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.
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.
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.
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.