Friday, August 26, 2016

When Worship Rips Your Heart Out

I am 38 weeks pregnant with our fourth boy. In August.  In Dallas.  I'm hot, swollen, tired, and addicted to Tums.  I think God makes the end of pregnancy utterly miserable as a grace to women so we won't be so terrified of labor.  Even so, we are excited to meet our newest little gentleman and welcome him into our home.  We can't wait to see if his cheeks are really as fat as they looked on the last ultrasound, if he has the Hoff nose, and I have one son in particular who's dying to know if his newest brother will match his straight hair or the curls of the other two.

Two weeks feels like too long to finally get to greet this gift God is giving our family.

As I waddled around the house this morning trying to get my husband and Boy #1 out the door for school a song came on my husband's phone.  I hate this song.  I skip this song every time.  It's a beautiful song, and up until this morning I haven't been able to stand it.  It's a worship song, taken straight from Scripture, and it fills my heart with pain every single time I hear it.

But in the hustle of this morning I forced myself to sit and listen.  I'm 38 weeks pregnant.  I needed to hear it. I needed to face this battle head-on.

You see, the words to this song flood my heart with gut-wrenching memories of our last year.  A very painful year.  A year where we saw many things that we held dear get flipped around or lost altogether.  A year where we saw God's mighty hand of faithfulness sustain us, but needing His faithfulness stung.  Deeply.

Part of that painful year happened last May when we miscarried.  It was early in the pregnancy, it was an unexpected pregnancy, but our hearts yearned for the life that was lost.  We named our baby Micah, which means "Who is like the Lord?" and we chose these verses as a tribute to him or her.

Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God.
How unsearchable His judgments, His paths beyond tracing out.
"Who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been His counselor?
Who has ever given to God that God should repay Him?"
For from Him and through Him and to Him are everything.
To Him be the glory forever!  Amen.
          ~Romans 11:33-36

From Him comes every gift.
Through Him comes every joy.
To Him belongs every thing.
Everything.  Including our Micah.

We've known all our lives that everything we have comes from God and everything belongs to God.  As parents we have constantly laid our children before God to do with as He willed.  But when it came to losing our precious baby - so soon after loving it - we understood on a new level what it means to truly live in submission to God.  To treat things like they belong to Him.  To treat Him like He truly can do whatever He chooses with "our" life. To submit and respond to that in worship, not in anger or bitterness.

Worship means bowing down before someone to show their honor and our humility.  And sometimes that hurts really, really badly.

I am so excited about this new baby.  I can't believe God has given us another life to nurture.  I can't wait to kiss his tiny fingers and smell his dark hair in just a couple of weeks.  But my heart is filled with a pain that is hard to explain.  I want my baby back.  I wanted to kiss his fingers.  I wanted to smell her hair.  I wanted to know if he was a he or a she and if they had the same Hoff nose.

But from Him, and through Him, and to Him are everything. And although that hurts - still, a year and a half later - I believe it now more than ever.  My life is humbly bowed down before Him.  These children are not my own. This life I've built is not mine to do with as I please.  I live for more.

God's glory is at stake here.

My heart breaks today for my baby Micah.  I will probably never understand why God took what was His so soon.  And mixed in the joy of welcoming Josiah in a few weeks is a bitter longing for the baby that would've made this little one's life impossible.  It's confusing.  It's hard.  It hurts to think about.

But to God be the glory forever! Amen.

So I listened to the song today and let it ruin my morning.  Then I listened to it again, and again, and again after my guys were out the door.  I wept.  I broke.  I wrote my thoughts out.  And I worshiped God.  I gave Him what was His.  And it hurts.  And I hope He gets glory, because sometimes worship is really hard to do.

Here is the song that ruined my day in a painfully beautiful way.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

An Ever-Steady Shadow

Yes, it was technically 25 minutes earlier than his bedtime, but I decided to put my two-year-old (and the rest of us) out of his misery a bit early tonight.  As he collapsed in a limp, defiant puddle on the floor just outside of his bedroom I asked him if he wanted to sing.  With the holidays and visitors the last few weeks we've been out of our bedtime routine, and I suspected he would welcome a snuggle and a song.  I was right, and he perked up immediately and came running.

It was one of his more tender moments today, to be sure.

I gathered my little fleece-laden sweetness into my arms and started swaying in his dark room as I tone-deafly sang an old favorite.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God, My Father!
(he starts mumbling a toddler version of the lyrics)
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
(His head pops up and he points to our shadow on the wall made by the night light. "Yes, that's right!  Shadow!" I naturally keep watching our shadow as we sing.)
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not.
(Our shadow-selves sway back and forth, looking more like one melted being rather than two separate entities.)
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
("Yeah, I caught it, God.")

Today is January 2.  A new year.  A new start. And already things have popped up that are making my blood pressure spike.  So much for easing our way in, huh.

Last year was a really tough one.  The kind where the first thing you say to your husband in the morning on New Year's Day is "Well, Babe, we survived 2015."  We had more challenges, new challenges, bitter challenges last year than I would call "fair", and through it all God proved Himself faithful time and time (and time a thousand times) again.

Back to the song.  The line "there is no shadow of turning" has always made me think of Indiana Jones.  (Hang with me here.)  Remember when Indy and his dad were riding on the blimp away from Germany, but then the shadows start moving around the room, and they realized they were headed in the opposite direction?  It was the turning shadows that clued them in they had to hightail it out of there.

But there is no shadow of turning with God.  He never does that.

Instead, like my shadow with my cranky baby, He sways back and forth, holding us tight, and making it hard to see where His arms end and our life begins.  He is so faithful.  Always faithful.  He has always been, and He always will be.  His shadow will never turn around.  He will never lead us the wrong way.  And His gentle arms will never let us go.

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.