You may remember a previous post that held heartfelt thoughts about my cousin, Naomi, whens she was hospitalized a few weeks ago for complications with her Crohn's disease. Praise God! She is doing better, and regaining strength and "life" back a bit more each day!
No sooner than she returned home to begin recouping, I received what I presumed to be my future sis "butt-dialing" me after her second shift. The clock said 12:01am..."mmelllo..". The frantic voice on the other side of the phone quickly brought my heart rate past awake and straight to hyper-drive. There had been a fire. My brother was sleeping. He escaped moments before his room was consumed by flames. But he was okay. He was okay. Wait...what??? Really God??? The next week was somewhat of a blur of offering support, running a B & B out of my home and attempting to sleep and take care of my family on the side. Naomi had only been home for 5 days and in between that time my husband had announced a calling in our lives that would rock the financial security we stood upon for the past 7 years. I'm not strong enough to do this God, I don't have the muscle to hold all these things up and keep myself together! Really God? Why all the people I love? Should I sleep with one eye open? Are my children next?! Lord, please, please please...not the kids. I'm just not strong enough for this. Not. Strong. Enough.
Support from family, church, friends and complete strangers poured out from every avenue. My brother and future sis-in-law were lifted up in prayer and being showered in an abundance of love in various forms. But the hurt was still there. The nightmares don't just cease. The sleep doesn't come so easy. "Normal" doesn't even have a definition anymore. They had been striped to nothing...nothing.
My brother and his fiancee lost their house 3 months before their wedding, my cousin and bff has lost her health, my household is losing security, and let's throw a little family drama in for good measure!! I REALLY am not strong enough for all this. IT HURTS!! Lord, I am broken....so very broken for all the suffering around me. It's suffocating me, I'm just not strong enough.
"You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory."
Psalm 73: 24
I don't enjoy being broken; don't know that I've ever acknowledged a time when I was--no matter how obvious it may have been. Admitting I was broken to God through my tears from beneath my cozy covers wasn't so hard--I've never been so grateful for my husbands strong hold to calmly chase my anxiety attacks from my body. He knew I was broken too. I wasn't able to play Polly Pockets with my daughter without randomly showering them in my tears. Even at six years old, she knew I was broken. I cried out to my cousin--in less than perfect physical condition herself--she was quick to share prayers, thoughts and scriptures that had carried her through the previous week's battle. Some things I had actually shared with her...I now needed to hear or read. Isn't God amazing to give us just who we need when we need them?I thank God for her everyday...every day.
It was clear that my new "responsibilities" required an intense strength that ONLY God could give me. So I prayed. And I prayed. And I submersed myself in the Word. And I prayed. And I read. And I prayed. Again, God spoke to me through my Bible Study of David. My heart spoke every word with David before he died, as he praised God for bringing him from a shepherd boy to a King, through trials and sins, to lead the people of Israel closer to Him. David was broken many times, read with me:
"The waves of death swirled about me;
the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called to the lord;
I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came to his ears."
2 Samuael 22:5-7
David had been broken. I was broken. The waves of death had "swirled about" my best friend and my brother in less than one week. My brother kept asking me, "What do I do next? Where do I go from here? I don't understand!" David tells us in "my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God...my cry came to His ears"!!! God wants to hear our cry's, He cares! He loves us and He cares!
So with permission from David and few close friends, I cried. I cried, and I cried and I cried. At no time did I doubt that my Savior's plan was perfect, nor did I doubt the beauty on the other side of this tribulation, but in the midst of the flaming fire before me...I cried. I cried for the one of the most Spiritually beautiful women I know--trapped inside a failing body. I cried for a husband wanting to provide for his family. I cried for a man who faced death in his own home. I cried for a bride who nearly lost her groom before their perfect day. And then I selfishly cried for myself, the common denominator in all these negative equations. God, what are you trying to teach me? In all these trials, you've placed me--a tiny pebble--to help hold up a large structure. Are you sure you want me? I really don't have the muscle for this...really, me?!
One of my Dear Sisters favorite quotes to me.
Wouldn't it be just like God to bring me to His house of worship to uplift me?! And wouldn't it be just like God to use a dear Sister to guide me and pray for me?! After four days of chaos, the reality of the fire was setting in for all. Time to return home, to return to work, time to start a new day. My parents left with instructions to call if they were needed. "You're the oldest, take care of your brother and call us if you need anything. Remember, you're the closest rock for him to lean on". Well, no pressure there! I tried to argue that I was a mere pebble incapable of such tasks, but they wouldn't hear of it. While I poured out my overwhelming questions to my Dear Sister at church, she stopped talking. She grabbed my hands. And she prayed with me. She prayed for strength---which only He can give. She prayed for clarity--which only He can give. She prayed for patience-which only He can give! She advised me to take one day at a time, one hour if necessary. To stop looking at the big picture and ask God, "What would you have me do in the next 30 minutes?"
I woke up Monday morning, and started my day with Beth Moore's study on David. She talked about starting with what we know to figure out what we don't know. My FB page told me I was being used by God to encourage 2 close friends with their trials. A loving husband told me I was worth loving. And a ministry team told me they were certain GOD choose me! He choose me. He didn't plague me! He choose me! He had clearly surrounded me with hurting loved ones. He had given me an opportunity to hold their hands, pray with them and walk alongside their troubled paths. Who doesn't want to be used by God in amazing ways? Who doesn't want to watch God doing monumental things through them? Who doesn't want to be THAT person? Anybody?What an honor! What a privileged! What an inconceivably flattering calling that God DID choose me. In the last month, my relationship with Christ has grown ten-fold; likewise, He is now calling my relationships here on Earth to a new height! Me?! Really?! Oh Lord, this is a HUGE privilege to shine YOUR light and share your strength with the people I love most. I can ONLY do this if I am CONSTANTLY renewed and filled with the Spirit every hour of every day. THIS is the relationship you've been asking me for...
I am so excited to see how God uses the turbulence in our lives to make us stronger. To bring us home to rely only on Him, and none other. And David prayed:
"You are my Lamp, O Lord;
the LORD turns my darkness
With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall.
As for God His ways are perfect;
the word of the Lord is flawless,
He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.
For who is God besides the Lord?
and who is the Rock except our God?
IT IS GOD WHO ARMS ME WITH STRENGTH
AND MAKES MY WAY PERFECT"
2 Sam 22:29-33
This is my absolute NEW favorite song!
I am a weak and small pebble--incapable of anything on my own. But when I quench my thirst at His well...I become the rock IN HIM that cannot be shaken!