All That You Can’t Leave Behind

UG Paddle

When I was a kid, my siblings and I would sit in deep discussion about the things that we would save if our house were to ever be on fire. As we got older, the things we believed we couldn’t live without changed. My attachment to my stuffed animals faded and gave way to my guitar and later my kids claimed the coveted spot on my priority list.

What would you save?

The question has probably already crossed your mind and we, like most of us let this grow into a plan. We have an emergency rope ladder we bought shortly after moving into our two-story house so we would be able to evacuate our kids in the case of a fire downstairs. We felt this was a far better option, albeit less exciting, than jumping from the bedroom windows into the bushes below. My boys say this is debatable however…

It is a profound question: “what would we save?” not because the things themselves are important (though people always are!), but because the question has the cutting ability to reveal our priorities, our values, and our limits. The limits of what we are unwilling to live without.

The truth is that this bare minimum, this line in the sand is our breaking point. It’s the line where we are essentially saying that we can no longer trust God and the thought of losing these cherished things or people alone can send us into a panic.

I’ve been flirting with that breaking point to be perfectly honest. I started writing this piece this summer and decided to let it simmer in my mind for a while and our serious car accident just over a month ago pulled the topic back to the forefront of my thoughts.

I still have my kids and husband, but the reality is that God was very very good and there is no reason other than Him that we are all still here.

I’ve been holding to tightly to my kids for the past month; I’ve often said that control is just an illusion, but the little of that illusion that was left was shattered in that one second. There is no control; only trust.

This past month has been an exercise in trust. I have no idea where this is going.

While my family is healing physically, there will be some deep emotional scars for my boys, though this isn’t surprising given what they went through and saw. Emotionally I’m doing better, despite my worst fear of losing my kids nearly being realized. I’m not really healing though. I’m still getting worse and it is going to be months before there is any sort of resolution. My hair started falling out so it means that I have a very long and likely miserable road ahead even after spending a good part of this past month in bed.

My precious soon to be sister in-law is so wise and I’m so thankful for her because she said exactly what I needed to hear in this moment: God cares just as much about our hearts as we go through the trial as He does about the resolution of it.

We tend to think of the end product of everything as being the object in our goal-oriented society. The truth is that the journey is just as important and maybe even more important. There isn’t always going to be a light at the end of the tunnel. There is sin in this world and the pain that pervades it is enough to make us long for things to be different. God has pulled away and let us feel the effects of His absence and the proper response to all of this is to worship Him.

I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this. They think it is cruel of God to subject us to such pain or maybe He isn’t strong enough to stop it. Neither are true.

There is nothing cruel about a parent who steps back to allow their child to feel the effects of their behavior. It is the job of a parent to train their child to want the proper things; we need to be trained to long for Him after all, we were dead in our transgressions and He gave us life through Christ. He is leading us from our complete and utter brokenness to restoration.

He is completely capable of ending this pain and He will, just not today. If we are truly honest with ourselves the outrage we feel when we are forced to endure more than we believe we should isn’t that we think He can’t stop it, rather it is that He doesn’t stop it. Seldom are we angry at those we believe tried their best…

God has always cared more about our character than our comfort and I think it is in the quiet and dark moments of uncertainty when we offer Him worship that He is the most glorified. When there is no win on the horizon and the things that we deem most essential to our lives are on the line, we still need to choose worship. He is just as good in these moments as He is in the bright ones.

Nobody ever wants to brush up against the boundaries of losing what is most important much less cross over that threshold. We don’t have to want to be there in order to trust. We just need to submit daily, hourly, and even minute by minute if need be. How much are we really clinging hopelessly onto? It is all His anyway, even my kids.

The question we need to ask ourselves is if all we have is God, will we be okay?

I don’t feel okay right now and it honestly is scary looking at the health things that could be on the horizon. The cost is high for my family and they are dealing with my functional absence since I can’t do most of what I used to before the accident. I miss playtime with my kids, coffee dates with Brian, and laundry. Whoever thought I’d miss being able to fold laundry?!!!

But in spite of all this or maybe because of all this, I’ve realized that the trust I thought I put in God could be so much more. This pain breeds the longing in us for Him to fill us. I must continue to let there be less of me and more of Him; we are never going to be done with this task this side of eternity. As I’ve spent so much time in terrible pain lately I’ve realized we put far too much emphasis on the temporal instead of the eternal. But all that we can’t leave behind is worth nothing compared to the things we have ahead.

And I’ll be okay no matter what since He is still good.

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