Today, October 15, is pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day. And this Sunday, October 21 is the one year anniversary of our fourth baby leaving us to be with Jesus. I find it fitting to break from my current blog series to speak to this for a moment.
We had that October 2017 baby for 6 precious weeks. We do not know the baby’s gender, we never felt we could name it. Two consecutive losses in one awful year. It seems fitting to me to take a moment to reflect on all God has done in me since He gently led me through a season where my world got turned upside down.
I can’t believe a whole year has gone by. It really does feel like yesterday. I remember the dress I wore when we went to the ER to see if there was any chance this wasn’t what we deep down knew it was. I remember penning words of shock, sorrow, and grief, on this very recliner I am sitting in now. I remember it like it all happened yesterday.
But it didn’t happen yesterday, and I am a different person now because of 2017’s sorrows. And isn’t that always true of the Lord? If we lean into Him when bad things happen, we see the truth – that He was always working, before, during, and after the bad things took place. And the bad things are just part of the story, but never the end of it.
So what now? Last year, I grieved a dream for my future. I let that dream die. Now what? Its been the question rolling around in my heart since the loss began a year ago.
Here is just a window into some of the things the Lord has so graciously taught my heart in the last year:
- He is enough for me. No matter what other losses I might accrue in my lifetime, He is enough for me. If I have Him, I will never be alone.
- Faith: I have always deep down tried to see God’s truth with my heart right now. But I am learning that I can rest on God’s truth even when my heart can’t see it. So when the bad comes, when the hard happens, I am a little bit better at trusting what I know to be true of God no matter how much the Hard screams the very opposite to me.
- God is big. Don’t gloss over that word-choice, “big”. It may sound like preschool Sunday School, but its not. In learning to trust God’s Word as true even when my heart can’t see it, I am learning to see that God is so much bigger than just my life, just these few years on earth that I see. I am learning to see that God’s story is the one that counts, and learning that I need to align my life to His story if I want my life to count too. I can’t say this enough. God is SO much bigger than our little lives, and there is SO much comfort in that. It is that which allows me to trust Him when I don’t understand what I can see in my current line of sight.
- My purpose in life is to make much of God, join Him in His work of expanding His Kingdom, and while I wait for Jesus to return, I “stay in Him”.
It is this last point I want to elaborate on. Because this is my new future, my new dream or goal that I am pursuing. And this is at the heart of how God has used my losses to change me for the better. He has helped me understand something that I’ve never really understood before. And it is something I long for others around me to understand too. For perhaps it won’t take a life-changing loss to help you learn this truth!
As I let go of my dream of a big family, the mini-van, that Instragram mom who homeschools her six kids on a farm, I had to begin asking what God wanted for me instead. And He took me all the way to the high Rocky Mountains of Colorado to teach me.
You see, I went on vacation this summer with my parents to see Rocky Mountain National Park. Stayed in Granby, CO, at an old ski resort. And the third day we were there, we went to church. We weren’t sure if we were even going to try to go, because what decent church could there be this far away from civilization? But I looked up Granby, CO on the The Gospel Coalition’s church-finder, and lo and behold, there was a TGC-registered tiny church not 15 minutes away from our resort.
It was about 50 people, if even that. My parents and my little family took up a whole row in the tiny sanctuary. But this church was of genuine faith. You could tell the moment you walked in and people actually greeted you, asked where you were from, and were happy you were there.
And the pastor stood up and began to preach. He was taking a break from his expositional preaching to preach a sermon series from all he learned about Heaven from Randy Alcorn’s book called Heaven. While it wasn’t my typical preference for a sermon series, it was clear to me this pastor was so moved by Alcorn’s book, he was convinced that we needed to be thinking more about heaven, and it was worth taking a whole sermon series to do it.
It was a great message – exposing our misperceptions and incorrect associations we have with the idea of heaven that have been formed in us from our culture. His sermon paved the way for his future messages to fill in the gaps in our understanding, and to point us to put all our hope for our future there.
The next morning, I woke early as usual to read the Word and it all suddenly came together for me as I was praying. It was one of those moments you never forget: the perspective I’d been waiting on from the Lord: I didn’t need a “new dream” for my future – a new career, an extended education, etc. I didn’t need a new goal to work towards. I have a future already – a future that is guaranteed, a future I don’t have to worry about not coming true. If I need a future to hope for, heaven is that future.
This was a game-changer for me. I am such a goal-oriented person. I need a future I can work towards. Its what motivates me through the mundane of life! But God has given me a guaranteed future already – eternity with Him. This is my future, fixed and promised, and all I have to do to get it is to wait for Him.
So what do I do while I wait for that future? How does my right-now align with my future with Him?
My what-now is to stay in Him while I wait, so that I might live to make Him known. He created me to bear His image and the only way to do that is to know Him, love Him, and not forget who He is. I need to stay in Him.
I see it all over Scripture, this idea of “staying in Him”. But it is most pronounced in the Gospel of John, and 1 John, when John urges believers to “abide”. In 1 John 2:18-29, the concept of abiding is introduced in the context of not being deceived by false teachers. To not get led astray, followers of Jesus need to abide in Him – and they are helped along by the Holy Spirit, who leads them into all truth, reminds them of what Jesus said, and teaches them all things (John 16:13 and 1 John 2:18-29). We are so prone to forget, aren’t we? We desperately need that daily reminder of who He is. We cannot bear His image if we don’t know what that image is.
What does this mean practically? It means I need to constantly remind myself of what is true over and over and over again, because I am so quick to forget. I need to be immersed in the Word of God, for that is what is true.
This concept seems so basic to the Christian life but I find it is easily overlooked, misunderstood, or ignored. Our job while we wait for Jesus to return is to be saturated in the Word of God, so that we might abide in Him. It is the only way. There is no way around it. I feel like I can’t say it enough, or give enough justification for it. And yet so many around me have such a dry relationship with God’s Word. How I long for my fellow brothers and sisters to taste of the sweetness and goodness of God’s Word. How I long for them to understand what has taken me all this time in my life to truly understand too.
In order to best make Him known, in order to best reflect Him back to the world around us, we must know Him, and in order to know Him, we must have our lives permeated with the Word of God. There is no other way.
So that is my “what-now”. I want to spend my life showing off how amazing and wonderful God is, and in order to do that, I must be steeped in the truth so that I myself don’t forget how wonderful He is. This is my future on earth while I wait for all eternity to come.
In honor of all the babies lost to us but held by Jesus. October 15, 2018