I have been meaning to write this for 3 weeks now. It is hard to collect my thoughts after so long, but this is all in light of what I shared before about the fear of my children being taken from me.
I spent our Christmas traveling time in the car reading Joni Eareckson Tada's The God I Love, a memoir about her life as a young child into the 40 years past her diving accident and paralysis. (By the way, I am reading a book now When God Weeps, about suffering and it is the 3rd book of hers I have read recently and they are really good). Anyway, she speaks of how her wheelchair became a passport to adventure and joy for her. She says about it, "Lord, your no answer to physical healing meant yes to a deeper healing - a better one. Your wiser, deeper answer has stretched my hope, purged sin from my life, and helped me to know you better. And you are good. You are so good. I know I wouldn't know you...wouldn't love and trust you, were it not for this wheelchair...the wiser choice, the better answer, the harder yet richer path." God began over those days that I was reading to began to work something in my heart, but I just couldn't put my finger on it and to be honest I didn't think I would like what it was so I was not trying too hard to figure it out.
There came a point in the book and in her life when she was experiencing pain that was pushing her past her limits (so she thought) of suffering, on top of the things she had already had taken from her. I read this and everything became clear of what He was trying to show me, "Jesus, I want to trust the Father with this, but he's so sovereign, and that's scary. I'm afraid to trust Him." That was it, and I knew it. He screens the things that come into our lives and decides whether He will allow something to touch us or hurt us. I realized that these last 11 years or so I have been a Christian, as she said, the sovereignty of God has been so helpful, brought so much joy, and worked things out in ways I would have always wanted if I'd known. She mentioned, so much like me, that as she wrestled over God's sovereignty in our lives, she would try to relax in His control of things, but every time she tried fear seized her again. This is how I have felt when I think about relinquishing control of my children and their safety to Him, to trust Him to work out His plans in our lives, for fear of what that could mean in my darkest thoughts. Who's to say that He won't make me bear what I would consider unbearable? She says, "I wish God were like He used to be. A few notches lower. I wanted Him to be lofty enough to help me but not so uncontrollable. Where's the safety now?" And I realized as I read in that minute, that in this journey of fear I have been making (or allowing myself to be taken), that I have been taken back to ground zero in my view of God (which is not necessarily a bad thing - to rework our view of God biblically). I no longer assume the graciousness of God toward me, knowing that He is actively working out ONLY my good in the circumstances in my life and those that will come.
Well, in His kindness, basically the next few days at our Atlanta Conference were scripture after scripture reminding me of the kindness and love of God towards us and his gracious providence in our lives. That only the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. He has not come to steal from us, not to take but to give, abundantly. The truth fell into my heart and grew and I realized the captivity that we can be in when we are not in His word regularly, without even being aware of it. But there was still something not right...until a conversation when I was telling someone about these fears and wrestling with them. She asked me why I thought I was so afraid, and finally I said, "I know they are idols" (of course we are not deathly afraid to trust God with something unless it is too valuable to us), to which she told me that not only were they idols, but that my children BELONG to Him, and that He is permitted to do whatever He wants with them simply for that reason, and I have no right to say anything about it. They have only been entrusted to me for as long as and in what way as He sees fit. I think I have known that all this time, deep in my heart (therefore the fear), but I have tried to reconcile it with MY good, MY trust of Him, and MY perception of His goodness, which is really not the point of my error at all. I realized over the next day's thinking that in my fear, I had forgotten His kingship and ownership over my children and somehow thought that I could be god over what happened to them (or at least think I should have some right to). At the same time, I felt Satan compelling me to hang on the fear, for even as awful as fear is, doesn't it in some way make you feel in control? And that to give up those fearful thoughts somehow renders you completely out of control? I can't explain it, but it does me. But I realized, what freedom, for what can he say, or what can he twist when he tries to make me afraid, when my only response is, "You know what, if He chooses to do that, that is His right, because He is king, and I am not." And to tie it all together from thinking about Joni's life, He IS good, even in the worst of circumstances and He brings joy out of the impossible for those who love Him. I fought confessing my sin of them being idols because I knew that would mean admitting what I had not been wanting to all along. But during the hours events had kept me from being alone, when I was alone, He had brought my heart to a place where I could confess it without being dragged kicking and screaming to confess it. And you know, since then I have felt such a change in my level of fear. The woman I had talked to even said after our conversation that she thought this must be warfare because I am just not someone who normally thinks in fear. I feel like since I confessed my sin and submitted to God's rightful throne in my children's lives, that He has kept the evil one from me. Although the thoughts can still come sometimes, I feel like the war has been won, and I try to remind myself of His rightful ownership of their lives. Needless to say, this has all been a stake in my life. There is freedom in putting things where they belong. So that's how I'm doing. I have more things so say, but not tonight my friends!