• Dana L. Butler

For When Life Has Sharp Edges {what dims this everyday fire, and what makes it roar}

Tears well up quick.

My boy isn’t hurt, but he’s shocked and devastated.  Shards scatter and when porcelain shatters there are sharp edges.  I tell him to come, hold him close to keep his bare feet away from the broken bits.

Baby girl is beyond ready for her morning nap and entering Screaming Meltdown Zone so I hold her and hug him tight and the tears are just a flowin’ from them both.

I sigh, frustrated.  Sleep deprived.  Two crying kiddos and a floor covered in sharpness and it’s not quite 8:30am.

And in the moment, this whispered invitation from way down deep to quit kicking and screaming, Dana?

Another sigh.  This one originating someplace deeper within than the first.

I get a choke hold on my complaining flesh, will my frustration to scoot out of the way so my heart can sink into surrender.  So I can respond to Him in the midst of the grit and grind, these sharp edges of life and motherhood that so often become His carving knives as He forms Himself in my depths.

Ugh. My flesh is so strong-willed and there are days when instead of sinking into surrender, I sink into laziness and allow my heart to rest in this closed place.  Shut down to Him.  Unresponsive.  I stay frustrated for a while, even angry, because it’s comfortable and easy.

I will my soul to soften toward Him.  Command it open.  Wrestle my stubborn flesh that would honestly rather hold onto its frustration.  I grab my phone, blast my iTunes, sweep up shards of plate and toddler crumbs and call my heart to remembrance of Who is worthy of its attention and affection in the midst of all the flesh-grating inconvenience.

Who is worthy of my surrender.

The hours tick by.  Nap time rolls around and I finally still body and heart, pause to listen a minute.

There it is, and it’s only His grace.

This internal rumbling, so tangible it’s almost audible.  A low roar.

A fire-roar.

It pounds in my chest, weighs heavy in my belly, aches in my bones.  Too deep and too fierce for words.

Divine desire is a gift to be tended, stewarded before Him, and these days I’m almost frightened by the fierceness of my resolve to tend it and tend it well.  This fire of affection for Him — it must be guarded at all costs or I’m not alive.

I ache to live fully present to Him, wide awake, soft-hearted, surrendering to life’s sharp edges.  Allowing them to carve, to forge deeper rivers inside me,  instead of letting them force my heart into closed resentment.

See, I want — no, need — to do this life on the bleeding edge of knowing and adoring and desiring and communing deep with Him in every ounce of my day-to-day.  To steward the gift of this everyday raging fire.

It’s life or death for my heart.

Flames require oxygen in order to burn, so I groan inwardly, live this day-in, day-out, desperate cry:  May the sharp edges open me to the Wind that continually breathes this fire to life.

YES.  Open my soul, and fan. those. flames.

I give thanks for hot coffee, discipline myself to put pen to paper and fill journal pages.  I lay my heart bare before Him, confessing the things that dull my edge and close my heart and dim my affection, and the dulling and dimming and closing come mostly when I fight for perceived rights.  My “right” to convenience or my “right” to comfort or my “right” to hold onto my own life instead of laying it down in love for Him again and again.

And again.

I’m dulled and dimmed and closed when I resist His forming of Himself inside me.

Conversely, I contemplate what sharpens my heart and opens me to the Wind that fans the flames and I find it’s always surrender — quitting my kicking and screaming when life grates my heart and emotions raw.

Surrender that means letting go of the idols of comfort and convenience.  Surrender that happens in the moments when the needs of small people feel so big and unending that I just might fall into the ocean of them and never make it out.  Surrender that looks like wholeheartedly building block towers and reading book after book and disciplining my sweet boy and folding laundry piles and willingly initiating hard conversations and relentlessly pursuing a terrifyingly courageous, life-permeating authenticity as this ruthless worship before Him.

And, only by His empowering grace, surrender I will, and I’ll be ruthless about it.  Because He’s worthy of it.  Because His commitment to my thorough fulfillment and aliveness is fiercer than my own desire for it.  Because His heart toward me is utterly trustworthy.

And this is how I’m determined to live — open to the Wind, trusting and longing and burning with this lovesick ache, surrendered to the Hands that carve and form and conform me more deeply to Him.  My everyday life, incense rising before His throne.

And the sharp edges can’t ever really damage me if I’m surrendered to Him in the midst of them.  The carving only creates more space for His filling.

So let it be, Father.  Let me be.  Open.  Soft.  Surrendered.  Blazing.  Roaring.

White-hot-alive before You at any cost.

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