Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Selah - Unredeemed

My Story

I have bad days. I have good days.  I have days I think will never end.  I have days when I think life couldn't get any sweeter.  Isn't it like that for everyone?

After my previous post, I thought I would share a bit more about my journey in Christianity, in learning that it's ok to trust God and it's ok to hurt.  It is life in a sinful world that makes Christ so necessary!

Since the day our daughter died in the spring of 2003, my beliefs have been sorely tested.  I had only been a Christian for about a year when the Lord saw fit to take her home to be with Him. 

Before the Lord saved me, I struggled regularly with depression, and at times, thoughts of suicide even crossed my mind.  I knew I could never act on it, but still, to even think it.... 

After losing Abigail, those thoughts (not the suicidal thoughts, just the depression and cast-down-all-the-time feelings) that I had hoped were gone for good came back with a vengeance.  I doubted my salvation; I doubted God; I doubted my husband and our relationship; I doubted.  I couldn't reconcile in my mind the truth that God loved me and wanted the best for me with the fact that He just took my child out of my womb, and I would never hear her voice or touch her warm skin or watch her grow and change.  I would never have my daughter back. 

I stopped reading the Word regularly.  Going to church was something done because I knew I needed to, not because I necessarily wanted to be there.  I drifted father and farther from my only source of Comfort, and instead, tried to find the healing my heart and soul needed so desperately in other places. Keeping busy, going to school, putting on a brave face for everyone, spouting the words I knew I was expected to say, though my heart didn't really believe it in those moments-these and so much more never brought any comfort, only more and more emptiness.

Many other things encompassed the struggles I had during that time, but ultimately, the Lord in His mercy continued to lead me and guide me in the midst of all the darkness and pain I was experiencing.  Three short months after losing Abigail, I discovered I was pregnant with Ryan, and I started a journey to healing and forgiveness.  It was still a while before I felt the assurance of God's love and protection again, but the Lord used my pregnancy to slowly draw me back to Himself and to the place where I was trusting again, rather than questioning.  I began to see the light at the end of the intense grief and pain.  I began to believe that maybe going on was ok and that moving on didn't mean leaving behind my baby girl, but just that all those memories and feelings got tucked inside to a place where I would always remember, but not hurt so badly anymore.  It wasn't a quick process, this healing and restoration, but instead it was slowly, slowly, over time.  I began to really hear when I was at church.  The messages began to mean something and the hunger for God began to grow in my heart again.  I began to take up the Scriptures and find some comfort, instead of seeing only questions or meaningless words.  God's Spirit wooed my broken heart and I learned again to love.

It's always a journey, isn't it?  Every day, every moment leads to the next, even if we think we can't go on.  The Lord is in those moments.  He does really know where we are and what we're feeling and how He's going to lead us gently to the other side of the darkness.

God's love is an amazing thing.  When I really believe and cling to the knowledge that He loves His own, me, with an everlasting love,  I find myself in a place of such rest and peace!  I haven't found the answer to every question.  I still have thoughts of doubt and pain at times when I think about Abigail, but the Lord is ever faithful to remind me of all with which He has blessed me. He is enough

I miss my daughter every day, and I still have times I have to let it all go again to God's loving hands, but God is teaching me more and more to just rest, to just trust, to just live in this moment and believe that He is all He has said and will do all He has promised.

Though I feel that losing Abigail was one of the most defining moments of my life, so much has happened in the last seven years that all come together to bring me to where I am at today.  I hope to share more later.  Until then, I'll leave you with these verses.

Isa. 43:1-3
But now, thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.  When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fires, thou shalt not be burnt; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.

Isa. 25:4,8,9
Thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.
He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.
And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us; this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Being Honest

How deceiving the computer screen can be!!! 

