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when God says no

I have to admit it. I’m struggling. I’m losing steam and the will to fetch. My heart and flesh are failing me. I want to run but some days barely can manage a walk, both figuratively and literally. My hopes glimmer dimmly like a candle in too much breeze. Butter over too much bread.

I have been here before. But not exactly here. This time feels different. This time feels better in some ways and worse in others. Before I didn’t have kids in the mix. I didn’t have a husband to cuddle in the dark of night. These are good things and these are heavier things simultaneously. There is no real use in comparisons. There never is. It is what it is now.

My strength has never been the point. In fact, it’s the times when I felt stronger that I was further from the truth I know now. It is only in my weakness, these times when I am most undone, that I even begin to understand anything of Grace.

The grace that says no. The grace that says no you can’t have what you want. You can’t have that job. You can’t have that lifestyle. You can’t have health. You can’t have another child. You can’t have a life of ease and comfort. You can’t not be tired. You can’t sleep. You can’t smile.

It is grace, yes, it is grace still. It doesn’t feel like it. The “right” answer is yes, isn’t it? What kind of father gives snakes instead of bread, right? When dada is walking out the door to work, and baby girl crawls as fast as she can to follow him, what dada quickly slams the door in her face? What kind of dada would do that?

Rob doesn’t slam the door. He says out loud, “I don’t feel right about closing the door as she is coming to see me as fast as she can.” She crawls after him with all earnestness and love-shaped smiles. So he leaves the door open and he waves bye-bye and we wait til we can’t see him any more and head back inside. A good father doesn’t close doors on his children.

Or does he? Does he close the door when, if going through it, she will fall and get hurt? Does he close the door because she needs to learn to wait?

She’s 11 months old next week. She doesn’t know from wait. “Patience” is as meaningless as “organic” in her milk. Sometimes I feel 11 months old again. Waiting is a foreign word. Helplessness is an empty bottle. I just sit and pout and I wonder why God is slamming doors – again – in our faces. We wait and wait. But when is dada coming home? We don’t know. We just don’t.

We know this is a chance to learn. To grow up. To stop our hearts from chasing after things we aren’t going to have. At least not right now and maybe not ever. And we don’t even have the guarantee that things will be different any time soon.

What guarantee do we have? That Jesus provides. That the Lord is good and his love endures forever. We are guaranteed that we already have all we truly need. The grace that tells us no. The grace that tells us wait. The grace that says yes, every now and then. But we cry out. We scream and wail. We pound our little fists against the door. And we don’t even have words to pray. What Dada can understand these utterings? What Dada watches through the door and gently lifts us into His arms as we weep? What Dada pours out for us a hundred different kids of yes’s until our hearts are filled again with hope. We mourn the no. We long for the yes. And wait for it with patience…

Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

– from Romans chapter 8



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