With distended bellies and cheeks sore from laughter, we waddled from the local Italian restaurant. The food was scrumptious; the fellowship even tastier. Our banter continued as we strolled toward James’ truck. Slightly ahead, James stopped dead in his tracks. Clearly perplexed, as if in slow motion, he pivoted toward us as the words spill forth:
“Where’s my truck!?!?”
The reality of the empty parking space answered his question: the truck was stolen. With the police on the phone and our youngest nearing hysterics, we packed ourselves like sardines in our friend’s sedan and headed home. With the police report filed, the house alarm on, fears allayed, and everyone tucked, we headed to bed. At 3 a.m., the police called with good and bad news: They found the truck, but there wasn’t much left of it. That was February.
Fast forward to September. It’s a girl’s night out of the purest kind. Delectable delights only a female would appreciate adorn my dining room table. Racks of fashion skirt the living room and excited chatter fills the air. It’s an evening of shopping at home with my favorite friends! Finally settling down with my plate of food, I look into the kitchen to see my son’s finger summon me. By his urgent expression, I know it’s important. As I enter the kitchen, he moves to the garage door, still beckoning me with the same gesture and somber look. Stepping into the garage, there’s James, sitting in his golf cart, head bent, labored breathing, eyes rolled back. Instantly, my heart sinks to my toes, my head starts to spin, and I think the worst:
“He’s had a stroke!”
Not really wanting to hear the answer, I ask, “What happened?!?!?” “I hurt my leg,” James responds. “Oh praise Jesus! What did you do???” And so the story unfolds. In the face of too much estrogen, he decided to golf. Alone. When alas, he spotted a golf ball. Not just any golf ball…a really, really nice golf ball. Without a second thought, he leapt like a super hero to the top of the wrought iron fence separating him and the ball. That’s when things went wrong. His foot got stuck, and as his body continued over the fence, his knee contorted in ways it never should. Laying on the other side of the fence with the very nice golf ball (which, by the way, he no longer cared much about), he was faced with getting back over the fence to his golf cart, which held his phone, and back home for help. The rest of the evening was spent in the emergency room. One knee surgery and three months of physical therapy later, he has his swing back. Life is good. And I’ll give him $5 any time he wants a new, worthy-of-jumping-a-fence ball.
Two months later, the second line turns pink again. The doctor confirms, but this time I wait to shout it from the mountaintop. At seven weeks, we witness life on the screen and the pounding of the baby’s heartbeat is like music to our ears. “Could we hear that just one more time?” we ask. It’s for real this time. Time to tell the world! And so I do. The following week, things don’t seem right. The doctor wants to see me. Watching the ultrasound screen, my ears hear, and my heart sinks:
“I can’t find a heartbeat.”
I don’t get it Lord! Why a second time? Why do you give life that never sees delivery? What have I done wrong? Is there sin in my life that is opening the door to the devil’s destruction?
What do we do when a split second changes everything? What do we do when we don’t understand the tragedy that strikes? What do we do when our circumstances challenge what we think about God and what His word tells us about Him? Jobsites were vandalized as thieves stripped copper wires from several of our company’s homes under construction. The Lord moved us from our church home of eight years. And I questioned. Is my understanding of the scriptures biblically correct? Have I believed without confirming in the word for myself? If I stood on the word but tragedy still came, what did I do wrong? Why didn’t it work? Have I reduced my relationship to a formula by which I try to get what I want from God? And then when it doesn’t work, where does that leave me? If I don’t know that my beliefs are correct, then how do I pray? What is my relationship to You, Lord, if I don’t know what I believe?
In the process of crying out to the Lord for answers, He faithfully showed Himself available. Trustworthy. Holy. Sovereign. Full of mercy. Full of grace. True. When everything around us is unpredictable, unreliable, vulnerable, and changing, He is not. His word is irrevocable. He is unchanging. He can be trusted. He answered my cry, and He secured in my spirit two more irrevocable truths.
IRREVOCABLE TRUTH #3: We will lose heart unless we believe we will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Between discovering and losing my second pregnancy, I had one of those sweet encounters with God. My husband and I went out of town for a quick getaway, and while he fished with friends one day, I savored the time to myself. Rising relatively early, I treated myself to my favorite $5 coffee, returned to my room, laid my Bible in my lap, and started talking to God. Suppressed struggles spilled forth as I emptied myself before the Lord. As I fervently explained how desperately I didn’t want to go through the disappointment of losing another baby, He answered with Psalm 27. The closing verses became my prayer:
I will lose heart, Lord, unless I believe I will see Your goodness in the land of the living. I wait on You, Lord; I will be of good courage, and You will strengthen my heart; I will wait on You, Lord!
Things didn’t turn out the way I wanted, yet in the midst of grieving, questioning, railing, and letting go, I saw God’s goodness in the land of the living. I waited on Him, and He strengthened my heart. He confirmed His truth in my innermost being, deep down where no circumstance can argue against it.
IRREVOCABLE TRUTH #4: Do not lean on your own understanding. When I learned I was pregnant the second time, I was convinced it was God’s way of restoring what was lost with my blighted ovum earlier that year. I connected all the dots for Him and topped the whole explanation with a big red bow. When we lost the baby, my understanding unraveled. After letting family and friends know of our loss, my sweet sister-in-law searched the Bible for words of wisdom I would find consoling. The tenderness of her extended hand of comfort was magnified by the fact that she
searched what she knew would mean most to me, and she sent me Proverbs 3:5-6:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
Sometimes difficult relationships, unexpected developments, uncomfortable experiences, serious disappointments, and scary circumstances reveal our own misplaced trust and wrong understanding. His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts, so as we desperately cling to Him through life’s twists and turns, our job is to believe His word. To trust. To love. To acknowledge, thank, and praise. No matter what. He WILL direct our paths. Every time, when we wait on Him. If there seems to be an infinite supply of other shoes dropping in your life, hang on to God’s goodness, to the truth of His word, and to His faithfulness.