Thursday, May 04, 2006

Knowing the Shepherds Heart, part 2

Yesterday, I presented two of six characteristics I discovered while studying Psalm 23 -- Trusting the Shepherd who Cares and Provides, and Trusting The Shepherd of Rest and Peace -- The Shepherd who Restores my Soul. (well, really, anyone can discover them (they just have to read the Psalm, so it's not like I'm brilliant or anything!)

These posts aren't filled with rocket science, or eloquence or deep spiritual theology -- just what was on my heart at the lowest time of my life, and what I learned. Here are two more characteristics I discovered ... it's another really long one, but I hope you stick it out with me!

III. Trusting The Shepherd that Guides Me and Protects Me. "He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." (v3b-4a)

If you look at the verses above, you will notice that there are two parts to this equation -- Guidance and Protection. Before we started working with our Fertility Clinic, my husband and I prayed and prayed and prayed. We wanted to be sure this was God's direction. After many, many months of agonizing silence from God, I went to my friend, my confidant of all things female, my prayer partner -- my sister-in-law. I cried, I complained, and I told her how I just didn't know what to do, I couldn't HEAR God, and this was something I wanted to be SURE was his will for our lives. I needed his direction, and I couldn't find it!

My ever wise sister suggested that maybe I should change the way I was praying. Maybe I should start praying that God would bless the difficult decisions that we had to make, and ask that his hand be in all the procedures that we would endure.

So I did. And God was with us, of that I have no doubt. But looking back now, I can see that God did answer our prayers and provided us with clear direction, but I was so overcome with worry and fear, that I didn't see it. Some of the ways that he provided us with clear direction were "no-brainers" ... He provided us with insurance that covered 100% of the procedures at the time we were starting off (it changed later on to 90% -- but still awesome coverage, huh?). He provided us with a doctor who was so gracious and kind, and attentive. He provided us with a praying and supportive family and friends. He opened a satellite office to our Fertility Clinic not more than 8 miles away from where we lived. But when you are consumed with fear and worry, sometimes you don't see the "no-brainers!" In fact, I've mentioned on this blog many, MANY times that sometimes, I pretty much need a Mack truck to slam into me before I can see God's answers plain as day.

I'm sure you're wondering WHY I didn't see these things as answers to prayer or as God's direction. Well, sometimes, we just don't see or hear clearly the direction God wants us to take. But most of the times, there are reasons why -- and looking back now, I can see that I was in a very dry place in my life. I was not studying scripture, or spending quality time with God. I was so worried about ME, and MY WANTS.

If we want to HEAR God's direction, we have to be spending time with Him, in His word, and being still -- listening for his direction. Shocking revelation, huh?

And then, there's the "Protection" part of the equation -- "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil" -- While we were going through infertility treatments, I would get so anxious on the day that I would go in for blood work to see if I was pregnant. Five times I had procedures with this clinic, and five times I had pregnancy tests. And each time, it became increasingly more difficult for me to answer the call from the doctors office and to hear the answer that I just knew they were going to give me. And each time, I would get the same answer -- "your beta (pregnancy test) is positive, but your numbers are too low or not doubling." And, each time, I would fall apart. I would worry. I would cry and I would prepare my self for what I knew was going to happen. A miscarriage.

And after the fourth procedure, I was pregnant, but was told that we had to terminate the pregnancy with Methotrexate, which is a form of chemotherapy that kills all living and rapidly reproducing cells. In other words, kill my baby.

It was the most agonizing decision I ever had to make. I knew that I was pregnant, but they couldn't find a sac whenever they did a sonogram. They labeled this as an ectopic pregnancy, even though the sac wasn't in my tubes. I was told that we needed to terminate the pregnancy because my life could be in danger -- but still -- I was pregnant. It was my one heart's desire. And I had to give my doctor written permission to terminate this pregnancy. My heart was shattered. This was such an agonizing decision. I had to literally sign of on the dotted line to kill my baby, even as I desparately hung onto hope that the sac would just appear out of now where. But even as I walked through this "valley of the shadow of death," I knew I didn't have to fear, because God would protect me. Your valley may be different, but pain is pain, and God still holds us near to his heart and cares for what we are feeling.

As the Shepherd began to heal my heart again, I began to realize that my hopes did not lay in any earthly hands. My doctors couldn't "make" me get pregnant, and they certainly couldn't "keep" me pregnant. That was obvious to me after 4 miscarriages. They could use all their God given knowledge, but ultimately, my hope had to be in the Shepherd's hands. I had to trust His heart. And that was very hard to do, because I.COULD.NOT.SEE.HIS.HEART. And, if you're there now, or have ever been there, than you know how this can cause us to loose hope!

Romans 15:13 - Oh! May the God of hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!

That became so powerful to me! "Life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit" that gives me hope. I don't know about you, but I WANT THAT. And this one small scripture filled my broken heart with hope. Filled me with peace. Encouraged me to continue believing and having faith in the Shepherd that Guides Me and Protects Me even when I was crawling ever so slowly through the valley of death -- each and every time.

Many times, we hope and pray a miracle. I know I did -- desperately, in fact. But we need to remember that even when we don't get the answers we want -- we still know who we have trusted in, and we need continue to be faithful to God, because while His will may not always be ours, it is usually better!

Jeremiah 29:11-14 -- "I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out--plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. When you come looking for me, you'll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed." (the Message)

Notice what this scripture says -- He knows what He's doing. He has it all planned out! When we call on him, and when we come to pray, he will listen to us!! Look what else it says -- "when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed." YOWZA! When we get SERIOUS about finding Him, and want it MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE -- He will make sure we are not disappointed! Notice how the focus was taken off of our desires, wants or needs, and placed back on us seriously seeking HIM and wanting it more than anything else! I had taken my focus and desire off of God and had "filled my basket" with my desire for a baby. I really had to make a change in my attitude, my wants, and my desires!

