Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What If?

One morning last week Jeff called me away from reducing fractions with Julia.  I took the few steps to the kitchen and looked at him.  I knew the face.  He was going to ask me to do something he wasn’t sure I’d want to do. I also knew that I’d say yes to whatever it was.  It was that face.  He knows me better than I wish sometimes and he knew asking me to share some of our story at the new church plant would add a whole new dimension to my Easter week, but he felt strongly that it needed to be shared along with his sermon.  I like to write to people, not necessarily speak in front of them. I might as well be cuddling with a porcupine.  Two things motivate me:  I’ve been asked and it’s an opportunity to put a magnifying glass on God’s work in our lives.  So I write today because I took time to think this week about something other than laundry, what’s for dinner, and strategies for fighting the urge to become a slacker these last few weeks of school.  These thoughts are already spoken, but now I need to “frame” them here.

When I was in college, I had a Sunday school teacher whose name was Mrs. Summey.  She’s one of those rare people you meet and just can’t get enough of.  From the start I was drawn to her transparency, her bluntness and her confidence in the God she served.  Even being the study geek I was, I hung out with this busy wife and mother of two every opportunity I got.  One Sunday she began her lesson by asking me a question.  “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”  Easy answer, I thought and I proceeded to answer like most of you would have at the time, “I’ll have a good job, be married to Christian man, have a home and a couple of kids”—and so on. Then she asked the whole class the question that carries the weight of possible life change, “What if all those things don’t happen or if one or two of those things don’t happen? What will that be like for Krista?  Will that change her view of God?  What will she think of Him then?”  I was probably 21 at the time and that possibility never occurred to me.  I was preoccupied with figuring out Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmacology, getting a good tan, and wondering if I had found that “Christian man” to buy that house and raise kids with.  What if that didn’t happen?  Really?  I had never thought of that.

At the time, I chose NOT to think too much of what she said, because those things I mentioned seemed imminent, looming, almost within my grasp.  It wasn’t until my first year (1997) of trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant that I remembered her question.  “What if Krista can’t have children?  Will that change her view of God?”  So, I asked myself, “Is it?  Will it?  How are you going to respond, Mrs. Sanders, with that Christian husband,  that home and now the title of ‘pastor’s wife’?”  Privately, I prayed, thought, long and hard about God’s character and who had I learned Him to be in my life.  Was He good or not?  Was He worthy of my trust and hope-- even with something so personal, so “expected” in my life?

Even though I was “barren” in the normal sense of the word, I felt barren in many other ways.  All of our incredible seminary friends had moved away, so our fellowship with heart friends was barely sporadic.  Never in my life had I been in that situation.  Loneliness was a new feeling and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.   The church we had started in our home was growing and in a permanent building but it was demanding and challenging at the time.  

So I knew I had a choice to make.  By God’s grace, He continued to pursue me and soften my heart to press into Him.  To seek Him.  To depend on Him.  To KNOW Him.  And it seemed to me, He wanted me to figure out if I truly BELIEVED Him-- not believed IN Him but believed what He said in His Word, mainly what He had to say about His goodness and His love.  One morning, Psalm 136 did a little dance on the page.  It’s that Psalm where every other line is “and His love endures forever”.  And with resignation-- and hope, I wrote this on an index card, “We may never have close friends, but His love endures forever. We may never be financially comfortable, but His love endures forever.  We may never have a great church, but His love endures forever.  We may never have children, but His love endures forever.”   This was where I needed to rest.  Here is where I needed to abide.  All of these things I wanted, but He needed me to BELIEVE that if none of this ever happened, that He’d be enough and I’d be satisfied.  And that I wouldn’t be disappointed.  Ultimately.

After trying four or so years to get pregnant, I had 48 cycles of being disappointed.  I had a decision to make every 28 days.  I had my moments and even days of giving in to fear, doubt and even anger, but He didn’t leave me alone.  If I chose to read His Word, He would love me that way.  Simple, hope-fueling Words like Job 2:10, Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?  2 Chronicles 7:3, He is GOOD and His love endures forever and Psalm 119:75, Lord, I trust in You alone. You are the God who always does what is right!

If you click around here much, you know how my story turns out.  Praise the Lord!  His faithfulness to us through the ENTIRE story is everything you hope for in situations like ours.  He comes through in ways that only His perfect character is capable. Divinely Awesome.  He answered prayer after prayer.  Simple desires that I had, He granted.  Lives didn’t depend on my wants, but He was gracious and kind by just saying “yes”.  Nothing is as humbling as a Sovereign God saying “yes” to a simple wish of one of His children.  I delighted in and cherished every one.

My story turns out wonderfully but what if it hadn’t?  I hear Mrs. Summey’s question like this now, What if the adoptions hadn’t worked out?  What if they had but then got messy?  What if Julia or Brighton had to be put in foster care in the beginning or if I hadn’t been able to be at their births?  What if I had felt no connection to them when they were- finally- placed in my arms for the first time?   Would I put my hope in God still?  Oh, I pray yes.  I shout YES!

I know life can get so much harder than anything I have ever experienced, but my prayer is that whatever I come to experience in my life that it would be filtered through my limited understanding of His perfect love for me and His absolute goodness.

“Until we can come face to face with the deepest, darkest fact of life WITHOUT DAMAGING OUR VIEW OF GOD’S CHARACTER, we do not yet know Him.”

I want to know Him.

I shudder to think, what if I didn’t?


Jenny said...

Wow! What an awesome teacher. She has now reached others to ask that very same question as a result of sharing your story.

Sarah said...

Tearing up as I read this. So much of life to be lived, so many more circumstances to be sovereignly handed to us. But whatever happens, YES!, his love endures forever. Great truths to bring in the face of fear. Thanks for sharing!

Alyssa said...

Been thinking about your testimony ever since you bravely stood before us on Sunday. I loved hearing your voice and seeing you tell it, but I'm also glad you wrote it out here for it to bless others. I plan to write out my own psalm soon because I love how it encouraged you.