Friday, January 16, 2015

High Functioning Faith Week #2: Blessed Assurance

I remember, clearly, the day my husband and I found out we were pregnant. After receiving the good news, we knelt in the middle of our little white cottage and began this new season for our family in prayer. Through tears, we first offered a prayer of thanksgiving and praise to the One who made it possible. We were married four years by this time and with both of us already in our thirties, we were just slightly concerned about our ability to keep up with a little one. But God's* timing is perfect and we looked forward to being parents. 

The months ahead were filled with excited preparation. We quickly discovered that babies, though very small, come with a lot of accessories. Realizing our sweet but tiny home was just too small, we began searching for a larger one. The pregnancy itself was near flawless. No morning sickness or any other medical concerns of any kind. As with most pregnancies, I had cravings. For this one, it was clementines by the crateful. One of my fondest memories was when we participated in a Lamaze class. I have to admit, all that we learned went completely out the window on the day it was needed but I'll never forget how much my husband and I laughed as we tried to practice those ridiculous breathing techniques (hee, hee, hee, haw, haw, haw). 

Somewhere around the sixth month or so, while reading my trusty copy of "What to Expect When You're Expecting"I began to feel very anxious about a host of things and all sorts of horrific scenarios filled my mind. Philippians 4:6 says, "Be anxious for nothing. but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let our request be made known to God." It was a verse I knew well and prayed often---for others. I felt sheepish bothering God about it all, but one day, in a very quiet moment, a wordless exchange took place between the Creator of the Universe and this frightful mom-to-be and by the end of it, I had His divine assurance that everything was going to be just fine. 

To trust in an unseen deity, especially in the midst of a trial we didn't ask for, may seem, to some, a complete abandonment of reason or a crutch for the weak minded. On the other hand, there are those who would encourage a blind trust, a trust without inquiry or honest expressions of doubt. Neither view is accurate. Faith in God is neither blind nor unreasonable. "You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13)

God is never surprised by our "concerns", big or small, and is always available to answer those who seek him in earnest. And this faith is a reasonable conclusion to come to in an increasingly insane world. 

"Just fine" doesn't always mean "problem free" and in the days and years ahead, our faith would be tested over and over again in ways that we would never have imagined and, honestly, weren't always ready for. But, for His part, God and His word proved and continues to prove, trustworthy and true. 

"Assurance grows by repeated conflict, by our repeated experimental proof of the Lord's power and goodness to save; when we have been brought very low and helped, sorely wounded and healed, cast down and raised again, have given up all hope, and been suddenly snatched from danger, and placed in safety; and when these things have been repeated to us and in us a thousand times over, we begin to learn to trust simply to the word and power of God, beyond and against appearances: and this trust, when habitual and strong, bears the name of assurance; for even assurance has degrees." 
John Newton

Monday, January 5, 2015

High Functioning Faith: 52 Weeks of Encouragement

"Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."
Proverbs 19:21

It wasn't a path we would have chosen. We were excited, expecting parents, but we never expected this. I suppose our labor and delivery experience should have been a clear tip off of things to come, but neither my husband nor I were thinking that far down the road. All we could focus on was the little guy who seemed to be taking his dear sweet time making his grand appearance. We had waited, what seemed to be an eternity, for him to even be conceived. And God was faithful. GOD IS FAITHFUL. And the months leading up to his birth were filled with joy, hope, and plans. Lots and lots of plans. We would raise him in a godly home: Bible reading would commence from Day 1, songs of praise and worship would be sung despite the fact that only one of us was gifted with a beautiful voice. And prayers would be prayed each and every day about every aspect of his life we could possibly think of: his education, his career, his future wife and family, and, most importantly, his decision to follow Christ (we hoped). 

Proverbs 19: 21 says, "Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." In all our planning, we failed to factor in one very important detail: God's plan. We gave Him "lip service" and like many good Christian parents, we always attached the standard, "Thy will be done.", to the end of each and every prayer---right after handing God our blueprints and expectations. But GOD IS GRACIOUS and patiently waited for us to slowly figure out that, although His plans looked nothing like ours, they were, and still are, the best plans. 

In the spring of 2007, our son was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome (now referred to more often as Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD) and though, the path has not been easy, we believe that God has been with us every step of the way. Because, after all, He holds the map (Psalm 25:10), and the compass (Psalm 37:23), and the lamp (Psalm 119: 105)*. 

The next 52 weeks are meant to encourage those who may be on a similar path. I wish I could say that we've responded to every challenge in a godly, Christ like manner. The reality is we have not. These posts aren't meant to display our Christian super powers. Except for Christ dwelling within us, we have none. :-)

But it's my hope that by being transparent, some will be encouraged and see that despite our weaknesses, GOD IS STRONG and willing and able to help us through. 

Welcome aboard. 

*These are the verses I referenced above:

Psalm 25:10-"All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth. To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies."

Psalm 37:23-"The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way;.."

Psalm 119:105-"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."