This time period of intense wondering was exhausting. Before I could tell anyone about my pregnancy, including my parents, I felt driven by the need to understand. Where did my life go wrong?
Did it start with petty childhood disappointments?
Was it years upon years of a Christian upbringing that seemed to me to only to be a set of actions? …another list from an exacting head who promised death and destruction if I didn’t deliver?
Then, much later, there was the fervent prayer that seemed to go unanswered —
Macular degeneration and congestive heart failure … a cruel death. One slowly suffocates while going blind. I sat by her bed almost every night my first year of college. She was the lady across the street, my German grandmother. She was dying painfully from the disease, and my family helped as we could. I remember one night in particular–the nights were the hardest as she struggled for breath–I read to her to comfort her, to take her mind off her suffering. This particular night, she’d asked (or I’d offered) to read to her from the Bible, from the book of Luke:
“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout,waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
As I read these words, she stopped me, and asked me to read the passage again. When I finished, she sighed and said, “I wish I could have faith like that.”
“You can, Oma! God will give you strength to have faith!”
She shook her head and turned away. “I’m tired now. I will try to sleep.”
“Please, God! Please save her! Please show her! She wants faith! Please, God!”
Within a few short weeks, she was dead … to my knowledge never having understood faith.
I had prayed! She had even said she wanted faith! Why, God? Why didn’t you answer me?
I searched for some kind of clue, as if a single life experience could unlock the entire mystery of my rebellious heart. It had to have been that moment with Oma. There was no other single event that I could point to. But, truly, there was nothing. Though I could dredge up countless instances of deep hurt and anger–See, God? Look how much I was mistreated here!–there were no excuses. I had no excuses.
I had made my choices. I had used circumstances to allow the anger and resentment to grow. In light of this, it really didn’t matter how I’d gotten to this point. All that mattered now was what was still ahead.
Was there another way for me? Another road that left the resentment and anger behind? And if so, how do I get on that road after all this time spent in rebellion?
The only road before me was God, the very One I’d been running from. There was no flash of light, but only a strength of silence, a single conviction: there is no other road.
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Confess. Repent. Change.
“God, I’m broken before you …”