Here it is. From my heart to yours.
Two of the meanings of the word “Chosen” according to Webster's Dictionary are “not by choice” and “handpicked”. There is one path that life has led me down that would not have initially been my choice, if I had had any input in the decision. I can see myself standing at the foot of the path of having a child with a life threatening illness, peering into the unknown world of surgery, hospitals and palliative care, and saying to those around me – I am not strong enough for this path...this path belongs to someone else. Having walked this particular path for 18 months of my son's life, I believe that this path was “handpicked” for me by God himself.
Let me tell you a little of my story. My name is Lisa, and for as long as I can remember I have loved God and trusted my life to His care. My life has been a good one, filled with many blessings, but in some ways my faith was the naïve faith that believed that God would never allow anything bad to happen in my life. When I became a mother my journey as a Christian took on a new meaning. I have been blessed with two beautiful, perfect children. Georgia is five years old and just started Kindergarten – she is my strong, imaginative, loving and beautiful girl. Jacob is just 18 months old, and it was his path that I was referring to in my “chosen” analogy. You see, Jacob is a miracle. He was formed in my womb with only half of a normal heart. The doctor at the Janeway who diagnosed his heart defect held my hands and cried with me and told me that my baby boy would probably not survive to be born. By the grace of God he did survive...and he has endured more suffering in his short life than most people endure in their whole lifetime. 3 open heart surgeries, 2 pacemakers and many invasive procedures later Jacob is thriving – he is now walking, and his verbal ability is above average for his age – Jacob has surprised his doctors and surgeons repeatedly in his short life. For Jacob there is no cure, no magical “fix” that will take away his heart defect – he will have a lifetime of interventions and medical treatment. But this diagnosis does not define Jacob. Many of you have met my son, or seen his pictures – Jacob is going through his life with a big smile on his face. Jacob is a child of God. He is God's masterpiece, even though in the eyes of the world he is a broken masterpiece.
Walking this path with my baby, it has taken me a long time to reach my current point of understanding, faith and hope with Jacob and his diagnosis. I have struggled with depression, and anxiety, I have doubted God and raged against Him for not giving my innocent child a whole heart. There were times when I felt that I could not go on, it was too hard to watch and be helpless while my child went through such immense suffering and instability. Day to day I have struggled with living in the moment, and wasted time worrying over the future. In these months of my life, I was acting in much the same way I used to when as a child I sat in the front pew and refused to listen to my Father's sermon on Sunday morning. Some of you may know that I wear 2 hearing aids, and this came in handy when I didn't want to listen – I would actually reach up and switch them both off so that I wouldn't be bothered by the message my Dad was preaching from the pulpit. Later in the service my Mom would have to tell me to turn them back on...in much the same way, I refused to listen to the voice of God during these darkest months of my life. When I reached up and turned my hearing aids back on I was finally able to hear what God was trying to say to me. As always, it is a message of love.
One of the phrases that has frequently been said to me is that “God will not give you more than you can bear”. Well, I stand here this morning to say that I could not disagree more. God will give us more than we can bear – life will give us too much grief… but the promise of God is found in the middle of all the pain.
The promise I have found and proven true over and over again is this: we cannot handle this life on our own strength. You and I, in our individual struggles and life paths, cannot make it to the end on our own. In moments when life is too much to bear – it's ok to feel like you can't handle it, like you are going to give up, like you are failing. It's at this lowest point that we find God is suffering with us. God is faithful. He is always in the middle of the chaos of our lives and He will meet us right there in all of the mess and in all of the pain if we are willing to let him in. And when God meets us there, we need to recognize that there is a constant need to depend on Him. Depending and trusting in God is not only for those times when our lives are not going as planned – it is an everyday conscious decision to start anew and love and trust that God is in control. Trust, and depend on the Almighty God – cast all your fears, worries, suffering and pain on Him. God cares for me, and for you. God chose me to be Jacob’s Mom, and handpicked me for this path. Not because I am a strong person, but because I can conquer my challenges through the strength that fully depending on God provides.