Since Annabelle got sick and spent her 12 days in the hospital, Scott and I (okay, mostly I, but my sweet hubby agreed) made the decision to keep Annabelle home from church until the majority of the cold/flu season was over. Given her non-existent immune system, she could easily get RSV again, or the flu (although she did have the shot) or a host of other things that would send her right back to the hospital.
So, we decided to take turns staying home from church with her, while the other one of us took our other kiddos to church.
While it may seem silly, taking Annabelle to church is huge for me. I missed church for over a year after Annabelle was home because a.) I was at the hospital with her and b.) I couldn't stand the thought of walking through those doors without my baby with me.
So this last Sunday, Scott stayed home and I herded the other 3 to church. We were actually on time, a rare thing but we also didn't have Annabelle and Dad to get ready, so there ya go!
I dropped the girls off at children's church, then slid into my own seat as worship was starting.
And, I started crying.
Now, when I say crying, I mean I'm biting my quivering lip and pressing my finger to my eye discreetly to keep from anyone noticing this, because I DO NOT CRY IN PUBLIC. I don't know, I just have this thing about it. Mostly I just didn't want anyone coming to me and saying, "all you alright?" because I would have then lost it and sobbed and ran out.
This was not a "moved by the Spirit" type of moment.
It was a crushing, horrifying realization of how it would feel if Annabelle wasn't with us. If she would have not survived one of her surgeries, or one of the times many times she coded. My empty arms ached in her absence. I couldn't pretend she was in the nursery. And even though I knew she was safe at home with Dad, I couldn't escape the "what-if" thoughts and the completely loneliness of that moment.
The songs they sang that morning were amazing. Pretty much all my favorites. And I could barely eek out a word.
One of my favorites we sang was "Be thou my Vision."
- Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
- naught be all else to me, save that thou art;
- Thou my best thought by day or by night,
- Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
- Be thou my wisdom, thou my true word,
- I ever with thee and thou with me Lord;
- Thou my great Father, I thy true son;
- Thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.
- Be thou my breastplate, sword for the fight;
- Be thou my dignity, thou my delight;
- Thou my soul's shelter, thou my high tower:
- Raise thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
- Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise:
- Thou mine inheritance now and always;
- Thou and thou only first in my heart;
- High King of Heaven, my treasure thou art.
- High King of Heaven, my victory won,
- May I reach Heaven's joys, O Bright Heaven's sun!;
- Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
- Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.
GOD IS ENOUGH.
That doesn't seem that hard of a concept. But when you are faced with your daughter possibly dying... it doesn't always SEEM enough.
And when you sit in church, having visions of what it would be like if she had died... it doesn't seem enough.
But it is. I told God a long time ago, when Annabelle was still in the hospital, that I gave my daughter to Him. That even if she died, I would still love Him, still serve Him, still give him glory in all things.
I then thought back to poor Abraham being asked to sacrifice his only son for God. The Bible doesn't say that he argued, although I have a pretty good feeling that he had some private conversations with God before finally agreeing. But Abraham loved God so much he was willing to give him EVERYTHING including the very life of his son.
Of course you know the story, God provided a way and saved Isaac. But this was proof of Abraham's love and fear of God.
I'm not, obviously, saying that God asks us to kill our children.
I AM saying, though, that God asks us to put NOTHING before him. He wants us, 100%. He wants us to look Heavenward and not worry so much about the chaos around us.
I've always struggled with this verse in Luke:
If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26 (NIV)
Does God really want us to HATE our father/mother/wife/children/brothers/sisters/our-own-life????
No. Obviously not, because Jesus talks about LOVING one another many other places.
The NLT adds an extra phrase, and while I don't think it is needed, I DO think it was Jesus' intent.
That phrase? "In comparison"
God wants us to serve him above all others. To love him above all others and all else. While he doesn't want us to actually "hate" people, our love and devotion to God should make our love to our family/friends pale in comparison.
What is fun is that our pastor went on to speak about this very thing, using the scripture Jesus gives about the man selling all he has in order to buy the field that contains the pearl. God asks for all of us, but what we get in return, the Kingdom of God, is priceless.
Granted, he was talking about things like our time, our money, our gifts, etc, but it is applies to our WHOLE life, including those around us whom we love.
Another fun note: In looking for the verse in Luke (I am no Bible scholar... I googled it... *ahem*) I found a pretty great question.
Here is a portion of it:
Something I've noticed lately from many Christians, & other adherents to Abrahamic faiths is that when asked what is most important in their life, they always say God, family, & something else. The reason I ask this is because usually they put God BEFORE their own family. ...... No matter how religious of a person one may be, how can you possibly put God before your own family? I find that very disturbing, & believe that people like this are seriously sick in the head. ....... Does anybody else find it chilling that there are religious followers out there (many) who put family AFTER God?
There are SO many things I could say to this question. And that it seemed "crazy" to someone who doesn't know Jesus sealed the deal for me of how absolutely important it is that Jesus IS 1st in our life.
But the answer is yes, God does require that of us.
I think, personally, that it goes deeper than that though. I don't think it is a #1, then #2, then #3 kind of thing.
I think God wants to be #1 to infinity. He wants everything else crossed off our list. He wants to be our EVERYTHING.
Then, once He is our everything, we have given him control over all those other things. So when we are dealing with our kids, we aren't putting Jesus first, then our kids, we are saying, "God, how do you want me to discipline my children" or when God takes one of our little ones to heaven, while our hearts mourn and we are beyond sad, GOD was already our everything. He was already enough, and we can remain here and survive.
That's what I felt God asking me as I sat in church with my oh-so-empty arms. "Would you love me still, Krista? Am I REALLY your everything?"
And, while praying God wouldn't call me me on it, I said yeah, God, I give it all to you.
I read once in a Sunday School lesson about a missionary who transcribed Bibles. It talked about how he did this in some 3rd world country, all the while his wife sat in their hut and went completely mad.
That always bothered me. Was it REALLY God's will that this man put transcribing Bibles ahead of his wife? is that REALLY what that verse in Luke is talking about?
I think... maybe... this man was putting God's work 1st in his life... and his wife 2nd. (in fact, that was the point of the lessen, about putting God 1st...)
And I can't help but think, possibly, if he would have submitted ALL parts of his life over to God's leading, and lifted his wife up to Jesus just like he was with his Bible translation... maybe the story would have been a bit different, and a bit happier.
I'm not saying I've perfected this. VERY FAR FROM IT. But I'm trying to readjust my thinking. I want to give Jesus everything. My writing, my time, my children, my relationship with my hubby, my finances, my fears, my doubts.
Because my #1 goal is for Jesus to have glory in it all.