Twelve years ago we trusted God with a move across the country, far from my home and family whom I dearly love, but near my husband’s father. Then the precious man we so love died, the few remaining relatives moved away, and our visitors dwindled. Now there is nobody nearby.
Our trust has made us lonely.
Six years ago we trusted God with a move out of the city, over the mountain pass, 70 minutes away from our church and the people that had become like family to us. Then sickness, weather, and finances took over and we rarely make it over the pass except to see specialists and doctors. Now that second family and church home are distant, unfamiliar.
Our trust has made us strangers.
Four years ago we trusted God and took the plunge into the Christian music ministry. Then the economy and our main business collapsed and we were saddled with expenses we could not afford and that a ministry could not support. Now that ministry is floundering and we are left feeling frustrated with gifts we know must be shared, but with no means to share them.
Our trust has destroyed our finances.
Throughout our marriage we trusted God with our family size. Then we discovered that one of our children has a painful chronic illness and requires expensive, lifelong medical care. Worse, we learned it is genetic, meaning each of her many sisters, her brother, and even our unborn baby have a strong chance of getting the same thing, some even exhibiting early symptoms. Now…now…now…there seems so little room left in this beaten-down, trodden heart for trust.
Our trust has brought pain to a large number of children, those we are called to protect, and that is too much for any parent to shoulder.
When the tears are spent, when heartache becomes the norm, and when the wrenching fear in the pit of your stomach becomes a familiar, almost constant companion, where do you turn? When friends and family stop visiting or calling, when help fades into the background, and when you want to scream at the next showered, manicured person who chirps “everything will be fine” and then walks away from the pain, who is left? When your children look to you for help and comfort, and you have none to give, what can you offer? When hope has become a nostalgic memory, and trust is the very last thing your intellect is telling you to do, what is there to lean on?
When trust, quite frankly, hurts, and you feel deserted and betrayed, what do you do?
I ask God, not crying, not yelling, not pleading, because I am too spent for childishness, drama, or even feeling. I ask God quietly.
“What do I do?”
The answer that comes in the still of the night, in my sleepless, numb exhaustion, is equally quiet.
Trust in the Lord forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal. (Isaiah 26:4)
We sat for a long while together, my arms wrapped around her chubby body, her small head resting against my chest. She gazed up at me with her big blue eyes and smiled the smile she got from me. I smiled back at the little two-year-old wonder snuggled in my lap. It was one of those moments I knew we both cherished.
“I like snuggling with you,” I told her, “and I like you.”
She gazed back at me, thoughtful.
Then she replied, “I like tic tacs. I wonder if I have any left. I’ll go check.”
And she was gone.
Moment over, spell broken, Mama deserted.
Daddy: Marissa will help you with your jam, Elijah.
Marissa: I think this time he should do it himself so he can learn how.
Emily: I think so, too. Nobody’s going to spread his jam for him when he’s a grown-up?
Elijah: When I’m a grown-up I’m going to marry Mommy, and she can help me.
Daddy: But I’m already married to Mommy. What am I going to do?
Elijah: You can come live with us.
Elijah: And guess what? We’re going to have red floors so when we spill smoothie on the floor, nobody has to clean it up.
At four he has all the answers.
Time spent around the dinner table chatting with family is always time well spent. Savor the moment.
We add the price of every item, always rounding up just in case, and cheer out loud when we come within pennies of our goal. Walking out of the grocery store, I grin and nod at the first two girls to ever steal my heart. They grin back, hop on the backs of our two shopping carts, and propel their improvised scooters through the parking lot to where we always park the Bagabus–downhill.
After loading the van, young legs power the carts back uphill to the cart return while I pull the van up to the gas pumps a few feet away. We huddle outside, laughing and chatting as I push the inordinate number of buttons required to fuel a vehicle in the twenty-first century.
And then he shows up, his clothes a little ratty, his hair a little messy, his eyes a little hopeful.
“Times are tough,” he explains. I agree. They are.
