God didn't have to, but he did.

I spent so many years in a sowing season, that sometimes I'm overwhelmed by the blessings of my current harvest season. When my sowing season felt like it would never end, I put a lot of hope in a future possibility of harvest. But what I've found is that harvest seasons aren't about sitting back and letting the blessings flow in. In fact, harvest season requires the most work of all. The diligence to keep working hard on something you've been working hard on for so long.  The harvest is an exciting, worshipful time, but it's also a time of rooting out the weeds that had crept in as the plants blossomed. Harvest time requires even more of the faith and obedience that was built during the sowing season. 

But here's the trickiest part of a harvest season: not focusing on the harvest, but delighting in the one who took that small seed of faithful work from practically insignificant to real fruit.

As I delight in how God is bringing about harvest in my life, I've developed a refrain to keep my heart focused on the best treasure of all: God didn't have to, but he did.

God didn't have to change my motherhood season from the utter exhaustion of the endless needs of my three boys in three years to watching my sons grow together in brotherhood and their ability to play together for hours without my help--BUT HE DID.

God didn't have to change Unsupermommy from a book I planned to self-publish and hopefully sell a couple hundred copies to close friends to a traditionally-published book that women in Australia, Nigeria, and South Africa are reading--BUT HE DID.

When God said no to my daughter-desire, he didn't have to give me the gift of living next door to my mom--BUT HE DID.

When I prayed for more friends, God didn't have to respond with renewed relationships with sisters, new relationships with writer-women around the country, and new friends at church--BUT HE DID.

I didn't deserve any of these gifts, but he gave them to me. But don't miss this part, dear one, don't miss this:

Not one of these good blessings is the point. Not one of these good blessings makes the hard work of sowing and harvest worthwhile. Not one of these good blessings will ever satisfy the depths of the longing in my soul.

Because what my soul needs is the foundational, primary, and essential He didn't have to, but he did, the very one that saves my soul, sanctifies my soul, satisfies my soul, and will one day glorify my soul.

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:4-8

Jesus. God sent his only son (mommies, let's get a little weepy over that). His only son. To die for me, a terrible, unrepentant, wandering sinner. That I might not be satisfied with the any of the awesome blessings of this world, but that I might find soul-satisfaction in the beauty of this amazing love, this undeserved grace, this unexpected mercy.

HE DIDN'T HAVE TO DIE TO SAVE ME, BUT BECAUSE OF HIS GREAT LOVE FOR ME HE DID.

This is why I must faithfully, obediently sow what little I have. This is why I must work hard even in the harvest. This is why the glory for the harvest is all his. This is why, amid all of his good blessings, he is the best. It all flows from him and points to him.

Praise God, he didn't have to save unimportant, unrighteous me, but oh for the glory of his great name, HE DID.

Holy Discontent: Redeeming my Deep Daughter Desire, Part 3

"Heaven is not here, it's There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next."

- Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart, pg 28

 

[[You probably know I had 3 boys in 3 years. You may not have been hanging around my nook of the internet long enough to hear about my strong desire for a daughter. If you don't know the back story, start with Part 1 and Part 2 before reading this.]]

I didn't just want a daughter. I always assumed I would have one.  I have 3 boxes of barbies, two boxes of dress-up clothes, a mountain of favorite little girl clothes from my childhood, and more American Girl doll clothes than I can count just waiting for the daughter I knew I would have. Then I had three boys. The daughter I planned for never came.

I've done the Gollum thing. You know Gollum, the guy in Lord of the Rings who constantly obsesses over "his precious." He is so consumed by the desire that he completely loses his identity as the hobbit Smeagol and becomes the ring-obsessed Gollum. He values the ring so highly that it's all he can think or talk about. The desire for it destroys his life, because nothing seems to matter as much as having that ring. He thinks it's for his best, the ultimate prize, but it destroys him. I've had a ring, a good thing, a good desire that slowly took control of my thinking and living.

When I got pregnant with my third child while my second was only 5-months-old, I thought, "If God is going to make me go through the difficulty of having two babies 13 months apart, then surely he will give me my longed-for girl." I'll never forget that ultrasound. My husband sat down and cried as the tech finished, and as soon as she was done I gave into the grief myself. I couldn't stop weeping. I could barely speak to the doctor through my tears. I knew I should be thankful for another healthy boy, but I couldn't see past my desire for a girl.

