Sade Vav Resh
I came into the library here on base a while ago (to soak in all the air conditioning I can for an hour) and to reflect on this week with the Lord, and the sum of it all came to me in an instant...
I first opened my computer to write but got immediately distracted by my friend Daniel who was face-timing his parents. I mean, I face-time my family often, but Daniel does it in Swedish, which is a lot more entertaining than English. I took a moment to just watch and listen to him speak, not being able to understand his words but thoughtfully noticing the tone of joy in his voice. So eventually I turned my attention back to writing and just before I could begin my friend Grayce comes through the door offering Marias, a very normal but oddly delicious cracker/cookie that we always buy in town. So I enjoyed snacking and talking with her for a moment, but we both decided to focus back on what we came to the library for, and so I turned my head back to my computer. But alas, I was again distracted. My friend Mikailah, who was supposed to meet me in the library to do some writing along with me, burst through the door with her swim suit on, letting me know that she instead decided to go jump off the recently renewed dock into the ocean with a another group of students. I lightheartedly laughed at her kindness for letting me know, not at all surprised at her decision to swim instead of sit in the library, and again went back to writing. And as I finally could open my laptop to do some work, I felt a slight pang of disappointment that another distraction hadn't came through the door. After all, these people weren't distractions at all, but constant and bold reminders of the joy that overwhelms my soul at my new home. And with each distraction, I'm reminded that not only I belong here, and not only do the others belong here, but we belong here together. God hand picked each and every student to attend the YWAM DP January 2017 DTS because we were a family before we even knew it.
This past week was our first official week of DTS. We each had to complete our homework assignments, work duties, meal preps and cleanups, and attend class Monday through Friday. The staff keeps reminding us that sure, we love all the other students now, but give it some time and we'll want to fight to the death. I'm not sure though, I just keep loving them more and more. Experiencing the reality of DTS life with this group of people fills my heart with so much love I feel like I may pop by the time May comes around. Each class this week gave us the opportunity to share our heart and vulnerability with each other in ways that only God could ordain, and just a week into meeting these people I feel like I've known them my whole entire life. God sure does know my heart much, much better than I do. A month ago I still struggled with not being at college, and not living the "normal" high school graduate life. Now I know that this is where I belong and I wouldn't want it any other way. I can't imagine if I would have ignored God's call and just done what I felt like at the time. Sure, maybe college would have been nice, but I couldn't have chosen the kind of blessings I am receiving here on my own. This is a pure and REAL gift from the creator of this universe who loves me so much that he asked me to be uncomfortable for a short while merely so he could bless me beyond my wildest dreams. What a God we have. His love for me blows my mind every day.
Nonetheless, my heart has been twisted and wrung high and dry a few times since we've been here. God has asked me to approach struggles of my heart that I bury deep enough that sometimes even I don't know they're there. But one lesson we learned this week in class was all about God. Before that class even began, my heart was heavy. Satan was sneaking up so close behind me I was getting shivers down my neck. And all through class I felt his dark presence creeping into my heart and manifesting itself through negative thoughts about myself, doubts in God, and tears I didn't want to be releasing. But I did my best to listen throughout the entire class, even when I didn't want to. I heard our instructor talk about God's omnipotence, his love, his mercy, his knowledge, his eternal presence, and so on. And at the end of class she asked us to approach a situation in our life that made us question God's character or even his existence. She told us to "hack it out with God" and do whatever we had to do to ask God to give us understanding.
I didn't even have time to think before the tears started flowing. I buried my head into my legs and silently screamed at God for allowing a tragedy to take place that I am completely unable to understand. A few months ago some friends of mine were killed in a tragic plane crash. It was a complete shock, and tore my heart completely in half. Before that, I had never experienced true grief. No one that close to me had ever died before in a way so shocking, and I couldn't understand how I was supposed to grieve or how I was supposed to understand why the heck God allowed that to happen. For a while I sought and sought understanding, but as other events in my life took precedence of my attention, I simply pushed my questions to the back of my mind. I still think about them every single day. Lisa, Luke, Emma, and Maren. I see them everywhere and in everything. I talk about them often. My best friend suffered so greatly from their loss and my heart grieves for her every single day; but she loves to talk about them, and for that I'm so thankful. I love to listen to her tell their stories, and I have found joy in telling my own to my new friends here at DP. I talk about them as if they're still alive. Partly because they are to me, and partly because I am simply not able to think about their death. But there isn't anything that makes me question God more than that accident. There have been many times in my life that I have questioned the sovereignty of God, but none more than I do when it comes to that plane crash. As much as I didn't want to be sitting in class crying and screaming at God in my head, I needed to. God knew, and I knew a little bit too. I didn't understand why he allowed them to be taken from us, and why I'm allowed to continue on in my life but my best friend still cannot get get through a day without crumbling from their loss. But I struggle with the ability to be truly vulnerable in front of others, and as much as I needed it, I wouldn't allow myself to cry loud enough for others to hear. So I decided to flip open my bible to Lamentations 3 and read a little, praying for God to give me something. Anything. Jesus, please meet me here.
Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I DARE TO HOPE:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
- Lamentations 3: 19-24 (emphasis mine)
I dare to hope... I dare to hope... I dare to hope... Hope is the most risky of risks. Hope says, "I will think the best despite the possibility that the worst will occur." A quote from Lemony Snicket reads, “Strange as it may seem, I still hope for the best, even though the best, like an interesting piece of mail, so rarely arrives, and even when it does it can be lost so easily.” So I allowed my soul to meditate on that for... daring to hope. And for a second I felt like a heroin ready to save the world from destruction because I held the most dangerous weapon in my hands: hope. And then my attention fell to verse 24 "The LORD is my portion" and as I read it over and over again, I realized that I didn't really understand it. I mean, I can assume it means something along the lines of the Lord being really important and such, but no one I've ever heard in my life has called anybody else their portion, so I decided to do a little research.
I found a website that describes that context of portion as such: we have a possession that transcends all trial, tragedy, and difficulty. Woah. When I read that, I knew God was onto something. So as I kept reading the article, it directed me to Psalm 73, which says “my flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” and if you look at the literal interpretation of that verse (psahat) it is the hebrew word “she’ar” which means kinsman, close advisor, or ingested and digested food. So all these things that are closest to us, as close as our own individual flesh will fail, meaning that NO ONE on earth can understand why the unrighteous prosper and the righteous don’t. God told me that I'll never understand. I'll never understand why their gone and I'm still here even when I feel sometimes like it should be the other way around. But I DARE TO HOPE because we have a GOD that transcends all trial, tragedy, and difficulty.
Anyway, the word “strength” in that verse is the Hebrew word “sur” which means “rock”. The hebrew letters which spell the word are “sade, vav, and resh”. The sade letter represents humility, which is followed by the vav letter. Vav is a connecting letter that is often used as a conjunction. So the vav letter is connecting us to something. And the resh is the letter that represents the holy spirit. So vav is connecting us to the holy spirit. The sade letter tells us HUMILTY, which is what we must DO FIRST, in order to be connected to the holy spirit. God humbled me by first directing me to the contextual definition of "portion"...But there's more (God always does that). One psahat meaning of portion can be the hebrew word “kalak” which is rendered as territory, equal portions, and separation. And in its entire context, psalm 73 is speaking about discernment. “My flesh and my heart may fail” in discernment— only the holy spirit can give true discernment (the first definition I found of portion). God is our portion OR separation. God separates the truth from that which is not true. But this word “portion” is the same word that is used in Numbers and Deuteronomy when speaking about dividing portions among lands and tribes. 11 of the 12 tribes of Judah received a “portion” of the land. But the levites did not, and were to spend their time NOT cultivating the land, but cultivating their knowledge of God in order to lead the other 11 tribes to an understanding of God. And in return they received a portion of what the other tribes harvested. So in other words, when looking at portion from this context, the wicked and unrighteous may prosper materially, but we don’t seek a portion of material blessings. GOD IS OUR PORTION. We need no such thing, even humans. We only need God. Why should we long for understanding when GOD IS OUR PORTION FOREVER. If God is truly our portion, we will cease the power to understand because our trust lies not in the treasures of this life, but in the treasures of the kingdom. And I know without a doubt that Lisa, Luke, and Emma got to heaven and unloaded buckets of spiritual treasure for God, because they were some of the best servants I will ever have had the opportunity to share life with.
Sheesh God, thanks for meeting me there, as you always do. I yelled at him, and he didn't yell back. He gently took my hand and lead me Lamentations, which led me to Psalms, which led me to apologizing to God for me trying to be the controller of my life. And even though he pulls those kind of moves on the daily, I am still so amazed and surprised that the God of this universe would not only have such have patience with my anger, but be gracious enough to so carefully remind my heart who He is. He didn't tell me the reasons, he didn't tell me why, he didn't give me justification for his actions because he didn't need to. I should've never asked. He simply told me who he was, and reminded me that that was enough. HE IS ENOUGH. He is our rock, and he is a rock that isn't broken by my demands for understanding. He is a rock that can never be moved. Sade Vav Resh. He is all I need.
** Contribution of Hebrew words to chaimbentorah.com