Monday, August 18, 2008

Laying Down My Isaac

"Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God's plans,
but God is not helpless among the ruins.
God's love is still working.
He comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously,
working out His wonderful plan of love. "

- Eric Liddell, Olympian & Missionary to China

I've begun an amazing book by Carol Kent, "When I Lay My Isaac Down: Unshakable Faith in Unthinkable Circumstances." Her words resonate with so many of the emotions, ideas and revelations I've had the last 6 weeks.

In her effort to reach out to others through her incredible story, she includes reflection questions at the end of each chapter. After Chapter One she says this: Discovering the power and invaluable lessons found in unthinkable circumstances usually takes time. If you can articulate some of the things you've learned and ways you've grown, write them down as a testament to God's faithfulness even amid devastation and sorrow.

Well, here goes.....

She talks about how most of us will face an "Isaac experience," when a crisis is thrust into our lives without warning and without survival instructions. She says, our "Isaacs" are the heart sacrifices we make when we choose to relinquish control and honor God with our choices even when all seems lost.

When we suddenly lost our baby boy at 12 weeks pregnant, it absolutely became my Isaac experience. It was so defining, that I now view life as "before the event" and "after the event." July 3rd, 2008 will forever be a pivotal day in my life. I believe I have had one other "Isaac" experience in my life, but it was a situation where God was able to intervene and redeem, in a way that I know cannot happen this time.

In case you are not familiar with the details of Abraham's story or if you just need a refresher, you can read about his only son Isaac in Genesis 22:1-18.

Almost immediately when we found out the baby was no longer with us, I determined in my heart that I would get through this circumstance by gleaning as much as I could from it. If I had to go through it, I at least wanted to use the tradgedy to honor my son and to grow personally. And the best way I knew to do that, was to ask God what He wanted me to learn. In this way, I was choosing to relinquish control and honor God with my choices - a heart sacrifice to be sure.

I say "almost immediately" because it took the entire long weekend of the 4th of July for me to come to terms with what was taking place. I woke up one morning, my first thoughts being an exhilerated "I am pregnant," and within a matter of hours I was told I was not anymore. I was no longer pregnant, but I still had a baby in my belly. At 12 weeks, I had just started to show, and my stomach would continue to swell that entire week; but not because a baby was growing inside. God had given us a miracle. And He had chosen to take our miracle home. That's a lot to come to terms with.

Carol says it perfectly, "There are some tragedies that are too big for a heart to hold, and they defy any description that makes sense. Time weaves its way through the shock, the hurt and the inexpressible feelings, and one day you discover that in the process of daily survival, you have.....determined that you will either curl up and die emotionally or you will choose life."

It took me that weekend to sink in my grief, and then I decided my girls needed me. I did not want them to lose a mother just because I had lost a child. I had to move forward and find out what lessons God had to share with me. I would just juggle my grief in the process. Even then, I realized this life I was choosing to move forward into, looked nothing like the life that I had painstakingly dreamed about.

I've come to realize, you don't just HAVE unshakable faith - you CHOOSE it. I did not know what kind of faith I had until something rattled it to its core. I did not even know if I would be able to honor God with my faith, but I was determined to give it my best try. Even when it made no sense.

I learned that God does not just equip you to go through devastating loss, He goes through it with you. I had a picture of God in my mind, way up in heaven somewhere, dropping down little gifts of encouragement to those who were diligent enough to look in His Word for them. And another image of God sending ministering angels through other people to those who were faithful enough to pray and ask Him. How wrong was I!

Carol says, When it seems like God would be the most absent, He is the most present. He is in the middle of your circumstances whether or not you have recognized Him.

I learned much about God as my Father during this time. God used my relationship with my daughters to impress on my heart how much He hurts for me. When Olivia struggles to make her way, especially as she approaches an obstacle, do I sit on the sidelines shouting out helpful directions? No! I run to her and hold her up and help her navigate her way. When Madeline is hurt, do I send someone else to deliver my message of love? No! I hold her tight and whisper words of comfort in her ear.

This is how my God feels for me. He has not left me alone to see if I am worthy of His presence during this trial. He is here. Holding me, whispering His words of healing to my heart.

Many people have encouraged me with beautiful prayers, amazing words of sympathy and comfort. These all have been unbelievable. But none compares to the impact of what God has been doing for me. He is my loving, compassionate Father, who hurts when He sees me struggling with loss. He longs for me to allow Him to comfort me. He hasn't left me for a second. He is not distracted by other things. His only desire right now is to help me through my brokenness.

This is all I have in me emotionally tonight. But rest assured there is much more I have to share with you; many more testaments of God's faithfulness.

"There are moments when God makes utter and complete sense to us, and then suddenly, life changes and he seems a foreign remnant of a childhood force-fed faith...
[Lord,] give us eyes to see your coming and going,
ears to hear your voice and your silence,
hands to hold your presence and your absence,
and faith to trust your unchanging nature in all seasons."
- Elisa Morgan


boutcrazy said...

I am so inspired by your words today. Your honesty is heartwarming. My prayers are with you this morning.

Fifty Little Toes said...

I was brought to tears again, but I realize how much God has done in your heart and in turn, mine. Your reaction to this experience is amazing.

A friend told me once that you can tell how well your relationship is with God by how well you handle circumstances that come your way.

Thanks for sharing more about your little baby, my sweet nephew.

Lauren @ Thingish Things said...


I'm so glad you shared this. Friends of mind lost their baby a couple of months ago, and I'm going to look for this book for them.

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog the other day! I'm going to add you to my reader.

gail said...

i just found your blog thru iris' TT. i'm so glad i read this post. i lost a baby girl at 19 weeks 5 yrs ago. all you have mentioned is true. your words brought back all the tears and emotions i felt at the time.

God bless you as you travel the path God has laid out for you and your family.