This week has been an unexpected gift. For several days I was able to live in the moment and enjoy the hours and activities with my family without phone calls and fostering worries. Now that I think about it, the reason for this respite from reality was because Greg, Jake and Tyler each came down with bad enough sickness that we had to cancel appointments and keep kids home from school and activities. Thank you, Lord, for the sickness! (I can say that perhaps because I didn’t come down with it!) It was a glimpse into our lives a few months from now…whether we still have Midge or not, there is a different life for us after this fostering business comes to an end.
I’m still re-reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, and yesterday I came across just the passage I needed to read. It was so profound to me that I’m going to type the whole thing here to share with you. I hope this doesn’t violate any laws…in any case, you should buy the book if you haven’t already. There seem to be fresh words of encouragement there every time I re-read it.
[After an incredibly traumatic experience] I stand in our bedroom by the window and hold a card to the light. I can hardly now make out the water-splat words of Isaiah 14:24. “Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand” (NASB). As God plans…so it stands.
I read the faded ink below, and I remember what I felt the day I copied those words, “Does disaster come to a city unless the LORD has planned it?” (Amos 3:6). And I feel it again today and I breathe: A good God plans everything. Everything. So a good God can only…make plans for good? He only gives good gifts? A thing of evil cannot be created by a good God?
From the bedroom window, I watch a shadow move across the lawn, move out long across our wheat fields. This is what a shadow is, an empty space, a hole in the light. Evil is that — a hole in the goodness of God. Evil is all that lacks the goodness of God, a willful choice to turn away from the full goodness of God to that empty of His goodness. I watch the grey shadows slink away over the hill, the sun driving them east.
All God makes is good. Can it be that, that which seems to oppose the will of God actually is used of Him to accomplish the will of God? That which seems evil only seems so because of perspective, the way the eyes see the shadows. Above the clouds, light never stops shining.
That picture of the sun shining above the clouds is just what I needed. Yet I still wondered as I read, ‘How can it possibly be good for children to be abused? For people to live in chronic pain? For a two year old girl to be ripped from her family?’ And Voskamp addresses this herself in the next page. (I’m on p. 88-89 if you have the book.) She wonders about her own tragedies and those around her, and remembers Julian of Norwich hearing God say to him:
See that I am God. See that I am in everything. See that I do everything. See that I have never stopped ordering my works, nor ever shall, eternally. See that I lead everything on to the conclusion I ordained for it before time began, by the same power, wisdom and love with which I made it. How can anything be amiss?
Which honestly only makes things worse. Aha! I was right! God, You ARE doing this on purpose! You are purposely letting people starve and children be harmed and people be in pain! And You, who have the complete power to stop all of it! It would almost be better to think of You as wanting to stop these things, but just not able to stop them. But from my perspective, it just looks sick and twisted, the way people are toyed with on this earth.
Is that too honest for you? I’m not alone. The Psalmists cried out to God these very same things. Life is so hard. Life looks so all encompassing from down here. I forget that in the span of all eternity, my life on this earth is but a breath. But a momentary speck on the eternal timeline. But that speck is difficult…so difficult sometimes. But Voskamp addresses this, too.
I won’t shield God from my anguish by claiming He’s not involved in the ache of this world and Satan prowls but he’s a lion on a leash and the God who governs all can be shouted at when I bruise and I can cry and I can howl and He embraces the David-hearts who pound hard on His heart with their grief and I can moan deep that He did this — and He did.
I feel Him hold me — a flailing child tired in Father’s arms.
And I can hear Him soothe soft, “Are your ways My ways, child? Can you eat My manna, sustain on My mystery? Can you believe that I tenderly, tirelessly work all for the best good of the whole world — because My flame of love for you can never, ever be quenched?
So again, it all comes back to faith. Faith that God IS good. Faith that God DOES have a plan for good. Faith that His intentions cannot be shaken. (Ps. 33:11) And when I look around at the things that look completely evil from this earthly perspective, I need to know that the light is shining above the clouds. It is actually all under control. God isn’t panicking. I don’t know how Midge can possibly survive this life altering event, but God knows. Or maybe He knows that it’s not going to happen at all, and He wants to bring us to the edge, like Abraham to the mountain to sacrifice Isaac, so that he can stretch and grow us. There are no shadows above the clouds. And yes, He has Satan on a tight leash.
LORD, thank you for speaking to me in the shadows. Thank you for training us to look for the blessings as we walk through the dark. Hold our family together as the world and the stress sometimes try to rip us apart. And as You draw me to Your lap for moments of peace every day, and my house gets neglected, maybe You could send me a maid, God.
Continuing List of Things We Love:
22. J: 39 Clues Mystery Books
23. L: the light today…mountains, sky, clouds.
24. L: a second wind in my photography business
25. L: inspiring words on p. 87 of One Thousand Gifts
26. T: ice cream after dinner at El Pollo Loco
27. M: bare feet
28. L: quiet house with all in bed before 7 p.m.
29. L: tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it
30. J: handball
31. T: legos
32. L: the smell and feel of morning coffee
33. L: Fall weather!
34. Tyler’s prayer this morning: Dear Lord, please help me to walk humbly and not fight and that the court will say that she is ours. In Jesus’ name, amen.
35. L: hearing the boys try to apply the Psalms and Proverbs to their lives.
36. L: my camera
37. L: the scent of a cool crisp morning