...he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. John 10:3
Steve did not feel well when we went to bed last Friday evening, and he felt progressively worse as the night hours dragged by. By 1:30 Saturday morning, he was experiencing severe indigestion, pressure in his chest, numbness in his left arm and jaw, dizziness, and ringing in his ears. Fearing a heart attack, we headed for our local emergency room.
You can imagine the grim thoughts that haunted my mind while we were at the ER. Was this really a heart attack? Did we get medical attention in time to avert serious permanent damage? What would the doctor advise us to do next - medication, changes in diet, surgery? How much would all of this end up costing? Already just barely getting by financially, how would we ever pay off huge hospital bills? If this episode was stress induced, then it seemed like growing medical expenses would only add to Steve's stress and exacerbate the problem, thus creating a Catch 22. Worse yet, what if Steve's condition was beyond treatment and the doctor gave us no prognosis for recovery? There was a sinister spectre indeed!
Needless to say, that night in the ER was l-o-n-g, tense, and emotional. Thankfully, the ER staff were able, over a period of several hours, to bring Steve's blood pressure down to a "safe" level and he began to feel much better. Not wanting to amass additional medical bills, Steve over-rode the ER doctor's advice to be admitted for further testing. We finally headed home at about 8:00 a.m., unnerved and exhausted, armed with several prescriptions and instructions to see a cardiologist as soon as possible.
Steve still felt pretty bad and needed rest. After getting him situated at home, I gave the kids an abbreviated explanation of the night's events and instructions to call immediately "if anthing happens" - then headed back to Union City to fill the prescriptions and to give a (hopefully) short devotional at a baby shower. No sleep. No opportunity to emotionally decompress. No time to shift from "holding myself together" while feeling like my own heart was breaking - to having to minister to others in the joyous context of celebrating the life of a new child.
Running on adrenaline and auto-pilot, I shuffled into the church building looking undoubtedly like Zombie woman. Pulling out the devotional notes I had prepared earlier in the week, I explained to the cheerful gathering of women that I felt a bit tired and emotional, without divulging the reason why. I prayed that God would sanctify my words and use them to minister to the women present, especially the mom-to-be. And then something bizarre, something so amazing happened - God spoke to me through a devotional on motherhood that I had studied for and prepared many days earlier. Here are a few excerpts from my notes that morning:
Our ultimate purpose is not to raise perfect children or to have an idyllic family life or to pursue personal promotion or contentment. Our ultimate purpose - the reason we were created - is to glorify God. Embracing God's glory as our reason for being will translate into joyful obedience as we endeavor to complete the work He assigns us....
This is not an easy assignment (mothering) ....we need supernatural power for this work. What is our Power Source? God loves us - we are the object of God's amazing grace! (1 John 3:1, Rom. 8:35) God protects us - He is Sovereign over everything and works everythng to our good and His glory. (Romans 8:28) God's Spirit dwells in us and helps us in our weakness. (Romans 8:26) Christ Himself is interceding for us....
Our security and significance are grounded in Christ....this frees us and empowers us to pursue God's glory. Realizing that God's glory is our purpose gives us tremendous stability in the face of emotional extremes, difficult circumstances, and the chaos of childrearing (how about medical emergencies?!)....
...(In parenting), use "hard times" as opportunities for prayer and praise - defy the devil. Develop a habit of thankfulness; use difficulties to consciously identify with Christ's sacrifice and suffering. (2 Cor. 12:9 - 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.)
The last thing written in my notes was to pray for Kerri (our expectant mother) by name, using Ephesians 3:14-21. My lips said "Kerri", but my heart knew that God intended this particular prayer, at this particular moment, for Camille, too.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you, Kerri (Camille), to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith - that you, Kerri (Camille), being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory....
I walked into that baby shower feeling weary, frightened, and on the verge of falling apart. God met me there and reassured me of His love for me and His sovereignty over the events of this life. He led me from a place of dark shadows and into His light. He has called me by name - Camille - and I am His.
4 days ago