I haven’t blogged in a while; over a month, actually. Things happened. Life became busy. Hectic. Serious. Overwhelming. Yet there is a ray of hope.
I have started up the routine of walking around a lake after dropping my kids off at school. It is a man-made lake, quiet and a tad over a mile around. On this lake, there are a bunch of ducks, little ducklings, a blue heron, geese, and huge fish of multiple species. The ducks are so used to humans, that they let you get within feet of them and they still just sit there. It’s beautiful, quiet, and at any given moment, only traversed by 2-5 other people. It’s a wonderful place to think and just be.
Today, as I decided I would take four turns around the lake, I decided I would spend it listening to sermons that I missed from church. Being that I can’t attend too many services, there’s a lot to catch up on. With so many sermons to listen to, I picked one called “Wilderness Lessons”. If you are interested, the church is Salem Alliance Church, and you can find their podcasts in iTunes under the church name. The sermon is from a series called ‘Choices’. I highly recommend listening to it. It had me crying in 20 minutes; Tears of relief and gratitude, from just hearing that people who are in times and lives of difficulty and struggle are not invisible, and our hard times are not unnoticed…
A quote from the message…
“Some of you are in the wilderness of parenting. You’ve invested your lives in your kids and one of them is going sideways a bit and you’re wondering “God, Where are you?” Maybe you’re in the wilderness of a marital struggle; The marriage isn’t quite going the way you expected it to go….Maybe you’re in the wilderness where someone in your family is hurting. Maybe you’re in the wilderness of depression; You’re living under this grey dark cloud. Maybe you’re living in the wilderness of losing a loved one. You see, the wilderness presents itself in so many different ways, but what often happens is we see the wilderness as God abandoning us, where in fact the other thing, the exact opposite is actually happening, actually. God is investing us. He’s doing a beautiful work in us that is so. hard. to. see….”
I see myself in so much of that statement. It is such a struggle, raising our son. Our bodies show more scratches, bruises, and scars, physical and emotional, that most families will never have to see. Even the best of us succumb to feeling the pain and weight of our situation. It’s hard when you see other families able to do things, buy things, and participate in things you cannot. It is hard to see that your child can’t do what normal children do. It’s painful to know that the best you can offer is no where near enough. It hurts and worries you to think that they might never speak a word. It feels helpless, hopeless even, when you see that look of being locked away, trapped in a mind that you can’t penetrate. I long to be able to read his mind. I long to hear him talk back to me. I wish I could worry about who and how many kids to invite to his birthday, rather than not be able to have a party at all. I worry about my daughter. How will friendships look for her? How does her brother affect her socially and in her relationships? Does this hinder her from forming and deepening relationships? Will friends and potential friends be scared away? And what about our little guy? How, as he grows up, will he be affected by his brother’s struggles and needs? I wish I could complain about bad grades, instead of grieve over a report card filled with “N/A”, “not applicable”. Don’t get me wrong. Taylor is a wonderful boy. He has so many awesome qualities about him and has so much love and so many smiles inside him. But, to not acknowledge this difficult side of autism and diminish it’s severity isn’t healthy.
This was a sermon about the greats of the Bible and their struggles, their ‘wildernesses’, and what great things they were able to achieve because of them. Where it seemed like at the time, God abandoned them, He was ever so close, helping them through, priming them through the struggle to achieve the great things He had in store for them. I wonder what that looks like for me. What does that look like for Taylor? His brother and sister? Our family? I can attest to the feeling of being abandoned by God. However, the last time I told Him this, He answered by sending support from our friends 😉 .
In the sermon, the pastor said he didn’t think asking “Why?” was wrong, but suggested that maybe “What are you teaching me?” may be better. Still, “Why?” comes out so easily. There are people who believe to ask “Why?” is a big sin. To that, I would suggest they look through the Psalms and see all the greats of the Bible ask, weep, wail, and yell “Why?”. I see “Why?” as an invitation for God to answer.
What I took away from the message was that in the midst of the struggle, we may not see it, but our struggles, our stress…our pain, won’t end in futility. If you let it, something good can come out of it and because of it. And that… that gives me courage, strength, and hope.
Maybe you are in a place you would classify as “The Wilderness”. This message was encouraging to me… This wilderness has a purpose; And that purpose is for good. You may not see it (I lose sight of that all the time), but I know it is for good. Things might not turn out the way we want or expect. Hold on to the good. Be thankful for the little things, even the smallest of the small. These are some of those “rivers in the dry wasteland”.
The closing statement from the message…
“I want to declare this over you. I want you to hear these words, as if they were from God and right to you. I listened and here’s what I believe God would say to you this morning. “I will make a pathway through the wilderness.” I want you to hear this again. “I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry waste land. The wild animals in the fields will thank me; jackals and owls too, for giving them water in the desert. People will be blessed through you.” Hear God’s heart for you. “I will make rivers in the dry waste land so my chosen people, (that’s you), can be refreshed.” Now spirit of the living God, would you do that very thing. Refresh your saints. Refresh, renew. Help these dear ones to be able to discern that pathway you are making. Comfort them in their sorrow. Strengthen them in their weakness.”¹
“Wilderness Lessons”, Salem Alliance Church February 1, 2015
¹ Isaiah 43:19-20
19 For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
20 The wild animals in the fields will thank me,
the jackals and owls, too,
for giving them water in the desert.
Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland
so my chosen people can be refreshed.
As always, positive comments are welcome. Negative hurtful comments will be trashed before I can even finish reading them. I have many readers who are emotionally vulnerable, and I will not post comments that will further harm.
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