How does a heart survive a storm? I certainly don’t know how. A storm can stomp a heart, shatter it even, but it is possible for a heart to break and still survive. This I know with every thread of my soul. This I know.

This is not a post about God picking up the pieces and making something beautiful from the wreckage; He does, oh, He does. But when you are holding shards of your shattered-to-pieces heart in the palm of your hand, you can’t see past the hot, red mess of it all to the place where Beauty is born. You can’t see. You are blind to beauty because your dreams are covered in death’s cloak. Covered, invisible, gone. And that is often where the Lie begins to speak.

I am covered in this mess.
I am invisible to God.
My entire being… is gone.

And whether it’s a slow, agonizing death or sudden and tragic, all of life gets tipped upside down as you attempt to sort it out. And in the searching and seeking, you realize that you can’t see.

I took the kids on a walk since it finally stopped raining and the sun showed up after a long vacation. Flanking either side of the road, ripples of standing water reminded us that there had been a storm. Some were deep and ran like rivers. Others were shallow and still. My first thought was to classify each one as proof- hard evidence- that a storm had ripped through this place. But the more I let it collide with the question how, the more it occurred to me that perhaps I was looking at this upside down.

Puddles aren’t just proof; they’re collections.

Words that have made deep impressions on my own heart in the wake of a devastating storm flooded my backwards thinking. “Blessed are those who trust in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.” (Psalm 84:5-7)

The Valley of Baka never meant a thing to me until I figured out that I had been there. Baka means “weeping” and I know that place well. Loss of any kind will bring you to the Valley of Sorrow whether your bags are packed or not. Tears brim from the not-seeing and overflow into reservoirs deep in the soul. Like the salt that remains long after tears dry up, puddles are what’s left of heartache. A puddle holds what remains after the storm.

And puddles can be pools of blessing.

At the park down the road, there were more reflectors of the sun, proudly announcing the presence of light that has been hidden for too many days. Bending over one such water collector, I looked in. Smooth as a mirror in the stillness of calm, I accepted its invitation to bend further and find myself. When you are trying to survive a storm and water is rising up to your eyeballs, it is really hard to see anything but water rising up to your eyeballs.

Puddles help us to see beyond the water. In that bending low to look at our reflection, gazing inward at the place we’re in, we begin to see that where we are is not who we are. Stooping over puddles also forces us to come to terms with the truth that we are very, very small and somehow, that is the most comforting thought of all since smallness means Someone greater is in control of the mess. Smallness means it’s not our job to figure out the how; we just have to cling to the Who. Smallness means we just have to believe it’s possible for a heart to survive a storm.

Because aren’t all things possible with God?

Jesus left His throne and entered our mess, took on our pain. He was sent by God to heal every shattered heart. Brokenness is what brought Him here. Love is why He came.

Jesus sees you even when you can’t see you.
I love how the psalmist uses the words pass through. Passing through the Valley of Tears, not parked there. Moving past the ache of loss, not sinking down into it. Going on, not in our own strength but in His. The passing through is what keeps us from standing still. That’s what pilgrimage is: a long journey of passing through from here to there.

Here- where storms crush hearts to pieces.
There- where there is no more pain, no more tears, no more loss and everything is complete and made new.

The passing through part is the daily part. The becoming part. The making-everything-new. We are not there yet, but we don’t have to stay here either.

We can choose to move, to pass through.

God gives us a way to move: from strength to strength, one step at a time. It’s a daily thing- kinda like the bread thing. He promises to give us all we need to pass through today. And when the storm subsides, beautiful reminders of His outpour of Love and Grace beg us to come peer in and see who we are in Him and how far we’ve traveled in His strength.


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