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What is the Harvest of Tears?

Photo credit belongs to FreeBibleImages.org

 
My friend Melanie recently published a blogpost based upon Psalm 126:5-6, which reads, 

5 Those who walk the fields to sow, casting their seed in tears,
    will one day tread those same long rows, amazed by what’s appeared.

6 Those who weep as they walk and plant with sighs Will return singing with joy, when they bring home the harvest.

Psalm 126:5-6

In brief, it’s an important discussion about choosing to cling to God in obedient faith instead of the temporal things of this world (including those we love). Follow the link below to read this short post about costly obedience.

Costly Obedience | The Life I Didn’t Choose

Psalm 126:5-6 has long been a verse dear to my heart. It was a promise I could cling to after Cole’s death. I inscribed it across the bottom of every birth announcement mailed when Bethany Joy arrived 17 months after her brother was stillborn. She was the literal manifestation of the harvest from my promise keeping heavenly Father, but . . . and this is important. . . 

really important. . . 

the joyful harvest was never dependent upon her survival. 

Before she was ever born I understood, I was painfully aware in fact, and very very fearful, that the harvest greeted with joyful singing might only occur in Heaven. I believe that one day Cole will be a part of my long awaited harvest. I believed that then and I believe it now.

They that sow in tears will reap in joy (KJV) was the mantra that circulated though my mind throughout the duration my pregnancy. Others were quick to tell me that everything would be okay this time . . . which frustrated me beyond belief. 

To speak your fear out loud, to have it validated as a legitimate concern, loosens fear’s suffocating grip because you are no longer the only steward of truth. 

Two things allow fear to grow, isolated silence, and flippant dismissal. 

What I needed was someone to acknowledge the truth that while it was unlikely that I would lose another child, there were no guarantees that I would not leave the hospital empty handed once more. Over the course of three subsequent pregnancies, I never again counted my chickens before they hatched. There was always a part of my heart held in reserve – the part where naïveté was replaced with frank reality. 

There were other verses that competed for my attention among the cacophony of swirling thoughts and fears during my pregnancy. One of significance was Psalm 127:3 – specifically the King James Version. The Bible translation in this instance is important because different versions appear to communicate different things. Check out the versions below and see if you agree:

“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” King James Version

“Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.” New Living Translation 

Twenty-five years ago I wasn’t spending much time comparing Bible translations. Instead I meditated upon scripture as it was presented in my personal study Bible. I struggled to understand exactly what it meant to be “an heritage of the LORD.” But the last half of the verse impacted me most. I meditated on the King James translation and understood it literally as it was written . . .”the fruit of the womb is HIS reward”, not “[children] are a reward FROM Him.” Such a small but significant difference. I interpreted that phrase to mean that my children were literally His prize. And when you consider that in relation to Colossians 1:16b, it makes perfect sense:

“. . . all things were created by him, and for him:” (KJV)

He created Cole, Bethany, Katie, Gracen, David (my husband) and me for Himself. 

The NLT version of Psalms 127:3, it tells me that my children were created by Him as a gift to me – a reward for something I’ve done. 

Maybe both translations are correct (although it’s hard to understand how one earns the reward of parenthood). Many times I have found that scripture has a broader meaning than I initially was able to comprehend. Regardless, I approached Bethany’s birth with fear and trepidation reminding myself that the fruit of the womb is His reward, not mine. Who’s to say if my rejoicing would take place this side of heaven? God knows there are plenty of parents who have planted their seed, their children, back into the soil beneath their feet and are anxiously and sorrowfully enduring the wait for the harvest of our eternal souls. 

I don’t know about anyone else but I am so very weary of sowing in tears. Recent events in our country lead me to believe that I am not the only one who feels this way.

As Melanie’s post makes clear, we can either cling to the things of this world or to God in faithful obedience. 

I don’t think I am clinging tightly to my loved ones anymore. I think the futility of that practice has sunken deep into the very marrow of my bones. My palm is open, primarily because grasping to hold onto that which can so easily be snatched from it, is as exhausting as it is futile. 

But . . . I’m not quite sure that I am clinging to Jesus either. 

It “feels” as if I am clinging to His promises more than to the promise keeping Savior, Himself. 

The nuance nags at me. 

I can’t decide if I’m splitting hairs or if, in fact, at least one more scary and deeply painful trip through the Refiner’s fire will be required in order to strip away every last thing I might latch onto in place of God Himself. 

Am I living in obedience or desperately grasping for anything . . . anything . . . that makes me “feel” better instead of actually getting better? 

Promises make me feel better. 

The Savior . . . well it’s complicated. 

It’s easier, less painful, to anchor myself to His promises instead of to the God who allowed the deep wounds in the first place.

I know that God is the guarantor of every promise. 

I know that the Holy Spirit serves as the earnest deposit securing my soul.

I know I can have confidence in His promises because of who God is, but I’m not confident that clinging to His promises is the same as clinging to Him.

