Things too Wonderful to Know

This past Sunday, an unexpected gift came upon our family…a glimpse into the view of our life that God sees.  A tiny sliver of the full picture that God put together.  A small example of exactly how vast, and large, and powerful God is.

At church Sunday morning my parents got up to share a little bit about Gideon and how God used him in our lives.  They said this:

If the Lord had not been on our side—

When we lost our son Matthew at 22 weeks, the loss, the fear, the sorrow could have swallowed us. If the Lord had not been on our side, 
When our daughter tearfully told us her baby, our grandson Gideon Matthew, did not have kidney’s, a bladder or renal arteries and would not survive outside her womb;
When all we could do was watch helplessly as our daughter, OUR precious child, struggled to keep her head above the raging waters of despair for 8 months and through Gideon’s birth and death…
a flood of anguish could have engulfed us, Praise be to the Lord, who has raised us up on Eagles Wings!Our souls rest in HIS embrace and we experienced, first hand, a peace that surpasses all understanding.”
After the service people came up to us and shared what Gideon’s birthday was like for them.  People we have never met before ran up to us, tears in their eyes and said…
“The morning Gideon was born me and 50 other men stood in a circle and prayed for your son and your family.”
“The morning Gideon was born our small group and my men’s group prayed for you.  We are still praying for you.”
“The day before Gideon was born my father gave Mitch the water from the Jordan river that Gideon was baptized in.  Mitch wouldn’t share with us your names, he wanted us to meet you in God’s timing.  Thank you for sharing your story.  I want you to know that every Sunday the greeter outside (his name is Jamie) he collects the kids name tags and prays for them all throughout the week by name.  I wrote a name tag for Gideon…he needed to have one too.”
I was overwhelmed, humbled, overjoyed at what God did and continues to do.  To think that people, so many people that we don’t even know, surrounded us in such a way gives testament to how amazing the kingdom of God is.  It is unlike this world, it doesn’t function like this world, and it carries outcomes far beyond what our greatest hopes and fears can dream up.  That’s one of the problems I think with fear and worry, our brains cannot conceive the beauty of God’s providence and so we fill in the cracks with far inferior details and ideas.  We assume nothing can be more accurate than the situation we conjure up in our minds and so we fear.  We worry and we stress because God’s plan is full of things too great for us to know.  Too great for us to know right now anyway.
When I look back at old pictures now, they all seem like "before Gideon" or "after Gideon" shots.  I see the pictures of me like this one, 9 years before Gideon, and I wonder what the woman in this picture would have done if someone told her what would happen someday.  I don't think she could have handled it.  I think she would have focused on the fear and would have missed out on so many joyful days.  I'm so thankful there are things we are just not supposed to know.
When I look back at old pictures now, they all seem like “before Gideon” or “after Gideon” shots. I see the pictures of me like this one, 9 years before Gideon, and I wonder what the woman in this picture would have done if someone told her what would happen someday. I don’t think she could have handled it. I think she would have focused on the fear and would have missed out on so many joyful days. I’m so thankful there are things we are just not supposed to know.
I was struck one day as I was praying through a very specific set of fears I was having.  The sentence implanted in my brain “Future telling is God’s territory.”  I immediately struck back with thoughts like “I’m not future telling I’m just anticipating what could happen!”  Sounds like an attempt at future telling to me Maria (that’s what it sounds like when I talk to myself).  So I thought and I thought some more and I rallied through a list of my worries and fears and alas it seems that it was true.  We don’t know the future.  We can’t, and so we try to and it always turns out a MESS.  It feels naive to picture the future and make it all roses and candy and so instead we decided every dreadful thing will surely come our way and there we stand…fear crippled.
For this I jumped to the book of Job.  The book of Job has always been intriguing to me because Job literally lived out every single worst fear imaginable.  If its on your list of fears, it pretty much happened to Job and so I would obsess over his story.  In all honesty I obsessed over it because of my own fears.  Its like I was hoping that one time I would read it and it would all of a sudden say, “Nah, just kidding.  None of that stuff happened to Job because no bad stuff ever happens to good people!”  I honestly was hoping that one time the ending would change.  But it never did.  Job always lost all he owned, he always lost all his children, he always became sick, his wife always cursed God, and his friends always failed him.  Everytime, same story…an amazing man of God and all his worst fears came true.  And so the book of Job is 42 chapters long!  All of this calamity happens in the first 2 chapters!!  So 40 more chapters??  Of what???Its 40 chapters of Job wanting to know why.  To be able to somehow, someway accurately wrap his brain around God’s plan.  God’s providence.  God’s motivation.  And rightly so.  I would do the same thing in his situation.  He seeks fervently for understanding.  He wants to UNDERSTAND.  If maybe he could just have an answer, if he could just know the ending then he would feel better.  And can you blame him?I find myself reading through the chapters and saying, “Mmm Hmm, that’s right Job you go!  You are right, you ask those questions cause I want to know the answers too!”  I cheered Job on for 40 chapters because I get it.  Something doesn’t resonate well when tragedy comes to people we don’t think “deserve” it.  And then…finally in chapter 38 God speaks.

Job 38:1-8

“Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:

 “Who is this that obscures my plans
    with words without knowledge?
 Brace yourself like a man;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.

 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.
 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it?
 On what were its footings set,
    or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
    and all the angels[a] shouted for joy?”

This makes me initially, very uncomfortable.  Where is the compassion?  Where is the grief, the grace, the help?  Job just lost everything, isn’t that what he needed?  Yes he needed those things, but sometimes I think even more so, we need a powerful God.  One whom we can trust how the power to make all things good in His timing.  A God that has been there for all time, who created the powerful waves and the vast mountains and who knows FAR more than we ever can.  A God whom we can trust with our future.  A God whom we can relinquish the control of our future too so we can stay fully engaged in our present.

So many times when I was pregnant with Gideon the same thought would pop in my head as I would hold my children: “What if I lost this one too?”  The temptation came to spin my mind out of control with all the what ifs.  But in God’s asking to stay in today I would push the fear out of my brain and replace it with “For now, they are mine.  In this minute I get to hold them and nothing in the world can take the minute I’m in away from me.  The future is not in my hands, but I have been trusted with this minute and I am going to make the best of it.”

What about when the minute I am in is a crappy one?  Well than that minute has enough trouble of its own and I am surely not going to add to its trouble with fears that have not come to pass yet (Matthew 6:34).  And so, in today I sit.  In today I trust and in today I fix my feet tightly on a God who can gather 100s of people I don’t know to cry out to God on my behalf.  In today I have what I have and what comes will come, but as for tomorrow?  I leave that one up to God.

The reality of it is this, in the words of our friend Job “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”  Job 42:3

In what areas of your life, fears, or worries is God calling you to let go of your attempt at future telling?

2 thoughts on “Things too Wonderful to Know

  1. Regarding your picture caption: I look at all of my picture THE EXACT SAME WAY. “This is before Seraphim,” and “This is when I was pregnant but didn’t know he was going to die.” It’s like I expect to see someone different in pictures from these stages.

    1. I completely understand. For a while there were certain pictures I couldn’t look at because they were taken days before the ultrasound. It’s an “old me” “old us”…ones with much less pain. But they were also without our precious little ones. I am praying for you! Knowing the pain you feel and praying your joy is in the morning.

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