Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Pen

Friends in our church family are walking through a second recurrence of Hodgkins Lymphoma. Shana is a wonderful, athletic mother of two children under five. Her husband, Bill, is our beloved Associate Pastor--who has ministered to us mightily in the recent loss of two other young friends to cancer this Spring. It doesn't make 'sense.'

As loving, well-intentioned friends have responded with shock and sadness, Bill has continued to minster to us all by reminding us that God is still on the move--and that we cannot rush, in our fear, to write the end of the story. Sovereign God holds the pen. Only He knows what this is all about.

My friend, Cabell, who lost her husband to melanoma 7 weeks ago, lost her father to colon cancer today. Seriously? Why now? My heart cries out, "Give her a break, God!"
And I feel Him respond, "So, you think you love her more than I do?"

I have been thinking a lot this afternoon about God as Author. I wouldn't have written my friends' stories this way. Truthfully, I wouldn't have written my own story this way.

Had you asked me 15 years ago how my ideal life story would go I would have been married 4 years earlier to someone I was crazy about (because I had not met the man I now know was intended for me all along), living in a different town, successful at work and a mother of two (birthed one at a time with the perfect 2.5 years in between, of course).

I would not have chosen a husband with such a demanding career--but I also wouldn't have imagined one with as much godly integrity, wisdom, great looks and so much love for and devotion to my family.

I know there are those who always imagined being a homemaker, but as a product of two working parents I was not one of them. I always thought I would work. I couldn't conceive of what one would do all day long without a paying profession. Why would you choose to spend your day watching soaps in front of the tv with a pile of laundry when there were so many mountains to conquer and battles to fight in the 'real world?' (I had many misconceptions about what stay at home Moms did.) How would I use my brain?

Now I know that paying job or not, my brain is challenged ALL day every day--explaining things I barely understand about life, God and the great big world my children are seeking their place in.

It is unlikely I would have chosen my current town. I visited here three times, years before living here was an option. Once as a high school student visiting friends who attended college nearby, again for a wedding reception post-college (the day after my third date with my husband) and again as a newly married working woman, conducting a training session (in the process of moving from Atlanta to Virginia).

While it was definitely a charming little place it never crossed my mind that I would one day choose this option over other more metropolitan areas. Now I cannot imagine ever living anywhere else. Like a Mama bird, I have built a nest that suits our family wonderfully. This is home.

Do I even need to address the infertility, the troubled pregnancy, the dramatic health scare(s) post delivery? Who would ever CHOOSE those plot lines? And yet, I cannot fathom my life any other way. Through the various trials we have encountered and surprising turns the last 15 years have taken, God has revealed Himself to me as an ever-present, undeniably Sovereign God.

I would not have written this story, but thanks be to the God that He holds the pen. His story is infinitely more beautiful and blessed than I could have ever imagined on my own. Had I been the author, I would have settled for such mediocrity. The Author has written plot lines that lead me to praise Him--not in spite of the tough spots--but because of them.

I know that He has purposed His own glory, but that as Scripture says, He is also FOR me. His detours, delayed answers to prayers (or ones contrary to my requests) are because He has written a story for eternity that is exceedingly better than anything I could ever ask for or imagine.

I become small-minded and circumstantially focused and forget that sometimes. He is God. I am not. That is enough.


laurie said...

Wow, what an amazing post!

Melissa said...

Thank you for this...its a grear reminder to me, as I have been going through something I certainly wouldn't have chosen for myself either. But I also feel like God has let me go down this path for a reason. I have certainly changed A LOT in this last 8 months for sure-and almost all in a way that has made me a better, simpler, more faithful person who now understands how to enjoy the simply joy of each of our todays.

Chelsea & Nick said...

I am proud of you for your perspective. I am saddened to hear about your friends- when I read the Hodgkins relapse part my heart sank. But your words are right: He holds the pen.

lis said...

Thank. you. Very encouraging to hear as an 8-years-past-when-I-thought-I'd-be-married single woman who figured she'd have a large family by now. These years have been hard, but right. And it is so true -- and important to remember, over and over again -- He is God for a reason. He is the wise one. He chooses better than I could!

By the way, I frequently visit your blog because I find good food for my heart here. Thank you for staying humble and open to the lessons God is teaching you. It is a blessing to me!

daisy said...

"He is God. I am not. That is enough." Something I need to remember - every day. Beautifully written.

twiceasnice said...

Amen! Love it that God holds the pen.

a portland granny said...

It is interesting...and wonderful,how God writes the days of our lives. At my advancing age, I've experienced many home calls for friends and family...and I never fail to ask, "Why, Lord" in the deaths that seemed too soon.

Now, off the subject--your current husband is your only husband, right?
"again for a wedding reception (the day after my third date with my current husband)"

JMom said...

I went back and edited that line. It was bothering me too. :-)
Don't want to start any rumors. Definitely my only hubby. :-)

Anonymous said...

Great post! Thanks for the reminder that we cannot make our plans God's plans.

elizabeth said...

"current husband"...HILAROUS! Hahahaha! Hope hubby didn't read before the change!

This is a wonderful post J! I actually think is touches the surface of how I would explain "certain" Presbyterian doctrine that others have a very hard time with. Really don't want to get anything started here, but I thought of that connection as well.

Again, great post-loved it!

Samantha said...

Amen, dear one. Amen.

Anonymous said...

You have a gift with words. This is something I believe whole-heartedly and have a hard time expressing to others. Thanks for such a lovely post!

Cathy said...

Years back I went through so many trials in my walk as a Christian that I "cried" out to God to "please give me a break. I didn't want anymore and I couldn't take anymore." He did allow them to cease. I wondered what blessings I missed because of no trials for a while. But maybe He just knew I needed rest. Anyway, you're right. He has a plan. He knows tomorrow. But I believe it's ok to cry to Him for relief. Thank you for writing your life. Your heart is literally a gift from God.

Rae said...

Thanks for such a fulfilling post. I,too, am struggling with Plan B and love the way you have articulated that all works out the way it should!

Keri said...

Simply beautiful. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

This is a great post and so true. Jesus continues to show me that His plan for me is better than the plans I make for myself, and I am so grateful!

The Amazing Trips said...

I love this post and I so needed to read it. Four weeks ago, I was jubilant to be expecting a new "surprise" baby. Last week, I was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy and my doctor is concerned with several large cysts that he identified during my u/s. Because of my family history of cancer, I'm now going through a number of tests to rule out ovarian cancer.

What? How did THIS happen? We were headed down such a happy path and then BOOM! SLAM! WHAMO!!

I don't know what the future holds for me. But I do know that God is great, and I have complete faith that everything will be good. Regardless of what happens. Everything will be good. Beautiful, in fact.

My deepest condolences to Cabell. But I suspect that she is going to use these experiences to minister to others in a way that few could.

Helen Joy said...

My whole life I have felt like God was out to "get" me, or "teach me a lesson". In my 24 years, I feel like I have more than enough had my share of trials:
(dad with a secret addiction, dad attempting suicide and becoming severely brain injured, dad and mom divorcing, mom being depressed, me having to raise my younger four sisters, watching my mother marry an abusive husband and have twins, me dealing with bipolar disorder, having a difficult pregnancy, difficult delivery, a fussy baby, a baby with allergies and stomach problems, and recently a miscarriage for a baby I so badly wanted.)
I feel like it is enough! BUT God has slowly showed me that he isn't out to get me, he loves me and wants to bless me. And with the earlier trials in my life, I can already see the good out of them.