My Awakening

  

An amazing thought. . . I am here because He thought of me. He planned my life and intricately knit me together in my mother’s womb. Each and every part of me was carefully crafted by our Creator and He has given me an irreplaceable part to play in His big story. He is my Father and I am His forever child created to bring glory and honor to His great name.

I had the blessing and rich heritage of being a daughter of believing parents. My parent’s greatest desire was that my brother and I would know the love of the God they serve. I walked through several years of rebellion, yet in my early 20’s surrendered my life to the Lordship of Christ.

This began the incredible journey of my Christian walk. My greatest desire since I became a believer has been to know God and intimately walk with Him. I am very much like the character Much Afraid in the classic allegory Hinds Feet on High Places. I desperately want to go to the mountain top or High Places, but I am too weak and afraid to make the journey alone. I need the Father, my Good Shepherd, to lead and guide me there.

I envisioned a life of mountain peak views with a story script of comfort, ease, and abundance. My naïve heart wanted the mountain peak views without the cost of the climb upward. I wanted the ski-lift approach . . . to get to the top and to experience the view without the effort or cost of the climb. But God wants our dependence. God wants to stretch and grow my faith so that I can develop spiritual muscles . . . so that I can know the power of the Resurrection . . . so that I can know the depth of His character. There is no way to the mountain top except by way of steep climbs, deep valleys, and seemingly never-ending wildernesses.

God’s Word says in 2 Corinthians 4:7, But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed, always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

When I was in college, I was diagnosed with clinical depression, and I have struggled with it ever since. I have gone through periods of intense darkness and fight through the fog often. Thus far, God has not healed me of this chemical imbalance. Instead, He has strengthened me and enabled me to endure the climb to the mountaintop while carrying this extra weight. He has provided enough light to make the journey and I am deeply grateful for the days of the brightest light. My Abba Father is the lifter of my head, and He has revealed to me the brightness of His glory. He shines His perfect light into my darkness.

I had planned out my story and my script flowed smoothly with no periods of waiting, silence, or uncertainty. I had it mapped out and I knew how many miles it would be before each turn and which direction to turn when it was time. My map through my twenties failed me because the road through singleness was much farther than I had anticipated. God waited several years before He brought my dear Mark. God, in His wisdom, used those years in the wilderness of singleness to bless me with deep intimacy with Him and rich fellowship with believers. It was during those years that He gave me the gift of life-long friendships, friends that are still my best friends today. His plans are good and His timing is perfect.

After marriage, I was ready for the turn up the mountain to parenting, but my Good Shepherd lead me the opposite way to the valley of the shadow of death and sorrow. I lost three babies through miscarriage and went through three and a half years of infertility treatments. These were some of the most painful and lonely years for us and especially for me. I had to die to the dream of having my own child when the infertility specialist told me that he had exhausted all treatments and that we should pursue adoption. I was a drug representative at the time, and I would walk in hospitals and see pregnant women all around. I would pray, God, this is an easy thing for you to do . . . why won’t you hear my cry? I had to surrender my life-long desire to have my own child. Mark and I decided after much prayer that our way out of the valley of barrenness would be adoption. We began the process and finished our home-study. At the point we were waiting to be matched with a birth mother, we discovered a miracle. I was pregnant. God gave us FOUR children in FOUR years. Gods’ word says in Ephesians 3:20, Now unto Him who is able to do far more than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. We are still amazed and thankful for His immeasurable gifts.

At this point in our lives, it felt so good to have a scenic view. Mark and I relished this place of blessing, this place of having children that we never thought we would have.

About the time that we were settling into our rocking chairs to enjoy the view, our Good Shepherd began leading us down a new trail into a different valley. When our fourth child was seven months old, I noticed that Margaret was not responding to sound. I took her to the doctor the next day and was told that she probably had fluid in her ears. The doctor referred us to an ENT to have her ears checked possibly for tubes. Two weeks later, the ENT and audiologist confirmed that our baby girl is profoundly deaf. I remember sitting in the doctor’s office that day thinking of how rare it is to hear of a child being deaf. The truth is that deafness is very uncommon but our loving Father in His sovereignty chose our sweet Margaret to be deaf. The Father had reached out His hand and again led us into the valley of death and sorrow.

We found out that Margaret was a candidate for cochlear implants yet our insurance did not cover the $90,000 cost per ear. They considered it an elective surgery. In the meantime, we found out that Margaret’s doctor, Dr. Wooley and Mark’s boss happened to be on a campout together and committed to work this out on our behalf. These men lobbied to the people at the top of Aetna and God changed their heart. Aetna covered the cost almost one hundred percent.
Margaret is now 4 years old and she is talking like crazy. She goes to the Alabama School for the Hearing where she is in community with other preschoolers who have cochlear implants. She LOVES school!
As I have walked through these valleys with my Father, the Good Shepherd, I have experienced His deep, deep love and have come to know His character. I am convinced that the way that God prepares us for Home and allows us to really know His character is through the fellowship of suffering. Through suffering loss and uncertainty, God has blessed our family with the immeasurable riches of knowing Him more intimately. The Father is showing us that our own desires for comfort and peace are desires that He alone can satisfy. My wandering heart continuously runs to broken cisterns but He gently and tenderly redirects my heart and quenches my thirst with the Living Water that perfectly and eternally satisfies.

I have climbed up the mountain by way of the valleys, and as I climb the view gets more beautiful. I am thankful when my Good Shepherd allows me to stop, rest, and enjoy the view but I KNOW that we have not yet reached the Top of the mountain. This is our temporary home, and we are on our journey to our Eternal Home. I do not want to stop here and God mercifully will not let me get too comfortable at each rest because He has more for me to know and more for me to SEE. He will not stop until we reach the Heights of Home. The longer the journey, the more I trust Him with the way He leads me. I always remember that though the valleys are dark, painful, and sometimes long, He eventually leads me out and upward. His love for me is the reason I keep climbing. He gives me gifts of His grace and glimpses of His glory. He gives me hope. He strengthens and protects me. He nourishes my soul and gives me unspeakable joy in the journey. Like Much Afraid, I KNOW that He is good and He is faithful. He will never leave me nor forsake me. My heart cries, “Lead on, Good Shepherd, lead on!”

 

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