I lived in that space for a long time. Where my head was happy to have three sweet boys and an amazing husband, but my heart was lost to the daughter I wouldn't have. 

Praise God, he wouldn't leave me there. Slowly, against my own will to wallow, God has how my heart experiences grief. I'm never going to not want a daughter, but in that constant state of always wanting, but never getting, I can still be fully satisfied in Jesus. This is a place of holy discontent, where I'm constantly aware that my circumstances are wholly insufficient to satisfy the desires of my heart.

When I feel the punch of unexpected pain, I now find the wholeness of a triune God. When the grief floods my soul, God is waiting. God the Father reminds me: I know the pain of letting go of a child. I know that it takes loss to create a redemption story. Jesus empathizes: I understand what its like to bend my will to the Father's, to walk through the shadows to achieve redemption. I sat in the darkness of my Father's wrath to achieve your freedom. The Holy Spirit whispers: May this sadness remind you that there is no satisfaction in the gifts of this world. Let this holy discontent point you to the only true source of contentment. Your family is not enough to make you whole, but I am.

I begged God for a daughter, but he answered with his Son, in whom all the promises of God are Yes. I can live like Gollum, holding so tightly to my unfulfilled desire that I lose myself in it, or I can make peace with my holy discontent. My daughter desire will never go away, but it can be redeemed from something that drives me to sin into God's tool that drives my wandering heart back to Jesus, in whom all of my desires will be satisfied.

From March 2013, Loss of the Little: Thoughts on the 31st birthday of the brother I haven't met yet.

March 1. It comes every year, and every year I see my parents struggle through it. But the past three years have been different for me; they have allowed me to understand in a way a never did before pregnancy and motherhood. On March 1, 1982, my older brother, Joshua Isaac was born without life. 

 

When I spoke with my dad today, he talked about not knowing his son. That’s what I kept thinking today too. I have a brother that I do not know. God gave me this one simple encouragement: I will know Joshua one day, and our relationship will never be tainted by sin as my relationships are with my other brothers. Great times of fellowship and love will be shared, and no sin will be a part of it. That is a beautiful thing. Praise God.

 

I found myself thinking about my brother all day. He was supposed to be my mom’s second child, my mom’s second son. And he was, but he wasn’t. My parents never got to know him; they only got to release him to the Lord. Now I am pregnant with my second child, my second son, and I can only pray pray pray that God will grant this little boy the grace to live. With this second boy thing: I just can’t help but think of Joshua Isaac. I named my first son after him, with a holy fear that he would not be the sacrifice I had to give. Now I am praying that God will not repeat my family’s history. I am not living in fear every day, but there is always that nagging reminder that sometimes pregnancy doesn’t end like we planned it.

 

This year has been a tough one in this regard. After months of waiting to get pregnant, I find myself pregnant while my best friend suffers her second miscarriage. Her second baby boy gone. She was due two days after me, yet I will remain pregnant and she feels empty. Why? These pregnancies were God’s double blessing to us. We both needed them, but hers was taken away while mine remains. It’s the kind of mercy I can only tremble at.

 

These thoughts don’t get wrapped up in a pretty bow. I wish they could. But through the pain of baby deaths around me, God reminds me of this: HE holds life in his hand. Only He can give life. Only He can take it away. Nothing that I have done deserves this precious life inside of me. God’s blessings don’t come to those who deserve them, and those who don’t receive them don’t deserve them any less than those who do. Deserving anything other than death is a lie. I am a sinner: I deserve death. God gave me life, and He gave me life inside of me. I don’t know why, but that’s what He chose to do.

 

So let’s strive to take away the shame of infertility and child loss. Ok? There is nothing wrong with those women. There is nothing they can do to trick God into blessing them with babies. God holds life in his hands. He will give and take away. In our video session for Bible study this week, Beth Moore challenged us that maybe the women we know who haven’t had things come naturally to them (like marriage, babies, perfect Christian children, etc) don’t have anything wrong with them. Maybe they don’t have a hidden sin to deal with before God will bless them. Maybe there isn’t a lesson they need to learn. Maybe it’s just that God chose those women to make something natural into supernatural so that when they are blessed people can’t help but see the glory of God in it.

 

Glory to God, I am praying that for every woman I know who is waiting for something supernatural right now, and I can assure you, I know a lot.