He Knows Me

I thought I knew God.

I grew up learning about Him at home, at church, at camps, and through my own study and prayer. I attended a Christian college and was just a handful of credits short of a minor in religion thanks to all the Bible courses I took as electives. I knew my way around the Bible, I listened to Christian music, I enjoyed fellowship with Christian friends, I made God a real part of my every day life.

Then Faith was born and died in moments and suddenly the God I thought I knew seemed harder to understand.

So I sought Him.

I read – both my Bible and books about grief and loss from a Christian perspective. I listened to music and sermons and speakers online. I wrote through my thoughts. I prayed and cried out to Him.

And little by little I came to know Him again. To know Him even better than before. And in spite of, or truthfully because of, the loss of Faith I came to a deeper faith than I’d experienced in my life thus far.

I thought I knew God.

Then Hope was born with a rare and complex condition that will impact her for the rest of her life. A condition that required open heart surgery within 15 days of her birth and intestinal surgery at just under 4 months old. A condition that will require at least two more open heart surgeries and other interventions in the months and years to come. A condition that will most likely limit her ability to participate in things the rest of us take for granted. A condition that could potentially shorten her life here on earth.

And suddenly the God I thought I knew seemed harder to understand all over again.

But this time I didn’t seek Him. I stubbornly dug in my heels, angry at the thought of having to learn who God is all over again.

As terrible as it may sound to admit it, although I knew that this experience could bring me closer to God, could give me an even better understanding of Him, all I really wanted was to simply be happy. To bring home a healthy baby and live life the way I pictured it would be during those wonderful 20 weeks of pregnancy leading up to her diagnosis.

To be clear, I didn’t turn my back on God. I clung to Him still, like a drowning man clings to a life preserver, but I refused to open myself up to more. Maybe I was too angry or stubborn or just plain weary to try. But deep down I think I was also scared.

I am scared.

Scared of the process which, from past experience, I know can be uncomfortable and downright painful. Scared that God will ask even more from me that I don’t want to give or do or handle. Scared that learning more about Him, about how He can use all this, will give it purpose. And while that should be a good thing, I kind of hate the idea of acknowledging a purpose because it means also acknowledging that the life I imagined is forever changed.

It means letting go, and I am so much more stubborn than I realized.

I’ve been re-reading C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and was struck by a single, simple line in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in which Eustace is speaking with his cousin Edmund:

“But who is Aslan? Do you know him?” “Well – he knows me,” said Edmund.

He knows me.

I don’t know Him. Not like I thought I did. But He knows me.

I have stubbornly resisted what I need to do to know Him more. But He knows me.

I will never fully understand or grasp who He is. But He knows me.

He knows me.

And right now, that is comfort enough. Even in my lack of understanding. Even in my questions. Even in my anger and sorrow and fear. He knows me.

And because He knows me, because He loves me even as He knows me completely, I will seek to know Him. I will never know Him completely, not this side of heaven, but I will try to know Him more each day. It won’t be easy, and sometimes I’m sure I will still stubbornly try to grab for control, but I will try.

Because I need Him and He knows me.

The lyrics of the song Let Me Rediscover You* by Downhere are so fitting and have become an inspiration, an anthem if you will, for what lies ahead:

How can I say I know You, when what I know is still so small?

Let me rediscover You
And breathe in me Your life anew
Tell me of the God I never knew
Let me rediscover You

Let me rediscover You
And by Your grace I’ll follow through
Reveal to me the God I thought I knew

So this is the start. These words on the page, admitting my struggles and committing to the journey of rediscovering the God I thought I knew. The God who knows me.

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*You can find the video for Downhere’s Let Me Rediscover You by clicking here: Let Me Rediscover You Give it a listen – so good!

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Dear Faith (On Your 4th Birthday)

Dear Faith,

Happy 4th birthday my sweet girl!

It’s a beautiful day today – warm and sunny, my favorite kind of day. I miss you very much, but when I look up at the bright blue sky and think about what it must be like for you in Heaven, that makes me smile.

I want you to know that even though sometimes I get sad, I also feel happy on your birthday.

I feel happy because you are my daughter and this is a special day to think about you (even though I think about you lots of other times too!). I feel happy because I know you are happy, living in the most perfect place. And I feel happy because someday I will see you again.

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Not too long ago I finished reading some of my favorite books called the Chronicles of Narnia. They were written by C.S. Lewis (have you met him?!) and if you were here with us I would definitely read them to you.

The ending makes me think about what it will be like when we meet again in Heaven…

All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

Isn’t that wonderful, Faith? It brings the good kind of tears to my eyes.

I wish I could hug you and kiss you today on your birthday (and every other day too!) but I know I will get to hug you and kiss you again.  And when that day comes it will be just the beginning of our forever together.

Forever together!

I hope you know, my little girl, how much you are loved and how thankful your Daddy and I are to call you ours. God had a special plan for you and I’m glad His plan included us. He takes care of us always, just as He takes care of you. We love you and miss you and look forward to the day when we see you again.

Happy birthday my sweet Faith!

Love Always,

Mommy

 

 

“I was the Lion”

Recently I’ve been re-reading C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. They are some of my favorite books and this is probably my fourth, if not more, time reading through the series. I never tire of the stories and always seem to find new truths when I re-visit them.

Last week I finished The Horse and His Boy and one scene in particular stood out to me. Shasta, the central character throughout, is lost and wandering on horseback feeling very bad for himself as he reflects on all the unfortunate events in his life.

Suddenly he realizes that something, or someone, is walking next to him. In the dense fog he can’t see this thing, but it speaks to him and asks about his troubles, so Shasta recounts everything, from his unhappy childhood without his real parents, to being chased by lions twice on his journey.

The voice replies, “I do not call you unfortunate” and Shasta argues, “Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?”

“There was only one lion,” the voice counters.

“I was the lion.” And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”

Those words gave me chills.

Haven’t we all had moments in our lives when we felt bad for ourselves? When we felt “unfortunate”? When we wondered why things kept going wrong or, at the very least, not going the way we wanted them to.

I certainly have, most significantly after Faith passed away at birth. For months afterward I wrestled with a verse I knew (or thought I knew) so well…

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) 

I accepted the truth of this verse, but struggled to understand how it looked in my life. How could the death of my baby work for my good?

Eventually I came to this conclusion – the good in this verse is not referring to my temporary (earthly) good but rather my eternal good.

God never promised we would live easy or comfortable lives. In fact we are told that we will face trials and suffering. But we are also told that He is refining us, and there is nothing more “good” in this life than to become more like Christ!

Furthermore, this verse, and it’s surrounding context, points to the glory of Heaven that we as believers can be sure of, which is the truest and best “good” of all…

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18)

I believe there is a purpose in everything we experience in this life. Sometimes it may be to push us towards a person or place we wouldn’t have otherwise encountered. Sometimes it is for the benefit of others or to accomplish a larger goal outside ourselves. Sometimes it is for our growth and refinement in becoming more like Christ and learning to rely on Him more fully.

And sometimes it is simply a reminder of the future glory we have, for this world is not our home.

Through it all we are never alone. God is there, walking beside us even when we can’t see Him through the dense fog of our wanderings. He directs our steps. He comforts and protects. He writes the story of each of our lives.

He is the Lion.

 

the lion

 

 

Lewis, C. S. The Horse and His Boy. New York: HarperTrophy, 2000. (Quote: 164-165)