Friday, January 21, 2011

An Undeserved Answer to a Hard Question

"Why did you tell us, and others, that you were going to heal Mom, and then not do it?" That question has been the root of some bitterness in my life for the past three years. You see, we (as in my family) believed God told us, members of our community, and even strangers that this was His plan for my Mom. He was going to heal her of the Ovarian cancer she had been battling for 13 years, and it was going to be miraculous, and it was going to be an earthly healing. We clung to that and believed it, until she took her last breath...and then we waited with one eye open to be sure He wasn't going to raise her from the dead.

I would have thought my belief in God would have been shattered over such an occurrence, but it wasn't. He had been too present during the fight, He'd held me too tightly for me to question His existence...or even His goodness. What was shattered was my faith. I still believed He had the power to heal, but I certainly wasn't planning to claim that healing for anybody else (or myself) ever again. I was happy for other people to claim it, I would even encourage them to do so, but I was done believing God for anything big in my life. It left me too vulnerable.

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Then, I moved to Seattle and became desperate for the fellowship of other women and God. I missed Him and the good grind of knowing Him more deeply. So, I invited a few different women that I'd met here to do a study in our home, and I called my sister Kendall. Kendall's boyfriend's Mom (are you still following me, that's Watson) was one of my Mom's dearest friends in all the world--Mrs. Abby. She also collects Beth Moore Bible studies that she lends out to others. I asked Kendall if Mrs. Abby would be willing to lend me one. I didn't specify. Any 'ol Beth Moore study was fine with me. What did she send?...Believing God--experience a fresh explosion of faith. And Mrs. Abby added the note that it was the last study she and Mom ever did together.

Crap. That was my thought. It would be rude to send this back, but CRAP. I don't want to talk about faith; it's too sensitive. I don't want to dredge up old feelings about Mom; I'm not ready for that. However, I do know Him well enough to notice that He often asks of me things that I don't particularly like. The good lessons are never padded with satin and wrapped with a ribbon. So I opened by barbed-wire covered package and I stepped out--on the little bit of faith I'd managed to salvage.

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On Day TWO of the study, we reached the scripture I was dreading the most. Hebrews 11:11 was probably the most quoted Scripture in our household for the last few months of Mom's life:

By faith Abraham, even though he was past age -- and Sarah herself was barren -- was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who made the promise.

God had given Mom this verse and we claimed it with her over and over. God was going to heal her, even against how bleak it all looked--because she considered Him faithful who made the promise. The verse still pierces my heart.

However, on day two of this study, facing my dread, I read on and God broke truth over my heart like a sparkling wave of light. If you read on, verses 13-16 say this:

All these people were still living by faith when they DIED. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw then and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. [Emphasis mine]

Tears were streaming down my face as I realized what He was telling me, and as I sat there the sun, the literal sun, broke through the clouds on this rainy Seattle Saturday--on a day when the cloud-cover was so thick I would have thought it impossible--and the warm sun suddenly spilled all over my face. It was a hug from God. Pure and bright and palpable.

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I wrote down what He spoke to me, and I wrote it just like He was saying it. I felt like a secretary trying to scratch it all down so that I didn't miss a word. He said:

She wasn't wrong. You weren't wrong. You did what I required, what pleases me. You had faith to believe what I promised, but I gave her a choice. The free-will that is also my gift. And she chose me...she loves you but not more than ME. What would all that journey have been worth if she didn't? I foreknew the choice she would make and the promise is completed now. She is healed. She is healed and if she had chosen the promises' fulfillment to have been made on earth, I would have gladly given her that as well. But once I'd brought her to the place where I wanted her, the place where her heart desired me more than anything else--then the earthly healing no longer seemed so important. Who wants the shadow when offered the substance?

Now I need you to understand this. To bind it on your heart. I need more than the quarter of a mustard seed you walked away from this experience with. You've been content to tuck that in your pocket. I need you to take it out now. I'm ready to grow it.

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36 comments:

jj said...

Incredible...thanks for sharing, Abby

kkd said...

I have never left a comment before, but I always look forward to your posts. I love this one. Thanks for sharing your heart.

Anonymous said...

That's some serious revelation knowledge.

Susannah said...

LOVE this post! Tears were streaming down my face. Thank you for sharing Abby!

Jamie Willow said...

wow. just wow.

when God speaks it is powerful.

wow.

Scarlett said...

WOW!

