If we had forgotten the name of our God
and spread out our hands to a foreign god,
wouldn’t God have found this out,
since He knows the secrets of the heart?
Psalm 44:20-21 CSB
I moved far away and He remembered my dwelling, remembered me back into place by His patience. I thought it was wisdom or good choices or inevitability but it was Him. He brought me home.
I tried systems to systematize the life meant to be free but they failed. The systems failed. There are no real rails to lay down, only worn paths I leave and return to, systematically maybe. I want all the ways to work and when they don’t I think new systems will help and when they don’t I find old paths again, eventually. No rails, no pavement, but plenty of evidence that others have been here. I keep learning the same things, in deeper grooves. I find revelations in revelation twice revealed. The third time is even better but it’s maybe not “the charm”.
Patient God waits. I fool myself into believing I am the patient one—How long, O LORD?— that God doesn’t have to be patient because what is time and doubt and eternity to an all-knowing God. What is patience? He is waiting while I think it’s me—the one waiting. He is waiting for the circle to complete for me yet again, and He is patient because I require it.
I’ve forgotten His name because His presence is so common, and because His image in the face of my neighbor is marred by my own reflection: I want to see myself everywhere in everything all the time. How does your story mirror mine? Where am I in the narrative? And how does this apply to me?
I’ve forgotten His name because He is everywhere. The finch the rose the naked trees in winter, beautifully normal, unmalicious, unpretentious; the sunrise and the foam on an ocean wave and the glittering drops of frozen clouds dangling on rosehips at the side of the road; God is with the mundane and the magnificent, which are everywhere, which are easy to overlook because they are all so common.
The Patient God re-members the disjointed in me. I was sure and then I wasn’t, and I searched for answers or ways to confirm the worst when the best seemed impossible. Then I searched for a god in my image who did things the way I wanted, but there was no room for the golden-thread of repair running through my seams, ripped. Rip.
RIP. Would a soul defiant ever rest in peace? I searched and found what I knew all along and it broke me,
because I had not the power to mend or to change or to stop anything.
Turns out, broken is a good place to be, as long as you lay the parts plainly out like a psalmist. The psalms allow me to rail and rally, to lament and rejoice, and I do both on a regular basis, conflicting the consistency of steady systems I wanted for life—all ups, no downs. There is no steady but the Mending God. There is no sameness from the days but there is wholeness—pieces pieced, broken bread assimilated. Maybe my best quality is that I keep returning. Or being returned. I forget and fall apart and am remembered.
The Patient, Mending God waits while I tear through my phases.
A light in the tunnel, whether it ends or not—that is my Patient, Mending God of Comfort. God in every dark place; God in every sad story; God at every well: Hagar’s and Joseph’s and the woman of Samaria. I know Him like my nightstand at midnight, the braille of my chapstick my glasses my phone my water, the way you know the things you can’t see. I grope for Him because I know He’ll be found. Because I know He is not far. 
This Patient, Mending God of Comfort is the God I know by experience, but not a god of my own making. I would make a god who requires no comfort or patience, one who folds into a pocket, small until I need him to be big, contained until I unleash him. The God Who Sees, The God Who Hears, Who Knows and Provides—He’s also the God Who doesn’t change everything the way I see fit to change it. He leaves some heartache as-is, some questions unanswered, and even the mending tears away sometimes.
Answers are not always comfort. Fixed is not always whole.
The Patient, Mending God of Comfort doesn’t need any better PR than this: life will break and God will mend.
Or: He will break so you can mend.
What is more comforting than God with us?
He keeps His own secrets, and I search them out while I try to keep mine. How this and why that; to what purpose, who for, and for crying out loud: HOW LONG O LORD? But questions asked long enough are just statements—I know this—because the secret things belong to the Lord  and I lose hope of answers, so I state facts: only God knows; He has a plan; God judges rightly.
Let me tell the truth without any secrets: I sometimes hate facts and I always hate cliches, but they’re both true and neither needs to be stated. A life spent seeking answers leads to a life just simply spent, and I am tired. I am looking for something now (and this is how I used to live but I wandered away so let me circle back); I am looking for something now that is a secret I don’t want uncovered, an answer I don’t want given, because that is how I hold on to hope. God is better and more and mysterious and I am satisfied in Him.
The Patient, Mending God of Comfort and Secrets is a God of infinite names, known in our experiences, in the dark, in the light, in the deep, empty wells of despair and the life-giving wells where all our deeds are known and we are still loved.
How long the wait is. How hard life is. How tired we all are.
How good is God.
 Acts 17:27 NKJV
 Deuteronomy 29:29, NKJV
Tresta Payne learned to appreciate the beauty of God from the landscape of the Pacific Northwest, where she lives with her husband and four children. She builds her own MFA in creative writing through homeschooling her children and tutoring others, finding every excuse to learn and read and grow. After twenty years of homeschooling she is ready for someone to hand her that degree. She enjoys a good, deep discussion with a balance of differing opinions, and works out her own thoughts in writing. Tresta walks a lot on the wild country roads around her home, with her dog and her thoughts and the nearness of God to keep her company.
A Field Guide to Cultivating ~ Essentials to Cultivating a Whole Life, Rooted in Christ, and Flourishing in Fellowship
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