Monday, March 17, 2014

Can God Really Be Trusted?

When I first became a mother, over twenty-eight years ago, I never dreamed that I would welcome my first grandchild into our family before I was finished having babies of my own.

I had my life all planned out. I was going to have all of my children while I was in my twenties. I wanted a total of four kids and then after they were raised and I was comfortably in my forties, my husband and I could retire and play. I could flit from house to house visiting my kids and grandkids, be available to help with them, have them over to my house for play dates and in between times, be involved in the church and in music, do a little writing on the side and travel with my husband.

Things didn't exactly work out according to my plans. It seems God had a much different plan for my life than the one I had envisioned. I'm glad His plan was different because honestly, it's a lot better and more exciting than the plans I thought I wanted for my life. To begin with, I didn't have four kids.  In fact, I had a step daughter and then gave birth to two beautiful little girls. After twelve years of marriage to their Dad, that union ended in divorce due to abuse and infidelity on his part. It was heart breaking, to say the least and forever changed the path I thought I was heading down. So....how is that better than my own plans? Well....it's obviously not the end of the story and the story still isn't over. I see my life as a portrait that God is painting and He is an excellent artist. He understands the variations of color and texture that are necessary to the finished product. He paints things into His masterpieces that most of us wouldn't even consider because sometimes that means a little sacrifice, more effort and time. Sometimes it means using colors we don't like.

When we view life through rose colored glasses, the view is free of debris and the path to good fortune and success is clear, but when that unrealistic view of life is removed, we observe a greater depth to the portrait of our lives. The darker hues produced by pain, trials and tribulations, provide a much richer, overall portrait with greater meaning. It is typical in the youth of our lives, to view our future from a rosy perspective with unrealistic dreams and plans. I don't know of anyone who would willingly choose the dark colors, broken edges and unintended smudges that make up part of their life portrait. Yet, the character and discernment, compassion, faith and understanding that are created out of the messy parts of life, are the very thing that bring the depth of beauty to the finished masterpiece.

rose colored glasses

When I got married, I committed before God and several witnesses to a life long covenant. In other words, I got married to stay married, forever. I would have never chosen to enter into such a horrible marriage.. I had no idea before we said "I do" that I was stepping into such a nightmare. I had no idea how to get out of it, once I was in it. I didn't even want to get out of it. I wanted to fix it. But....I didn't have the power to do that. After eleven and a half years, I realized the marriage had been dead since right after it was birthed....that every vow had been broken, repeatedly and there was no repentance for the damage that had been done. I finally took a shovel, dug the grave and lowered the coffin of our dead marriage into the ground and placed the dirt back on top.

Divorce is as painful as grieving a death. It really is....and it isn't something I ever thought I would have to face, but I did face it and I came through it stronger and more discerning. I came through it with bruises and scars that remind me of the great battle I fought and that sometimes fighting battles takes courage above and beyond what we naturally have. God was there with me through every step. He was there through every single tear. He understood every single horrific moment and the pain of the heart of a wife who has been scorned, trampled on, cheated on and gossiped about.  He protected me through it all. He showed His faithfulness to me time and time again, in stark contrast to the faithlessness my husband had practiced. God showed His justice in the entire process and His protection over me. He filled me with peace. He brought laughter back into my life. He showed me that I am His treasure and that I am to be cherished and He reminded me of just how deep His love for me really is because His Son, Jesus went to the cross to pay for my sin.

After the divorce, I fell prey to the victim mentality. I lost sight of my own sinful heart and what I am capable of because I was so deeply injured and abused and betrayed. I wanted him to hurt for what he did to the kids and me. I wanted him to have no relationship, whatsoever, with our kids because he hurt them too and he was still hurting them and not only that, but he used them to hurt me. I was powerless to protect my kids from him and I was angry about it. It took a long time for me to see my own heart and what was in there. Over the years, the Lord has helped me peal back layer after layer of my heart and dredge up all the junk, the hurt and the pain and lay it all at the foot of the cross. He has helped me work through the anger and be willing to let it go and be willing to forgive him if he ever does truly seek forgiveness. He has healed me with His unconditional love and has shown me that I received forgiveness for a debt I could have never repaid to Him because of the gift of salvation through His only son. He reminded me that Jesus came to this earth as a helpless baby....God...in the most humble form, came to this earth to save His very own creation. He was born in a cave and laid in an animal's feeding trough. He walked this earth for over thirty years. He was abused, tortured, spit on, betrayed and ultimately suffered death on a cross. Jesus understood my pain because He suffered even more than I ever did....yet without sin. The kids and I suffered abuse, betrayal and humiliation and I wanted him to pay for what he did to us. Jesus didn't look for revenge on those who hurt him and killed him. His attitude was one of compassion. He said "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."  I don't serve a Savior who doesn't understand the pain in this world. I serve One who has walked this earth and has felt every pain known to man.....and He was betrayed by not only Judas Iscariot, but by the very people He created! He understands the pain in the hearts of parents of prodigal children more than anyone else. He understands all of the pain and agony that we suffer in this world and He also asks us to be willing to forgive others for the pain they inflict on us, because we are ALL capable of hurting others. He is the only One who walked this earth without sin. Romans 8:28 says "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." It also says in I John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

