Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fibular Hemimelia: Oh, Cloudy Day!

Have you ever read a simple devotion that touched your heart in such a way that you knew the author must have been writing just to you?  Well, Oswald Chambers must have had me on his mind when he penned his famous work:  My Utmost for His Highest -especially on July 29th.

Most Christians are quite familiar with the old hymn "Uncloudy Day," but in case you've forgotten:

Oh, they tell me of a home far beyond the skies
And they tell me of a home far away
Oh, they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise
Oh, they tell me of an uncloudy day

An uncloudy day, then, is a day without sorrow or pain --a day when our faith will finally become sight and Heaven will be our home.

We associate cloudless skies with joy and clouds with sorrow, but Chambers provides a different perspective.

He writes:

Do you see Jesus in your clouds?

"Behold, He is coming with clouds ...." Rev 1:7

In the Bible clouds are always associated with God. Clouds are the sorrows, sufferings, or providential circumstances, within or without our personal lives, which actually seem to contradict the sovereignty of God. Yet it is through these very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were never any clouds in our lives, we would have no faith. “The clouds are the dust of His feet” (Nahum 1:3). They are a sign that God is there. What a revelation it is to know that sorrow, bereavement, and suffering are actually the clouds that come along with God! God cannot come near us without clouds— He does not come in clear-shining brightness.
There is a connection between the strange providential circumstances allowed by God and what we know of Him, and we have to learn to interpret the mysteries of life in the light of our knowledge of God. Until we can come face to face with the deepest, darkest fact of life without damaging our view of God’s character, we do not yet know Him.

What beautiful truths that I had never considered.

When my oldest son Josh was diagnosed with a brain mass at the age of five, I came face to face with an aspect of God that I did not understand:  His Sovereignty.  I actually thought that I had a measure of control over Josh's life.  I believed that as long as I took good care of him, then he would be okay.  Isn't that often what we, as parents, tell ourselves in order to feel safe?  Yes, God entrusts us with our children while they are here on earth, but their lives are in His hands, not ours.  At first the idea that God would decide what was best for Josh --even if that meant brain surgery --was an overwhelmingly fearful one for me.  Giving up control left me feeling just that --out of control.  What God wanted from me was submission --the handing over of all aspects of my life to Him, including my children.  He slowly replaced my fear with faith.  Ultimately I realized that Josh was better off in the hands of an all powerful, all knowing, loving God --than in my hands.  Talk about a cloudy day.  The day we heard the words brain mass,  I remember calling my mom in the hospital parking lot, screaming and crying in fear. Without this cloudy day, however, I wouldn't know my Father and the peace found in submitting to His Sovereign will.

Throughout Ethan's surgery and recovery, we have seen our share of cloudy days.  As I think of what I've most learned about my God through this experience, His Provision most comes to mind.  I've always prayed for needs that arise, but never have I seen God answer so specifically as He has this summer.  Although there is housing available in Baltimore for the families of children undergoing limb lengthening surgeries, the housing is expensive --especially for two public school teachers.  So, we prayed for financial help.  What we didn't expect was to find the Ensleys, the family of family that has become our family now --who offered us a home away from home, complete with playmates for Ethan and Emily and more love than we could have hoped.  What we have learned from this family is to cultivate a heart of generosity; I can only hope to give to others as they have so generously given to us by opening their home and hearts.  Although we will certainly be glad to pack up for home, I will shed bittersweet tears for the family who provided more for us than they will ever know.  What my children have seen, then, is the hand of God --his Provision for our needs that have been beyond what we could have thought or prayed (Eph 3:20 ).  Because of Ethan's surgery, we know Him more.

Each cloud in our lives is an opportunity to know our Father.  I've had time this summer to study a lot about God's Sovereignty versus man's free will, an issue that has been so difficult for me to reconcile.  What God has finally taught me, though, is that whether he decrees suffering or allows it to happen or whether we chose Him or He chooses us, He is God alone and is worthy of my praise.  He is all of His attributes all of the time:  Sovereign, Truth, Love, Holy, Justice, Spirit, Life, Immutable, Omnipresent.

Our Sovereign Lord has taught Ethan much this summer.  As he sat out during recess time at VBS tonight, watching other children playing a game that he'd love to play, I realized that he has gained an understanding of those with limitations much more so than other children -and adults.  As he has struggled to regain the ability to bend his knee, he has learned that daily discipline, though difficult, produces lasting results.  As he has prayed for his Jewish therapist, he has learned that only one thing in life matters:  your relationship with Christ.

A blog cannot be complete without a few pictures.  The following pics are from our trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Although I am quite impressed with the Amish "plain" style and respect their desire and willingness to distance themselves from the things of the world, there is one attribute of our Father that they do not embrace, and I could not live without:  Grace.  Oh, Lord Jesus, thank you for showering me each day with the grace that I do not deserve.

One last note:  my favorite cloud song -"Days of Elijah"

Behold he comes
Riding on a cloud
Shining like the sun
At the trumpet's call
Lift your voice
It's the year of jubilee
Out of Zion's hill salvation comes