Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Gift of Years, Part 2

In my last post, I mentioned that there are certain gifts the Lord brings through the passing of time.  Contentment is one gift that the Lord has gradually sewn and grown in me over the past few years.

Yet there are other gifts I long for that can seem to remain just out of reach. 

Earlier this summer, we were at a church we have been visiting in Atlanta.  The pastor handed out a piece of paper containing suggested Bible readings for the week.  Before the service had ended, I decided to flip to that very Sunday’s reading: Psalm 121.

My eyes immediately fell on verses 3 and 4, and my kneejerk reaction was one of disgust and deep hurt.  (Which then led me to feel very uncomfortable and guilty, because I can’t stand it when my reaction to the Scripture is so negative.)  

I saw my handwriting in the margin of these verses: “January, 2009.”  I had claimed these verses for my twins in their first days and weeks of life:
“He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”

This was the passage I used to comfort myself as I left my children, my beloved sons, every night in someone else’s care in the NICU…  and every day when we were forced to leave for an hour during each shift change.  I told myself and others told me too, “You don’t need to worry; the Lord who cares more about John and Warren than you even do is with them.  He will neither slumber nor sleep.”

After finding out Warren died due to an accident, I couldn’t even bear verses like these.  But I still needed the Lord… He was all we had.  So I chose to ignore these verses, finding new ones to cling to and request of the Lord. 

Another verse that fell into the former category is Job 1:21:
Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”    You may even recognize this lyric based on this verse from a popular Christian song: “He gives and takes away, yet my heart will choose to say, ‘Lord, blessed by your name.’”

Indeed, it is hard for me to go there.  It is still hard.  I may feel increasing contentment on most days, but I can’t necessarily reconcile my heart with these types of verses.  Instead, the questions abound and I wonder where God was when my son died.  Was He asleep on the job?  And where has God been through our struggles, when we feel all alone and it seems those around us don't even understand?  Where is God in John’s life, when the miracle only seems halfway complete? 

So what gifts do I still long for?  Why did the Lord bring me back to Psalm 121 earlier this summer?  I think it was to remind me that I do still yearn for these verses to not only permeate to the depths of my being but to also bring forth hope.  Rich hope.  Hope that is founded in TRUTH, not in my limited experience and understanding.

The Lord revealed to me that week in June that I may not comprehend the intricacies of every verse with my finite mind.  HOWEVER, I can grasp the overarching themes throughout the Bible, which happen to be accurately portrayed in these passages. 

God IS good.  His name IS to be blessed.  He does care and watch over us.  He is intimately involved in our lives.

Which leads me to the “Part 2” of this post…  My mom sent me a great blog post by Beth Moore a couple of weeks ago.  In this post, she wanted the “big sisters” of the faith (the women over 40) to encourage the “little sisters” (which includes me).  She basically gave us all a pep talk, encouraging the little sisters to reach out for support while demanding the big sisters lay their problems and prayer requests aside in an effort to simply stand firm in their faiths and use this anchor to encourage the younger ones.

Beth wrote to the big sisters, “You and I have lived long enough to know that we’re going to make it and that God IS going to be faithful and He is INDEED going to bring beauty from ashes and He will most certainly, given enough time, work every single detail out for our good and His glory” (emphasis mine). 

Wow, I tear up now re-reading that.  What profound truth.  And you know what the Lord did for me as I read that passage?  It’s as if He said, “This is a deposit guaranteeing what is to come.  It has only taken a few years, and you feel increasingly content.  Now look at Beth Moore and these older women of the faith… they have also been through pain and hardships.  And yet, look!  Here they are, able to lay their problems and their past aside and boldly proclaim that I am faithful! That I do bring beauty from ashes!”

I realized I may not be there yet. I may have days when I can say what Beth did and believe it, but there are many days I just can’t if I’m honest.  When I simply cannot read certain passages with a good attitude or the right perspective. 

Nevertheless, I have hope.  I have hope that with additional years will come additional gifts… the gift Beth Moore spoke of, the gift of choosing to bless His name when He gives and takes away, the gift of knowing He isn't asleep on the job, and the gift found in the following verse.  A verse to aspire to and live by.  A gift that combines where God has brought me thus far and where He is hopefully bringing me as the rest of my life unfolds:

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” 
1 Timothy 6:6

Lastly, if you read the final part of Psalm 121, verses 7 and 8 state, “The Lord will keep you from all harm —
He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going
 both now and forevermore.”

There is something comforting that this passage both acknowledges the “now” and the “forevermore.” Our lives here and our lives in heaven. Like Warren, like others gone before us, and like you and me too, I am encouraged that, of all people and all objects and all entities across time and space, it is THE LORD and none other who watches over our comings and goings both now and forevermore...  Blessed be His name.

Gifts of the Garden (from my Daddy John's that come with time)
 My little gifts:

John in his stander.  This helps him bear weight on his legs, to strengthen his bones.  It also stabilizes his lower trunk so he can focus on improving his head control and use his hands to reach for toys.

1 comment:

  1. ME, I love these last two posts. Thank you for sharing how God is at work in your heart. Reading such concrete examples of Him at work in you is such a reminder that He is good and He is for us. Thank you so much for sharing your life and your sweet family with us! xoxo