Monday, January 23, 2012


Before Emmett was diagnosed with cancer, I was taking some graduate classes, and, not to toot my own horn, but I was rocking grad school like a champ, and I LOVED it.  I remember one night on the drive home from midterms in early February shortly before Emmett's diagnosis.  I knew I'd done well, and so I was happy, but as I drove and prayed, I wondered that my happiness in graduate school and a potential career change had not made me any more content with my life.  Sure, I wasn't bored anymore, but I wasn't necessarily more content.  So I distinctly remember praying that I didn't want to just make more money doing a more challenging job, but I wanted to know Christ, no matter what.  And I remember it, down to exactly where I was on the drive home, because at that moment I could have sworn I felt something move, like an invisible gear clicking into place with a resounding pop, almost as if God were waiting for me to pray those words so he could shout a big, "finally!" to the heavens.  

Now Emmett was already feeling some of the effects of the cancer that would eventually claim his life, so I feel in no way guilty about that prayer.  But I have wondered if the last piece of the plan before Emmett's diagnosis was to get my heart in the right place.  

Lately, my heart has most definitely been in the wrong place.  Something about the turn of year has reminded me that eventually I have to move forward.  Not that I have to move on, or forget, or do anything necessarily, but facing potentially five or so more decades on this planet reminded me that I have to spend that time doing something.  That reminder has particularly unsettled me because Emmett and I had plan, and he did not stick to it, so now I'm left uncertain of where to go.

So while reading Brokenness: How God Redeems Pain and Suffering by Lon Solomon, I came across these passages:
I still thought usefulness to Christ was about methods and knowledge and human experience.    I knew nothing about needing God's Spirit to flow through me unhindered.  I didn't realize that spiritual usefulness is all about spiritual formation in my own heart.  I was ignorant of the process by which God prepares his servant...
It seemed to me that rather than rewarding me for asking God to use my life, God was somehow punishing me.  The whole thing baffled me.  It seemed so nonsensical, so contrary to human logic: volunteer for God to use you and instead he curses you.
At one time or another, as followers of Christ, so many of us have asked God to make us usable; to make us powerful servants of Jesus Christ; to do whatever is necessary to bring this to pass in our lives. When we pray such prayers, we are really asking for God's brokenness.  So God sends problems, suffering, and heartache our way.  He sends failures, setbacks, and losses that are uniquely fitted for us.  We so often refer to these as tragedies.  But here's the real tragedy: our ignorance of the principles and process of brokenness often causes us to curse God when all he's trying to do is answer our prayer.  We often resist the process and resent the Lord for putting us through it simply because we don't understand how it all fits together in God's strategy for making us spiritually usable.  Nothing is accidental in a Christ-follower's life.  God actively orders every detail.  He knows those things that will most effectively shatter our self-life, and those are the things that he allows to come upon us.
And wow!  So... um... yeah...  That was relevant.

After devouring this book in about a day, I decided to reread the story of Abraham's life because I felt I had been resenting the Lord a little bit.  Okay, maybe a lot.  Anyway, I noticed some important things about Abraham.  Did you know it was twenty-four years before God called Abraham to leave his home before God even started to fulfill the promise of making Abraham into a great nation?  That's twenty-four years of wandering with not much to go on.  During that time Abraham was faithful to his only wife who was barren.  At that time only having one wife and being faithful to her, especially when she was barren, seems like a pretty remarkable feat.  At the same time, Abraham clearly wimps out on several occasions, but God always rescues him.  But think about all those mornings Abraham woke up and looked at all his stuff and was happy, but not really, because he didn't have an heir.  Or what about all those times he packed up his tent and moved again, perhaps wondering in his heart what good it would do?  Twenty-four years is a lot of days to wake up without even a hint of an answer to God's promise.

So I feel a little better.  Not because I have any more of an answer to the questions I have, but because I feel a little more confident that I'm in good company.  But I liked the phrase Lon Solomon used about allowing God's Spirit to flow through me unhindered, so I've caught that as my prayer for the time being.  And for the time being, it is enough.  Mostly. 


  1. "I didn't realize that spiritual usefulness is all about spiritual formation in my own heart. I was ignorant of the process by which God prepares his servant..."

    This is so true. How often do I pray to be used, but then Jesus says, "Can you drink from this same cup?" The cup he drank was of sorrow.

    I'm so sorry for your loss. God's Kingdom is so mysterious, yet I do believe you are right. It is through brokenness that He redeems and then uses for His glory.

    (This is my first time here. It's nice to "meet" you.)

  2. I needed to catch up on your entries, and boy, I'm glad I did. I am often struck at the time lapse in Bible-people's lives- a lapse that is so easy to miss-- like Paul not going up to Jerusalem until 14 years after his conversion. Lots and lots of time lapse and waiting..