Sunday, July 18, 2010

Storms

Our small group at church started up again tonight.  How I cherish that time with my friends and brothers and sisters in Christ.  It's just good to be able to be honest and open about life.  Sometimes we get good at pretending that life is "fine thank you."  A standard answer I have given in some of the darkest days of my life.  Haven't we all?  We get so accustomed to feel good answers.  Giving and receiving them I think.  Tonight one of the questions posed was: Was there ever a time in your life where you felt like God had just  left you?  Abandoned you in a storm.  I didn't answer out loud, yet in my mind I might have screamed  said quietly "yes."


My bent toward perfectionism a topic I did spend some time confessing tonight  can derail my faith in a matter of minutes. Hear me out. You cannot buy, beg, manipulate, or "merit" your way into heaven.  That is not biblical.  The Bible specifically says that "by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is a gift from God" in Ephesians 2:8. I know this.  Most of the time my heart and head are in line together on this issue, but having the knowledge of truth and believing truth are two completely different things. And for some reason, I still find myself trying to earn God's favor.  This is lose-lose.  First, because I wasn't perfect the first time God took me as His child.  Second, because trying to earn God's love actually has the complete opposite effect.  While in my mind, perfectionism should get me to God because I am trying so hard to please Him.  Yet in reality, perfectionism opens the door to a host of lies about God's character.  It keeps us from His best. Why?   We find ourselves standing on an untrue belief.  When we believe these lies, our spiritual compass goes haywire and we will find ourselves completely off course, blown and tossed about by every storm that attempts to blow us over.
My pregnancy was a vortex of uncertainty.  After over a year of unsuccessful infertility treatments, Robb and I finally got the news we had been praying for: we were pregnant.  Yet, at the the time, I was pregnant with quadruplets.   Fast forward a bit.  I was twenty-six weeks pregnant. The nurses were wheeling me furiously down the hall to Labor and Delivery ICU.  I could not breathe. My heart was failing. My babies were too small and just big enough to be considered "viable."  Even typing it today makes my pulse skip a little.  The entire pregnancy was difficult physically and emotionally, but it was in that moment that I questioned God's goodness out loud for the first time in my life.  It was that day that I got my first glimpse of the invisible fortress of merit-based faith I had built up in my heart and mind over the years.  It was the most vulnerable day of my life.  I felt bare and stripped of everything that church had ever taught me.
For me, I had done the right thing.  God had promised me children.  In the recesses of my quiet time, He had given me scripture to back up His promises.  I took Him at His word.  I got pregnant.  I got pregnant four times over.  And even though one of those sweet little ones went home early, God honored His promise to me.
Then, I followed the rules.  I ate as they instructed. I lay in bed for months like the doctors told me to.  I prayed.  I was thankful.  I prayed scripture over myself and my children. In my heart, I just knew that God was good.  He had always proved His faithfulness to me in such tangible and often loud ways.  I still had fear.  But, I had an inner peace that crowded out those worst-case-scenario thoughts that would try to sneak in from time to time.
Then, that dark day came.  Like a flood, my heart quaked and I saw for the first time my faulty belief system.  This stronghold of believing that I could earn my way to a good outcome.  I couldn't.  You can't either.  And although I knew this in my head, I had snatched up this merit based faith somewhere along the way.  I had traded God's truth for a lie.  So much so that when my circumstance turned desperate, I wasn't sure how I could trust God.  Thoughts like "Was this your plan the whole time, to let me go through all this to just polish me up for Heaven?"  I just knew in my heart that my kids would live and I would die.  I believed this lie. I felt the lie down to the very core of my body.  My oxygen was weak.  Doctors and nurses were giving me "protocol" speeches.  I knew I would go to Heaven.  But, I felt that God had pulled the wool over my eyes.  "Why did you bring me so far just to kill me?"

I was asking God hard questions.  I was speaking pretty horribly to my Lord, too. I was desperate. See, my storm had clouded my vision.  All I saw was the rain and the lightning.  I heard the thunder and the gloomy reports. But, my perspective was limited.  God doesn't break promises.  He never has and He never will.  It was a dark day for me.  And when I woke up to sunshine the next morning, I realized that God is good even when circumstances are not.

"He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death and broke their bands apart." Psalm 107:14

Has there ever been a time in your life when you felt like God abandoned you?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have a few things to say - first, I love your new blog. It's honestly just fun looking at it!! Second, I love your post. I remember having some of the same thoughts while I was pregnant and I had to continually tell myself over and over, "God has a plan, God has a plan." Yet, there were times when I didn't "feel" like He did. Yet in the end, He was there for me (as he was for you) and I am so thankful to be a witness to the beautiful miracle babies that he gave me (all 3!). Thank you for sharing and I look forward to reading more soon!

Jessica Kirkland said...

Thank you for the blog compliment. It took me a while to decide how to not limit my entries and the "old woman who lived in the shoe and had so many children she didn't know what to do" has laughingly been my nursery rhyme theme song. So, I thought the rooms of the house would give me the most versatility.
Glad you enjoyed the post. Isn't it funny how often "feelings" can be total game changers in our belief system? Sometimes our head knowledge of who God is and our "feelings" just don't match up. One of Satan's most powerful weapons I think; the ability to influence our emotions so that we cannot accept the truth of God's word.
Glad you got your miracle babies. Mommy is one label I hope to keep! Thanks for stopping by.

Jessica Kirkland said...
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