I've written some about the book my Ladies' Bible/Book Study Group is doing called Satisfy My Thirsty Soul by Linda Dillow. This book is amazing, and as I've said before, even though I'm usually not a fan of non-fiction, it has made me dig in the Bible and crave the Word more than I have in a very long time.
The book discusses the meaning of true worship, its purpose, and how to take every aspect of your life - pain, times of waiting, attitude, work, words etc and turn them into worship.
Monday night's chapter was "I Bow My Will." And I can't stop thinking about it. The first part of the chapter described how Jesus asked to be relieved of his cup (dying on the cross) three times. It was AGONY to bend his will to match God's. It's so hard for us too. The second part of the chapter retold the Abraham/Isaac story where Abraham follows God's command, bows his will and almost sacrifices his son for God. "Abraham trusted God enough to bow. Even though Abraham did not understand what God was doing, he bowed his intellect. Even though Abraham loved Isaac with a deep father love, he bowed his affections. Even though Abraham wanted to scream, "No, God!" he bowed his will." Wow. I don't know what it was about this time, maybe just that I'm a mother, but that is a crazy emotional story for me now. The agony that both Abraham and Isaac experienced but turned to worship... Blows. My. Mind.
Anyway, the point of the chapter was this: What is your Isaac? What is the thing that you are holding on to? What is the thing or person you love the most that you would withhold from God? What do you hesitate to trust him with?
The answer for me? Jonah's Life. Hands down. When Gabe died, Matt's parents took care of the arrangements. We could either bury him in some kind of Baby Land area of the cemetery or we could buy two or four plots together. I wanted us to be together and so they purchased the four plots for us. We did not need the fourth, but three was not an option. THAT FOURTH GRAVE HAUNTS ME. I am so completely terrified of the possibility that I will outlive my second son. I told someone last week that if Jonah dies, I feel like friends would have to stay by my side 24-7 on suicide watch. I feel like I would crumble to the ground. I don't know that I would survive it. My love for and dependence on him scares me. I can't describe its intensity. Maybe those of you who have lost a child or have a child with a possibly fatal condition can understand. (Or maybe it's the same for all moms? I really don't know.) I do know that I can't describe it to you, but trust me, it's probably not healthy. I don't want or need to love Jonah less. But I do need to trust God more, that no matter what happens, He has known it all along and can handle it. I could live (and be joyful) even if something did happen to Jonah. (Try telling my heart that.)
I'm going somewhere with this... I think. Stick with me.
Meredith, my sweet friend who hosts our group, created a little Isaac Altar at the front of her living room in front of the fire place. At the end of study, during our personal quiet/worship time, she encouraged us to write what our "Isaac" was on a piece of paper and to lay it down on the altar if/when we were ready. I went into the dining room away from the crowd. I knew this was going to be hard. Meredith played some quiet worship music and I read Psalm 84. Two verses spoke to me as I thought about sweet Jonah (and Gabe too.)
Psalm 84:4 - Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.
Psalm 84:10 - Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.
Gabe dying is a victory.
Jonah dying would be a victory.
I'm not beating myself up for letting the thought of him dying take my breath away and make me feel like life wouldn't be worth living. That cup would be agony. I would ask that it be taken away. That would be expected, understood, and natural.
But what I have to learn is that I can't control the uncontrollable. Jonah is in God's hands, no matter what.
So finally, I wrote down "Jonah's Life" in big letters on my piece of paper and bordered it in smaller letters with those two verses. I then walked back to the living room and knelt in front of the altar. We weren't really burning the pieces at that moment (we took them outside later) but the fire was burning behind the altar all symbolic-like. Meredith was right by the altar. I know she knew what I had written on that paper. (We have talked much about this very thing.) I was crying. She was crying. And at that moment, the gas logs died down and the fire almost completely went out. I looked at Meredith, smiled, and whispered, "I think that's a sign I don't have to burn mine." We both laughed through the tears. She put her forehead against mine and said, "I don't think it is," and don't you know, she cranked that fire right back up.
She was crying
I was crying.
She was on her face praying.
I was on my knees resisting.
God was very present.
And finally, I let go of my slip of paper and handed my son's life back over to my Abba. To the One who loves Jonah even more than I do. To the One who understands what giving up a son's life is all about. To the One who really gets it. I let him have back what is His in the first place.
And I'm trusting that, if I do outlive my second son, God's inexplicable peace and strength will pick me up and get me through it. I can't imagine, y'all. Losing Gabe was so hard. Losing Jonah would be a million times harder. I can't bear the thought. But my God is bigger than my fears. He's bigger than the uncertainty. He has written out Jonah's days and holds them all in His hands.
So it's okay to let go. He's got this.