Saturday, January 26, 2013

When the Lord gives you a story....

and He receives the glory, there is rejoicing in my heart all over again.

I've just had the sweetest weekend of teaching a group of women that for eight years running has held a retreat in January. They always ask a different speaker, and this year they asked me to teach. The topic was The Steadfast Love of God and the text was Isaiah 36-40.

In the course of teaching I shared a little of our testimony, told how I have experienced the steadfast love of God through James' illness and death and through the adoption of our first son, Nate. The story catches me by the throat even as I remember the darkness and His great light, the terrible sorrow and His precious comfort. And in many ways, our story in all of its details can be overwhelming to the listener. The "I cannot imagine what she went through" business goes through heads.

That worries me though because the point of my teaching is not how it looked or felt in my life, but how mightily and powerfully God intervened to have His purposes worked out. I heard Nancy Guthrie say one time after sharing her story and having my own "I can't imagine what she went through" thought in my head, that her story was only as powerful as it was used to glorify God. How I agree with her on that.

I didn't ask for the story that the Lord has given us. I would never have written in the 2 year illness of our firstborn son and then his death. I would never have written in the toll on our marriage or the broken relationships that came in the years following because of the deep depression of grief. I certainly would not have thought of the surprise of a preemie baby becoming ours or the losses and gains that occurred over the next three years in family and home. Those were the days that I despaired, believing our story would ultimately crush us, that there was no happy ever after for us.

But our story is one of God showing abundant grace and mercy to two people undeserving and imperfect in the highest degree. It is the story of a Savior who does not let His children go; who holds them in His hands (even when one of us was trying to pry herself out). A story of forgiveness and reconciliation and restoration and redemption. It is the story of miracles and common things that because the Lord was in them are still miracles.

A story that is only useful, that is only beautiful as it glorifies God and not the characters. So while God gave me a venue to tell again of His steadfast love in my life, I also spoke the truths of His word to these ladies and reminded them that God wrote Hezekiah's story, Judah's story, my story, and He is writing theirs as well. To Him alone be the glory in each of them.

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