Who’s Holding on to Whom?

I have three surviving children.

And every time I don’t hear from one of them when I expect to or I can’t reach them on their cell phone I have to take a deep breath and speak truth to my heart.

God began to do a good work in you. And I am sure that he will keep on doing it until he has finished it. He will keep on until the day Jesus Christ comes again. Philippians 1:6 WE

 

I have to talk myself out of plunging headlong off the precipice of dark “What ifs” that is always at the edge of my concious thought.

 I have to remember that even when I am right there with them, I am not in control.

I am not the one who orders their days and determines their steps.

You see all things; You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb; Every detail of my life was already written in Your book; You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it. Psalm 139:16 VOICE

all my days written

Losing Dominic suddenly, unexpectedly and violently has shaken my faith. All the verses I recited and underlined and “claimed” now bear witness against my doubting heart.

So I remind myself that God had a plan, He has a plan and that He worked His plan through Dominic and is now working it through me.

“Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; [and] he was buried with his ancestors” Acts 13:36 NIV

Here I am, a bit more than two years later, and I can say this:

If my grip on Jesus was the determining factor in staying connected, I would have fallen into the pit long ago.  If MY hold on hope decided whether or not the rope slipped through my hands, I would be lost.

But while I can muster the strength (sometimes) to grab desperately at a thread of His garment, I am not the one who holds Him.  He is the One who holds ME.

no one can snatch them

Jesus said:

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never lose it or perish throughout the ages. [To all eternity they shall never by any means be destroyed.] And no one is able to snatch them out of My hand.”

John 10:28 AMPC

I still have work to do, and I don’t want to be immobilized by fear of what might happen.  I don’t want to waste the days that I am given by worrying about the ones that might be taken away.

gods workmanship good works

For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]. Ephesians 2:10 AMPC

So I recite truth to my heart.  

I sing courage to my spirit.

I remind myself that while  I am not in control, but I am loved by the One Who is.

loved by the one in control

 

Jehovah-Jireh: The LORD My Provider

The first time God reveals Himself as Jehovah-Jireh, The LORD Who Provides, is Genesis 22.

Abraham and Sarah have received their son of promise.  But God tests Abraham.asking him to sacrifice Isaac.

Abraham obeys in faith, trusting God even in this request that seems to undo every promise the LORD had previously made to him.

How would he be the father of many nations if his only son was taken from him?

As they were going, Isaac noticed something unusual, “See here is the fire and the wood but where is the lamb for the burnt sacrifice?”  (Genesis 22:7)

To which Abraham replied, “My son, God Himself will provide a lamb for the burnt offering.” (Genesis 2:8)

Jehovah-Jireh, the LORD My Provider was his answer.  

He couldn’t see the provision, there were no loud bleats in the distance, but Abraham knew the character of the God he served and he trusted that what he needed God would provide.

And God did provide.

Isaac, bound on the altar, Abraham’s (trembling?) hand raised, the Angel of the Lord calls to Abraham:

“Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.  So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide” Genesis 22:12-14

I wasn’t asked to give up my son.

There was no miraculous intervention on that day.

No angel stayed the hand of circumstance that slew my child.  

But I do believe that even in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, the LORD is My Provider.

He provided His own Son, Who conquered sin and death and Who made a way through the Holy of Holies for my child to enter eternity straight into the arms of Jesus.  

I don’t have to fear that when Dominic left us, he was left alone.

I don’t have to worry that our seperation is forever.

I don’t have to wonder if he was “good enough” to get into heaven.  

I can trust in the character of my God, The LORD My Provider, that He has made full and adequate provision for me and for all those who trust in Him through Jesus to be redeemed and restored.

And He has provided friends and family and online communities and His Word to bring me comfort in the waiting.

He fills my heart with hope when my soul is weary.  

He grants peace when I am overcome with anxious thoughts.

He pours grace and mercy and love into the empty places so that being filled, I can overflow.

There are days when I wonder, days when I am afraid.  When those days come, I run to the tower of the Name of the LORD.  I remember that He is The LORD My Provider.

He has provided.  He does provide.  He will provide.  He IS His Name.

When struck by fear, I let go, depending securely upon You alone. Psalm 56:3 VOICE

Choosing Brokenness

From the world’s perspective there are only two potential responses to trials-better or bitter.

I can either use the struggle to strengthen my resolve to take charge of my life or I can give up and give in, wallowing in self pity.  

If I embrace popular culture as my guide, the best outcome I can hope for is that I grow as a result of sorrow, pain, conflict, tragedy and hardship.

But Scripture tells me that there is a third option:  I can choose brokenness.  

I can choose to submit my heart and my life to God and His purpose.  

