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Down the Damascus Road, Again . . .

01 Oct

damascusroadI have found there are points in my life where I find myself completely unable to accept God’s obvious plan. Maybe you’ve found yourself in a similar situation? It’s what I refer to as my “Road to Damascus” experience. By that point in time I’m filled with frustration and anxiety and doing everything I can in my own power to change the circumstances I find myself in only to have God pull me up short and shine a painful, blindingly bright light of truth down, revealing that I am not just kicking against the pricks but actively working against His greater plan.

It’s hard to describe how it feels to know that the thing you least want to accept in your life is an irrefutable part of God’s plan. Oh, to be a two-year-old again so that the temper tantrum I want more than anything to throw, while not tolerated, is at least understood.

Harder still and completely beyond my human capabilities, is the ability to change the desperate desire of my heart, let alone make any attempt to surrender and embrace God’s unacceptable plan.

I firmly believe changing the heart and embracing God’s plan only happens at the point where a believer’s brokenness is met by the active work of the Holy Spirit in that believer’s life. Surrender definitely comes before embracing the plan.

In fact, embracing the plan may never actually happen and it may not even be something God expects from me — from any believer. Maybe all God really expects is for us to quit actively working against Him — not because we have the power to prevent His plan from unfolding but because the fight — the anger, fear, frustration, anxiety and bitterness exhausts and destroys us from within.

Maybe simple resignation, surrender to the inevitable, is a victory in and of itself. Maybe surrender, resigned or not, allows one the energy to take the next step, endure the next blow, and the next, until only the sorrow and quiet emptiness remain leaving room for the Savior to fill you from the cup of consolation and enabling the broken believer to receive the only remaining hope worth clinging to — an eternal future promised to stand in stark contrast to every aching moment the present reality reflects. Maybe that’s sufficient until the day we are made like Him.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on October 1, 2016 in Adversity, Faith, Grief

 

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9 responses to “Down the Damascus Road, Again . . .

  1. Melanie

    February 20, 2016 at 4:21 am

    Oh, how I hope that “simple resignation” is enough! I can work toward that. I don’t think I will ever come out the other side of this a “better version of myself” (as you said in another post) or be able to tie it up with a “biblical bow”. But giving in to God–that is something I want to do.

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  2. lisakn68

    February 20, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    But whatever comes my way… Quite frankly… I find myself struggling to trust Him even though I know I should. Who am I to tell her these things???

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    • Janet Boxx

      February 21, 2016 at 1:00 am

      Everybody struggles to trust God!

      I don’t think it’s about telling her anything. It’s about granting her the freedom to confront her doubts. It’s about admitting that you don’t have all the answers, that you struggle too but that you are willing to be a sounding board for her if she’d like.

      We grieve a lot of things – not just lost loved ones. Lost health – that’s a biggie. The thing is, grief, regardless of the source, causes us to confront our beliefs, our misconceptions and our fears. You’ve done that. Does God really love me? If so, why did He allow this to happen? What does He really promise me? If you listen closely you will probably her her say something to which you will honestly be able to say, I felt that way too! That’s authenticity and validation. A lot of the time it’s about being understood.

      I feel completely inadequate to help others too. And, there is no quick fix. We struggle through as the Holy Spirit quietly goes about His work and He is perfectly patient. We are changed and healed slowly in my experience.

      Gosh, I’m afraid I’m messing this all up with you! Please forgive me if I’m disappointing you, letting you down, or frustrating you. None of this is easy. I don’t have all the answers either.

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  3. rogerholmack

    October 1, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    I’m not much for this God’s plan theme. I know it brings comfort to many, but not to me. I find it evil that God would plan for my child to die and some kind of good we come out of that. Did he know about it? Yes. Did he allow it? Yes. And he also knew I would seek him for comfort in this tragedy. That is because I love him. I know he works for me, he brings me comfort and he even leads me in the valley of the shadow of death. Romans 8, 2nd Corinth 1 and Psalms 23.

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    • Janet Boxx

      October 3, 2016 at 10:27 pm

      Roger,

      Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Forgive me for taking so long to respond and for my lengthy reply. I took your words to heart and I know that the topic of God’s plans has the ability to either comfort or offend. I think you and I actually agree on this topic more than we disagree, if you will bear with my explanation.

      I can’t say that I believe that God’s plans for anyone include death. In fact, His original plan never included death. And that pretty much set the stage for the fall of man described in Genesis and His plans for redemption thereafter.

      I will say that Psalm 139:16 says, “Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” (NLT) God obviously knew the length of every individual’s life. HOWEVER, I think our lives intersect with the free will of man and the way sin impacts all of creation. (See Genesis chapter 3 and Romans 8:19-22).

      So I believe that two of my daughters died as a result of the sinful, free-will choices of two men whose actions resulted in the collision that took their lives. And I believe that my son was stillborn, and my surviving daughter was born with a degenerative neuromuscular disease as a result of the impact of the fall of man on nature.

      And I, like you, believe God knew, and He could have interceded and for whatever reason did not; that He allowed all the deaths I referenced above. And I guess I believe that when God allows those things that He can and does thwart Satan’s evil plans by eventually bringing about something good from them. HOWEVER, I think people misinterpret Romans 8:28 to mean that the bad thing God allowed is really a good thing because God makes some good come of it–and that is completely and totally offensive! And I don’t think God ever intended for His word to be interpreted that way.

