Out of curiosity, I recently visited Wikipedia and found 29 songs listed with the title, "Stay." Stay. There is an ache, whatever the genre, in that single word. A desperate plea. An admission of some other over-arching emotion. Love. Fear. Loneliness. The need for companionship; for witness to our fragile existence. Don't go. Stay.
I am not immune to that ache. I have known it's many forms. I have been overcome and I have been victorious over this state time and again. My days now are filled with a joy and purpose I for so very long thought impossible. However, of late it has been my heart's cry. I have been privy to a particular healing group, a sisterhood of women who have sought truth in face of their darkest moments; women who have knelt before the cross of Jesus Christ and traded their shame for His righteousness. And I have seen God work miracles in their hearts. He has brought springs out of parched ground and gardens from wastelands (Isaiah 41: 18-19). Upon my sisters, He has bestowed a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. And we each walk away, displaying the LORD's splendor (Isaiah 61:3). I have literally seen these transformations weekly. I have been transformed.
Therefore, it stands to reason that I would not readily walk away from this holy site. But circumstances are commanding my respite. Some, frankly, are quite joyful ~ a fellow sister will stand in my stead and I am praising GOD for the chance for her to bear this witness and toil in this blessed vineyard as well! Some are near and dear to my heart; and some are, seemingly, just life. But as I watched the light from 13 candles illuminate the dark corner of a room, I said to my Adonai, "You can't ask me to walk away. Don't take this from me."
Why? Was I so selfish that I wanted this only for myself? Did I think this wouldn't happen without me in the room? No. It was the fear that if I left this arena, I would loose this closeness, this intimacy with my Yahew Roi [the LORD is my Shepherd]. I was desperate not to loose this holy place, this level of relationship with Him.
"Stay!" My heart cried out, "don't go!" Tears soaked my prayers, my worship; my knees grew numb from begging. But eventually, I had to get up. Life wouldn't wait (my 3 year-old needed breakfast and he is very adamant about eating). Throughout my days, I kept silently insisting, "stay. Stay!"
And in His tender way, my Abba took me into His arms, and wiped away my tears. He held me, He listened to my pleas, but He did not change His mind. His will was not bent to suit my desires. Instead, He told me of a time when another one of His children did not want to let go...
Paraphrased from Matthew 16:21-17:5, with personal commentary
Jesus revealed to his disciples that He would be put to death, a horrible death preceded by torture, by the chief priests of Jerusalem. There is a part of me that believes He did this not only to indicate His divinity, but to prepare those who loved Him. He was getting them ready for what was inevitable. Upon hearing this news, His disciples were frantic, most likely heartbroken. They pledged their lives in exchange for His. Peter even declared, "never!" Christ's rebuke was fairly harsh; but He never was one to pull any punches. Days passed without comment, though I assume that his dearest friends were still silently distraught. And He knew this. So, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John with Him to the top of a mountain for time alone to pray. Each man was probably thinking of this time as a chance to draw closer to Jesus, to soak up His nearness after such a distressing revelation. Up the mountain they went. During this prayer time, Christ is transformed into His heavenly glory; and He is met atop this mountain by Elijah and Moses. Why does this happen in front of Peter, James, and John? Maybe Jesus wanted to comfort them with the knowledge that He is the Son of God; therefore He knew what would take place and He had already made the choice to follow through ~ for the sake of every soul in the world. The disciples were astounded; some books say they were afraid, some say they didn't know what to do. And then Peter begs. Peter tells Jesus he will build three tents to house Christ, Elijah, and Moses ~ to keep Jesus there, in the temporal, in immediate contact with Peter. "Stay," is Peter's heart's cry. At that moment, the mountain is enveloped in a cloud and a voice from the cloud says, " This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him."
"Listen to Him." The implication being, "abandon your own plans. Follow His directions." Peter, who loved Jesus, didn't want to let go. He wanted to stay with Jesus in the closest sense. But Peter couldn't understand what Christ's death would accomplish. Peter couldn't know what plans God and Jesus had following the Crucifixion. In order to see the apex of all history, Peter would have to let Jesus go. He would be required to experience physical distance in order to have spiritual closeness beyond imagination. Peter would have to be obedient, in spite of his emotions. In spite of his heart. Peter heard the voice of God telling him to listen to Jesus. And Jesus was preparing him for a time of relationship which was beyond Peter's comprehension.
And so, my Heavenly Father showed me that I can not understand His plans. And sometimes, my heart's desire may actually stand in the way of those plans. Albeit unwittingly. So, He asks me to trust Him. Because whatever is on the other side is very much worth it.
Tonight, I kneel before my Adonai. I am letting go, Lord. Help me let go.