Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Nothing is wasted time

"There are times when nothing holds the heart but a long, long look at Calvary. How very small anything that we are allowed to endure seems beside that cross." Amy Carmichael

I'm sitting here curled up on the couch. The sun is shining today, something I desperately needed to see after endless days of Ohio grey. Danica is doing puzzles in her wheelchair. Delaney was supposed to go on a special SEARCH field trip today, but she woke in the night with a fever, and she has been sleeping for hours this morning. Dan is at work. We are all feeling the tension of the new year upon us and wanting and needing to move to a different stage of Danica's recovery, whatever that will mean. 2010 was like a lifetime of years for us. It's tempting to focus on the loss of "real" life we will never get back. Instead, God is helping use fight through all that and remember He wastes nothing, especially not days He has written.

I look back at my journal entries from January and February of this year. At that time Danica was showing very real improvement from her first decompression and all my "resolutions" and prayers were based on our family finally getting back to normal. Oh how humbled my heart is as I approach journaling my hopes for this new year. Normally I would be buying Rubbermaid containers, putting away Christmas decorations and organizing things and calendars for the new year. Instead, I am still sitting in the stable.

Scotty Smith wrote perfectly in his "after Christmas" prayer what I am feeling,

"Heavenly Father, it’s reasonable to assume that life just on the other side of Christmas day is as varied as imaginable. For some of us, this was the “greatest” Christmas ever, in terms of healthy, caring relationships… incredible “eats”… thoughtful gifts, both given and received… and above all, fresh gratitude for the indescribable gift of your Son, Jesus.

For others of us, it was a really difficult day. Palpable tensions… dashed hopes… brokenness abounding. For still others, it was the first Christmas with an empty chair where a loved one used to sit, or a day spend all by ourselves in excruciating loneliness.

Father, my prayer today is for all of us, no matter what yesterday was like. For even our best days are in need of the gospel and none of our worse days are beyond the reach of the gospel.

When the shepherds left Jesus’ manger, they were still shepherds… they still couldn’t worship at the temple… they still couldn’t give testimony in a court of law… they still were stereotyped as thieves by many in their community.

And we shouldn’t romanticize what Joseph and Mary did the day after Jesus was born. As though, all of the sudden, a 5-star Inn in Bethlehem did open up… as though Mary’s body would’ve been spared all the normal chaos and pain of birthing and afterbirth… as though angels started showing up as round the clock wet nurses.

Father, thank you that we’re Christians, not Gnostics. We don’t have to pretend about anything. Christmas isn’t a season in which we’re supposed to be transported into a super-spirituality, rising above reality. The gospel isn’t about denial, but learning to delight in you . . . no matter what’s going on. We praise you that Jesus came into a real world where everything is broken, but he came to make all things new . . . starting with us.

Please give each of us the special and the common grace you gave shepherds. Let us hear and let us see more of Jesus, even if we remain “shepherds” the rest of our lives. Enable us to glorify and praise you, Father, for you are not a man that you would lie about anything. Everything you’ve promised us in your Word will come to pass. The gospel really is true. Jesus really is making all things new. Your grace really is sufficient. This is good news for shepherds, kings and us alike. So very Amen, we pray, in Jesus’ faithful and loving name."

These 21 months since Danica first woke with a crooked neck have taken so many things and days away from us. Not one has been a wasted offering. Sitting by the empty manger I don't have to wonder what will happen next. I know Christ headed straight through His Father's plan, through intense suffering and sacrifice and up to the cross. I know He is coming again and will wipe every tear from our eyes. We will wait. Our Hope remains.

(Danica's appointment in Cincinnati is planned for January 18th. This is three more weeks of brace and wheelchair and being homebound. She is frustrated. Please pray for her sweet spirit to continue and for much bone fusion to take place so the scan will move us forward to therapy and walking again. I continue to experience severe abdominal pain. I am not sleeping and the cycle of fibro pain has added to my fatigue and symptoms from the Lupron. I was very encouraged by my appointment last week with the specialist at Cleveland Clinic and have an MRI on January 3rd. I will then meet with the head of the department about my endometriosis and make a plan for surgery. The doctor said the growth on my bowels must be removed. Thank you for your faithfulness to pray for us, even through the busyness of the holiday season, and for the continued love and support of our family.)

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