Sunday, July 15, 2012

Wrestling of This Soul

"This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." 1 John 5:4

I was lying on my bed this afternoon trying to grab some moments of rest, but my spirit was struggling too severely to find rest today.  I hate those days of wrestling, crying, battling the unseen.  Today I was feeing much like a boxer lying bloodied and bruised on the mat, with the referee's count at 6...7...8...  I reached a weak hand up to grab a devotion book that I keep in my room.  The referee's counting paused.

I read:
"To trust in spite of the look of being forsaken; to keep crying out into the vast, whence comes no returning voice, and where seems no hearing; to see the machinery of the world pauselessly grinding on as if self-moved, caring for no life, nor shifting a hairbreadth for all entreaty, and yet believe that God is awake and utterly loving; to desire nothing but what comes meant for us from His hand; to wait patiently, ready to die of hunger, fearing only lest faith should fail---such is the victory that overcometh the world, such is faith indeed."  --George MacDonald  (excerpt from Streams in the Desert)

The words hung in the air all around me: to desire nothing but what comes meant for us from His hand...

The truth is that today is one of the few times in my life that I am actually scared of the thing I believe He wants to give me.  From my limited human perspective, I see the weight of this thing in His Hands, and it *appears* that if He drops it into my life, everything precious to me will break and crumble into a million fragments.

Here's a word picture:
Let's say that I have a delicate crystal table that I has some broken pieces and has been mended here and is fragile and in need of some TLC.  And He seems to be asking me if I'm willing to trust Him to drop a 1,000-pound wrecking ball onto my crystal table.  The wrestling is agony because I love my crystal table dearly. The wrecking ball swinging above it is nerve-severing, as I want to pick up my table and run the opposite direction.  
Remember that I'm human and have very limited perspective.  What I feel is what is SEEMS from my point of view.  He is asking me to trust Him with something far bigger than I've ever had to trust Him for in my life.

And I'm scared.  I feel sick.  I'm running the opposite direction.  And there is no peace when you run away from Him.

Am I willing to truly, really desire nothing but what comes meant for me from his hand?

The tossing and turning in my spirit continued on this afternoon, wearing into the evening.  And I read on in my devotion book, skipping ahead to tomorrow's devotional thought.  It was about Abraham not withholding his son Isaac from God when God asked.

"Because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son...I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven...because thou has obeyed my voice."  Genesis 22:16-18

"And from that day to this, men have been learning that when, at God's voice, they surrender up to Him the one thing above all else that was dearest to their very hearts, that something is returned to them by Him a thousand times over."
"That is just the way God meets every real sacrifice of every child of His.  We surrender all and accept poverty; and He sends wealth.  We renounce a rich field of service; He sends us a richer one than we had dared to dream of.  We give up all our cherished hopes, and die unto self;  He sends us the life more abundant, and tingling joy."  --C. G. Trumbull
And another quote on the same page:

"We sometimes seem to forget that what God takes He takes in fire; and that the only way to the resurrection life and the ascension mount is the way of the garden, the cross, and the grave.  
"Think not, O soul of man, that Abraham's was a unique and solitary experience.  It is simply a specimen and pattern of God's dealings with all souls who are prepared to obey Him at whatever cost.  After thou has patiently endured, thou shalt receive the promise.  The moment of supreme sacrifice shall be the moment of supreme and rapturous blessing.  God's river, which is full of water, shall burst its banks, and out upon thee a tide of wealth and grace.  There is nothing, indeed, which God will not do for a man who dares to step out upon what seems to be the mist; though as he puts down his food he finds a rock beneath him." --F.B Meyer
Soul, please quit wrestling...please surrender...

Friday, July 13, 2012

When You're Up at 3 a.m...


It's 3am, and I may very well be the only person awake in town.  I cannot sleep.  I WANT to sleep.  I NEED to sleep.  But I simply cannot.

So, I sit to let thoughts tumble...

Five years ago, God took my unborn son Elijah home to Heaven.  Soon afterward, He led me into orphan ministry, showing me that the hole in my being matched the hole in an orphan's being when they lose their parents.  Point taken.  I accepted the challenge with determination and passion.  I released my Elijah and walked into God's plan for my life in orphan ministry.

But today, I stepped into the garage to get a breather from our summer's orphan ministry experience.  It had been a rough couple of weeks, and I needed some quiet and space for a few solitary moments.  The door of the garage was open, and outside, rain was coming down gently.  The water was running down the driveway in little currents.  And all at once, as if the walls of a dam were suddenly broken, a hundred little thoughts of my little Elijah came flooding to my mind...the silent heart monitor, the quiet birth, the gaping loss.  

These thoughts had come to me earlier in the day too, and they had caught me entirely off-guard.  See, I had determined from day one that I would NOT be defined by the loss of my child.  I would not wallow in self-pity or pain.  I would never be one of those people who just cannot ever seem to get over a hurt. I would heal and move on.  And I have.  I truly have.  And yet, it's part of my fiber...part of me, as he was part of me.  But why now were the thoughts coming, entirely surprising me?

The exhaustion of the past couple of weeks must have ripped the sleeping emotions by the roots.  And I cried.  I gritted my teeth and prayed, "WHY??"  Here's some gut-hitting truth:  Today I wanted to erase everything...go back somehow...plead with God to not take my son...explain to Him that I'm simply not the right one to serve orphans...ask Him to please give me Elijah and give the orphan ministry calling to someone else, someone who would be better at it.  Today, for reasons I don't even understand myself, I just wanted my baby back...and everything else that I seemed to have lost when I lost him (things I cannot share with anyone else).

Because the reality is this: serving orphans requires suffering.  And today I was weak and tired and entirely sick of suffering.  And there, in that weak point, my mind somehow made connections back to my loss of Elijah.  And I no longer wanted to accept it.  I wanted to undo it, erase it, beg for a different path.  

Then the enemy's words planted:  Maybe I heard wrong.  Maybe I'm not supposed to be in orphan ministry.  Maybe I misunderstood.  Maybe this was some big mistake.  The battle in the mind is the hardest battle sometimes.  We fight not against flesh and blood but against the unseen.  My MIND recognized that this was a spiritual battle, but I was entirely too exhausted to stand tall today.

I wallowed.  I clenched my jaw.  I let tears come.  And I asked, "WHY??"  I just wanted to crawl into bed and come out a few days later when the winds shifted directions.  

Mostly, I just wanted my son.

But, like so many times before, I came back to the reality that I had to release him again.  I had to accept the fact that my life took an unexpected turn that only God understands.  And I had to wipe my tears and walk back into the house and into the next minute of service to Him.

We could have chosen an easy summer.  In fact, we gave up a very anticipated vacation because everyone in our family agreed that, instead of pouring into ourselves, we would pour into one of God's precious children.  We CHOSE to follow Him into service to "the least of these."  And sometimes that can sound glorious and impressive, but the truth is that it's sacrifice, raw and painful at times.  

He suffered for us.  We choose to suffer for His Kingdom work.

Here I am, Lord...even at 3am 4am.