NOTE: The following is an excerpt from the book Dare to Trust, Dare to Hope Again: Living With Losses of the Heart © by Kari West. All rights reserved.
77. Lord, I don’t’ want to miss Your plan!
My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the Lord, “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”
It is with trepidation and distrust that most of us accept God’s plan for our lives. The arrival of what we prayed so long for can be a bittersweet celebration. The long-awaited answer to our prayers acts more like an intruder—turning our plans inside out and our lives upside down. No wonder we don’t feel hospitable and greet it with hisses and catcalls, keeping it at arms’ length. As Martha Cory experienced, God’s plan for our life may demand acquaintance with tough questions—Is God trustworthy or not? And, if He is, do you trust Him with your life?
Martha’s story begins in her mid-twenties, when she made plans for the future. She envisioned marrying a tall, handsome man whom God would soon bring into her life—you did catch the word soon! She looked forward to being somebody’s wife, mother, daughter-in-law, and neighbor, and she could hardly wait for the day that she and her future husband would present their parents with a grandchild. Martha never dreamed that:
• She would have to wait for a husband until she was thirty-three, and it would take them six years to conceive a child. • Her mother would die of colon cancer before Martha’s child was born, and her father would pass away the day she delivered her son, Nathaniel.• Her father-in-law also would die and her mother-in-law would be in the latter stages of senility by the time their grandson was born.
But the loss of these loved ones was not all that Martha mourned. She also grieved the loss of her son’s normalcy. Nathaniel was born with Down’s syndrome. Martha told God, “You made us wait and now this? Thanks a lot!” She talks about this period of time as one where she vacillated between “Don’t even hint this child doesn’t belong here!” to “Can’t I have the child and let God take away the problems/”
A crucial moment came the evening Martha and her husband, Warren, shared a special maternity dinner on the roof of the hospital a few days after their son’s birth. To Martha’s surprise, Warren arrived dressed in the same rented tuxedo he had worn on their wedding day. It was his way of saying, “I am welcoming this child.”
Three years after settling in with Nathaniel, Martha decided to conceive a second child, despite risks greater than 1 in 200 that the new baby would have Down’s syndrome. “Warren and I decided to only reason not to do this would be if we didn’t trust God,” she said. At the end of her first trimester, they announced to the church choir where they were members—“Nathaniel wasn’t quite what we expected, but we know that God didn’t make a mistake. We want you to know that we trust God enough that whatever our second child is like, we’ll receive it.”
Six months later, they celebrated the arrival of a healthy boy—Timothy. During her pregnancy, Martha never anticipated that Timothy would be the one who would teach Nathaniel to walk. Today, when she looks at normal four-year-old Timothy helping seven-year-old Nathaniel, who is still in diapers and starting to make sentences, Martha thinks of Psalm 139 where it speaks of being fearfully and wonderfully made and says she is glad that God didn’t put in a caveat except for this group over here. She admits that nothing will ever fill those holes in her life where grandparents could have been, but God has blessed her with “friends who take anything from me,” prayer warriors, and a disability program at her church that provides a special helper who sits with Nathaniel during Sunday school and church.
Knowing that Nathaniel will never live a normal life, Martha knows she will spend the rest of her life “in a reworking process,” but finds hope for the future when she sees other Downs’ syndrome children picking up toys. “I keep reminding myself that the same God who brought me Nathaniel brought me my parents, my husband, and Timothy,” she says. “God sent us the babies meant for us. I can’t imagine my life without them.”
As we work through our own losses, trusting God will not come easy. When our plans go unfulfilled or our desires are unmet, we’ll be tempted to say God is unfair, doesn’t care, and can’t be trusted. We will struggle to believe that he has something else in mind we can’t yet imagine, let alone understand. But as Martha points out, we cannot have it both ways. Either we invite our Creator to do with our lives whatever He wants, whenever and for whatever purpose—or we don’t’. God never promised a fairy tale existence or a happily-ever-after ending, but He did promise His presence in the moment-to-moment living.
PRAYER PAUSE: Lord, while I’m on my knees praying for Your will in my life and begging You to take back what you sent me, the thought never crosses my mind that my current situation could be part of Your plan. Help me not to miss the purpose You created me to fulfill and the unique message You are imparting in my heart. Remind me, as Your Word says, that planning my life isn’t the problem; the hard part is letting you determine my steps (Proverbs 16:9).
I would like to live . . . open to time and death painlessly, noticing everything, remembering nothing, choosing the given with a fierce and pointed will. —
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