Too often we read blogs, updates on Facebook or emails and make assumptions about the person on the other side. They have it all together. They know how to do it all. They have the perfect relationship with their husband, children, family. They have achieved a "higher level" of spirituality and never fall or fail or struggle with sin. We forget that that post or note is just a snap shot of a moment in time, never an accurate picture of reality.  No one shares everything, and too often we only share the best side of ourselves with the cyber world.  Sadly, this is too often true in our real life relationships as well.

I want to try to be more true to my life.  It could get messy. It could be ugly.  It's going to take some humility on my part, but ultimately, it could be more glorifying to God because it will be a picture of me, a sinner who fails miserably, but is washed continually in the blood of Christ and restored again and again to the place of rest found only in a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Are Christians perfect? Often they are "expected" to be, but the absolute truth is that we are only human. Therefore, by definition, we are prone to falter and fail and sin.  In fact, until one comes to the understanding of no ability in themselves to become better or change, they cannot become a Christian.  Psalm 116:6- The LORD preserveth the simple(someone unable to help themselves in any way): I was brought low and he helped me.  Only in humility will anyone find the saving hand of Jesus, for He saves the poor, the needy, those who recognize the true hopelessness of being born a sinner into a sinful world with no inward ability to restore that relationship with the Creator God.

The last few years have brought so much pain, so many questions, so much doubt and too much anger into my heart and mind.  I have doubted the love of God. I have screamed (yes, literally, not being dramatic here!) at Him to make me understand the "Why????" of all that was falling apart around me and within me.  Why such seemingly continuous loss?  Why such pain?  Why such doubt and struggle? Why so many betrayals? Why so much SIN and FAILURE in my life????

Does that shock you?  I think it shocks me to write it.  I've always been good at putting on a face when I walk out my door, but the truth is that failure has been my constant companion, falling has been my norm. 

I wonder why in the world the Almighty God continues to show me His love and continues to give me moments of light and hope, even in the face of defiant disobedience.  The truth? Only because He has promised to love me.  He chose me. He knew I would face this season of struggles, of rise and fall, rise and fall, rise and fall.  A roller coaster ride wouldn't have as many ups and downs as my emotions have had these past months!  He knew I would betray Him.  He knew that I would turn to Him for forgiveness, only to fall again in the next moment!  He knew before time began that I would be me, and that I would have these weaknesses, that I would give into the pull of certain sins.  But you know what??  That is the amazing love and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ!!!  He loved us when we were yet sinners-SINNERS!!  Depraved, wholly unlovable, completely without anything to cause any to love us.  Yet He did.  He does.  Even when I give in to the sin, He is there to draw me back through His love and mercy.

Have I reached a place of completely overcoming? NO!!  In fact, I fear tomorrow will hold many more failures, but I'm beginning to slowly grasp again the simplicity of the truth that the Spirit of God spoke to my heart the night Jesus saved me.  "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness." I John 1:9.  It really is that simple. But it's not easy.  It can only be worked in my heart by God's miraculous power, but that is why it is possible!  It's only in Christ, His love, His sacrifice, His workings within us that we are kept and sustained in a life of following Jesus and seeking His will for each day, each decision, each moment.  It's not about doing, but about being totally dependent on Christ alone for every need, for every strength, for everything.  There's nothing that I do or don't do as a Christian, as a wife or as a mother that keeps me in His love and on the right path.  Only Jesus' power is capable of that.  Nothing I commit to in my daily life is going to make me better or keep me from falling.  I can only seek to stay focused on Christ's work for me and in me.  The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for the sinner and the saint. I need to remind myself again and again of these truths and rest in the sufficiency of Jesus Christ and simply trust that He has the power to keep my soul from death.

Psalm 116 :1-13 
I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.
Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.
The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.
Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.
Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our LORD is merciful.
The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.
Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.
For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.
I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted:
I said in my haste, All men are liars.
What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?
I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.

Maybe I'll be able to share more of what's been going on behind the computer screen in my life, but now isn't the time.  I hope these verses that the Lord has been using in my heart and mind to calm my struggles and answer my uncertainties will help someone else tonight.