“Outta gas. I live way out in….”
“It’s okay,” I interrupt. “I’ll help you out.”
“Really? God bless you. Oh, God bless you all.”
And I watch and calculate as the numbers click higher on the gas gauge, his container growing full while my van sits empty, the warning light reminding me I do not have gas to get home.
I watch as he asks God’s blessings on my children, and I mentally review my best kung fu moves should he show the least sign of questionable behavior.
I watch his eyes carefully, looking for signs of deceit as he thanks me and God-blesses me and I inexplicably thank him back, and I do not regret helping him, even if he is lying.
I watch him walk back to his buddy and talk as they pour my liquid gold into his hungry truck, and I imagine them mocking us and our kindness and our naivety.
I watch as we drive by and he waves and thanks us and God-blesses us and I wave back and know I did not do enough.
I did not give him gas to get Home.
Not once in all my watching did I open my mouth to share with the stranded man the fuel he really needs to get through the tough times, to get Home to God’s arms. Not once did I share with him the joys of Jesus. Not one word did I speak from the message of Life that every man needs to hear before their bodies run out of gas.
He spoke God, but I don’t know if he knows God. I know God, but I did not speak God.
I gave that man more gas than I could afford and a warm smile on a cold evening. I gave that man nothing.
I am very blessed to be a guest author at Positive Parenting 3-6-5 today where I wrote about our Thanksgiving traditions. Pop on over and check it out.
While you’re there…
Look around the site. Donna of Positive Parenting 3-6-5 is a Christian homeschooling mother of seven. She has three daughters serving their Lord on the mission field. She also has boys at home as young as 11 that she is schooling.
Donna’s site is an encouragement to parents at any point in the parenting process, whether awaiting a first child or nurturing grandchildren. She offers Godly wisdom and practical advice to establish strong family bonds and nurture a very real Christian faith within your family. She never speaks down to you, but always makes you believe you really can raise Godly, Christ-centered, family-lovin’ children in this godless, self-centered age, because, you know what, you really can. It takes conscientious effort and an eternal perspective, but you can do it, and Donna can help you.
I admire Donna immensely. She is a mentor and a blessing. Check her out!
“I wanna-wanna do it by my own self,” she tells me in her two-year-old speak.
They wanna-wanna do it by their own selves. They are “big” now. Too big for help. Too big for snuggles when there is playing to be done. Too big for sitting with Mama and counting fingers and toes. They wanna-wanna count by their own selves, because they can finish faster. Counting goes faster when you skip numbers.
And then the fevers start, and the tummies ache, and there is fear and confusion, and the hot little foreheads and red eyes don’t wanna-wanna do it by their own selves anymore. The soft, hot arms reach out to find Mama. The little voice cracks in its feverish stupor as it whispers, “Don’t leave me, Mama.” The little legs stumble over to a Mama resting within arm’s reach and a frightened voice says, “You’re too far away. I wanna-wanna sleep by you.”
And I wrap Mama arms around hot bodies and lie awake listening as their thick breath slows into sweet, healing sleep. And I stay, knowing I am comfort.
Perhaps this is why God allows, some say causes, sickness in our own lives. Perhaps we are counting too fast, skipping numbers. Perhaps God knows what it is we need, regardless of what we wanna-wanna. Perhaps He knows we need to stumble to the God within arm’s reach and say, “You’re too far away. I wanna-wanna have you in my heart, always on my mind, and forever in my view leading the way.” Perhaps He knows we need the feverish forehead, the weakness, the pain, the fear, the dying to open our voices to whisper, cry, shout, “Don’t leave me, Abba. I can’t do this by my own self.” Perhaps He knows it will take a crushing blow to stop the speed-counting and turn our hearts, minds and lives toward Him.
And He wraps God arms around hot bodies and lies awake listening as our thick breath slows into sweet, healing sleep. And He stays, knowing that He is Comfort, He is Life, He is All.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
~II Corinthians 1:3-4