God did cleanse me when I confessed my sins to Him and He forgave me. I stand clean before Him because of His saving grace. He set me free from my own sinful desire to retaliate against someone who hurt me and has replaced that anger and hatred with love and compassion. He has helped me see that really, I am no better. I am just as capable of hurting others, whether it's intentional or not.

God also gave me a new husband, over sixteen years ago now. Together we have been blessed with five more children. Rich isn't perfect and I'm not perfect, but we are perfect for each other. God has used Rich's steady, strong personality to provide the security I needed for the healing of my heart and to provide the ability to trust again. Rich's ability to laugh and be playful has made our marriage fun. His corny sense of humor matches up with mine perfectly. He is a devoted, loving husband who pays his bills, works hard, shows compassion, is generous and self controlled. He would rather be with the kids and me than anywhere else or with anyone else. He is loyal, faithful, honest, challenges me to grow, yet loves me as I am. He accepts and appreciates it when I challenge him too. He desires my opinion on things, and we genuinely enjoy each other's company. He is a very devoted father and a great teacher. He enjoys being with the kids and spends time connecting with them regularly. The part I love the most about my husband, though, is his love for God. He takes studying the Bible seriously and that is the most important part of his day.

DSC07784

God not only blessed me with a wonderful husband and five more amazing kids, but he also has given us eight grandblessings. As I said in the beginning, I never would have dreamed I would have grandchildren before I was out of the childbearing season of my own life, but I did. In fact, my second oldest daughter and I were pregnant at the same time with my last baby and her first baby born eight weeks apart. My grandson is older than my youngest son. THAT is a concept I couldn't have wrapped my head around while I was still looking at life through my rose colored glasses, but it has been an amazing journey, for which I am very thankful.

Just look at all the colors in the portrait of my life. God is a much better artist than me and His plans are always better than ours. God didn't give me four kids....instead He gave me a total of seven beautiful kids and eight grandchildren, so far. He didn't give me kids just while I was in my twenties in accordance with my plan. Instead, there was an eleven and a half year break after the first two kids and I had more babies in my thirties and forties. That's something else I would have never even considered when I was drawing up what I thought was the perfect blue print for my life....having babies in my thirties and forties? Are you kidding me? I would have thought that was just plain crazy when I was making it all up. It is crazy....a wonderful kind of crazy and it's the perfect kind of crazy for our family.

Cheesy Grins Funny Faces Goof Off Circle photo

My husband and I don't travel really, at least not in the way I visualized it,  but when we do get away, we usually take the kids and make wonderful memories with them.

Just look at all these precious faces. These pictures are a mixture of my grandchildren and my children. They are growing up together, making memories and doing school together. It's rich. It's beautiful. And it's something I couldn't have dreamed up myself. It's a completely different story than the one I would have written....and it's amazing.

See No Evil Speak no Evil

I do get to help with my grandchildren, and they do come to my house for play dates, but they spend most of the time playing with their aunties and uncles, rather than the quiet, serene pictures I visualized of them hanging out solely with their Papa and Nama.....and it's a beautiful thing. It's rich, it's loud, it's crazy and it's lovely.

Taft  and Grenier kids Taft and Grenier kiddos

Lunch time, co-op fun Marchewitz kids, five and me

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil." Proverbs 3:5-7

Nama, Kyla and Kendrick Natalie and Levi Natty and Cora Squishy girl Uncle and nieceDSC08181

The gift of trust is one of the most precious blessings I have gleaned from God's hand. He has shown me that He can be fully trusted. He gives good gifts. He keeps me in the palm of His hand through the tough times and He gives me moments of rest when life is hard and He uses those hard times. He wastes nothing....ever.

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Just as it is written,

“FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:28-39

1 comment :