July is here and with it the imminent arrival of friends’ newborns and the news of the blessing of a new addition to our wider family. My desire is to celebrate wholeheartedly the joyful news of those around us. I am still hit and miss in action but passionate in my wish to throw down my humanness and walk that higher road. As we start hospital tests and are shuttled gracelessly through the NHS system with only a scrap of human contact to set our minds at ease, I find I am learning what it is to have steady steps. The tests are straight-forward and once again we find ourselves back in the long queue for the next stage to find out what they mean. Always waiting. I am told time is on our side and endeavour to settle down for the months to pass. Waiting is becoming familiar if unwelcome territory but my eyes are fixed on the horizon, knowing that the Great Physician does not need medicine to perform his miracle. I am believing for the heavenly answer to our prayers that means we do not need the next appointment.
When times are hard going they are essentially a testimony-in-the-making; His work in progress – and one day, when we’re out the other side, we get to share the fully revealed picture of His faithfulness and goodness. And what goodness I have seen this last little while. The silence of the first twelve months is gone and I relish every dream, every surprise blessing, every out of the blue note, text, email, word from an unexpected voice speaking into our situation. I find we have been placed on the hearts and minds of those that had not even occurred to me and I am humbled by God’s lavish care of us.
February, March, April, May, June, July – here are six months of HIS words and love pouring forth from the hearts of our community and how they steady me. I know I am no longer floundering in my own pitiful, weakened faith stores, but am plugged into the mighty mains of His faith. My spirit scans the landscape of each day wondering when I can expect the new month’s message to arrive. I store up each assurance and write them out – a bedroom wall now plastered with every morsel of His promises that He speaks over us again and again. My flighty, wary mind tries to determine whether the increasing frequency of His voice is to steady us for a much longer journey ahead or simply to bring refreshment to our weary bones. I know He carries me. In the days of great sadness which still overcome me every now and then I find I am like a small scared child clinging to my Daddy. As He walks forwards with me in His arms I grip tighter and look away, back over His shoulder, too afraid to know what might be coming. But he holds me close so I can hear His steady heartbeat and cheek-to-cheek so I can hear His words of reassurance whisper softly into my ear. And slowly this coiled spring uncurls.
I am struck one day by a photo of a friend who sits between her two elderly identical twin aunts – Hope and Grace – and I realise that this is the best place to be as we wait on God’s plans: shoulder to shoulder with Hope and Grace to support us. Jesus asks us to bring faith as small as a mustard seed and in return He answers our needs to withstand the ups and downs of our circumstances. My hope for what it is to come lies in Him and I know I need grace for my marriage and relationships.
I long for the day that I am so surrendered to Him that I will not withhold any part of me for fear that He might taint it – as if my desires were better protected in my care than His! I am learning but there is still a way to go, perhaps a lifelong learning on this. Every day I practice obedience to His will and wishes. I have allowed Him to take my life and do with it as He pleases – that’s our agreement; that is what I want. I know the conception of a baby is a precious, astounding but easy miracle to perform for my God – every miracle is easy for him. But I have given Him permission to choose to take whatever He likes in my life and handle it however He thinks best. I have vowed to love Him first above all else even if I never see the fulfilment of desires that are natural and deep-rooted. And though I would rather He hadn’t chosen the one thing over which I have no control and which I long most to see fulfilled, I trust that He will reward my obedience and lead me into a greater understanding of who He is.
As I falter forwards I suddenly remember that we’ve been here before. The landscape was different only three years ago but the test of obedience was the same. Back then it was work and finances and for a while our home as well. “Do you trust me?” we heard our Father say as the pressures crowded in. Some days we were down to the last ten pounds in our account with no work lined up to shoot the bank balance back to a healthier spot. Feelings of failure and worry abounded. Still He provided and we never went without. That is the road I am walking. Always the provision and the promise but the test of faith first to believe it’ll arrive just in time. Right now, I can’t see how this current state will ever change but we pray for breakthrough and declare that the promise is for us too. Some days I howl at the sky that I can’t take any more but I know to give up would be pointless. We have seen the major pivot points of our identities shaken: career, money, health, family, home – and yet we keep on believing. If this is the journey He has chosen for me, then as much as I would gladly swap for an easy life (if such a thing exists), it’s too late; I’m sold out for Him and I trust even as it hurts like crazy, that He knows best. “Do not be afraid”, He tells us, “only believe”[i] and that is what I determine to do. Believing the unseen into the seen, believing in the miracles that are to come, believing that the promise is on its way to us even now, believing in a God who saves and restores, believing in His faithfulness, believing for the impossible. Whatever the situation, whatever the pain – do not be afraid, only believe. That is to be my mantra as I take steady steps forward.
[i] Mark 5:36