Because We Never Know the End…

October 7, 2010 at 11:37 am (Godly Living, Trust) (, , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

The last word you heard from me, I shared that I was losing a baby.  I told of hard paths, of death, of grief, of discouragement.  And I told of the Shunamite woman–of the miracle baby who grew up and died.  And of the pathway of trust down which Yahweh led her.  Whatever God does is always good, regardless of our limited perspective.  Then I vanished into real time.

In the story of the Shunamite woman, the end was not death, but resurrection.  God’s very real power at work to bring life from death.

I want you to know that, in real time, God did intercede with mercy.  I’ve since discovered that the baby’s life has been spared.  And the mother looks beautiful–as the nurse says, she’s gotten back her sparkle.  Even when I saw death, God was working for life.

The fact is, I’ve been seeing a lot of “hopeless” situations–both at the clinic and in the rest of real time.  I’m sure many of you can sympathize.  Many of them, I still don’t see the end.  May never.  But I know God is still righteous and does what is right.

I’d love to hear how God is at work through hard situations in your life…what you are learning about trust, and what you are discovering about death and resurrection.

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It Will Be Well

August 31, 2010 at 1:21 pm (Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living, Trust, Worship) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

I’m losing a baby.

My client left the dimly lit counseling room where we’d been talking for the past couple of weeks, still intent on abortion.  There was nothing I could do to change the outcome.  The hardest part was this:  I’d known from the beginning that I was fighting a losing battle.  As soon as I heard the facts stacked up against her I knew that abortion would sound like the overwhelmingly best option.

But even as she walked out, and I ran upstairs to the bathroom and cried, the tears were just a cleansing.  Because God is not dead.  This path I had walked was rugged and hard, discouraging and wearying.  The whole way I was trembling, aware of just how fragile and how stumbling I was.  But I had seen God’s hand.  God’s work.  God’s power.  God’s provision.

Lately, I’ve been walking a lot of these paths.  As I round a bend in my life and I see the valleys stretched out below, I cringe.  I can see the path and I don’t want to walk it.  I’ve walked it before and I know what the end looks like—heartache, failure, confusion, tears.  I hate feeling fragile, wrestling for wisdom and pleading for clarity.  I hate making decisions that seem right, when my heart is torn.  And the lies!  The lies that assault me at the end of these valleys—that the outcome is my fault, that I destroyed what might have been good, that I didn’t do enough, that I was unworthy, that I spoke faulty words, that I have rendered a terrible testimony of the Lord—beat against me like fiery darts.  When I see those valleys loom in the distance, I start looking for short-cuts to avoid that path.

I am a wimp.

Because God is not dead.  The pathway is not about a destination.  There is only one destination of which I am assured—eternity with my Bridegroom.  And this is assured because of the pathway that He walked to purchase my spirit from bondage.  The end of that pathway was death.

Or was it?

Let me tell you a story of humanity.  There came a day when the prophet Elisha passed over to the Gentile city of Shunem.  There he was shown hospitality by a prominent woman.  As time passed, she and her husband built for him a room on the roof of their house.  In his gratitude, Elisha sought for a way to repay her kindness.  Regardless of her wealth, her good marriage, her comfortable circumstances, she lacked one thing: a child.  So Elisha told the Shunamite woman that she would embrace a son.

Her reply?  “Oh no, man of God!  Do not deceive me!”

I can only imagine that this woman’s heart held wounds from years of lack.  Perhaps years of loss.  And as she looked down a path that frightened her, she was afraid of the end.  Because a pathway that might end with joy, also might end with sorrow.

Soon she conceived and gave birth.  And almost as soon, her son suddenly died.

Quietly she laid him on Elisha’s bed and told her husband that she was going to run down to the man of God.  “Why?” her husband asked.  Her only answer:  “Shalom.”  Peace.  It will be well.*

When she came near Elisha, his servant came out to meet her and inquire about her family.  Her only answer, “Shalom.”  Peace.  It will be well.

Then she came to Elisha and flung herself at his feet and her words rushed out in a confused, hurt torrent.  “Did I ask a son from you?  Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me?’”

In this moment, it seemed that the pathway had ended in death.  Heartache, failure, confusion, tears.  And she had seen it coming.  She had been afraid.  She hadn’t volunteered to walk this pathway.  Hadn’t she said “Don’t deceive me?”

But along the way she had groped for God’s purpose.  She had gone straight to the source.  To others who asked, she said, simply, “Shalom.”  Peace.  It will be well.  Her grief found expression in trust.

God was not dead.  In a dramatic display of power, which proved that it was not Elisha’s staff, nor even Elisha who held life and death, God raised her son.  About eight-hundred years later, He raised His own son.

The destination of these paths was neither death…nor resurrection.  Those were things that happened along the way—for God’s glory.  The destination was trust.