Hi... I graduated high school with Taylor. I really look forward to your posts. All I can say is YOU WRITE BEAUTIFULLY.

Elizabeth said...

amazing. i love reading your posts. i think it's great that you have been able to open yourself up to people in a new city...i can't seem to do that and i've lived in the same town for 15 years! crazy, huh?! i think i have trust issue....along with growing up in a family where we didn't "air our laundry" if you will...everything was meant to be kept private. thanks for opening up.

The Hoscheits said...

EVERYTHING about this post was beautiful and heart wrenching at the same time. It made me cry and it made me smile. Your pictures were also gorgeous and remind me of the memories I have of visiting the Seattle area when I was in college; the fact that you get the experience of living there makes me jealous!! Thank you so much for posting; your posts are always encouraging to me in many ways.

Natalie said...

I have never commented before, but I couldn't resist this time. This post is absolutely beautiful and so touching. This was a blessing to me and I know it will be to others too. Thanks for sharing such personal thoughts.

Lauren said...

the Lord is so so sweet.

Kendall Boggs said...

I will never forget driving down the Interstate near Atlanta talking with you about your mom about a month after she died and mentioning that I kept seeing 11:11 everywhere. And I would kiss the clock when I saw it because I thought Becky was sending me a message (all the time not knowing that this was Becky's favorite number/bible verse). And you and I were both in shock of this revelation. I still till this day cry when I think of that conversation we had. I miss her so much. This was a beautiful post Abbs. And, I still see 11:11 ALL the time and cherish the memories I had with your mom every time I see it.
xo
kendall
p.s. will you send me Caroline's e-mail via e-mail? I need to get her painting to her and will be in Bham this weekend! :)

Darby said...

He is so faithful.

Abby, Loved this post and I'm so glad those CBS ladies kicked you out so you could learn this instead! :) What an awesome post... one of my favorites!!

Melissa said...

Wow! I don't have the words to tell you how this touched me. Thanks for sharing your heart.

Konie said...

Great post Abby :) Going across the United States to a "foreign" world to you....has been such a HUGE blessing for many reasons. You and Jeremiah prayed over this major decision and knew that God was leading you there. As you found, sometimes going in the direction God leads you, has many "bends in the road", but you all kept "climbing" because of your faith:)) Hebrews 11:1 sums up alot of the thoughts I just shared with your dad just now....Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see...I KNEW before you left for Seattle that you would see many reasons you were led there:) I'm thankful for your group of ladies that God led you to , to study with. ALL THE WAY IN SEATTLE:))

rbcarnle@samford.edu said...

I can so relate to this post and appreciate you sharing
"the rest of the story".I have struggled with the untimely death of our daughter Staci, age 26 due to cancer. How could this be, she was in full remission and then the cancer was back, like a wildfire. So MANY people were and had been praying for her complete healing. People all over the world..... and after about 2 solid years of soul searching, reading,studying, I realized her healing was complete, she was healed but not on this earth. She was ready to go, she knew her work was done and she experienced complete healing. It was a miracle and then I focused on her Life had been a gift to me, I did not even deserve her but God had entrusted her with me.If you have not read John Claypool's book, Tracks of a Fellow Struggler, I encourage you to do so, I can even send it to you.Thanks again for sharing your heart and allowing me also, God bless, Rosemary

Starla said...

God is who He says He is.
God can do what He says He can do.
I am who God says I am.
I can do all things through Christ.
God's Word is alive and active in me.
I'M BELIEVING GOD.
That study changed my faith. I pray it does the same for you.
Hebrews 4:12

Shirley said...

Beautiful story!! I look forward to your blogs. Amazing how God used the idea of reaching other women but really was wanting to reach YOU!!

Jill said...

Hey Abby, Thanks so much for sharing. I, too, have been thinking about my mom so much recently and still struggle (almost 4 years later) with why God did not heal her (and your mom) like we believed he would.

I have missed Mom so much and the past couple of weeks here in Tuscaloosa have been pretty dreary-- major "winter blues." All of this to say, I was missing Mom a little extra the other day and decided a run would probably be good for my mental/emotional state at the moment. I was talking to God, telling him how much I missed Mom (and how much I wished he would bring the bright, Spring weather) when I bright stream of light came bursting through the dark clouds and my Ipod (which was on shuffle) started playing "Light up the Sky" by The Afters.

I love that he has used his beautiful creation, the sun, to speak to both of us and let us know He is here and He is faithful! How wonderful!

