Friday, May 05, 2006

Knowing the Shepherds Heart, part 3

Well, here we are at the end of this journey ... the final two characteristics I discovered while studying Psalm 23. And, I promise this one won't be as long as the other two were!

However, before we begin, there are a few things I wanted to clarify... We all have issues that tear our hearts apart. The death of a loved one, the death of a child, a child that has turned their back on the family or God, the diagnosis of a disease, infertility, the list goes on and on ... and I honestly feel that one person's suffering should not be weighed as greater than another person's suffering. For example: I believe that our 14 years of infertility carries the same amount of grief and sorrow that another couple feels from having battled with infertility for two years. Therefore, please don't feel for one minute that I am judging anyone's struggle with grief of any kind, or that I am placing grief over different issues in "categories" or "levels of pain." Suffering is suffering -- plain and simple.

I also honestly feel that grief is personal, unique, and it's a long and hard process with many stages. It would not be fair for anyone to say to me or you, "it's silly for you to be grieving over this" or, "you've grieved long enough." At the same time, I'm not saying that when we are handed bad news, we should shout for joy, paste a smile on our faces, be happy and ignore the sad feelings welling up in us.

I acknowledge that each person's outcome to their journey is different, but we each have the same choices on how we can handle the journey and its outcome. We can either 1) hide our heads in the sand, choosing to ignore the issues, 2) we can become angry, bitter, resentful and blame God as we slowly harden our hearts towards him and walk away from him, or 3) we can run to him and seek his guidance, love, compassion, joy and peace, trusting all the while that he knows and understands what we are going through, that he has a plan for our lives, and that his ways are always the best way. And, whether he chooses to heal us hear on earth, or heal us in heaven (in my case, give me a child here on earth, or a gaggle of them in heaven), we can find joy in our circumstances.

I'm sure there are many, many other choices on how to handle grief, but these are the ones that come to my mind right now. Does that make any sense whatsoever???

There is a song that provided me with so much comfort -- it's called Trust His Heart (Written by Eddie Carswell and Babbie Mason):

All things work for the good, though sometimes we can't see how they could. Struggles that break our hearts in two; sometimes blind us to the truth. Our Father knows what's best for us, His ways are not our own. So when your pathway grows dim and you just can't see Him, remember He's still on the throne.

Chorus: God is too wise to be mistaken; God is too good to be unkind. So when you don't understand, when don't see his plan, when you can't trace his hand, trust His heart.

He sees the master plan, He holds the future in his hand. Don't live as those who have no hope, while our hope is found in Him. We see the present clearly, but he sees the first and last. And like a tapestry He's weaving you and me, to someday be just like him.

I hope you find the same encouragement that I did from the words of this song.

Okay -- here are the final characteristics that will help us Know the Shepherd's Heart.

V. Trusting the Shepherd that Renews and Heals -- "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil." (v5)

My second IVF procedure had taken place, and I remember crying out to God. "I've suffered for so long. How much longer until I can have my own child, Lord?" And then, I realized that I was trying to control God again. So once again in my journey, I changed the way I was praying, and my prayer became: "Lord, whatever you have for me, I accept it from your hand. Give me grace. Wrap your arms around me, renew my heart and mind, and help me accept whatever Your plans are for us."

Fifteen days later, on the day we were supposed to find out if we were pregnant or not, I remember saying during my morning prayers: "Today is the day Lord. Today we find out if I am pregnant. Oh Lord, we have waited for so long for you to do this. We want so badly to have a child, but prepare my heart for whatever the answer is." I was so scared and worried.

And then, I remembered the scripture I shared previously with you: Phil 4:6-7 -- "Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down." It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life, and in its place gives you a peace that only He can give. One that "comes and settles you down."

The word displace means: To move or shift from the usual place or position; to take the place of.

That's what happens when Christ "displaces" worry -- He moves it... shifts it... and takes the place of it.

Again -- I saw a shift in my prayers as I began to pray: "Lord, help me to lay aside all of my worry. Renew my heart, my mind and my energies. I know that you are in control of this situation. I trust that your plan is best. If the answer is no today, then I will still praise you. Give me your strength Lord, fill me with your peace and strength."

Later that afternoon, we got an answer. Not only was I pregnant, but my numbers were stronger than I had ever had. It was a VERY VIABLE pregnancy... And, I had to go off and find a spot to praise God with every fiber in my being.

Praise the Lord! He looked upon us with favor. I thanked Him for the child within me. He answered our prayers. After fourteen long years the day had finally come. "He has made the barren woman a joyful mother of children." What a blessing He gave us, and we readily acknowledged that this was only by His hand, in His timing, making it His plan!

That evening, we prayed together and thanked the Lord, and prayed for our child. After desiring a child for so long, we knew that the health and life of our child was in the Lord's hands. Both of our families were praying and several prayer chains were started at our church, as well as in my parent's church in North Carolina and in many small groups from the church our new Pastor came from back in Ohio. We felt overwhelmed with a sense of peace. We knew God was in control. It was a miracle that fear never gripped my heart.

Proverbs 18:10 says, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run in to it and they are safe." God's name is a place of protection! I can run there, and I will be safe! Even though I'm surrounded by danger and turmoil, not only am I safe, but he will heal me.

