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Even If He Does Not

Even If He Does Not

I love my Lord. And I know He works for good in everything.

That doesn’t mean that I’m always happy with Him.

Or, for that matter, that I accept gracefully whatever He has put before me.

The honest truth is that even with what I’ve learned through Dominic – even with knowing that the Lord is using the bad times to shape me and to make me more like Him – I still, most of the time, just wish for the easy route. Yep. You’d think I’d learn, but I don’t. Even seeing the miracles unfolding and the good God has worked along the journey of grief, I still fight His way. When faced with the reality of “God’s timing” or “God’s way”, if it’s different from my own (which, let’s face it, it always is), I fight it. I want to want to accept His way, but I really just want my own way more.

Sometimes I just don’t want to be transformed or sanctified or anything else. I just want the reward.

This is especially true about having more children.

There are a number of significant challenges to us having more biological children, yet I want them desperately. In my mid-30s I suddenly realized that I wanted to have a large family – as in 4 children or more. We began on that quest by having Dominic. 9 months, a pierced soul, and thousands in medical bills later, our efforts toward a good-sized brood have culminated in a grand child total of…two.

Not exactly the big family I was hoping for.

Hearing From the Lord

I have prayed and sought the Lord’s will about having more children, and I believe the Lord has shown me that we will be able to have more. He has provided some very specific scriptural confirmation toward this end, although I approach this issue tenuously, with the awareness that my own ability to hear the Lord is compromised by my own desires for a certain outcome. In other words, the more I want something, the more I am able to filter scripture, prayer, words from other Christians and circumstances as being confirmation from the Lord toward the outcome I desire.

Yeah, this whole “hearing from the Lord” thing is tricky business, especially when you want something really, really badly. And I want more children really, really badly.

So now I am waiting on the Lord. Waiting for His timing, for His provision, for His miracle of new life…

And I hate waiting. I just want my way, right now.

Even If He Does Not

I’ve been reading in the book of Daniel this week, and it, of course, hit home. In Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has erected a golden image and commanded that everyone in the kingdom bow down to it. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, contemporaries of Daniel, refuse to do so, determined to serve only the one true God. As a consequence, the king tells them that they will be thrown into a fiery furnace. It is the men’s response that grips me:

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Now, obviously the men’s loyalty and faith is incredible. But what fascinates me about this story is how they approach their faith. They indicate a clear belief in what God is going to do – “He will rescue us from your hand”. I don’t know how the Lord revealed this to them, but the men seem to have a word from the Lord – that he will save them. Yet it is the second part of what they say that is so poignant:

“But even if he does not…”.

In other words, even though they think they know the path the Lord is going to choose for them – rescue – they acknowledge the possibility that God may choose another route. And, even if He does take them down the hard road – the road of death – they will continue to serve Him.

For me, this is both encouraging and convicting. Encouraging because it shows me that even these faith giants – these men who were willing to die to follow their Lord – realized that they could get it wrong. That they felt secure in knowing what God’s will was for the situation (that He was going to rescue them), but that even with that security, they had the humility to recognize their human ability to be mistaken about God’s plans. They progressed forward with the best knowledge they had of what the Lord was going to do, from walking closely with Him, yet also left room for the possibility that even their best knowledge might not be correct. It makes me happy that hearing from the Lord was tricky business for them, too.

But it is also convicting. Convicting because their commitment to the Lord was not based on what He did for them. Even if they got it wrong – even if the Lord chose not to rescue them, and they died a torturous death by slowly burning – they were going to serve Him. They were not going to fight His way; they were going to embrace it. Even though they felt certain the Lord was going to put before them the easy road – the road of rescue – they were just as willing to accept from him the hard road.

Eeek. That’s where the rubber hits the road. Am I willing to accept, to embrace, from the Lord, the hard road?

Again?

Am I willing to serve with joy…even if He does not?

Ugh. Honestly? I really just want to shout, “NO! I’ve already been through the hard road! Been there, done that. I’ll take the easy road now, thanks. No more ‘even if He does not’. I’ve had my faith tested, and so now you can just shower me with the blessings. Now I’m ready for the rescue. ” Far from Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s response, when I think about trying to embrace a plan from the Lord that involves not having any more children, what I really want to do is beg, “Lord, please, please no.”

Yeah, that’s why sometimes the Lord has to use the hard road with me.

My Challenge

So this is my challenge. To Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego-it. To walk forward, with faith that the Lord has given me assurance that we will be able to have more children, yet also doing it with the humble realization that, in my humanity (and great desire), I might have gotten it wrong. We might only be a family of four, forever. And if that is the case, to be able to accept the Lord’s plan with open arms and praise on my lips, only wanting to serve the God that is sovereign and good.

This faith journey is not for the faint of heart.

Of course, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego actually did get tied up and thrown into the furnace, before they actually got to find out what God’s outcome was going to be. And, while they were in it, God was seen walking around in the flames with them. But, interestingly, when they came out of the furnace, nothing on them had been singed – except their bonds. The only thing that had been burned away was that which had kept them from being free.

If God does take us down that path – the path of having no more children – He will be there with us, just like He was with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. And, as much as it hurts to think about being thrown into that furnace (actually, there isn’t a word that accurately conveys the yawning chasm of despair I feel when my mind goes there), I must remember that even the “worst” of outcomes are redeemed when God is involved. I must remember that when the Lord is in charge of what is happening, we end up coming out of the fire only lacking one thing – that which was binding us and preventing us from experiencing freedom.

I pray that I can truly, fully serve the Lord with joy and praise – no matter which path He leads us down. And that I can do it with the knowledge that even if it’s the hard road, even if it is the fiery furnace, it will ultimately lead me to freedom.

2 Responses to “Even If He Does Not”

  1. Rebecca says:

    No, Carson, I hadn’t ever seen that! Very cool…thank you for the link!

  2. Carson Kistner says:

    Wondering if you have ever read this bit of history about those three words, “but if not.” I heard this story referenced in a John Patrick talk one time when he was making the point that in that generation EVERYONE would have understood the biblical reference and known the story by those three words in the telegram!”

    http://www.military-quotes.com/forum/but-if-not-t2911.html

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