Psalm 81:16 With honey from the rock, I would satisfy you…
I am attempting to paint our honey pot, this symbol of the land of promise. I paint for a while until the pain creeps into my neck again, my heart longing for the finished product, for the wooden plank to be fully covered with paint. But I know the ramifications of not listening to my body, so I lay down my brush, frustrated that I cannot finish this honey pot today.
Honey, it flows and so do rivers, and you keep speaking to me about this river flowing out of me like the River Jordan that brought fertility to the land of milk and honey. But with all these bodily restrictions, it feels like you’re damming up a river, and I would rather not be restricted by this dam of yours.
I think of the dam downstream from the lake on which I live that the mill owners once used to harness power, to gather all the water on one side of the dam. Is that what You are doing with this dammed up body, Lord, harnessing your power, allowing all this living water to store up to be released in due time?
You have been telling me to “Wait for the Lord,” and I keep thinking that “waiting” means a week or so, but years are going by, and I am still waiting, and I just want to finish this pot of honey, just want to get to the land of promise. But the Israelites, they could not cross over into the promise land until they were finished with their remembering, until they gathered the stones in the middle of the river to remind the next generation what God had done. Because that remembrance was a whole lot more important than getting to the honey.
The dam that the mill owners used was on the River Chattahoochee and that word Chattahoochee, some think it means “painted rock”. And that’s what I feel you calling me to, Father, painting these rocks of remembrance like the Israelites who God told to gather rocks so that their ancestors would remember what God had done.
The Israelites walked on dry ground until they finished picking up the rocks, those stones of remembrance. And what had God done except dam up the Jordan, harness the water until they gathered all twelve. And it was not until they carried those stones across the riverbed that it started flowing again, and when it did, it returned to flood stages.
They are destroying the dams on the Chattahoochee River because the mills are long gone and no longer serve a purpose. But the Army Corps of Engineers is tearing it down in stages because it is a process to remove the obstacle that keeps this river from flowing freely.
You told me years ago that my healing would be a process, that it would come stitch by stitch, that it was more about the process than the healing, more about the journey than the honey. But I see this honey pot, and all this waiting, and it feels more like the slow trickle of honey, than the rushing rapids of this river that wants to flow out of me. But perhaps I have been too focused on the land of honey, on what lies ahead, and like the Israelites, I have forgotten the stitches you have already so graciously sewn along the way.
My four-year-old Katie comes home from school in the days just after quitting my honey pot, and her hands are full of painted rocks she painted at school. And God reminds me that in all this waiting, I must step out into the riverbed, stand on dry ground, gather up my own rocks to paint, and remember what Christ has done for me.
So for almost a year, I gather stones while this unfinished honey pot rests on my easel. Many months later, the pain is still here, but I pick up my brush and stop focusing on how slow the honey trickles, and how slow his healing needle sometimes stitches. One by one, I hear him whisper. One rock at a time, and as you paint the remembrance of what I have done, my needle will continue to stitch, one stitch at a time.
Last week at Vacation Bible School, Katie strung a bracelet out of beads, one by one until her bracelet said the words, “Trust God” with brightly colored beads in between, and then she strung a silver fish that said “Faith” right in the middle. She placed it around her wrist and wore it every minute of the day and night.
A few nights later, she climbs in my bed, shivering and crying and tells me that she has had a really bad dream. I pull her close to me and tell her that everything is okay, that it wasn’t real. She says in between deep breaths, “I dreamed I dropped my ‘Trust God’ bracelet in the middle of the lake, and it sunk, and I couldn’t get to it.” Her treasured possession was deep down in this lake that we live on, this dammed up part of the Chattahoochee River. I wanted to tell her that I know how it feels to lose something in the middle of this dammed up river, because over and over I have lost my trust in God, dropped that bracelet right down to the depths of this harnessed river, and when I have lost that trust, I can start to feel like I am in a bad dream.
I feel the rush of the rapids pent up in my heart and mind, but this body only allows the water to trickle out. But the water sometimes flows slow over the dam of this lake I see out of my window, and I remember that the power company decides how fast or how slow the water will flow over the dam. And He reminds me that whether the water trickles or rushes, this is all about his power, so I pick up one of these rocks I have gathered, and let the paint trickle out slow, and the words flow like honey, and the trust grow like the rushing rapids of the river…