I hesitate to even post this blog for fear that anyone that reads it will worry that I am having a crisis of faith. Let me begin by saying, I am not! However, I feel very sad and reflective today.
While I was in the hall at work, a small child, that may have been Maria's age, was wheeled by on a bed. The child had numerous tubes inserted and appeared to be resting. At that moment, I felt completely overcome with emotion. As I looked at that child in bed, I realized that it is only by the grace of God that one of my children is not in that bed.
As most of you know, I've had terrifying experiences with both of my kids. When I was only 24 weeks pregnant with Jacob, I had a placental abruption. I was told that he would not live if he was born, and was placed on bed rest for 12 weeks. During that time on bed rest, Jacob's well being was constantly monitored and every contraction or change in my health was cause for concern. Then, this November, Maria had a febrile seizure and stopped breathing. Although her condition was not life threatening, I thought my daughter had died in my arms, and all that I could do was watch as her lips turned blue and she lay limp in my arms.
As I reflect on these two events, I feel powerless. I HATE knowing that no matter how hard I try, I cannot control some things in life. I can't control whether my kids are healthy, and I can't control whether they live or die. Of course decisions that I make can help keep them safe, but in the end, their life and well being is not within my control.
When I am overwhelmed with these feelings, I often pray. I pray that God will keep my kids safe and healthy. However, I don't know how I feel about prayer and what its impact actually is in my life. For every prayer that I have prayed that has been answered the way that I want it to be (my son was born and is now healthy, my daughter has recovered), there is a parent somewhere in the world that has prayed just as desperately for their child to be healthy or to live and that prayer has not been answered the way that parent desires. Beyond the obvious reasons that this disturbs me (such as I don't understand why God answers some prayers the way we want and not others), I am disturbed most because it makes me realize that I am not in control. In my past, I have often prayed desperately for God to heal my kids or to take care of them. I pray these prayers because I want a very specific answer and outcome. I, in essence, want control. I think, "if I pray for the outcome that I want and if I have enough faith, I will get what I want." God is teaching me that this is not always the case.
I want to reiterate that I am not having a crisis of faith. I still believe that Jesus is my savior, and I still believe in prayer. However, my view of God is changing. Years ago, I viewed God as sitting in judgment, waiting to punish me for each mistake. I viewed problems in my life as punishment for past sins. As I grew in my faith, I began to see God as loving and full of grace. However, God became my "genie in a bottle" because I believed that God would grant my wishes and pour blessings upon me because he loved me so much. When some prayers were not answered, I believed that it must be my lack of faith. Thus, I believed that if I prayed enough, and believed enough, my prayers would be answered. Now, I don't know what I believe about God. I am in a stage of awe and wonder. I still believe God is just. I also still believe that God loves me unconditionally and that God is full of grace. However, I do not even pretend to understand the vast mysteries of God. I have no idea why God allows life to unfold as it is currently unfolding. I do not understand why some people suffer so much. I do not understand why some prayers seem to be answered and others do not.
Perhaps this is a natural progression in my relationship with God. Just as people are not one dimensional, neither is God. I've experienced God as a God of justice, grace, and love. Now I am experiencing the infinitely mysterious aspect of God. Deuteronomy 29:29 says:
"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law." (NIV)
"GOD, our God, will take care of the hidden things but the revealed things are our business. It's up to us and our children to attend to all the terms in this Revelation. " (The Message)
God is teaching me a lesson, but I don't know if I am ready to learn yet. God is trying to show me that I need to worry about what is revealed to me, and I need to let God be God. I guess some things are easier said than done.