Jill said...

Also, If you have not seen the music video for that song ("Light up the sky") I would encourage you to watch it...WOW. Very powerful message.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LQH6UDi15s

Natalie said...

your words are so amazing - inspiring, thought-provoking, and rattling. thank you for always sharing your heart so honestly

kristen said...

Absolutely amazing! Thanks for sharing. I cannot begin to explain how God worked in my life through the Believing God study.

Gail said...

I love your heart, dear Abby....I lost my mother, also, to cancer. Like you...I was very young when this took place. Ie was 28 yrs.young. I, too, remain confused...I, too, believed she, my mother, would be healed. When she died it took me forever-- to stop and listen, as you did, to God. This is what I learned! Yes, she died on earth but, she was soooo WELL when she entered heaven!!! You are blessed that you allow your heart to be so open and have learned this important fact so young, dear. Your world will be so much sweeter not living in bitterness! What a gift you have been given from heaven!!!

Kelly said...

Beautiful, Abby. I am crying now reading it. There is so much of God's heart that we have to learn. I can't wait to sit at His feet one day and listen to Him with a more "eternal" perspective than I have now.

The Rigoloso's said...

Abby, how beautiful & kind of the Lord! He really is faithful. Loved this post!

Allison said...

Abby, I don't know you but found your blog through blog hopping. I went to Auburn, so I feel a little connection to you. My husband is also medical, and we are preparing for a move far from family for residency, so I connected to your blog immediately. I had to let you know that this post resounded with me. My dad passed away when I was 14, and it is something that I think I will spend my whole life processing. Something you said in your post was meant for my ears. We prayed for healing for my dad, and I have often felt that the Lord answered our prayers with a "No." But reading your post today made me think that He in fact answered our prayers with a "Yes!" My dad was/is healed. It was not an earthly healing. It is better. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and prayers on this blog.
-Allison Bradsher

The Allen Family said...

i LOVE this post... with tears streaming down my face... your experience and honesty has reminded me in a personal way how God is with us... how He has been faithful and with me in hard times in my life too...

i'm so thankful that He has shown and revealed Himself to you in a new way... that your faith and hope have been restored! God is so good!

thanks for sharing- you have such a sweet spirit!

Anonymous said...

Abby - I too did that study with your mom AND we taught it to a group of senior girls at FBC Dothan. So her eyes have many times studied those same pages. Such a powerful answer...and Truth, as only He can speak it.
Love, Allyson Johnson

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. This touched my heart and gave me new understanding.

Caitlin said...

Sweet Abby, what a touching and beautiful post. Thank you for sharing such intimate parts of your heart, your writing is so beautiful and real and I am thankful to be do this study with you!

And thank you for such a wonderful night of sweet fellowship, delicious food, warm fires, and singing!! love you

Tegan said...

I am reminded of Zephaniah 3:17 Abby, I am the Lord your God and I am in your midst, a mighty one who will save; I will rejoice over you, Abby, with gladness; I will quiet you by my love; I will exult over you, Abby with LOUD singing.

Thank you for sharing! Love you!

aedozier said...

Did you ever think God would drag you half-way across the US, completely out of your comfort zone, to explain it all to you? Do you think HE took you out there so you'd listen (I mean that sincerely)? HE is so amazing and never fails to just "slap us in the face". We just have to be willing to be still and listen. As I type that I am telling myself the same thing. So many times my ears are completely shut to anything but routine and I am everything but still. Thanks for this incredible post and opening my ears again and encouraging me to be still!!!

Anonymous said...

You are such a dear child of God. May God bless you as you have blessed others through your heart felt renderings.

Von Beasley
Dothan, AL

KBroome said...

I really need to read this today- thanks your your honesty.

Alex (Henig) Jones said...

Abby, this is so profound. I am so very thankful that I stumbled across your blog. You are so wise and I thank you for sharing your Godly wisdom.

Debbie Douglass said...

Abby, what a gift you have. Your words are inspiring and have touched me in so many ways. I think God continues to use your mom to touch others through you. I love to read all of your blogs and the special relationships you have but my favorite blogs are of how God knows your heart and gives you a peace and understanding, of how your mom is so present and with you. You story moves me to tears and to search my heart. Becky was one of a kind, and, having known her for many years, I love knowing her through you. God has richly blessed you...thank you for being so wlling to share..I am very glad you will be coming back home...God bless you...
Debbie (Nix/Snowden) Douglass

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