In fact, I think they are two distinctly different things.

Has my heart rejected Christ in favor of His promises because I associate Him with the deep wounds that have been inflicted upon my heart?

Do I subconsciously blame God for the events that took my children from me and for the progressive disease that is systematically destroying Gracen’s body, instead of blaming the Devil, my true adversary and the author of lies who relentlessly seeks whom he might destroy?

Truthfully, the idea that I blame God for Satan’s actions doesn’t feel accurate. 

I honestly believe (know to be true) that sin and Satan and the fall of man are to blame for all my suffering, but it’s harder to determine if I harbor animosity and resentment toward my Savior for choosing not to intervene and thwart the plans of the enemy. 

I don’t want to look too closely. 

I don’t want to examine my heart!

Yet the questions beg an answer.

Am I resentfully resigned to the sovereignty of God? 

Am I clinging to animosity instead of acceptance? 

And then I ponder . . . 

Are resignation and acceptance the same thing? Does it matter?

Both recognize that there are things beyond our control but resignation is perceived in a negative light, as a defeatist attitude, because of its association with quitting or giving up a job, for example. (Not that leaving a job is a negative experience, just that “I resign” can be stated just as accurately as, “I quit”). On the other hand, acceptance is perceived in a more favorable light because we associate it with positive things. We accept a gift or a job. It carries a connotation of approval. We accept an individual into our circle of friends. 

Research tells me that both resignation and acceptance are synonyms for acquiescence (reluctant agreement). In my opinion, a good definition for resignation is unresisting submission or acquiescence whereas acceptance is well defined as willing tolerance without approval. 

I really don’t think God cares whether we accept or resign ourselves to His plans. I think He’s more concerned about the attitude with which we do either. Of the questions above, resentment and animosity matter more to God than resignation or acceptance.

Still these questions swirl around inside, and I find myself reminded that the heart is deceitfully wicked, that no one other than God knows and understands it. (Jeremiah 17:9)

So, It’s not surprising that I can’t unequivocally answer those questions.

I can’t resolve the confusion in my heart over clinging to God’s promises or clinging to God Himself, or even correctly discerning my feelings toward God as a result of the circumstances in my life. It’s not that I want to ignore those issues because I think they are important. But, my introspective nature has led me to decide that the confusion is irrelevant because I know that the Refiner of Silver, Almighty God, will not allow ugly impurities to hide unacknowledged, even in minuscule quantities, within the silver of my soul. The God who created and loves me is never satisfied with anything less than what’s best for me. He takes me places I have no desire to go, even if I sow in tears every step of the way – for my eternal good. 

Always and only for my eternal good.

And when God works in your life, His goals are the same as they are for mine. They may play out through very different circumstances, but whatever He allows to transpire in your life, even if those things result in tears, will always and only be for your eternal good.

For I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 1:6 Berean Study Bible

The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands. ~ Psalm 138:8 New American Standard Bible

He will sustain you to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:8-9 Berean Study Bible

We are all the fruit of the womb. God, Himself, sowed in tears when He sent His son to the cross. Everything that is for our eternal good increases the harvest – the labor of God’s heart and hands – you and I are God’s reward. 

We are the harvest of tears.


By the way, in regards to resignation or acceptance –  acceptance may sound more positive but I’d rather respond to God in unresisting submission and acquiescence than I would in willing tolerance without approval. That’s just the rebellious way I roll!

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2017 in Faith, Grief, Links, Muscular Dystrophy

 

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Down the Damascus Road, Again . . .

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.

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

 

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Adventures in Limboland

I am living in Limboland – Purgatory, if you will, as it is just a little bit of Hell.  Limboland is that in between place – a pressed in place as the limbo bar is steadily dropping lower and lower.  My grief counselor described it as being forced through a funnel and she is right in that my circumstances have forced me from a wider plane – a place where options and choices once existed into a smaller place.  There are still choices but they have been greatly narrowed down and very few of the things I dreamed of for my life remain – or maybe the remnants of my dreams have been so warped that things like marriage and motherhood while technically still exist are barely recognizable as the dreams I once held.  My life is not a fairy tale.  It never was, but at one point in time, before the lenses of my rose colored glasses became scratched and cracked, the fairy tale still felt attainable.

 

img_0352But the limbo bar has lowered and I am left to bend and contort myself in an attempt to fit within the new shrunken boundaries of my life.

Standing before the bar – do I turn from the bar walking away and concede defeat in exhausted resignation or do I defiantly walk into it rebelliously refusing any attempt at attacking the challenge that lies before me?  Maybe I should twist and arch trying to negotiate a means beneath this bar that I once navigated with effort but a modicum of confidence.  But the bar has fallen so much lower now that I have no real confidence in my ability to contort myself beneath it and frankly, I wonder if I have the flexibility required to be successful and if I have the fortitude to deal with the humiliation of both a failure to try and/or a failure to succeed.