VI. Trust the Shepherd who Blesses, Loves and Fills us with Joy -- "My cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." (v5c-6)

God has blessed us so much. My heart overflows each and every time I look into the eyes of my son. He is so good, and he loves us so much. I am in awe of his perfect timing. I have come to personally know and feel God's strength, love, and compassion through the power of prayer. The Lord can make any situation for us here on earth pleasant, wonderful, even miraculous by the very anointing of his Spirit and the joy of His salvation. And I constantly remember one thing... my cup overflows.

He has brought me through the fire refined. And I honestly feel that He is preparing me to minister to other sisters or families that struggle with needs so painful they break our hearts in two. They may not be struggling with infertility, but we each have our own personal and painful battles that we struggle with. Deserts we walk through. And we CAN come out victorious.

Charles H. Spurgeon once said, "Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you. So carve your name on hearts and not on marble."

I hope that I have a long list of people that are helped by me... people that can carve my name on their hearts, because, truly, I have been blessed by a long list of people that have their names carved on mine.

Psalm 95:2-3 in the Message translation says: "Let's march into his presence singing praises, lifting the rafters with our hymns! And why? Because GOD is the best, High King over all the gods."

Praise God ... He IS the best!

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


Heather Smith said...

Once again, I'm in tears. This post makes me think of January 2005, or actually, the October before that. See, I prayed and prayed that God would just take the headaches away. People at church were praying for me. People at other churches were praying for me. But the headaches stayed. Like you said, I guess I could have questioned God. But like I posted Wednesday, I'm not above suffering. There's no reason that I should turn my back on God just because He didn't reach down and miraculously heal me (not that I don't fully believe He could have.) God's way for me was through a surgeon. God's way for you was through a fertility doctor. The thing is many times we don't want to accept God's way of doing things. I know for a fact that God led me to that surgeon at that time. It was His plan for me to face the surgery because it drew me closer to Him. I have never felt such peace or more loved. My cup truly runs over because I know that God is with me, and that He will be there every step of the way! Thanks so much for this study, GiBee. I needed it today!

kpjara said...

I love the "happily ever after" part of your infertility story and you always tell it so well!

Thanks again for sharing that part of your heart...your life...

momrn2 said...

I'm speechless. Your words not only ministered to the ladies at your retreat... but are continuing... in my own heart!

Kristen said...

Well, I certainly know that I have been blessed my many of the posts you have done, and reminded of the fact that I need to trust in the Lord and His will for my life in every circumstance. I appreciate you and your blog. Thank you again for a wonderful reminder of this.

Sandra said...

Beautiful post Gibee. Thank you AGAIN, for reminding us of God's Love.

Like I said yesterday, these posts really do remind me of our struggles trying to get pregnant with our son, the two miscarriages, the surgery, the chemotherapy shot, the ups and downs and the loss of faith.
When it all happened I remember my first reaction was anger, I was sooooo mad at God for letting me loose not just the one but two babies. And when people would say, it's for the best or it was meant to be, that would really strike a nerve with me.
I didn't let that way of thinking get me for too long, I apologized to God and turned to him again asking him to get me through this. He did and we had our son, NOW I understand that if it weren't for those miscarriages I never would have had Nicholas, but at the time I was too consumed with hurt to see it :)

God Bless you Gibee, you are an incredible lady and I'm blessed to know you :)

Overwhelmed! said...

Your prayer, 'I know that you are in control of this situation. I trust that your plan is best. If the answer is no today, then I will still praise you. Give me your strength Lord, fill me with your peace and strength.' struck such a cord in me as I read it.

I can't tell you how many times during our adoption journey that I prayed to Go to help me to accept that only HE was in control of the situation, as much as I wanted to be in control. It was so hard to let go and turn my worries and fears over to God, but when I was able to, I felt so much more peace.

We were blessed. Our adoption of Jacob went in our favor, but it wasn't an easy road to travel (see my blog for more details). I wouldn't have made it without the guidance from God and for that I'm forever grateful.

Thank you for the reminder that we all need to rely on God for strength and peace, no matter what His decision might be.

Susanne said...

This was an absolutely beautiful lesson woven with testimony! I wish I could have been there "live".

Carol said...

Wonderful, GiBee! What a blessing to the ladies of your church. Thank you for allowing God to use you to bless us as well.

P.S. I LOVE your new look!

Morning Glory said...

GiBee, this was so good. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I feel like we've been on the retreat with you.

Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

I am all tingly and teary!! What a story - and you have allowed God to use it and your life to bring him glory. How wonderful.

I loved all three posts that made up this talk. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

Your teaching is so good - so many insights - I can't comment on all that touched me. Thanks.

And oh I am soooooo glad you have such a happy ending to your fertility - how wonderful to have your precious little baby to cuddle.

Everytime I look at Julia (sue's baby) I just am amazed that she is actually here. We had given up hope. Each child is such a gift.

Stacey said...

Wow Girl, I just know you did a great job as the speaker!! God knew you would be awesome at it and placed you there for a reason!!

Shalee said...

You should be called Hannah... for you praise Him night and day, despite your wounded, grieving heart.

"And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord."

I hope God will give you this happy ending too.

GiBee said...

Thank you all for your gracious comments! I'm overwhelmed!

And, Shalee ... you better NOT be saying OR praying that God will give me FIVE kids ... Oy Vei!!!