Kevin and I have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support that we have received from family, friends and even strangers. Nothing in us feels like we can walk this path alone and in fact, we know that is not just a feeling but a fact. God has given us supernatural strength, perspective, hope and joy in the midst of many tears and a cloud of sadness that seems to make its way across our day. We know that strength has not come from ourselves but from our God as people have lifted us up in prayer, led us to His word, sent us songs, encouraging words and reminded us over and over again of who our God is. We are so thankful for everyone who has written even the smallest notes, know that they are ALL being read even if we can’t respond to all of them. As we are fresh in this new journey the Lord has us on my writings may seem all over the place… joy, hope, sadness, tears. But I write to remind myself and others that authentically following Jesus is just that, being authentic before Him. He can handle it. The life of someone who follows Jesus is not a joyride, but it is a life filled with Joy (the deep kind that doesn’t always show on your face but erupts in your heart and through your tears). It is not a life full of ease, but it is a life full of hope (even when at times hope seems far away). I hope you can see through mine and Kevin’s wrestlings that we serve a God who is intimate with us, who is engaged in every detail of our lives and is so near even when we “feel” He is far.
So I know that this God I serve can handle my cries, my questions, my whining and my heartache. But “I don’t want to go this way… “ I say this every day, so many times a day. I scream it in my heart, I whine it and I sorrowfully accept this the way I will go even though I don’t want to go this way. I know there will be and already has been joy like no other on this road as the Lord lifts my eyes to Him over and over again. But still, I don’t want to walk this path. I don’t want to celebrate my daughters life now… I want to celebrate it with HER HERE for the next many years. I don’t want to say good bye to her. I don’t want to walk through all the emotions that will come over the next 4 months only to have new waves of grief come in August. I feel this most deeply in the morning, after the grogginess of sleep wears off and I was still thinking everything’s okay. Suddenly I realize everything is SO NOT OKAY and before I can even allow truth to flood my heart and rest in just today I feel like I’m going to collapse under the weight of what’s to come. And so I cry, sometimes it’s a flood, sometimes it’s a small whimper. Always underneath it’s a cry to Jesus “I can not walk this road.” I’m not even asking him not to make me. I’m not saying I won’t go this way. I pray for a miracle, I pray for her healing. But I do not know what God’s will is in this. I know He CAN heal her. I don’t know if He will choose to do that. I only know His will extends beyond the reaches of my understanding. So I have no choice. Either walk this with Him or try to do it with just Kevin and myself. The latter will not take us anywhere good. And in the midst of my cry, the Lord on Easter morning led me to the story of Peter. The Lord knew that this is what I was feeling and so in His kindness, He met me there and keeps meeting me there. I was reading the story of the Resurrection of Jesus and then my eyes glanced over to a sentence I had underlined in John 21. Jesus had just risen from the dead and had appeared to his disciples, eating breakfast and talking with them (I’m sure that would have been the most surreal breakfast EVER). And he addresses Peter and asks him 3 times if he loves him. Peter responds “yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” (I can only imagine Peter’s brokenness in saying this knowing he has just denied Christ 3 times before Jesus went to the cross.). Jesus proceeds to tell Peter to “Feed my sheep” and then Jesus says “Truly, truly I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and another will dress you and CARRY YOU WHERE YOU DO NOT WANT TO GO.” Jesus just told Peter he was going to die in the same was as himself, crucifixion. I can’t even imagine what was going through Peter’s mind at that moment. After Jesus says this to Peter, he says “Follow me.” I wept Sunday morning as I read this because of the sweetness of Jesus to acknowledge Peter won’t want to go this way and to simply say “Follow me”. Follow me into whatever I call you into. Just a few sentences later Peter (probably still reeling from this reality) asks about another disciple… how will he die? To which Jesus responds “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” I feel like Peter in that… what about them? What about women who get to walk through healthy pregnancies? I don’t wish our story on anyone, but I still don’t think its fair and I tell the Lord that, He can handle it. And He sweetly draws me back to the fact that this is HIS story for Kevin and I, HIS story for our daughter. He is writing it, He has written it and we are only beginning to see the unfolding of HIS story not knowing what chapter He will write next, but a glimpse into what it may be. It doesn’t matter what His story is for others, we must simply follow Him. Our call is to follow Jesus. I think Jesus wasn’t asking Peter to want to step into those things but simply to Follow. I don’t want to walk this path (and I’m pretty sure I won’t ever want to), but I do want to follow Jesus in it and through it. This I know. And I’m reminded of the countless stories of how God led His people to places they did not want to go but always resulted in a greater glory, being a part of the greater glory that some would only see once they got to heaven. And then I think of Jesus, asking the Father to take this cup from Him before He went to the cross… “Yet not my will but yours…” “BUT FOR THE JOY set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:2 Jesus knew the whole story, He saw the greater JOY that would come from deep sorrow. My sorrow pales in comparison to what Jesus went through and my faith does not feel very strong, but the OBJECT of my faith is the definition of Strength. I know that He is good, I know that He is worth my life, He is worth following even through the darkest valley. By His strength, I will follow Him through tears, grieving, sadness, loss. And I will follow Him through joy, hope, happiness and gladness. Trusting that He is able to produce a greater JOY then we could ever imagine through the deepest heartache that we have ever gone through. It is not my faith that strengthens me, it is the ONE who holds all strength and power. I simply believe that when He says… “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength.”… He will do just what He says.
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary and young men shall fall exhausted, but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40: 28-31
So when I wake and through tears say “I don’t want to go this way.” I hear His still small voice say “Follow me.” And in my weakness I declare “Lord, help me follow you through the places and to the places that I do not want to go.”
But for the Joy
A sweet friend sent me the following clip and song and they have ministered to Kevin and I and our families deeply.
As you listen to the song below… every time I listen to it when the phrase “so look for the rays of sun… ” is sung my face can’t help but erupt with joy. I hope it may do the same for you.