God Gives and Takes Away

“Do you believe that God is a giver or a taker?” “Is what holds us back from the wild ride, the fear of what He may take from us?” And “ Do we fear how much He will have to take from us to get Glory from us?” These are the questions Beth Moore asked tonight in Bible study. These are hard questions, we may say one thing with our mouths, but in the deepest parts where fear hides, we may believe the other.

I used to believe God was a taker. I remember standing in church with my big pregnant belly and singing, “he gives and takes away, my heart will choose to say, blessed is your name;” And being terrified that God was going to take my baby from me. Because I hadn’t suffered loss yet in my life, and somehow I thought in order for God to work in and use me for His Glory I would have to suffer. What a twisted view of God.

Fast forward a few months, I am kneeling at the side of my bed, (because if I kneeled God would hear me better) sobbing, and crying out to God to give me my husband back.  One month later he would leave for good. Loss, with a capital L. Did I have it coming because I had never lost anything before, because I hadn’t suffered yet, was it was just my turn? Is God like that?

God did not cause my divorce because he wanted to test me, or grow me, or get Glory out of me. All of those things have come from it, (at least the first two, and I hope the last) but he was not the one who caused it. God hates divorce; he would never cause it. Sin causes it, plain and simple. And sin is the absence of God. But that does not mean that he can’t take the results of sin and use them for his Glory.

I always believed that God could do a miracle, and answer that sobbed out prayer. But he didn’t. He allowed the sinful choices to play themselves out, and there was never the change of heart to bring about restoration. Does this mean God didn’t care, that he “took” my marriage from me? Does he take more than he gives?

No. He chose not to restore the relationship (even while asking me to consider the possibility, see Belief Part 1) that much is true. But in that process he gave me so much more. I had a realization last semester that floored me. For school I had to attend three AA type meetings. For one of them, my friend and I chose to go to an Alanon meeting, which is a meeting for the families of those with addictions. During the meeting they read from one of their pamphlets a list of the crazy behaviors and things that people do when they are living with an alcoholic, just to try to get through to them and to try and change them. Now my husband was not an alcoholic, but he had some unconventional addictions that seriously affected our relationship. As the list was read, I sat there realizing that I had done every single one of the things on that list, as it pertained to my situation. I realized how crazy those behaviors were, how desperate I was, and how hard it was. And this weird little thought, that had been bouncing around in my head for a while, even thought I tried to press it down, came to the surface. “I rescued you from that.” God didn’t give me my husband back, but what he gave me was sanity, he gave me strength, he gave me peace, he gave me stability. I may not have seen it while I was going through the pain, but in that moment, he gave me the tiniest glimpse into the big picture.

So tonight when the question was asked, “Do you believe God is a giver or a taker?” I can honestly say I believe he is a giver. I may still struggle with fear, but if I recognize it for what it is, I can confront it with the truth: God wants to give good gifts to His children. It may not always look like what we think it should look like, and yes sometime he has to take things in order to give better things. But He gave his SON. How much more proof do we need that God is a giver?

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things” Romans 8:32

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Broken Hearts

Tonight my heart breaks. It breaks for all those whose hearts are broken. All around me people are hurting, lives are falling apart, and people are struggling to hold them together. My heart aches. It is not just one person, and the ironic thing is that is what enables me to write this, if it was I wouldn’t write because I wouldn’t want to jeopardize their privacy, or make them feel like a burden, but it is not just one, it is many.  (And none of them are a burden)

I have been called to reach out to single moms. Called, that is such a serious sounding word. But really all it means is that God wants me to use my experiences to help others. Over the last few years, he has filled my life with single moms, some have helped me, others I have had the privilege of helping, all of us have shared a little bit of this crazy journey we are on. Common experience draws us together.

Lately another common experience has been drawing me together with others. Heartbreak. That terrible thing, which led most of us into the land of single motherhood. Those heart-wrenching experiences, that we would much rather forget, now that we have reached a place of relative contentment with our situation. When friends have poured their hearts out, I have had to remember, it all comes back. Empathy is such a wonderful thing to be on the receiving end of, but often difficult for the giver, because you have to remember what it felt like.  What it felt like to have your heart ripped out and trampled on, the uncertainty, the fear, the guilt, and the failure.

I have been comfortable with sharing life with single moms. I have such a heart for these amazing ladies. This new phase is not comfortable. It is quite uncomfortable to relive emotions that I have long since put to rest. But I know that it is where I am supposed to be. Using the pain that I went through to help others, somehow makes it, if not worth it, less pointless.

Seeing the same kinds of things happening over and over again does not make it easier to explain. Every time, I shake my head in bewilderment, how could he be so stupid, how could be so selfish, how could he not see the amazing thing he has here, how could he walk way (unmarried), how could he not honor his vows (married), how could he not obey God.  (Disclaimer: I am not bashing guys, it is not always the guy, there ARE great guys out there, but in the situations I have encountered lately it has been the guy) But today I was struck with a thought, sin is sin, and it all looks disturbingly similar. Satan uses the tried and true methods of self-centeredness and deception, if it works, why reinvent the wheel. So while the details may be different, the underlying factors are often the same. It is a relief to know it is not just a bad case of counter-transference on my part. And it points to the only answer to fix any of it, more truth and more God.

Bringing up all these memories and emotions stirs up fear. I wonder if it is really worth it to do it all again. With the full-scale spiritual war being waged against marriages and families do I really stand a chance if I try again? Is it worth the struggle, is it worth the pain, and is it worth the risk. And then I remember that fear is the enemies number one weapon again me. It is my Achilles heel. It can paralyze me. But since I have realized that, I can fight against it. I don’t have to live my life in fear; I don’t WANT to live my life in fear. I want to live my life in love and trust. I want to be secure in the love of God, trusting that He has a plan. If I listen and follow his leading I have nothing to fear. Except fear itself. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist)