Saturday, September 12, 2015

because He's good (even when we don't believe it)

I am working on a pregnancy devotional right now.
(No, I am not pregnant.)
(Warning: If you see me and ask me when I am due...we will no longer be friends.)

But the craziest thing has been happening as I write.
The book originally was a gift book of poems, prayers and scriptures
when I wrote it 12 years ago.
When I signed the contract for it, my editor asked me to include 52 devotions.
Which I love.

The main focus of the original book leaned more towards the pregnancy poems
that I wrote.
But the focus of the book is shifting as I write.

It has gone from having prayers and scriptures interspersed throughout the book
to having prayers scriptures after each devotion.

And as I have been writing out the prayers, I can't help crying.
Because talking to Jesus is softening my heart.
So crazy.
And not so crazy.

You may be asking, "Sue, why do you have a hard heart?"
And I will honestly tell you I didn't think I did.
But in the way that Jesus does when we get closer to him,
He has been showing me things about my heart that I didn't know.

Three years ago, my friend, Shelly, died of ovarian cancer.
We had prayed and fasted and prayed some more.
And Jesus took her home to be with Him.
I think in that moment of deep sorrow that Shelly left us,
I began to doubt God's goodness.

I couldn't understand why He wouldn't answer our prayers....
the way that I wanted Him to.
And then because life didn't feel good,  (It felt a little like the end of the world.)
I began wondering if He was good.

That little pebble of doubt buried itself deep.
And I began to pray less.
I still prayed for my kids, for my marriage, for our church family.
But in the way that I had once prayed,
"Jesus, whatever you want? That's what I want!"
Those prayers seemed to dry up and wither away before they could make it to my tongue.

Because I wasn't sure if I wanted what He wanted anymore.
I still loved him.
I just wasn't willing to completely trust him.

Fast forward to this past month of family upheaval,
of a great shift in our family life and the loss of our school community,
add to that the crazy cocktail of tight finances, dying cars, teenage angst and
ministry pressures and you have a small glimpse of life in our home at the moment.
On a smaller scale, we are once again
walking out prayers not being answered the way I wanted them to be.

But in this new wild season...
Here I am trying to write this book.
(Note: You can't really write devotions without spending time with Jesus....
it just doesn't work.)

This book is about joy and hope and expectation.
Here I am reading God's truth and asking Him to transform it into words upon the page.
Here I am writing out prayer upon prayer,
asking God for guidance, intervention, peace, mercy, love,
thanking Him for his amazing creativity, his hand of blessing, his endless provision.
Here I am feeling my heart creak open and seeing that seed of doubt,
planted 3 long years ago, come to light.
My doubt about His plan. His path. His ways.

And something is shifting in my soul.
These prayers, these scriptures....
are opening up a new conversation between me and Jesus.

I am meditating on the miracle of new life
and the hand of God at work knitting together strand upon strand of DNA,
acknowledging the unfathomable knowledge
that He breathes life and hope into everything He touches
and I am realizing (in the tricky way that He does things)
Jesus is transforming me....changing me....
asking me to think about who He is and how He has loved me all along.
All along.
Which shows me again.... just how really GOOD He is.

The sweet oil of those scriptures laced with hope
are loosening the knot of doubt in my spirit.
And the practice of writing out prayers for others to pray over their babies...
I am praying right along with them.
I am finding myself saying, one more time,
"Whatever you want? That's what I want."
And He is telling me one more time,
"Sue, how about you give me all your fear, your anger, your doubt, your questions,
your grief, your pain,
and I will wrap you in my peace....
And overwhelm you with my love....
And show you my goodness."

I can see that his being good isn't reliant on the outcome of my circumstances.
Life is difficult and heart wrenching and sorrowful at times.
His being simply who He is.
Life is beautiful and brilliant and hopeful, too.

So I am praying a new prayer these days,
in the midst of our chaos.
It is a 3 word prayer.

"I am open."

It is both a small and big prayer.
Small on words. Big on hope.
I want Jesus to know that I want in on what He is doing.
Whatever that is.
And I am open to the path that He is leading us on
even if it is not the path I would have chosen for us.

And then I am reminding myself  one more time of the scripture
that is threading itself through my soul.


Lindsey Smallwood said...

Oh sweet friend. Me too. Sometimes it's so hard to be soft and open but he is so good. Thanks for the precious reminder.

Mary Martha said...

The word open is so timely for me. Thank you for your words.