The pathway Jesus walked opened a way to God—through trust.  His example was trust in the Father as He entrusted His soul to a faithful Creator in doing what was right.  And He gave us something in which to trust—a tangible proof that God is with us.

The results of a pathway are in the hands of a Sovereign God.  But we can look at the pathway Christ walked and the power of God in His resurrection and have hope.  We confidently expect that God will bring us through life…and death…and resurrect us to an eternity with Him.  And if this is our eternal destination, why should we fear any path that lies before us?  If God is for us, who can stand against us? Immanuel means “God is with us.”

When my client walked into the clinic asking about abortion, it was an opportunity.  That hard path I dreaded was an opportunity to do what was right—and trust God to do what is right.  And it was not a path I walked alone.  Not a battle lost, the victory just looked different than I assumed.  And the victory belonged to God.  I’m not losing a baby.  The baby isn’t mine.  What God has done never ends at death.  His work goes on.

As I’ve come down what seems to be the end of several hard and painful paths—torn between hope and hopelessness—I’ve wanted to curl up, cover my head and hold as still as possible.  Maybe it won’t hurt.  Maybe I won’t have to see paths like these again.

But I know I will.  My life may be long ahead of me.  Or it may be short.  But the valleys will always loom ahead until I pass through the last valley.  And trust means that I don’t have to fear the valleys, because the Lord is there as well.  I must view them as an opportunity to do what is right—and trust God to do what is right.

He always does.

It will be well.

*The story of Elisha and the Shunamite woman is taken from 2 Kings 4.  According to Keil & Delitzsch (Commentary on the Old Testament, pg 220), the word “Shalom” that the Shunamite woman used means, literally, “Peace.”  It could be used as a simple greeting, but in her case probably denoted more of the concept of “It will be well” or “everthing is fine”—with a goal of politely avoiding questioning.

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Ending Is Beginning

December 29, 2009 at 6:42 pm (Family, Friends & Ministry, Godly Living, Vignettes) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

Yesterday, my Mom and I crept in late to the funeral of a woman we had never met. Actually, she was the mother-in-law of a friend, and we had come to show support to the family. In front of us a lady folded a handkerchief around her finger and dabbed at her eyes.

Several months ago, Marlene’s Doctor had told her she had the silent killer: cancer. He gave her only a few months to live, without treatment. “It’s okay,” she said. “It’s right.” Without a complaint, she accepted from the Lord that He was calling her home and refused any treatment. She was ready to go. “Herman the Vermin,” she named her enemy—cancer—and she looked to Jesus for certain release. On Christmas Day, at her son’s home, Marlene shed her earthly body and went to be with Jesus.

I looked at this woman’s beautiful paintings and wood-burnings, listened to the stories others shared, watched the slideshow of her life and listened to the notes she had written in her Bible. A hunger, a thirst for the Lord. A longing to be with Him. Even as an older widow, the preacher recounted how she had enthusiastically wanted to be part of an evangelistic team. In a letter she’d left in her Bible, she had expressed that she didn’t know how much longer she had, but she wanted to serve—the Lord and others.

As I listened, I struggled to understand. Why did the Lord allow this woman who loved Him to linger so long between this world and that better one? Why the dark cloud of certain doom? Why the struggle for her family as they watched her fading away? Perhaps, her attitude in suffering brought the glory back to the Lord. As the glory departed from her earthly temple, the glory of God shone more brightly to those left behind. Everyone I mentioned her name to had one thing to say: “Miss Marlene was a godly woman.”

Miss Marlene spent her life learning that “to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

How fitting. As one year draws to a close, we find we are beginning another. As Miss Marlene’s life ended, we are reminded that it is not an end—but a beginning. In life, with Christ, ending is always a beginning. Life with Christ begins with an end—an end of living for self and sin, of being enslaved to that which would destroy us. The end of every day brings us to the beginning of another—with new mercies and new grace. And when we come to the end of life, we discover that we are only beginning—to live. The end of the world marks the beginning of Christ’s eternal reign. Every fairy-tale finishes with the words “The End” but in God’s eternal story, “The End” marks the beginning.

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Gone

March 16, 2009 at 11:19 am (Poetry) (, , , , )

gone
Posted by Lauren

Gone

And I didn’t know

Gone

And I didn’t ask

The rain started the moment you left

And it began to pour when I found out

Gone

And I didn’t know

Gone

And I didn’t ask

On bright days I saw you

And we spoke, though from a distance

Gone

But where to?

Gone

And with whom?

Last night your candle faded

And the dawn brought endless tears

Gone

Did you know Him?

Gone

Do you seem Him now?

Will I see you again in Sonlight

Or are you lost forever?

Gone

And I never knew

Gone

And I never asked

Gone.

“WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” ~Romans 10:13-15

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