Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Our featured speaker for the July gathering was Pam Ramsey. A long-time family friend, mentor, Bible study teacher, and Christian role model to many, Pam's prayerful preparations always result in wisdom imparted to her listeners. For this blog post I will summarize her main points, as well as expound upon some of them.
She shared a quote from Catherine Martin's book Walking with the God Who Cares: "But somewhere along the way in darkness you must reach the heart of eternal perspective, God’s view, and connect with him in the depth of your pain so you can stay the course with your Lord. Nothing like the power of God in adversity. The promises of the Word of God will help you stay your course with your Lord. The canvas must remain on the easel and allow the Master artist to paint His masterpiece to display in His gallery for His glory.”
This concept of God being the artist, and each of us being a canvas really resonated with those of us in attendance. We claim to believe that God knows best, yet we try to take the paintbrush from His hands and dip it in a different color of paint, or use it to make different strokes. It is difficult to believe that a loving God would allow or even choose difficult things to enter our lives, but we must remember that we are only able to look at things from our human perspective, with our human logic. To us, 2 + 3 = 5. Always. And d comes after a, b, then c. But God even TELLS us that His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Perhaps in God's economy, 2 + 3 = 8, and d comes after x, j, and then w. We do not have to understand. In fact we are told to "lean not on your own understanding" (Prov 3:5-6). We are to live the script, not write it. Display His glory on the canvas of our lives, not be an easel-bound artist.
Pam shared that when her first daughter was born, with many medical difficulties, it was tempting to ask "why me?" Yet by God's grace she instead chose to accept, and not demand that He answer her countless prayers with her answers. She learned, or perhaps practiced her skill, to trust God regardless of the circumstances. Rather than ask "why me?" she asked "what, Lord?" What do You have for me to learn in this trying time? Of course this attitude, this decision, this perspective did not take away the pain or disappointment, but it did allow Pam to continue moving forward in anticipation of the good things God was doing all around her.
Fast forward many years...Pam's older daughter miscarried as the younger daughter delivered a healthy baby. Why, God? A year later her younger daughter miscarried. Why, God? Through walking with her daughters through their losses, she realized she had not fully processed through her own tubal pregnancy years before, between the births of her daughters. A very painful season in life, no doubt, but one in which Pam and her daughters chose to lean on Jesus, trusting His plan for each of their lives. The more we trust God, the less we ask "Why me?"
God, please give us faith to deal with our circumstances. We give You permission to continue working in our lives, to paint the masterpiece of YOUR choosing.
Pam also made the point that sometimes we keep asking questions of God because we are not being still enough to listen to His answers. We get caught in the busy trap, either in action or in thought, and are not choosing to shut out all noise besides His voice. We do not allow our grief to draw us near to Him. We turn to other people and other activities instead, yet (of course) never find the comfort for which we long. We think that by staying busy we will heal, or at least deny to the point of forgetting our pain. Yet it is only through time with God - quiet, chosen, peaceful time with God - that He can heal our hearts, minds, and emotions.
Many times in grief situations, especially with miscarriage, people try to encourage us by suggesting that it is time we move on. Often their motivation is for their own comfort rather than for our best interests. However, Pam very lovingly shared with us that there is a time for moving on. A God-ordained time for moving on. That does not mean that the healing process ends, that babies are forgotten, or that the pain was unfounded to begin with. It simply recognizes that for everything there is a season. We want the season of grief to end, really, we do. Yet sometimes we seem unwilling to allow the new season of joy to begin. Back to the artist/canvas illustration - perhaps a darker color was required for a section of the background, but then it is time for lighter colors to be painted over and around the darker colors in order for the intended masterpiece to be completed. The lighter colors are only as rich as they are because of the darker colors behind them. Each season of life, each stroke of the painter's brush, is purposeful, leads to good things, and can be trusted because of WHO the painter is. If God chooses to use the canvas of your life to paint a picture that is different than the picture you would have chosen, will you continually wriggle around and argue with Him? Or will you rest on the easel, grateful to be used in ANY way by the Master, for His glory? The choice is yours, and the choice is mine.
Why me? Why not? I know who is holding the brush.