I can lie prostrate, unprotected, impotent and trust that the One Who made me will ultimately remake these shattered pieces of what’s left of my life into a masterpiece, declaring His faithfulness and goodness.

“But enduring deep pain and unchangeable circumstances requires continued commitment to face the fork in the road over and over, and to choose well each time.”

It is A Daily Struggle

 

Waiting on Sunrise

I realize that some people reading this can’t imagine a scenario where Google Maps won’t guide them to the nearest Starbucks.

But I’m old enough to remember when paper maps were all we had, cell phones were science fiction and Interstate exit signs didn’t include helpful footnotes to tell you what restaurants and gas stations were just beyond the tree line.

Even further back in time, people traveled with only the sun and stars to mark their progress.

The rising sun was a sure and faithful witness to which way was east.

Every morning a wise traveller took note of where they had been and made sure that they were headed in the right direction to get where they wanted to go.

Grief often feels like I’ve been picked up by a whirlwind and deposited in a country with no familiar landmarks and all the signposts are in another language.

If I try to depend on my own sense of direction, I’m condemned to walk in circles, wind up lost and never find my bearings.  I will not be able to point myself toward home.  .

For my hurting heart, God’s Word is my morning sun.

I orient my thoughts to His truth and walk on, even when I’m unsure of the road, because I can trust His promises.

Each day, I shake off slumber, open my eyes and look for the infallible Guide that can lead me in the right direction.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and with hope I wait for his word.
     My soul waits for the Lord
    more than those who watch for the morning,
    more than those who watch for the morning.

Psalm 130:5-6 GW

 

 

 

Still Wrestling

If you’re looking on from the outside you might well think that I’ve laid most of my questions to rest; that I’m no longer wrestling with trying to comprehend both the sovereignty of God and the goodness of God;  and that I’ve figured out how to reconcile verses that seem to promise protection for those that love the Lord and the reality of death and destruction of some of the very same people.

But you would be wrong.

I do experience the peace that passes all understanding.  I do rely on Jesus to be the Arbiter of Truth and the Umpire of my questions:

Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always].

Colossians 3:15 AMP

.I am trusting fully in the ultimate redemption of my pain.

Yet there are moments when I am overwhelmed by the “whys”. Thankfully they don’t come as often as they used to.

Still, I refuse to pretend that I have it all figured out.  Five months later I continue to identify with what I wrote here:  Wrestling With God

 

When it Doesn’t Feel Like Grace

It’s been said that everything this side of hell is the grace of God.

But burying my child doesn’t feel like grace, it feels like punishment.

Or abandonment.

Or forgetfulness.

I cannot add my voice to the modern Christian chorus of “Everything happens for a reason”.

Is this my tree, set in the midst of my garden?  The one about which God says, “Trust Me”?

I am tempted to argue, tempted to try to frame the meaning of my test in terms my human heart can understand.

“God must not love me.”

“He must be hiding something.”

I am faced with the same question that mocked my first mother, “Did God really say?”

And, like Eve, I am tempted to give in to the fear that draws my soul to doubt the wisdom and goodness of God.

Why would He bring me to this place where I am forced to walk obediently in trust and without light?

But these are whispers of the enemy of my soul, luring me away from the only Source of hope and comfort that there is.

And he is skilled at turning my feelings against the truth.

I am powerless to fight the serpent in my own strength, too weak to answer what seem like reasonable questions.

So I throw myself on the mercy of Him Who made me, of Him Who brought me to this point of testing.

In my weakness I rest in His strength.

and finally He said to me, “My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness.” So ask me about my thorn, inquire about my weaknesses, and I will gladly go on and on—I would rather stake my claim in these and have the power of the Anointed One at home within me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 VOICE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oaks of Righteousness

We love to see majestic oaks and drink in the beauty of the curving branches and sit beneath the shade of their spreading canopy.  It takes decades for these mighty trees to grow large enough to command attention.  Harsh weather forms the branches into lovely shapes pleasing to the eye.

They stand as a testimony to endurance and strength.

Thirteen years before Dominic’s accident and death, God gave me this scripture when naming our farm-Isaiah 61:1-3:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

At the time, I focused on the glorious picture of finished oaks of righteousness.

In these months after our son’s death, I have begun to understand that the path to displaying the splendor of the faithfulness and father-heart of God is one of mourning, ashes and despair.  Unless I am willing to die to my idea of what life should be and what God should do, I can’t be transformed into the fruit-bearing vessel of grace He intends me to be.

It isn’t easy.  I’m still working to embrace this every day-I continue to rail against the fact that this is my life-but grace is seeping into the broken places.

I trust that God will continue to sustain me by His unfailing love and that one day I will be able to stand as a testimony to faithful endurance and the power of His strength.