I once read to shut out the constantly churning thoughts; my minds futile attempt to either work out a new, happier ending, or at the very least to thoroughly examine every detail in order to contain it and be able to pack it away in a small box that gets shoved into a back corner of the closet – never to be reopened but too valuable, too costly, to discard.

Now I read to hide from the utter silence.  It is too difficult, or I simply have not learned the discipline of sitting silently before the Lord.  I’m impatient and it’s frustrating trying to hear that still small voice and instead nothing more than silence echoes back. Alexander Theroux once said, “Silence is the unbearable repartee.”  Can you relate?

So I’m imprisoned in Limboland although Purgatory is a more apt description in my estimation.  Trapped between what was, lingering in this silent spot waiting for my heart to heal sufficiently so that I’m prepared to move into whatever God has planned – no longer angry yet still wounded leaving me resistant to what comes next but simultaneously antsy at this inactivity.

Fernando Ortega sings a song, “I Will Wait For My Change”.  The chorus of that song goes:

“All the days of my struggle
I will wait for my change,
I will wait for my change to come.
Only do not hide Your face from me,
Don’t take Your hand away,
Don’t take Your hand away.
I will wait for my change to come.”

And this is where I find myself, waiting for my change to come, unable to see the Master’s face, trusting He will not take His hand away.  And fast on the heals of this refrain, an old Avalon song plays through my mind – the Master’s plea to me? – Avalon’s “Dreams I Dream For You”:

“You taste the tears
You’re lost in sorrow
You see your yesterdays
I see tomorrow

You see the darkness
I see the spark
You know your failures
But I know your heart

The dreams I dream for you
Are deeper than the ones you’re clinging to
More precious than the finest things you knew
And truer than the treasures you pursue

Let the old dreams die
Like stars that fade from view
Then take the cup I offer
And drink deeply of
The dreams I dream for you”

img_0351And I wait.  I wait for healing. It can’t be rushed.  It takes as long as it takes for the Holy Spirit to do His work in my heart – for my terror of God and His plans to subside – for my resistance to a future void of my most precious dreams to recede – for my heart to soften, for it to feel safe enough to tear down the protective walls I’ve built in an attempt (futile though it may have been) to guard my heart from any more excruciating pain.

We advise friends to wait on the Lord, to trust in the Lord as if doing either is a simple thing to accomplish – but the old man wars with the new man.  Intellectually we realize that yes, we do need to wait on the Lord, we need to trust in Him, but putting it into practice is no easy feat – it’s a life long battle played out in different arenas of our lives from the arena of work, to parenting, the lust of the flesh and the arena of pride.  The same battle plays out over and over demanding greater faith and more commitment with every consecutive battle.

My purgatory is not a punishment.  I sincerely believe that God intends this season between my past and my future as a time of rest, a respite from the storms I’ve weathered and a time of renewal before the next storm is unleashed in my life.  Believe me, I see the storm clouds on the horizon brewing and I’m not sure how much time I have before the next major storm in my life erupts.  But during this time of respite I am struggling to rest. It’s hard to shift gears from constant diligence to rest.  The mind has simply been conditioned to living on high alert and a new form of anxiety develops in the void left when the need for hyper awareness dissipates but you also know it’s just a matter of time before the winds whip up again and the storm is upon you with little or no warning.

How does one let down their guard in these kind of circumstances?  How does one quiet themselves?  I wish I had the answers.  Maybe, the truth I’ve yet to accept is that I’m dependent upon the Holy Spirit for that as well – that I’m dependent upon Him for every little thing.  He tells me to quiet myself and after metaphorically chasing my tail for far too long, I recognize that I can’t do it in own power and I break down and with humility ask God to help me to quiet myself.  Then I’m back to waiting until one day I randomly notice that I’ve gone completely still within.  It wouldn’t surprise me to find out this is exactly how it works as years ago I went through a very similar exercise in a battle over the power of fear in my life.  How hard these lessons are to learn!  How stubbornly defiant is the old man within, doggedly determined to tackle problems his way!  How ignorant, slow witted, or lackadaisical the new man is having to relearn the same process repeatedly!

So maybe that’s my answer and now I have to decide if I’m ready to begin that process. Again.  Am I ready to quit chasing my tail, to ask God to quiet my mind, my heart, my soul?  Have I reached that point where I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I cannot do this for myself?  That only God can quiet the restlessness within?  The demand for answers? The need for justice?  The fear of what this “next” plan holds?  Am I resolved to pay the cost of discipleship regardless of price demanded?  Am I ready?  Will I ever be ready or simply too tired of this chronic emptiness to stand still any longer?  Am I waiting on God or is He waiting on me?  I don’t know the answers.  I just don’t know.

img_0353

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2016 in Faith, Grief

 

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Down the Damascus Road, Again . . .

Down the Damascus Road, Again . . .

(Posted on Facebook 2/26/15)

I 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 remains 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.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in Faith, Grief

 

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