Sunday, July 26, 2009

Unexpected

I haven't ever written a post like this. I hope that all you readers (all 3 of you--you know who you are) are not disappointed because this is not light and airy.

I was sitting in church today and our pastor was discussing the fact that when Jesus gives a command, when He nudges us to say or do something, we are to immediately do/say what He has asked of us. I had always heard, "Delayed obedience is disobedience." So I feel I must admit to you, I have been disobedient this summer. On my way to the beach, I felt like God had laid something on my heart and yet I did not write it down, I did not do anything with it...I guess, in essence, I ignored it. Nice confession, huh? How many people say publicly that they ignored the God of the Universe when He told them to do something? How many people are that foolish? Well, let me help you count...here's one for you!

Our God is a big God and He can see all things. He can see things before they happen, He knows what we need before we even need it, He provides through ways that can only be credited to Him. He is big. He is powerful. He is loving. He is mysterious to me sometimes. I feel like I need to give you some background (that seems to be my new "use it on every blog" phrase)...

God brought us to our town 12 years ago. He brought us to our church through my job with the school system. My job with the school system introduced me to a very funny girl who was debating sticking around and waiting on a boyfriend who did not seem interested in marriage. She ended up married to that boy...and moved off to seminary. At seminary, she and her husband met up with a guy from Maine, became fast friends with him and watched as he fell for and fell in love with a Christian singer. They got married and began a ministry together. Funny girl and her husband moved back here, and their friends followed...moving here for a time. While she had been gone, through church, I became friends with funny girl's best friend. I never knew the connection of all of this until one day in May of 2008.

I was at school and not really sure how or where I heard the news. Christian singer, Nicol Sponberg, who formerly sang with the group Selah and who had just done a benefit concert here in town for someone sick, I think, had gone up to check on her 10 week old infant son Luke after putting him down for the night, and he was not breathing. He had died. My heart tugged in my chest...and I remember thinking how sad that was. I also remember distancing myself from the news in a weird way. I did not know Nicol, though I loved her voice in Selah and had all the Selah CDs. I had never met her. I did not even realize she lived here. I was sad for her, but I did not want to hear about it or talk about it with anyone who was discussing it.

When I sat down to process this weird reaction, I realized I was distancing myself because I had seen this happen before...to other people, not to me...but to people I love and it hurt, badly. My oldest sister, in 1996, lost her first son to a heart defect. He died 15 days after he was born.

I had never seen a casket so small.

I had never seen a baby in a casket.

I had never watched my sister cry like that, heartbroken and devastated.

I had never felt so hopeless and sad in my life. I had a hard time with that and it took me a number of years to work through my anger and my grief...and I was just the aunt.

Then, I move here and I make a friend who found out at 36 weeks pregnant that her son had an inoperable brain tumor and would not live out of the womb. She had to bury her precious son.

Another tiny casket.

Fast forward a few years and I get a frantic call that an ambulance is at the house of another friend...a friend who had an 8 day old infant...a friend I had JUST taken dinner to the night before...the infant wasn't breathing...2 days in a hospital and there was nothing left to do for him.

Again. Such a tiny casket.

Jump ahead a few more years and to another friend.

And another tiny casket.

I was feeling like a professional mourner who only knew how to attend funerals with too small coffins. Was I going to be next? Would I too know the grief of a mother who has to bury her child? I could not bear the thought, still can't. But I knew how God had worked in each person's life mentioned above. I had witnessed the pain and grief and I had seen the slow but steady healing that He had brought into their lives. Each person at a different phase in the grief process; each one with a different story to tell; each one with a view of God that is not attainable without going through that fire and coming out on the other side wrapped tightly in His arms.

I was drawn to Greg and Nicol's story, but not as a curious onlooker; unexplainably, I was just drawn to it. I prayed for them fervently. Then a friend (the best friend of funny girl) mentioned her connection...how she had been over to the house where Greg and Nicol were staying now...had seen the grief...had known them before all of this. My friend was sad, and needed someone to talk to who was not personally involved. I offered up my shoulder and told her if they needed anything while they were ministering to the family, to just call.

How many times have we offered that up?

"Call me if you need me."

"Let me know if you need anything."

"I'll be happy to help, just ask."

Well, I got a phone call a few days later. It was after 8pm. Could I help get a dinner together for the next night for the Sponbergs?

Sure, I respond. How many people do we need to plan for?

Somewhere around 40...maybe more.

Huh...40? Really? Sure, whatever you need. I am happy to help. (hang up phone and let panic ensue)!

See this was the time when Mark was renovating my kitchen. He had started in the middle of April. Said it would be done by May 1st...this was the end of May...I had no floor, no sink, no microwave...most importantly...no oven or stove.

And I had just agreed to get a meal together for 40 people. And it was after 8...and everyone worked...I couldn't ask someone else to do the main dish at this late hour. What was I going to do? I even said to God, very loudly in my head, "WHAT IN THE WORLD AM I GOING TO DO? I HAVE NO OVEN OR STOVE. I HAVE NOTHING TO WORK WITH LORD...NOTHING TO OFFER UP AS A WAY TO HELP THIS FAMILY. I HAVE NOTHING!!!!"

And do you know what He said? "I know, Paige. You have Me, though. And I have it all taken care of."

Only I did not hear Him. Because after shouting all that in my head, I began actually saying it out loud. Mark and our friend helping Mark with the kitchen looked up at me and listened kindly. I turned around and looked at them and asked, "What in the world am I going to do?" But instead of waiting for an answer from them, I turned and walked down the hall and began calling others to help make the side dishes. All the while I was panicking on the inside...desperately trying to see how I was going to figure this out.

When I returned to the kitchen, I was greeted with an answer to my prayer. An answer I had not expected in a million years.

See the man helping Mark was a friend of ours. A friend who does not have a personal relationship with Jesus. A friend who is just that...a friend. A guy willing to help out because he wants to...not because he feels like he has to...good people.

He looks at me and says, "Go get X amount of meat and this, this and this as ingredients for the sauce and bring it to me. I will make up the marinade and put it on the Big Green Egg . I will come home at lunch and take it off the egg and it will be ready for you when you come home from work tomorrow." I stood there dumbfounded.

You see, a kitchen renovation I did not want, brought a friend into our lives who did not know Christ, as an answer to a prayer request I did not know I would have, for a family in desperate despair over the death of their son.

God is Big. Bigger than I could have ever imagined. And all we have to bring to Him is... nothing.
He has all we will ever need. He IS all we will ever need. He sees what we will need and He prepares us for that moment or those moments. Whatever He takes you through is not by coincidence...it is not random or crazy or weird...it is perfectly planned out to provide us with the necessary tools to do whatever He calls us to do next.

Watch out for those renovations...you never know what prayer request they may answer next.

5 comments:

  1. Hi! I saw your comment on Mckmama! I wanted to share my website with you: Sugarandspice1.etsy.com
    I will be donating a portion of all sales to the String of pearls to help families and babies like Stellan! I am trying to get it out there in any way I can! Please let your family, friends etc. I would really appreciate it!
    Thanks!! :)
    -lexi
    Sugarandspice4baby.blogspot.com

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  2. I followed you from the LMP blog. What an amazing story! I love how so many details came together in a way only God could have orchastrated. It brought tears to my eyes and was exactly what I needed to read today while I've been pondering the question where is God in the unexpected situtation we're facing. Thank you and you are a gifted writer by the way:)

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  3. Simply amazing. And so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.

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  4. Love it! It's so true we don't always SEE what God SEES. I just love your story. :)

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