I love it when God breaks into my existence and rescues me from myself. I seem to need it a lot, and He gave me a much needed word in church this weekend. It was Youth Sunday, and I enjoyed watching all the young people using their talents to bring glory to the Lord, and at the end, the youth pastor spoke to us parents about fear. He told the story of Job, of how he was a great man, in wealth and integrity, and then of his demise and how he lost everything, including his children. What hit me was when he quoted Job 3:25.
“For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me.”
See, I’ve been living in fear again. It happens a lot. Despite the fact that God has provided for and encouraged me every step of the way along my children’s health journeys, it seems that all I need is to see Michael regress or hear a new diagnosis for Gabriel, and I’m there all over again, setting up house right in the middle of fear. It’s one thing to have a concern, to let a negative possibility drive you to overcome and conquer a thing, but it’s another to let fear run amok in your mind, to take over your thoughts and bring you to paralysis.
The last few weeks have been difficult and taxing. Michael has been sliding backwards again, and this time he’s becoming violent. It’s hard to watch and hard to deal with, and it’s taking a physical and emotional toll. I had always assumed that Gabriel would naturally grow out of his limitations, but I just had the talk with his therapist that there’s a chance his brain may not fully recover from the damage the scar tissue created. I’ve been carrying these thoughts around in front of my face, and they’re blocking my vision and not letting me see beyond them.
It’s times like these that I allow myself to get sucked into a storm of all too familiar questions.
What if Michael doesn’t get better? What if he continues to be violent when he’s older and bigger and I’m no longer stronger than him? What if he’s never able to be an independent adult? What if Gabriel’s brain doesn’t recover? Will he always be slower than everyone else around him? Will he be able to function on his own? Will William have to care for his older brothers? Will he resent having to care for his older brothers? What’s going to happen to the boys when Nate and I are gone?
It doesn’t seem to matter that God has reassured me over and over that He’s going to take care of all this. It’s physically in front of my face day after day, and sometimes my faith wanes and I can no longer see the future that I feel God has promised me. That’s what I let fear do to me, and it happens more often than I’d like. I always used to be amazed at how often the children of Israel would whine at Moses while they were in the desert, how often they would forget all that God had done for them, sometimes almost instantly. And yet, I can see how I do the same, letting the reality of what’s in front of me dictate my level of faith and my attitude and causing me to forget the greatness of God.
Thank God, that’s not where the story ends. Our youth pastor went on to redefine fear, a holy fear.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7
In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge. Proverbs 14:26
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death. Proverbs 14:27
The fear of the Lord leads to life, and he who has it will abide in satisfaction; he will not be visited with evil. Proverbs 19:23
By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life. Proverbs 22:4
This is the fear God wants us to have. A holy fear that acknowledges Him and His role in our lives. The kind that brings life. The fear of God and His holy awesome power has the ability to block out the things in front of me and let me say,
It does not matter what I see with me eyes. My God is greater, and my God is good.
I know that I’m human, and I’m going to need to be reminded of this all over again, that’s why I’m writing it down. But I am eternally grateful that our God has a limitless supply of forgiveness and love, and He’s not ever going to get tired of rescuing and redirecting me. I know I can trust Him with my children because His plans for them are good and to give them a future and a hope. And when things look bad all around me, I know I can say:
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord