“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”- Hebrews 12:1-3
The night before the girls’ surgery, I took maybe a hundred pictures. Between nerves of what could happen and simply wanting to remember the way things were, I wanted to capture every detail.
I would love to tell you that I have felt at peace from the hand-off on; but the truth is, my emotions have swung the opposite direction. I have known from the beginning of His Hands, His Feet, His Heart that God was calling me to be authentic- gut-wrenchingly real- with you, as the readers- and the honest reality is that the feeding tubes have brought up a whole new layer of grief inside this momma.
“When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who know my way.”- Psalm 142:3
I remember our neurologist telling us in the beginning of this journey this statement:
“They say it takes a village to raise a child. It’s going to take you guys a whole city”.
I laughed, but I don’t think I realized how true this would be. I literally cannot account all the people who have been His hands, His feet, and His heart to us. Between physical and emotional exhaustion, hospital stays can bring out the absolute worst in me. I am scattered at best, irritable at worst; and having to split my heart into two rooms side by side brought out a whole new crazy. There’s your honesty.
“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.”- Ecclesiastes 7:20
Thank you, wisest man who ever lived, for reminding me this truth in some of my worst days. It is truly in Christ and in Christ alone that we are saved.
(Someone even had a fireworks show for us. Just kidding; but it did happen and it was a nice God-wink).
So, back to our village. I will never be able to verbalize and account for each act of love that has been shown to us the past two years, but I would be amiss if I didn’t try. The million meals, coffees, hospital activity kit for the girls, books/verses/prayers sent, gift cards…all too many to count. The friends (yes, I’m talking to you, Hannas!) who continue to take our dog for an unknown period of time, this time on the rainiest week of the year. We even had a guitar serenade the first night the girls were out of surgery. The Walls came and played worship music, and while the girls’ screamed their heads off in pain a lot of the time, there was a calm that came for a few minutes during this time. My mom, who leaves her husband and drops everything else she had planned to come stay with us for a week and serve in whatever ways we need (and deals with Hugh and I with grace as we are tired and not the kindest spirits in the aftermath). The amazing co-residents who not only bring us meals, but then work for Hugh the following day (thanks, Shelly! You are awesome). Each of you deserve acknowledgement; but I hope you know that we could not do this life without you. In fact, you are His gift and His provision for us in this life He has called us to live.
My sister is one the best listeners I have ever known. She is also someone I got to when I need to flesh out some of the emotions that fester within me. As I was talking to her yesterday, she reminded me of the fact that in this life, God has told us we are running a race. Now, it has been a while since I have run any distance of any kind, but back in the days when running was a part of my lifestyle, I can remember at times feeling worn out at different stages of the race. There were moments in which I thought, “I don’t know if I can finish this.” Yet God. He weakened my feeble knees each time, and suddenly, I was stronger again. More determined than before.
“Better is the end of a thing than its beginning…”- Ecclesiastes 7:8a
I ran a half marathon (many!) years ago, and I remember being at around mile 7, feeling like I was ready to give up, when I saw a child in a wheelchair holding a sign that said, ‘I wish I was doing what you are doing now!’. That was all it took to keep pushing, pushing, pushing, toward the finish line. The closer I got, the more convinced I was that I was going to make it.
I am so weary in this leg of our journey, and there are moments where I think, “God, are You sure about this?”
But I know what I know what I know; and as someone wiser than me once said, “When you do not know what to do next; simply do what you know and wait for God to show up”.
I always pray that my writings would be a truth-filled yet human-written reminder that He meets us in all things. He is not surprised by any of the miles of each of our journeys. If you are not a Christ-follower, I pray that you read these words and grasp the truth that Christians are not good people doing good things in their own strength; rather Christians are people who have trusted in faith that there is a good God who can be trusted with all things in this life and the next, even salvation itself.
Friend: wherever you are, let this be healing balm for your soul: He not only will help you finish this race; in Christ, He is carrying you, carrying me, to the finish line.
In Christ, we can hurt without despair. We can grieve with hope. We can sense joy in the middle of pain. We can live-truly live- without believing the lie that this life is all there is. And, we can trust that whatever steps He has placed in our journeys; He is taking them with us and stepping out for us.
By His Spirit alone.
Friends, my prayer for you today is that He would seal this on each of your hearts. That you would see His footprints in all things, and that you would not panic when you are struggling to make it through the mile He has you on. Mile 8 is always coming.
“Behind the great darkness the stars ever shine. And the light of God’s heavens, His love will make thine, let no gloom dim your eyes, but uplift them on high to the face of your God and the blue of His sky.”- Streams in the Desert
I am convinced that my God will supply ALL your needs in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:19). All praises to Him today and always.