this book had an impact on me, but the passage that follows never fails to move me every time I read it.

From the book, Finding God, by Larry Crabb:

"As we remain prostrate, without scrambling for a new way to revive our spirits enough to stand up and carry on with life, we hear a new voice, faint at first, but clearer and more real than any we have we’ve ever before heard. It calls us to pray, to feed on God’s word, to imagine that our wildest dreams will soon be reality.

That morning a few months ago brought something close to revival. I awoke from my troubles sleep, still feeling immobilized. I had no energy. Like a puppet pulled by strings, I managed to crawl out of bed and stumble to the shower stall.

I knew one thing. Without a deeper revelation of God, I would have no energy and no reason to do anything. I was trapped by him.

And then, as I showered, the thought struck me: others go through trials similar to mine, some far worse. Many have already endured and remained faithful. Others have much more to face. Perhaps, I thought, I can draw strength from those ahead of me and become a source of strength for those still behind.

I remember smiling at that point. If that’s true, I thought, then there’s reason to sing. So, with respect for great tradition, I burst into song while hot water pounded on my back. God had spoken to me. I had been immobilized by terror into a state of alertness that allowed me to hear God’s voice.

That’s how it sometimes happens. We begin to sense a truth that we formerly could only explain, that God does not despise a broken and contrite spirit. Without noticing the movement, certainly without conscious effort, we rise to our feet, slowly, somehow beckoned and then irresistibly empowered to do so, and we become alert to a dimension of living that feels strangely familiar. A series of impending reunion with someone we’ve never met but have always known makes us tingle with undendurably passionate anticipation.

For a few moments, we become alive with a consuming passion to know Christ, to taste him as we would a nourishing meal, and to enjoy him as a cherished bride enjoys the wedding night with her bridegroom.

Our prayer life is changed. Now we actually talk with someone we know as a Father in the very best sense of that word. We read the Bible with new delight. Statements we heard as children about the Bible being a love letter finally begin to make sense. Our hearts burn within us because we see Christ in every story and epistle. We know the Holy Spirit in new ways that feel personal and unmistakably present, and we sense the loving, mighty hand of God on our lives and in our hearts.

Then, as it always does, the glow fades. We look around us and realize we’re still out of the garden. The car breaks down, and we call the people with the tow truck, who arrive two hours late and overcharge us for our services. A plane crashes, and we mourn the death of a husband, a father, son, brother, friend. Our bodies grow weary more quickly, and new aches and pains appear almost daily. Gas tanks run empty. Power companies want to be paid. Depression recurs. Sexual struggles that seemed to disappear come back.

Employers ignore good performance, and good work goes unrewarded. Someone snubs us and we’re flooded with self-hatred. A good friend gets caught in an affair. An unmarried daughter tells her parents she’s pregnant, and a son is arrested for drug possession.

Was that moment of knowing God real? Was it fantasy? Is he really there? Do I want to know him, or do I just want a way out, a way to feel better? Is there any joy in Christ apart from the blessings of godly kids, good friends, health, and money? Could I make it with just him?

And then our attention returns, in no particular order, to that inconsolable longing, the enticement of godly people, our wretched self-centeredness, the reality of God’s spirit, the inevitability of suffering, and our hope for a better day—and again we are immobilized. The frantic pressure to handle everything is relieved and we fall down, stilled by the overwhelming awareness of our souls, life, and the eternal: reduced to wanting God—and nothing more. The tingle of anticipation returns, and we realize that the hope within us has not died. Then he speaks. Once again, our hearts are lifted along with our bodies, and we sing, we dance, we shout for joy.

Then life continues. Another day, another disappointment, another pleasure. But now, as we walk along the path of everyday living, something is different. Our focus is drawn more easily to Christ. And slowly we change. Some even report a glow, an enticing fragrance.

