Sunday, August 2, 2009

healing wind

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine posted a wonderful blog post to her site, Scripture for Today...In it was an excerpt from an interview Rick Warren gave after he wrote the book The Purpose Driven Life. A few particular lines struck me deeply, and I have not been able to get them out of my mind:

"I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore.

Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on.

And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.

You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, "which is my problem, my issues, my pain." But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others."

I was so struck by that analogy of life being more of two trains, rather than the often emotionally vacillating perspective of the mountain top/valley approach. How much of my spiritual focus is spent on evaluating whether or not I am currently in a mountain top or in a valley? Does my view of God's "blessings" change, according to what season I think I'm in? And the burning question, do I trust God's plans and faithfulness as long as "relief" is on the way, or the mountain top is in view? Is that really living for God, or more of a "I will follow You as long as I know-You're-always- gonna-make-things-better kind of thing"? What if He doesn't?

I know people that would not agree with me even asking that question- what if He doesn't make it better- because, they believe, that God always has a positive answer, and that true trust in Him is reflected in the ability to always claim that. But many situations in my life have sort of always haunted me, if I'm being honest... because I have felt to my very core that truly trusting means being very aware that we live on earth, not in heaven, yet, and that if God promised us anything He assured us suffering would be a part of life, but that He would be with us. This belief I have held has often made me feel somewhat less faithful next to the more positive-thinking people in my life, and often, judged. Usually those individuals, in my estimation, have not endured some of the situations I have, so I struggle at times with judging them in return I guess. The question of "what if He doesn't?" stares at me everyday in the eyes of my overgrown toddler. It's as if Landen asks me, essentially, "what if I stay this way forever, mama? Will you still consider your life to be a good and happy one?" Having a doctor tell me 8 years ago that my child will never be normal, will never win trophies in sports among his peers, never go to college, probably never get married or have children has tested this struggle in me to degrees I wish every day that I didn't have to reconcile. I have had well intentioned people tell Mark and I that Landen's syndrome must be the result of our sin or unbelief. We have gone to many a prayer service asking-begging God to heal him, and I promise you, not an inch of our being doubted that God could do it. I do get confused when I read in the Bible how often it is said, "because of their faith, they were healed..." or "if you have the faith of a mustard seed"....those are passages that I am still pondering, still seeking to understand.

In the meantime, we live. We live each and every day, continuing in the hope that God will heal Landen, but reaching for joy and contentment in the mundane, amidst the under-current of grief that just won't go away. The analogy of life being more like 2 trains resonates with my heart. How freeing it is to realize that problems are always present, really, and the best use of our relationship with God is to embrace the contradiction of hard realities that are seen by God and allowed by Him, but being thankful that we are protected in it, guided through it, hopefully growing in it, but following Him even if we are not saved from it. After all, Christ asked that He might be spared of the cross, but was not. Of course, we know that He was not spared of it so that the biggest accomplishment of the universe could occur. It was for God's glory.

Speaking of God's glory- i think about, how when we refer to our pain and struggles, we often talk about how God will have His glory in it, and usually we picture "His glory" appearing a child healed, a family's home saved from foreclosure, the cancer gone. But the longer I live I am learning that it is also comes as a deep contentment and growth that comes right smack in the middle of the problems, and that the struggle itself is the "answer", the glimpse of God's glory, the light and the beauty that is noticeable because of the darkness. My heart must wrestle with this truth, or I will never really grasp a selfless surrender to His greater purposes.

Landen being who he is, there are many moments on a daily basis that test these ideas in me. So often we have set off in the car as a family, hoping to enjoy some sense of "normalcy" and togetherness as a family of four. Many times these outings begin and Landen is thrilled with the ride in the car...with the windows down, the wind blowing his hair crazily- (he tells us "Open the hole!" which means the sunroof) He shuts his eyes with his head sticking out of the window in total uninhibited glee...and hanging his airplane out the window so he can watch the propellers spin in the wind. I love those moments with him with all my heart. And then, as anxiety sets in on him about where we're going or an unmet expectation, he can melt down and get upset. I sink in my own way, with disappointment that our "family outing" doesn't look like what I hoped it would. I used to think, "that's great...he was having fun, we were all enjoying it, having a grand time...then it always has to end this way." And so the mental choice in me begins...i can tank emotionally or be thankful for the precious moments we did have, and that Landen does have and share joy. All I know is, I am pursuing a life that is far more captivated by gratitude and hope, and loosening my grip on self-pity and defeat, or I will die trying.

I love these additional words from Rick Warren:
Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD "

This picture is from 2005 in Lake Tahoe...but it captures the same "wind in the face-glee" that Landen gets when he rides in the car! I love it!!

1 comment:

  1. People seek happiness, they go to therapy, they learn they should find gratitude in each day. People go to the Lord, they seek peace. In both cases, people can wear themselves out. It is a rare jewel when someone shares the message of real Jesus trust, Jesus peace, Jesus hope. Really honest about the ins and outs of the truly meaningful growth of beautiful Christians.