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Shifting From the Promise to the Present

Shifting From the Promise to the Present

The whole “promise” thing makes me want to scream.

I have spent so much time trying to figure out if I have a promise from the Lord about more children, and, if so, how this miscarriage fits into all of it. I have trusted and doubted and given up and castigated myself for being a fool and rekindled hope and…

And it’s not what I should be doing at all.

I’ve been back at it, back at my interminable vice of living in the future. Trying to get a definitive answer on what will happen. Trying to see into the future and have confidence that I will or will not, for sure, have another child.

If I am honest, it’s about control.

I just want an answer, one way or the other. I want to be able to move forward, with my heart set on something. And He wants just the opposite. He wants me to live in the present, with Him, right now, trusting in His goodness without knowing, for sure, what is going to happen for our family in the future.

I learned this lesson with Dominic, but here I am, right back at it again. Dominic taught me to funnel life down to a point – the point at which I’m living in this present moment – because I couldn’t function beyond that. And, of course, it is through doing that, through living in the moment, that I found Him, over and over again. But here, two plus years and another baby loss later, I’m having to re-learn the lesson I thought I had gotten down.

Fickle, our hearts.

What Living Right Now Looks Like

Instead of spending every moment searching for a Word from Him about the future for our family, I should be searching for His Word and His presence right now. In this moment.

 

  • It means hearing His conviction when I get exasperated with my daughter for leaving her clothing on the bathroom floor for the umpteenth time.
  • It means thanking Him for the blessing of hot running water as I stand in the shower and relax.
  • It means listening for His direction on which Math curriculum to use next for the child who has completed her previous one.
  • It means capturing the joy in the small moment of my daughter dancing and singing in front of the mirror when she doesn’t know I’m watching.
  • It means obeying when He tells me to not manipulate my husband with anger over something I want him to do, but simply state my needs clearly and kindly, giving him the freedom to decide.
  • It means finding purpose in today’s taco preparations as I fulfill the role to which He is currently calling me.
  • It means seeing – really seeing – the sunset and marveling over it with praise in my heart.

It means giving up control – the control I so want to have – to Him. Surrendering to whatever He plans, however He plans it, by living only in the moment with Him that He has given me right now.

“But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” (Matthew 10:19-20)

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13)

Are We There Yet, Dad?

In Exodus 13, God led the Israelites after their escape from Egypt by cloud during the day, and by fire at night. They didn’t get to see ahead; they had to rely on  God’s guiding presence within the moment.

Certainly there is a future that God has for us. But it can only be attained by seeing Him, hearing Him, following Him, in the present moment, not moving ahead. I am like the Israelites being led by a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire by night, except, instead of obediently taking each step following God’s direction as it is currently being provided, I spend every moment looking over the horizon for evidence of the Promised Land and keep yelling at heaven, as I continually try to rush past Him, “Are we there yet, Dad?”

No, we’re not there, yet.

When I signed up for this journey, I agreed to simply and obediently follow Him as He leads. And He is leading – I just don’t want to follow. I want to lead. I want Him to tell me the destination, explain precisely what direction the journey will take to get there, and then let me get on with it on my own. Instead of following the pillar of fire, I want Him to give me the map so I can then put that fire on a torch that I can carry myself.

That is not what He wants.

Oswald Chambers, in his devotional My Utmost for His Highest, wrote:

“Whether it means life or death-it makes no difference!” (see Philippians 1:21). Paul was determined that nothing would stop him from doing exactly what God wanted. But before we choose to follow God’s will, a crisis must develop in our lives. This happens because we tend to be unresponsive to God’s gentler nudges. He brings us to the place where He asks us to be our utmost for Him and we begin to debate. He then providentially produces a crisis where we have to decide— for or against. That moment becomes a great crossroads in our lives. If a crisis has come to you on any front, surrender your will to Jesus absolutely and irrevocably.”

Follow the pillar of fire, and stop trying to carry the torch.

From Promise to Present

I just want to know if we are going to have more children. If there is a promise, or not. And, instead, He calls me to put one foot in front of the other, right now, and follow His pillar of fire, wherever He leads.

There is so much He is saying, and so many ways He is leading me, if I would just follow. I have to pull my mind out of the future and park it in the right now – rolling down the windows and opening the doors to whatever He says and however He leads in this moment.

Whether or not we have more children, I have two daughters who, today, need to see me living out love and patience and wisdom. Whether or not we have more children, my eyes need to be opened more fully to the beauty He has created, and His touch on this earth, in spite of the pain. Whether or not we have more children, there are clients at the Blue Ridge Women’s Center who need to know that God has a plan for them and is working for their good, even in what they are going through. Whether or not we have more children, I have a husband who needs a partner who appreciates and respects him. Whether or not we have more children, I have a responsibility to accurately identify, defend, and live out Truth in a world that increasingly doesn’t even believe it exists. Whether or not we have more children, my heart needs to be more broken for the things that break God’s heart. Whether or not we have more children, I am called to be a testimony for His glory.

I cannot fulfill any of that, if I focus on the future.

Maybe we have a promise, maybe we don’t. But what He is trying to get me to see is that the abundant life I am so in search of – the place of joy that I believe a baby will bring – will continue to be elusive unless I learn to live in His presence right now. I will never, ultimately, get joy from getting what I want. Joy – the kind that doesn’t dissipate with the next life crisis – will only come from learning the lesson of how to be fully present with Him and obedient to Him in the right now. Even if a baby comes, if I do not learn this lesson, joy will slip from my grasp as I end up longing for the next future moment in which things will be “ok”. Fatigue from 3 a.m. feedings, earaches, stress over not being able to get it all done, or something else will bring me right back to where I am now – searching for the next grand plan that I can march toward – the plan that will finally bring me joy.

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11)

I have to remind myself, over and over again, each moment: A baby will not ultimately bring me joy. Only being in His presence in this moment will bring me joy. He is here, right now.

Will I embrace Him, and what He is doing in this moment, or will I miss Him in a vain search for joy I think I’ll find in the future?

“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13

Strength from Him, in this present moment. Strength from being in His presence.

I’m shifting from the promise to the present…

and to His presence.

That way, whether or not I have a promise from Him about more children, and no matter what ends up coming in the future, I will still be able to find joy.

 

 

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