Then one day we move from this world to the next. And our Lord greets us with a bear hug. We collapse before him in reverence and wonder, but his embrace keeps us close. He laughs and says, “look behind you!” And there is our brother who died years ago, happier than we’ve ever seen him, and our parents, and our miscarried baby, and Dr. Luke, and Elijah, and Enoch. Now we’re laughing. We can’t stop. And the sweetest voice in all creation says, “Welcome. You’re finally home!”
Larry Crabb, Finding God


  1. Oh annie...this moved me. I am so very sorry about all of your tangled threads right now.

    How did the test go???

  2. Beautiful. That book is going on my "to read" list.

    Thank you for that, Annie. I, too, needed to hear that message today.

  3. Good stuff. Still praying for you...

  4. I also needed to hear this today....funny how that works......

  5. I read that book in 1993 - it was a very key book in my journey. That summer I also read Inside Out by Larry Crabb and they both were instrumental in turning my life in a different direction.
    I like this part: "Do I want to know him, or do I just want a way out, a way to feel better?"
    now, that's getting down where it's tangled and dark!
    thanks for sharing your threads with us!

  6. hey wait! I just re read my comment and thought geez that sounds bad. Like, I read that book so long ago la dee da.
    sorry if I came off that way, it was just a trip down memory lane! all of it to also say I'm with you at least as much as I can be.

  7. Princess Glad you enjoyed it. (I am not sure what test you are referring to...??)

    Jules I think it is beautiful, I am deeply moved everytime I read it.

    Rach Thanks....

    Ayekah It is funny how that works.

    Captainwow You have reminded me that I intended to get "Inside Out" and read that one too, but have not done so. I'll have to see if I can find a copy.

    And your comment did NOT sound bad to me! I am glad you told me about the book being a key book for you, it makes me feel more certain that I ought to find my copy and read through it again.

  8. I agree and I liked Wow's comment and think she should write a blog post on that topic!!

  9. Oh Annie! JUST what I needed to read this morning! Thank you!

  10. Thank you, Annie, for posting this. I also agree with Capt. Wow's comment. My head knows that it is all about Him. And my will usually knows that. But those emotions, oof, they do betray one.

  11. St. Casserole, it's good to see you around these parts again! I'm glad this was helpful to you.

    David, glad you liked it. Yes, the emotions do tend to tangle things up a bit.

    Patti-- Hi, and thanks!

  12. Thanks for posting this. I needed to be reminded.

  13. I am glad it was a help, Hope.

  14. annie, a bloggie friend of mine has been struggling since her beloved brother took his life only a short few weeks ago - she was on my heart so much this morning and i just read this. it is for her to read, so i am linking you to her.

    her name is jan and i am betting you've read her blog before a long while ago...

    peace, sister. be not a"frayed" :)

  15. Thanks, m2, I am trying hard not to be a"frayed"! I hope your friend does come by. If she wants to talk, I am here...

  16. annie-

    don't know if you remember me, but i used to blog a Spiritual Ingenue. It was my brother who took his life on June 26th of this year, and i've been working hard at the chore of grieving. I'm weary.

    Penni shared this link with me and it was more than perfect for where i am right now. Thank you sooo much for sharing this- i've had encounters like this since his death.

    the other day, I was thinking back on those first days after Gary's death, and how I could hear the Holy Spirit literally guiding my every step... "Jan, your keys are over there on the table. Pick up the phone and call soandso about directions to the funeral home..." etc etc. So clear and paternal, the voice. I had to go to Colorado without my husband and children, but I surely didn't go alone.

    Anyway, I have been somewhat sad because these days, I don't feel as "gripped" by the Spirit as I did in those first days. I realized that I would rather be a broken and crushed spirit than to be doing well, because it's in that weakest place we experience most of Christ's power.

    Those are my thoughts this morning. :) Thank you again so much for your words. Did you also lose a brother?

    jan aka Spiritual Ingenue

  17. i don't know if it linked to my new blog-

    hugs friend.

  18. Jan When you mentioned Spiritual Ingenue, I did remember you! I wondered where you went. That is a bad thing about the internet, you "meet" people and then you lose track of them.

    Isn't it wonderful, the way God grabs hold of us when we are least able to move and guides us so tenderly? I am sorry to hear about your brother. I know it's hard.

    I am reading blogs now, will check in at your new one and will comment more on there.

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