A few days ago, a friend asked me a question that caught me so off guard I literally had no response (and for those who know me well, no response is rare…no response for more than a day is my nice way of ignoring the question altogether). The question was, “Bethany, how have you grown the most through these health trials?” You see, if she would have asked simply “How have you grown” my answers would be easy…but she added the term “most.” I was floored. I didn't have just one answer. What was she thinking? How was I really supposed to answer a question like that?
And then God showed up. You know, like He always does. As I've been chewing on that thought this entire week, God has been at work in a big way. Funny how we fail to see these things until after the fact (but we at least notice them…right?).
Today, Josh spiked a fever and I got the call from the preschool shortly after noon telling me I needed to pick him up…now. I rush over to find Josh sitting still (yep, he's sick) and red in the face. I pack him up and I remember his whimpering voice saying, “Mommy, please don't let go of my hand. I need you mommy.” At the time, I was looking up a friend's number who was watching Caden to give her the news we would be over shortly…but I heard his comment and gripped his hand tightly. On our way to grab Caden, he just stared into space in his little seat…my heart melted. My little guy really wasn't feeling well. I knew he was going to be fine…but he didn't. We picked Caden up and off to home we went. Along the journey I heard, “Mommy, am I sick?” from Josh. “Yes” I replied…”But mommy is here and you know mommy makes…” Josh interrupted “You make things better Mommy! That's why you are mommy!” I smiled even though he said this half with it. He meant it.
We got home and confirm his high temp and start the medication. I got Josh to lay down just long enough for me to get Caden down for a nap. As I found myself lying next to Josh, he kept nudging closer…and closer…and closer until he was making ME hot too! I held him briefly, then reassured him over a dozen times I would still be right here in the house when he woke-up (there were times he thought I would be home when I was at treatment…this has been a battle of reassurance with him ever since these episodes). As I closed the door I heard him whisper “Mommy, I love you.”
After nap time he got more medication and he ate a good dinner too…we spent time outside swinging together, hugging….he was definitely not my indapendant 4 year old…but as a mommy, I didn't care…I was LOVING IT!!! Why? Because I know soon enough he will start feeling better and want to run and play again. Soon, he will realize how many more things he can do by himself. Soon, he will really mean it when he says, “Mommy, I don't need you” (and yes, I've already heard those words before from him!). These moments where he was giving me permission to be close to him, provide for his needs and show him my love…well, shoot, I'll take it!
As Josh went to bed, he was playing with my phone for a second and asked me to sing the bedtime song. It's Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you to be strong and courageous? Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord Your God will be with you wherever you go.” I've been singing this to him ever since he was a baby as a moms prayer to God saying, “Please make him strong and courageous…be with him wherever he goes.” All of the sudden I heard my singing…Josh had recorded my voice on my phone! He said, “Mommy, you need to hear the song too ya know.” I remembered choking up a few times during the last few months singing that song to him thinking, “God, I'm singing this for him, but yea…I know it's for me tonight.” It was almost like God was planting a seed right then and there.
Then I started my Quiet Time…my time just me and God (when Steve studies). Tonight I was digging into Luke 11 and 12, preparing for Sunday and generating ideas…but I read through the entire passage three times for personal growth before I think of an application and write a lesson for our elementary kids. We are going through the book of Luke as a congregation on Sundays and I write the lesson every week for our elementary group. It's been SO much fun!
Tonight I got to this point and just froze. See if you can guess why:
Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. Look at the ravens. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can't accomplish a little thing like that, what's the use of worrying over bigger things? (DID YOU CATCH THE POINT HERE? GOD HAS THE LITTLE AND BIG THINGS COVERED…SO, YOU DON'T NEED TO WORRY ABOUT THAT ANYMORE! WHEW…WHAT A LOAD OFF!)
“Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? (REMINDS ME OF GOD TALKING TO JOB. LONG STORY SHORT, GOD IS IN CONTROL. HE LOVES YOU MORE THAN YOU WILL EVER UNDERSTAND. TRUST HIM WHEN HE SAYS HE WILL MEET YOUR NEEDS…TRUST COMES THROUGH FAITH!).
“And don't be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don't worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. (GOD KNOWS OUR NEEDS…JUST STOP AND THINK ABOUT THAT. GOD KNOWS YOUR NEEDS. YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN FROM HIM. BY FOCUSING ON HIM, WE TAKE THE FOCUS OFF OF US AND GOD DEFINES OUR NEEDS. MAKES SENSE IF OUR FOCUS WAS COMPLETELY SELF-CENTERED…RIGHT?).
“So don't be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.I LOVE THIS! DON'T BE AFRAID TO TRUST IN HIS PROMISES…THIS LANGUAGE REMINDS ME OF A DAD TALKING TO HIS KIDS…HENCE SEEN THROUGH MY HUSBAND STEVE AND OUR KIDS!).
“Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. (Luke 12:22-34 NLT). IF YOUR TREASURE IS FOUND IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST, THAT'S SOMETHING THAT CAN'T EVER BE TAKEN AWAY OR DESTROYED. THE TRUST THAT GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU, LOVES YOU AND HAS A PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE…LIVING IN THIS WAY AND GROWING IN THIS TYPE OF RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FATHER WILL CHANGE YOUR HEART, IT WILL DEFINE YOUR VALUES AND IT WILL MAKE YOUR LIFE WORTH LIVING TO THE FULL.
By now, you may see where all of this is headed. If not, allow me to tie up the lose ends here. How have I grown the MOST through my recent health issues? My answer – My dependency on God has grown past the realization that He simply meets all my needs, but now it is simply He is all I need. It's my dependency on God that has grown the most.
A few months ago, sitting there in the doctors office learning about 4 letters CIDP that would change my life forever…I gripped Gods hand right then and there and said, ” Daddy, please don't let go.” During my treatments I saw His face through the doctors and patients I came to meet and share with. His presence wasn't just felt by JUST me…but by others in that very center too. I remember the day I was told that 2 tumors were found in my brain…I literally came home, shut the bedroom door and sobbed. God was there too. I felt Him through the friend that visited that very evening and spoke Truth and hope into my life. During chemo treatments, I literally remember saying, “God I love you but I really don't understand this.” That very day several people confronted me of how my life had impacted theirs. A few days later I met Sarah…now a friend that I had the honor of saying, “Welcome to the family of God” for the first time. That day when I could barely walk because of my pain, tears streaming down my face, God heard me as I held cards written by friends, filled with the exact words of encouragement I needed. That day that the scan came back clear…I found myself in bed sick again, but within seconds my Facebook wall started sounding off praises to God…it was like a united worship service.
During this entire health ordeal, I've felt SO much like my son has today. I've wanted nothing else but to crawl into the lap of God and say, “Hold me tight and never let me go…please!” I found myself no longer concerned by petty worries of the past…I just wanted to survive. I had several days that I would click on my Bible app and just hit the “Play” button (struggling to read…so it read it to me…LOVE THIS!!!) and literally God would speak right into what was going on through the Words. I always felt like God was saying, “Everything will be okay…I'm in control, you are not.” Yet…I was extremely nervous as to His definition of “Okay” meant…yet, eventually, I didn't care. Knowing He was simply there. Knowing He was choosing to work through this in ways I never thought possible. Believing that He would meet my needs, He knows my name, He knows my fears, He sees who I am in Him…shoot, my Creator is the only One who has any right to tell me my purpose! When I understood God was touching lives through these health issues, I just literally stopped my inward focus and started seeking His will for my life.
You see, Josh will most likely wake-up tomorrow ready to tell me that he can handle things just fine on his own. Yet, tomorrow I will wake-up with the renewing of my mind saying, “God, this is a new day. Yesterday is gone and forgiven. Today, possibilities are endless. You alone have met my needs. Show me Your will for this day – wreck my plans and may my heart beat for Yours.” I'm not going through chemo. I'm starting CIDP treatment next week and really, health issues are looking very promising at this point. Life is great by the worlds standards…but I've learned that my life is absolutely nothing, meaningless, empty and pointless without my growing relationship with Christ. It still blows me away that this relationship is even possible! I feel like if I had not gone through these last few months of just gut wrenching trials, I would not be where I am today in my dependence on Him…and in return, my deeper relationship with those that are closest to me.
My treasure indeed cannot be destroyed. I will still faulter, no doubt there…but my dependency on Him will truly never be shaken. That is worth much more to me…more than anything this world could ever offer. When your mind is focused, your heart is open and God can be seen in so many ways…God can use you the way He intended to before we got distracted thinking we could manage this gig ourselves.
I'm far from perfect.
I will fall.
I will mess up.
I will let others down…including myself.
I will do things I regret.
I will be hurt by others.
I will hurt people I care about.
BUT…I will never forget to WHO I belong, to WHOSE plan I get to be a very tiny part of, to WHO desired a relationship with me and to WHO created me for the very purpose of being used for His glory.
Did I mention this is open to anyone…as in you too? How self-centered of me! Don't just read, join in the journey. What can it hurt? Define yourself by Truth that cannot be taken away. Understand your life has a purpose so much bigger than you could ever imagine (you know you have thought, “Is this really all there is?” – Guess what? There is more!). Take God at His Word as seen above that He cares for YOU…yes…YOU and that your NEEDS are KNOWN to HIM and WILL BE MET BY HIM. Quit worrying! renew your trust daily (hourly if you are anything life me) and start seeing the world, this life through a very different viewpoint.
My relationship with God has not grown stronger…God never changed. I learned to take Him at His Word and really TRUST Him to do what He said He would in the first place. So, I grew more dependent on Him. The choice is ours…it's sure been a life changing experience for me!