Sunday, July 6, 2008

What If?

I have always struggled with fear. In my first year of college, I knew 9 people who died. By the end of that semester, I had great fear when friends would leave for the weekend. I always wondered who would be next to go.

I expected and prepared for a similar reaction following Lia's death. But the level of fear has become much more intense. By June, my fears had become full blown anxiety - right when my husband was gone for 3 weeks. I feared every sound in my house, every storm that blew overhead. It was as if every form of evil and peril had its purposes set on our destruction. All I could think of was the "what-ifs" What if my daughter dies in her sleep. What if someone breaks into our house. What if we are hit by a tornado. What if Mark's jet goes down. What if....

A wise friend once told me that we don't live with what-ifs, we live in what is. As I sat one night with storms quickly approaching our home, I thought and journaled about the what-if life I had come to live. How was it that I endured the death of my daughter with such strength and clarity but am completely panic stricken due to an approaching storm. And then I realized - the God of the Universe, the Great I Am, is not the god of "what-ifs". You see, what-if is purely speculating. It is taking myself to an imaginary land of horror and asking God to meet me there and give me peace. But God is not the god of that land. In fact, He isn't even present there. So no wonder I feel the darkness closing in and the fear surrounding me. When I choose to enter the land of what-if, I am leaving the security of the Lord. God absolutely gives us the grace and the strength to endure the sufferings and trials of this life - the true, the real, the actual sufferings of this life - not the ones that we fear might happen.

So that night, as the storms approached, I took my eyes off of the what-if and placed them on what-is. I spent a wonderful evening reading with my daughters before bedtime and rubbing their backs as they fell asleep. I trusted the Lord, the Great I Am, the God of what is, to make me aware of danger, but I did not wait at the window for what-if's potential arrival. And God did surround me with an amazing peace that night. I chose to live in His presence, not in my own fear.

Lord I thank You that all eternity is held in the palm of your hand. From beginning to end there is no "if" with you. Lord my fears are so great and seek to consume me! I pray that you will continue to draw me every day into your presence and away from the darkness of my anxiety. Thank You Lord, God of the Universe, for taking the time to comfort me in your presence on a stormy night.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Who Am I?

Thoughts from this year's Mother's Day

Mother's Day was of course very challenging, but not in the way I expected. I thought that if I was truly being affected, I would be in a pool of tears by 6am. But instead it was until the middle of our worship service that I realized something was wrong inside of me.

A wonderful gentleman in our church lost his wife several years ago and is raising his 5 boys on his own. Every Mother's Day, he helps the kids in his 4year olds Sunday School class to make special gifts for their moms. He can be seen on Mother's Day handing roses to each of the women who serve as teachers for his boys. This year I received one. And as I sat in the pew, and the music began, I looked at the beautiful long stem rose and thought about my life. I convinced myself I had no reason to be sorrowful. Imagine those who lose their first born and are not seen as mothers by the rest of the world. I had two beautiful girls, both of whom I had been frustrated with earlier in the day. I convinced myself I had no reason to be sad.

But, as God always does, He found a way to break through my facade and reach my heart. The worship band began the song "Who Am I". I could feel my heart soften to the pain as the words of the song echoed through my mind. I began to ask again the question that had been haunting - Who Am I... am I Lia's I a mother of 3 or a mother of I still going to have more kids....

The final line of the chorus sings - I AM YOURS. And then the tears came. I am not a list of credentials. I am not a line of children following me. I am not a resume of accomplishments and degrees. I am not a title. I belong to God and that is all that matters.

Lord thank you that my identity is not bound to anything of this world. No matter what I accomplish, no matter how many children I have, no matter where I go, no matter who my friends may be, no matter what my husband may do... the answer to the question of "Who Am I" is always the same - I Am Yours. What a blessing it is to know that the foundation of everything does not rest with me, but in You - a foundation placed before the beginning of time. Thank You.