He has the right to take everything...
I promise this post won't be all about my wife this time... though I could write much more on her... but this post starts with her.
When God gave me Sara as my wife, I couldn't believe the measure of blessing. To get to be married to a woman of such surpassing beauty and love for the Lord was unique. I've yet to meet a woman who compares in any category. As a result, I've always had an eager expectation that if I was given such an amazing wife, there must be some purpose we were to pursue together. I know... an arrogant expectation...
As God laid on our hearts the many children and how He continued to bless us with pay increases to cover their needs and provide healthy child after healthy child, that expectation only grew. Certainly, I could at LEAST expect a book deal on it for parenting... I mean, c'mon... :)
This kind of trial I'm currently facing tends to empty a person, so I figure it's time I had a confession. As a part of the grand adventure, I figured what God had for me was Seminary and serving as a pastor somewhere. However, the reality has been that I've been one of those statistics they share about seminary that a significant percentage of graduates aren't in the ministry X years later. And, after moving now to the 3rd location after graduating in 2011, I figured I was on the track of a Seminari-spinster.
The confession comes in that for several months leading up to the news, I had been struggling with purpose in light of these facts so much so that someone close to me mentioned they felt they were growing weary of me acting like God didn't love me because I wasn't doing what I thought God wanted me to do.
How did I fight those thoughts? Well, I had a small congregation of 8 and my wife that I could do my best to pour anything I had learned to at least have a legacy. I still hadn't been denied that, and I was going to renew my focus for the kids.
"Take your son, your only son..."
June 30th came and went. July 3rd, I'm laying on a hospital bed in the hallway of a local medical center about to get the liver biopsy ... basically having a panic attack. I figured from what I had learned I was at stage 4, but this was to learn more. Thoughts of fear began to swirl in me about my family: "What's to become of my wife?! How will my kids grow to know and cherish Christ?! Will they all turn in anger and bitterness if the worst happens?!?!" The worst of fears I could imagine.
But God... I believe God intervened. A few thoughts were installed: "I'm bigger than any cancer..." And, here was the tough one: "If you're going to make it through this, you're going to have to give them over to Me."
"Give them over!?!?!? What?!?! You've commissioned me for this purpose! YOU'VE laid this on my heart! This is YOUR doing! Give them up?!?! Am I supposed to just disengage? Wouldn't that be neglect of a biblical calling?!"
"The LORD will provide..."
He won. By something I didn't have, I said: "OK Lord, they're yours. They've always been Yours. You don't need me to accomplish Your will."
Then, it happened... the peace that surpasses all understanding ... where there once was a whirlwind of emotion and fear. I was free from my sinful control.
As a note, I'm still engaged and doing my best to lead... just hopefully leading less in control. It's less of a burden now and more joy and far less fear. He has shown me it's the best way. It's a shame it took a life threatening illness to learn.
One neat Bible note...
No doubt many of you will catch the references to Genesis 22 with Abraham and Isaac. I love how Abraham says "The LORD... Yahweh will provide."
The reason I like that most is not because of the ram in the thicket, but the true sacrifice performed on that same mountain.
Yahweh saves is how Yahweh provided...
Jesus' name means Yahweh saves. Golgotha is a short distance from where Abraham almost offered his only son. THAT is THE provision.
So, all that to say: the full name of the title to this entry isn't really "He has the right take everything... it's really "He has the right to take everything ... else ... after what He has provided in Christ. And, it's His best plan.
What He provides in Christ He never never never never takes away.