Monday, November 2, 2009

730 days.

I'm sitting at my desk today hoping I have received every single ounce of refining that the last two years and a gracious God have offered me. Every moment with every lesson that came with every hardship and every day that I wanted to pull the covers over my head and hide but didn't--I hope that none of them were wasted.

As I stood by my dying mother's bedside two years ago today, I remember thinking:
"If you are everything you say you are, you better do some good out of this. Because THIS is not good."

I was begging God to prove that He was the faithful, loving, enduring, trustworthy God I had always said He was. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't questioned everything that I have believed in the past two years. I'd also be lying if I said there are no questions that remain unanswered. The thing that I've learned in the past 730 days is this:

I serve a God who doesn't mind me asking them.

I have always thought it presumptuous to assume that God doesn't like our questions and doesn't deal with us in our doubt. After all, we are told to be like little children-for such is the Kingdom of Heaven.

....Oh, to be like the little hearts who ask a million questions every day. "Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green? Why are you singing so loud in the car, Aunt Wah?"

(ok, maybe I am the only one having to field that last question.)

We are told in Hebrews that we don't have a Great High Priest who can't sympathize with our weaknesses. I have demonstrated that one of my own weaknesses is the fact that I like to understand exactly why things happen the way I do. I believe with all my heart that God understands why I ask the questions. He may choose not to answer them in the way that I expect, but that my doubt is faith seeking some understanding.

It's frustrating when people act as if they have a corner on the mind of God, whether it be in approaching the grief-stricken such as:
"God needed another angel."
"He must've had work for her to do up there."
and my personal favorite
"She's one of those stars shining back at us at night."

Okay, your Lion King meets angelic being meets works in Heaven theology might be a little off.

or about life in general:

"Here's how the end of time is going to play out, step-by-step."
"We know when Jesus is coming back."
"God didn't heal you because you didn't have enough faith."

It take some serious, errr, intestinal fortitude, to assume the mind of God. Now I don't know about you, but I am not really interested in serving a God that I completely and fully understand with my finite mind.

But we can't be angry with humanity for searching for the answers to the questions out of a mostly pure desire to understand. The reason that people say things like that is because their faith is seeking understanding--but they are looking for understanding in places other than in God's Word.

Another thing that I've learned is that God doesn't need me to explain why He allows certain things to happen. He doesn't need my commentary to make people still love Him even in the midst of suffering.

What He needs from me is to be His PRESENCE around people in the face of it. What He desires is for me to love those who are suffering, not get them to avoid blaming God for it. It's not my responsibility to explain God--it's my honor to let them know that they can ask Him directly about it. It's also my honor to help them feel His love so that when they ask, "Where is God in the midst of this?"

Their answer will look like mine:
God was in the room 730 days ago when I kissed my mama goodbye for the last time.
How do I know?
His people were there.

730 days ago I began a journey of asking the God of the Universe if He really is who He says He is. For the first time in my life I found myself in the Dark Night of the Soul. The crossroads of faith. 730 days ago I began the journey of realizing that He is everything He says He is and that there is coming a day when, as Steven Curtis Chapman says:

But in my mind’s eye
I can see a place
Where Your glory fills every empty space
All the cancer's gone
Every mouth is fed
and there’s no one left in the orphans’ bed
Every lonely heart finds their one true love
And there’s no more goodbye
And no more not enough
And there’s no more enemy
no more

It's not enough to just believe in that day, though. it's our joy and responsibility to see that the Kingdom comes here and now. It's our job to point people in the direction of the Kingdom to come by seeing it enacted now.

I'm glad to know a God who is willing to go to great lengths to prove His love for us. The last 730 days have been some of the hardest of my life so far, but His promise is true. He is who He says He is, and I am thankful I have had the chance to discover it firsthand.


Chelsa said...

can i just say AMEN.

Lauren said...

this is amazing Lauren!! Every single thing you said has been in my heart too over the last three years. Thank you so much for sharing so honestly. God is so huge and does not shrink back from our grief or questions! I will be praying for you today and I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Keyly Watts said...

730 is a long time ~ but not nearly as long with Jesus on your team! He is growing a strong leader for His word, His glory, His kingdom in YOU! Our witness is necessary, and the TRUTH that HIS LOVE endures forever, though everything, can never be told enough!! So press on and enjoy your ride on the merry-go-round!!
I love ya Lauren!!

llandtmom said...

Can I just say that I hope and pray one day to sit and have a cup of coffee with you. I just LOVE reading your blog. I will probably have to wait till heaven for that cup of coffee because I live at the furthest end of southern CA but I will wait because it will be amazing for me.

Lindsey said...

Amen! :) I miss my momma too more than words can say....I really enjoyed your post today. Seeing how many days made me look back and I can't believe it has been as many for me as well. Time flies but my ache for her is so strong still! Thank you again for your post! God bless you and big hugs!

Rachel H. Evans said...

This post is both beautiful and powerful - a very difficult combination to master! Thank you for sharing your story, Lauren, and for your willingness to share with us the questions with which you have wrestled.

I'm convinced that we do not begin to doubt God when we start asking him questions...but when, out of fear, we stop.

He is a good God.

Courtney, Jeff, Ayla & Leah said...

Great post Lauren!

Paige said...

What a beautiful post and one that my heart needed to read and ponder over tonight. Thank you for your transparency and for sharing your thoughts and feelings.

Praying for you tonight!

sheraby said...

The day my life changed was February 13, 2007. It's funny how the Lord uses such awful situations and brings forth beauty from the ashes. I love you Lauren for your heart, and your joy, and your weaknesses, all of it lady! Thank-you for reminding me about my special day.. and how the Lord has brought me out of it. We rejoice in each others joy! Bless you love. -Sheryl

Jamie said...

What a gift you have! Thank you so much for sharing your heart so openly and eloquently! Every time I read one of your posts, I feel like we are having chatting over coffee or something!

Kathryn @ Expectant Hearts said...

Lauren,this was such a beautiful post.. It's only (only!) been 390 days for me.. I remember praying "God, whatever is going to happen, PLEASE let your Glory shine, something good has to come out of this" as well. I hope that He has grown me half as much as the growth I see in you.
I love you!