Weary Prophets; Broken Kings (SB3MO)



Greg and I are spending some time at his family’s timeshare in Sky Valley. We are alone for six days. No kids. No pets. No work. No alarm clocks. Our only job is to eat, sleep, rest, and pray–the summer of our indolent recovery continues.

We have been coming to the mountains for nineteen years–never before alone. We have been here with foster children, our children, his mother, his sisters, his niece and nephew. It’s always been candy apples, shopping trips, waterfalls, petting zoos, and games of Trouble.  Nothing loud or raucous, but affirming, traditional fun. There was bustle, and, sometimes, amid it all, Greg and I were allowed to sneak away.

When we had young children, some of the truest happiness we found was in an unplanned outing. A neighbor saying, “Go to the movie; I’ll keep the kids.” A sister-in-law inviting the children over for popcorn and a movie. Here in Sky Valley, Greg’s mother would sometimes say, “You two can go. I’ll get the girls to bed.” At those words, we would fling on our shoes and be out the side door before she could reconsider. We’d head to Highlands, NC, for a quick dinner or to nearby Black Rock Mountain State Park, which offered silence and an incredible view.

Monday night, we went alone again to Black Rock Mountain. As we drove on the curvy two-lane road, we were above the treetops. Eric Church’s “Record Year” was on XM, and when we got to the top of the mountain, only four people were there. Life should have been good.

Greg and I got out of the van, plopped down on a railroad tie, and silently stared off into the distance. Mountains, everywhere. Tiny semis on the long, distant highway. A storm rolling in. Little begging birds on the nearby railing. I felt nothing.

We moved to sit under the metal pavilion as the rain began, and I said, “Greg, the mountains aren’t working. For the first time in my life, when I look at the mountains, I feel nothing.”

He confessed that he didn’t, either. Then, ever the science teacher, he explained: “Usually, we are here, emotionally.” He put a flat hand at chest level and continued, “We see the mountains, and we are emotionally lifted to here.” His hand moved to his shoulders. “Right now, we are here.” His hand was at knee level. “We are so low emotionally that the mountains can’t even get us to midline.”

Emotions, explained by the most phlegmatic of men.

We sat there. I thought about the cattle on a thousand hills. About a God who needs nothing, and we who have nothing to give.

This year has been about all the nothing.

A decade ago, we learned to appreciate life and health and children in ways that most young couples never do. Cancer taught us to care for one another, to value precious time. Watching too many friends die and seeing even children’s lives cut short, our priorities were changed, and money and material things lost some power. We struggled with anger over the things we had seen and the prices we had paid. While we still were not sunshine and rainbows people, we were solidly grateful for what we had and what we were given. We knew, in the scheme of things, we had much.

And we wanted to protect what we had. Because we thought we had it. That it was ours. Even after being dealt several bad hands, I think at some level, we still thought held a few cards.

This, this continual sixteen month unraveled reeling–from Greg’s mother’s death to April’s pregnancy to the baby’s death to April’s potential move–this total devolvement into breathless pinballs, this has wiped us clean and obliterated any idea of control, much less the absurdity that we have it.

We are at the truest “but God” moment in our lives.

God and doctors won’t fix this. God and money won’t fix this. God and friends won’t fix this. This, when we are on the other side, will be all God.

I like that we all at least know that there is an other side, that we will see it.

That in this obliteration, in this weird emotionless and apathetic land, we still know and expect to see God. That we have heard enough about weary prophets and broken kings to know that we are no different. That the ancient God who heard and saw them is the present God who hears and sees us.

They survived. They saw His hand move. David wrote, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”

I could cry this verse forever. I could cry forever.

We are so broken. So much is broken.

We wait on goodness. On life.  On the Lord.

3 thoughts on “Weary Prophets; Broken Kings (SB3MO)

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