Ever had some head knowledge that doesn’t line up with your heart? Something you KNOW to be true but have hard time grasping, believing, feeling, and claiming for your life??
We are in an awesome new Sunday school class - an answered prayer for us to be mentored by wise and godly couple whom we admire. One thing we learned recently in class that is reiterated every week is that we as humans parallel the trinity in the fact we can be described by three different parts- soul, spirit, and body. The spirit can be divided further into three parts as well- the mind (thinker), will (chooser), and heart (feeler). This makes perfect sense and is backed up in Scripture. It’s important to recognize these different parts of ourselves so we can recognize when our heart, our emotions, our flesh, or the enemy, are trying to deceive us. Unfortunately,these don’t all match up all the time, and that can leave us feeling confused.
My brother passing absolutely rocked my family’s world and cut me to the core. I can’t even describe the whirlwind of grief and emotions that have flooded our hearts. One thing I have learned (and I already knew, but witnessed first hand) is that everyone grieves very differently and it’s super important to respect (without judgment) each individual’s grieving process.
I have relied on my faith more than anything to get me through losing Michael. More than any person, memory, distraction, etc. I am so thankful for that testimony and God’s faithfulness to provide peace and comfort through pain and heartbreak. The women's retreat came at a perfect time, but challenged me to examine my faith on a deeper level. And to be totally transparent, I have a lot of growing to do. Like, embarrassed to even admit kind of growing. It challenged me to question what I REALLY believe about God.
I tried to imagine myself in Ragan’s shoes and think about how I would manage life without Jonathan. It makes me sick at my stomach to think about and beyond sick for her that she has to do life without Michael. As I began to really examine my heart, my mind was flooded with “What if…” I were to (Heaven forbid) lose my husband; my parents; my baby; my family; my home; my health? How would I react? What would I believe? Would my faith be strong enough to get me through?? Despite knowing all the promises of God’s Word and seeing Him answer them in my own life time and time again, I can’t say with pure assuredness that I know how I would respond to that type of loss. I would love to be able to say that my faith is strong enough to get me through because I know & believe that my God is BIG enough and CAPABLE enough…but do I TRUST the Lord enough fully depend on him alone? Do I believe he is really doing all things for good? He is always for me? Will never leave me nor forsake me? Hears my prayers?
The truth is… what we believe about God is the most important thing about us. It impacts every other area of our life- how we view ourselves, how we love others, how we treat others, how we forgive, our thoughts, actions, and attitudes, how we respond to trials, how we react to hurts, how we respond to victories- everything. EVERYTHING in our lives is dependent on what we deep down, in our core, truly BELIEVE about God. And I’m not just talking about head knowledge. I’m talking about HEART knowledge. I’m talking about our soul, spirit, and body. Getting our mind, heart, and will (spirit) in agreement.
That’s why it is so important that believers make up our mind NOW...ASAP…about what we believe about God. The Bible tells us that as children of God, because we live in a fallen world with sin and are made in the image of Christ (who also faced many trials and temptations during his time on this earth), that trials and hardships are coming. It is not a matter of IF, but WHEN. God allows us to experience trials so we learn to fully rely and depend on him alone. It draws us closer to him if we choose to run TO him rather than from him. Trials grow our faith. They give us a testimony. (Read the book of James- my favorite book in the Bible and great wisdom about trials.)
But let’s be real. They are not fun. In fact, they can leave us feeling discouraged, overwhelmed, frustrated, lonely, depressed, angry, confused, hopeless, and uncertain when we try to rely on ourselves or anything/anyone other than God to get us through.
I just finished teaching a Bible study on a book called Unbroken. My computer crashed so I don’t have all the notes, but I encourage you to read it. It was a great reminder to me about the promises of God. Promises we need to make so REAL in our hearts that we will cling to them when the trials come our way.
I will never forget the morning of March 29th, 2014. I was nursing Jase when my phone rang. I didn’t want to get up from feeding him to answer, but it rang again and Jonathan’s phone rang at the same time. My heart sank and I immediately knew something was wrong. Bad wrong. My mom and sister were both calling. We answered the phone to a pretty hysterical urge to get to the hospital immediately- that something was wrong with my brother. Normally when we get news like that we hit our knees to pray together, but I started frantically getting ready to get out there as fast as possible because I knew my family needed me. We got a call back in about 5 minutes and my mom wanted to talk to Jonathan. She didn’t want to tell me, but I knew. I could hear her weeping and moaning and couldn’t decipher anything she was saying, but I knew. Jonathan’s face sank too and I just fell to the ground because I knew what he was going to tell me. I wanted him to stay home with Jase because I had no idea how long I would be gone, but I got to Michael’s house as fast as I (safely) could. I felt a sense of disbelief and could do nothing cry out to God the whole drive over. It took me about 40 minutes and felt like an eternity. It was such a nasty morning- somewhat rainy, cold, and just grey. I pulled up and saw family standing outside. I was the last one to arrive. My face was soaked with tears. The first people I saw were my niece Madison and my sister Stephanie. I hugged Madison, everyone crying, and the only thing that came out of my mouth was “I am so, so sorry. I have no idea why this happened, but I know God always works together for the good of those who love Him and he promises to never leave us and never forsake us.” At that time I heard the most agonizing cries from my mom. She was moaning - pure weeping over her son. It was a sound I hope I never have to hear again. She has been a ROCK for our family since then, but she has told me since then that she needed that hour to just weep. Seeing my sister-in-law and the kiddos, and knowing their life would never be the same broke my heart. Watching my parents agonize over losing a child- their only son- is something no parent should ever have to face and my heart hurt beyond words for them. That was the saddest day of my life in my entire 28 years. It feels surreal and was so devastating seeing everyone in my family- my mom, my dad, my sisters, and Michael’s family- Ragan in the kids- in such pain.
But what I can tell you is that even in the pain there was a peace. A peace only God can give.
Several times as we were all together through planning the funeral I prayed out loud for our family- and the only thing I could pray was God’s promises.
I challenge you to dig in the Word, read and understand God’s promises, and meditate on and memorize Scriptures. You never know when you will experience something in your life and those promises will minister to your heart. These are a few of my favorites that have continued to bring me comfort, but there are SO MANY in the Bible. If you are a believer, I encourage you to make up our mind NOW as to what you TRULY believe about God. It’s easy to say you believe it, but it’s difficult to LIVE like you believe it.
- We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. –Romans 8:28
- For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11
- Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.- 1 Peter 5:7
- If God is for us, who can be against us? –Romans 8:31
- Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. –Deuteronomy 8:31
- Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. –Matthew 5:4
- No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper- Isaiah 54:17
As hard as this has been, I appreciate God using this to draw me to Him and to reveal to me where I REALLY am in my walk. It’s not where I would like to be, but thankfully I serve a mighty God who can help me get where he wants me to be.