IV. The fourth point is Trusting the Shepherd that Provides Friends and Comfort "For you are with me. Your rod and your staff the comfort me." (v4b)

So many times in my married life I have felt alone, even though my husband, who is my best friend, has always been there. And that's because our relationship was not focused on God as the center of it -- and it did not start out as the greatest of relationships, but ultimately, it has evolved to a beautiful, loving and trusting relationship, but it has required a lot of work, counseling, and a lot of change on both our parts.

My husband is very encouraging. Very positive. Very loving and caring. Always concerned. And most importantly, honest. At times brutally honest. But there are times, when you just need the shoulder of a girlfriend to cry on. Another woman who feels your pain on a different level and can offer a different depth of comfort. Someone who is honest but not brutally honest. You see, if I ask my husband if I look fat in something, my husband might say something like, "yes, honey ... you are fat, and you can't hide that with clothes" And my mind will say -- "Woa! Stop right there buddy!" (If there are any men reading, remember -- this is NOT something you want to say to your wife -- okay?) But if you ask the same thing to a girlfriend, she might say "Oh, don't worry about it! Let's start walking together every morning -- Here -- Have some chocolate. It'll make you feel better." Now, THAT's what I'm talking about!!!

And when we are faced with difficult, painful times, men process differently than women do, but the Shepherd provided me with Friends that Comfort. He knew my needs at different times through our struggles, and he knew which friend would fill my need. Whether it was a phone call, a prayer, encouragement, comfort, a card, a hug, or just letting me gripe. The Shepherd provided for me. He was with me intimately, and through the many people in my life, and it wasn't just one age group, it was a broad spectrum of women in all stages of spiritual maturity. I was blessed beyond measure and God showed his face to me in the form of my closest circle of friends, and by my sisters in the body of the church. He used them to comfort me with His rod and His staff.

John 15:12 says, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." And a true, Godly friend will hold this scripture to heart as they minister to a hurting friend. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that the only way to have a friend is to be one. These are wise words indeed, and they parallel a beautiful scripture found in Proverbs 18:24. The Message translation reads: "Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family."

Tomorrow will be the last installment of Trusting the Shepherd's Heart -- it's the wrap-up, folks -- and you've come this far -- might as well tune in tomorrow, too!
Next, I'd like to encourage you to stop off at Heather's blog -- The Rollercoaster Ride of my Life and read this post (from yesterday): Wednesday's Word it's a great post on Longsuffering.

Finally, don't forget that today is the National Day of Prayer (first Thursday of May). The task force for NDP is asking "America to honor God" -- "...Those who honor me I will honor..." 1 Samuel 2:30 (NIV)

"The bottom line for the National Day of Prayer, though, is that God has given Christians "marching orders" when it comes to prayer" in 2 Chronicles 7:14 -

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (NIV)

"We need to go to prayer, to pray that our country would have His hand of protection upon us and that our leaders would be making decisions that align with and honor God."

Have a blessed day in the Lord!

All Contents Copyright [2005-2006] by GiBee at Kisses of Sunshine -- Please do not use contents without prior permission from the author. Thank you.


Susan said...

Hi there. I sent you an email yesterday. I was wondering if you got it. It would have come from

flipflop said...

Love you!! (hugs)

Faith said...

GiBee, I know those ladies were so blessed by you. God used you in a mighty way. Now, you are blessing the socks off of us here in the blog world!!!!
You are awesome!

Sandra said...

Gibee thank you for this wonderful post.

You had me in tears, because I too, with my second miscarriage had to have an ultrasound and they couldn't find the baby. They thought it was ectopic but baby was not in the tubes either so I had to have the Methotrexate. It made me soooo sick and then I still ended up having to have a D&C. It was one of the lowest points in my life and I really did feel like God had deserted me, when in fact it was ME who had become so consumed with the miscarriages and the need to get pregnant that I turned my back on HIM.

After grieving for what seemed like an eternity, I handed it over to God, I told him that I just couldn't do it anymore, I couldn't taken the pain and the heartbreak with each miscarriage and that I was not going to be consumed with the need for a baby, if I was to have another one, it was in God's hands. Within one year from that time, I became pregnant with my son Nicholas.

God really is wonderful
Thank you Gibee, for these precious and powerful posts, what a blessing you are :)

Sandra said...

BTW, I mentioned your posts in my blog this morning, hope more people come your way and read these wonderful posts :)

Heather Smith said...

Again, I wish I could hear this taught. Just reading it had me in tears though so this is probably the easier way! By the way, I just posted this on my site, but I know you've already visited today, so please lift up a lady from my church named Judy. She is in the hospital bleeding from the brain. They will do surgery at 5 Eastern if they don't find a source for the bleeding. She is a new Christian, and she really needs our support as she faces this "valley of the shadow of death."

Maria said...

Thank you for sharing your heart!

Tänia said...

This is wonderful! I want to add you to my reads! What a blessing! Thank you, thank you!

GiBee said...

I'm so glad to know that this is ministering to each of you in various ways!

I am simply amazed how time after time, women around the world tell me how they can relate because they have experienced the same thing or something similar! I'm thankful that we can share our stories and encourage each other!

And, Tania, welcome to Kisses of Sunshine!

Morning Glory said...

I'm a day behind but I'm getting there. This is so rich and full and I've been saving it to read when my time is uncluttered. Wonderful, wonderful words and I'm sure the people at this retreat went home full and overflowing!