"Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, "Are you for us or for our enemies?" "Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come." ~Joshua 5:13
For those of you that know me, you are probably thinking that I have lost my mind or my faith when I assert that God isn't on my side. Hang with me and let me explain.
A week ago, I had the opportunity to go to church with my parents at my old stompin' grounds. Wow, the memories that place brings back. Anyway, what a blessing to hear the message that I did because there aren't very many messages that I can say that I really came away with something that has left me meditating on it day after day. But here is the pastor's statement that has "messed" me up:
"God isn't on my side, I'm on His."
Seems very simple, right? I even asked George to think on that and He felt like he was completely missing it because it doesn't seem complicated. Maybe it hit me right in my gut because I was struggling with obedience in the same area that I can never seem to get it right in. An area in which I sometimes fight tooth & nail to maintain my independence in. That area will remain nameless, but everyone has an area.
The pastor's message was on Joshua 4 and how Joshua was giving a charge to the Israelites that before they take the Promised Land, they needed to decide who they were going to serve: God or the idols they had created. God then told the Israelites the battle plan for Jericho. Joshua gets to Jericho and comes across a "man" (from my understanding, it's actually Jesus...but I could be mistaken) and Joshua wants to know whose side this man is on. Is he on the Israelites side or the nations they were about to conquer? His response: NEITHER. Wouldn't you expect God's response to be the Israelites side. Of course. They were His chosen people. God didn't take a side though, even though He was very much about to deliver the Israelites' enemies into their hands.
Don't we struggle with the same thing? We want God to pick a side. This was the punch in the gut conviction that you just know comes straight from the Holy Spirit: God didn't sign up to be on my side, I signed up to be on His. And it goes beyond just signing up to be on His team, I surrendered. You know what that means? When I invited Jesus into my life, I laid down my rights to call the shots or make the rules. When you sign up for a sports team, you lay down your individual rights and submit to the coach's vision for the TEAM.
So when I get in a fight with my spouse and I want God to pick sides or convict my husband of something I think he's doing wrong, God isn't on either of our sides. I'm on His side and the Bible tells me that I am to submit (not getting into that whole topic here) or respect my husband no matter how he is acting towards me. Do you catch what I am saying?
In light of it being September 11th, whose side do you think God is on? Terrorists or the USA? Neither. "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." ~John 3:16 (emphasis mine).
God is in it all for His glory. And He has a right to be because He created it all (Genesis 1:1).
Bottom line: It doesn't revolve around me. We live in such a me-centered world that we think that God is fighting for us. No, we are fighting for Him. We are in the fight for His glory. That fight may come through respecting my husband when he hasn't earned it, being patient with my kids when all they've done is make demands of me, going across the ocean to serve people who supposedly are my enemy, sharing the gospel with my neighbor, forgiving someone who doesn't even care whether or not their actions were hurtful.
Take heart,though, if you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, you are already on the winning side. We may not have the details of His battle plan, but the Bible guarantees us that He wins in the end. And that is a victory that I definitely do not want to miss out on. If you want specifics, read the entire book of Revelation. If you are unsure if you are on God's side, I would love to share with you how you can be certain.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
"I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord." ~1 Samuel 1:27-28
I have a two-fold purpose in breaking my blog-writing silence after many, many months. First & most importantly, I want to proclaim the goodness of God's faithfulness. Second, to simply document the sweetness of our birth story (for my own aging memory).
Most of you already know that it has been an 18 month process of seeing the fulfillment of God's redemption of our pain & grief. We found out in July 2013 that we were expecting a child, but lost that child to miscarriage in September 2013. Then, in May 2014, we found out that we again were expecting. After an uneventful, but physically taxing pregnancy, we welcomed our sweet Benjamin into the world on January 13, 2015.
I was 8 days past my due date and very eager to meet my first son. I had my membranes stripped for 2 weeks prior, but Benjamin was showing no sign of coming despite being dilated to 4 cm. I went in for a non-stress test on Monday afternoon. Everything looked great! Dr. Troy asked if I wanted to be checked and stripped again, joking that she didn't think it would matter anyways. I was already scheduled to be induced on Thursday, but we were really hoping to go into labor naturally because I was attempting another VBAC. I figured it couldn't hurt for her to check and try to get labor going. Twelve hours later, I awoke at 3:00 am with very strong contractions. I knew I was already dilated to 4 cm so I began to monitor them, but figured I would have a little while to labor at home. I was wrong. They were strong, painful and coming every 4-5 minutes. My original plan was to get a shower and put on some make-up, but I figured it would be better use of my time to make sure my kids were taken care of. So I set about making Hannah and Kate's lunches for school.
After an hour of "have to stop what I'm doing & take your breath away" contractions, I woke George up and told him that we needed to go to the hospital. He was a little surprised as I had tried to stay inconspicuous and let him sleep, especially if it was false labor. The original plan was to take the girls over to Matt & Sarah's house, but I didn't want to wake them &, more importantly, I didn't want to miss my epidural.
We got to the hospital about 5:00 a.m. The OB triage nurses noted that I was a scheduled C-section on Thursday and tried to convince me that they didn't do VBACs at their hospital. I got the 5th degree over what doctor told me a VBAC was permissible. I firmly told them every OB at my practice consented to my doing a VBAC. Did they really think arguing with a woman in labor was going to go over well? Anyway, I got checked in and was 5 cm. Apparently labor & delivery was very busy & I was getting the last bed. Woohoo! The only thing going through my mind though was that must mean a long line for an epidural.
I got transferred to L&D shortly after. I labored for probably another hour and a half while they did all of the IV hook-ups, blood testing, and other set-up. Luckily, the nurse anesthetist walked in as soon as I was cleared to get an epidural. I was a little nervous as my last epidural was difficult to get in, but this lady was awesome and got it on the first time. She even did it as she carried on a conversation with George about fishing. My epidural kicked in quickly and I was finally comfortable and could enjoy visitors (our parents & my sister).
Dr. Granger came in and gave us the "Are you sure you want to VBAC?" speech. I will admit that it made a me a little nervous, but he was just doing his job. He actually apologized to me after Benjamin was born & said that he was very comfortable doing VBACs, but wanted to make sure that I knew all the risks (which is only less than 1% of uterine rupture). He broke my water and we found out that there was meconium. It wasn't a big deal, but it did mean that a neonatologist would be present at the birth to make sure the baby did not aspirate on it. He also started me on pitocin to increase the frequency of my contractions & placed an IUCP to monitor the strength of my uterus and an internal monitor on Benjamin. I labored pain-free until about 11:00 when I was fully dilated and could tell it was time to push. I pushed (again...pain-free) for about 15 minutes and out came my big baby boy with a full head of dark hair.
They took him immediately over to clean him up and make sure he was breathing okay, but he was PERFECT. He weighed 8 lbs. 12 oz. and measured 20 in. We got to snuggle & nurse shortly after. Our hospital stay was fairly uneventful after that. Because he was considered a bigger baby, they monitored his blood sugar, but all of those tests came back clear as well. We stayed in the hospital until Wednesday evening and then decided to come home due to a lack (meaning none on my part) of sleep.
Thank you for allowing me to share our story. Although, Reagan's birth went just about the same, I am still in utter amazement at how perfect it all went again. God answered prayers from going into labor naturally to having another successful VBAC to being able to get an epidural to him being healthy! Thank you so much to everyone who prayed at any point during my pregnancy. My heart is still full & overwhelmed with how God has shown His compassion towards us over the last 18 months. And my heart is overflowing with love towards my son.