      Regardless of the spiritual reason for the deaths of my children, I’ve been placed on this road. One I never planned for or wished to travel. I can’t change what has gone before. I can pray and hope that God will be persuaded to prevent the disease that ravages my daughter’s body from doing anymore damage; yet I must also make peace with the reality that He may not. I doesn’t really matter if I call that His plan for her life and mine, as I walk her through it, or if I simply see it as a consequence of the curse that befell mankind and all of creation as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin, because like you, I intend to contend for my faith and all it’s precepts; most important of which are His love and character.

      I do know that the Bible tells us that God does have plans and purposes prepared for us. Consider Joseph, “As for you [Joseph’s brothers] you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. ~ Genesis 50:20 (ESV) I tend to believe that Satan inspired his brothers to toss him in that pit and then sell him into slavery – I mean, seriously, what they did goes far beyond retaliatory sibling rivalry. But what Satan meant for evil God meant for good. And while all that came to pass Jacob/Israel mourned deeply for the son he thought to be dead.

      And from Psalms: The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. ~ Psalm 138:8 (ESV)

      From Proverbs: Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. ~ Proverbs 19:21 (ESV)

      Job: I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ~ Job 42:2 (ESV)

      And most famously from the prophet Jeremiah: ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’. ~ Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB)

      So obviously God has plans and purposes, but that doesn’t mean His plan specifically included the death of our children or anyone else. It’s pretty difficult, if not impossible, to separate God’s plans from free-will choices and the curse on all creation. And maybe there’s a fine line between the number of days God planned for anyone and the means of their death. God’s preordained days may be His plan and the means of death due to Satan’s temptation of earthly beings, accidents or sin’s curse on nature.

      Thank you, Roger, for taking the time to both reply and to hold me accountable. It is never my desire to offend or hurt another bereaved parent, or any other hurting believer for that matter, and I want to get my theology right to the best of my ability. I hope my response removes the sting of offense, and if not, please accept my sincere apology. Heaven knows there are some things we will not understand until Christ’s return and this may be one of those things. Please accept my condolences on the death of your child. It is a wound like no other, and I’m sorry that you are intimately aware of that fact.

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      • rogerholmack

        October 4, 2016 at 2:55 pm

        Well, darn. I wrote a reply and it disappeared when I hit the post button. I don’t remember everything it wrote so I’ll say this, I did a blog on God’s plan. I did one on Psalms 23 and Romans 8, the suffering verses. I do appreciate your blogs as they have been helpful for me. Thanks.

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  4. rogerholmack

    October 4, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    I know for sure there is plan from God that is easy to know and that is salvation through Jesus Christ. That one for sure.

    I did a blog on God’s plan and when I studied up on it I found many different views. I thought there were a few views and I could see which one fit in, but there is nothing like that. I more fit into the free will category and not the planned ideology. I think about this way: God is not limited by time and can write our book before we live because he sees our in one instant. God can write our book as it happens before it happens. I don’t think it’s planned but written as it happened. If that makes any sense to you.

    I also did a blog on Romans 8, the suffering verses. I also did a blog on Psalms 23 and what it means to me. If you wish to take a look and see how I think. By the way, I do like the blog, I find your blogs helpful.

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    • Janet Boxx

      October 4, 2016 at 2:56 pm

      Roger,

      You are 100% right about the one thing we know without a doubt is the plan of God and that of course is salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ!

      I did understand what you were saying about God having our lives recorded more than planned. I’ll have to roll that around in my mind for awhile and I will take a look at your blog. I admit that sometimes I can’t figure out how to find the blogs of people who have commented on or followed my blog. I blame grief fog, old age, and working back and forth between the PC and the tablet versions of WordPress. One of these days I’ll get it together! And sometimes I can no longer tolerate chasing my tail in search of answers that may never come or may certainly not suffice from my personal point of view. I have to take it in bite-sized pieces depending upon my mental health at any given time. There is so much available to read and I find myself craving it yet simultaneously overwhelmed.

      Thank you for your kind comments about my blog. I have no real writing experience. What you see here is all there is and I know I have a lot to learn not just about my faith but about communicating well and responding to the comments I receive. I’m glad to hear you find something of benefit from all my tail chasing! 🙂

      I look forward to reading your posts and hearing back from you in the future. Bereaved parents can learn so much from each other. The support and encouragement is priceless and it’s simply huge knowing that we are not alone, our thoughts and feelings are not crazy, and that we still have something of worth to offer to others.

      Thanks again for bantering with me!

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  5. rogerholmack

    October 4, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    I’m not an expert writer myself. I’ve written things at work for jobs I’ve done. There technical in nature so they are much different than this. The writing doesn’t come natural to me. I have to work on it. I seem to be getting better now but still struggle with it.

    I can explain my plan ideology better in person than in writing. Something I can work on. I’m like you when comes to reading about others going through this grief: I find peace and sorrow at the same time. I also go between my ipad, Mac and iPhone so I struggle with that too. I’m always learning something from others in blogging world so there is something to it. Helps with my grief and faith. Thanks for talking with me.

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