Fearfully and Wonderfully….and not forgotten.

I have been listening to the debate raging on my FaceBook feed, on Twitter and in the news. The debate about the Planned Parenthood video. It seems issues of deep importance, with political ramifications, keep demanding my attention. As I said the other day, I am not a fan of entering political or theological debates on FaceBook or Twitter. I simply do better hearing the voice and having the chance to draw out my thoughts in dialog.

 

Still. I was left feeling chilled and deeply saddened by the video. Many of us were impacted as deeply by the callousness of the conversation as we were by the topic. I’m not sure I could have eaten in the discussion.

 

There are certain truths that define us. For myself, the reality of God as Creator places such a deep value on each person. I confess I do not always carry that value in the forefront of my thoughts…and that is to my shame. As a mother of four, though, the amazing wonder of infancy and of simply the reality of how we are made is staggering. 

 

We truly are fearfully and wonderfully created.

Fearfully.

Awesomely.

It should take our breath away when we realize we are carrying a life within us. Staggering. There should be a healthy fear, a Godly fear, of the gift we have in carrying life within ourselves. Carrying that Image Bearer. It is not something to be taken casually….it is staggering. 

 

 

For some that reality is overwhelming to the point they feel the need to end that life. 

 

I cannot go there. We have to do better in helping those who are overwhelmed by a pregnancy….but we so deeply need to be formed by the reality of the God of Creation marking each soul as an image bearer of Himself. 

 

Image Bearer. 

Deeply valued.

 

Still…my voice seems so small, and sometimes I feel I don’t have a ‘right’ to talk because I have no experience with abortion. I do, however, have a dear friend who is intimately formed by the abortion practice.

 

Gianna Jessen has spoken for most of her life about her experience.

 

“Born during saline abortion” is stamped on her birth certificate.

 

Intended not to live, she survived. And she values life in a way that shouts not only of that auspicious entrance, but also of the deep mark of a Creator who knew her, cared for her and has loved her since she was formed.  Listen:

 

 

Who better to be engaged in this dialog than one who survived abortion?

 

I asked her permission to cull some of her thoughts from her FaceBook page to share with you here:

 

“enough with the cocktail party Jesus we create with our enlightenment. the one that makes the neighbors happy.

he’s not even real. we created him in the image of tmz.

all these things we face, will bring us face to face with what, and who we do or do not want. do we really want the Jesus that can raise us from the dead? the only One that can heal our land?

i am sitting here singing. in the darkness. all i want to do is sing to my passionate, beautiful God.”

 

“i know it’s not uber cool to mention Jesus anymore. but we have the blood of over fifty million unborn children on our hands as a nation. how can we bear the weight of that burden without Him?

how can i be embarrassed to proclaim the God Who spared me from that?

 

If you are in a position to share Gianna’s story, what better time? She has a perspective few of us have. A perspective that is vital in this dialog. 

 

It is not simply that abortion is bad. It is this…you are created by a loving God. The little one within you is created, not forgotten or ignored. Not simply a lump of tissue…a little soul and light and life with a purpose. 

 

Did you hear? You….sitting right there….you are known and loved and marked by the image of a Creator God. He knows you, loves you and has so much grace for you. And, Oh my soul, we need to be moved by these videos and by this reality. 

 

you are Loved by God and not forgotten. nothing about you is forgotten.

victory!

 

 

(For booking info see giannajessen.com. Text message updates (no spam) text: gianna to 95577)

 

 

Advertisements

Lessons Learned from Sending the Boy to Camp. Stop the Chatter.

“Stop trying to protect, to rescue, to judge, to manage the lives around you . . . remember that the lives of others are not your business. They are their business. They are God’s business . . . even your own life is not your business. It also is God’s business. Leave it to God. It is an astonishing thought. It can become a life-transforming thought . . . unclench the fists of your spirit and take it easy . . . What deadens us most to God’s presence within us, I think, is the inner dialogue that we are continuously engaged in with ourselves, the endless chatter of human thought. I suspect that there is nothing more crucial to true spiritual comfort . . . than being able from time to time to stop that chatter . . . ”

Frederick Buechner

Last week the middle boy went to camp. The first time he has been away from us that long…five nights.

We immediately felt his absence when we drove away from the camp, leaving him in a cabin of rowdy boys and wondering what the week would hold.

I remember going to camp, I remember that uncertain feeling and also the excitement. The meals, the laughter, the games. The deep emotional talks.  What would his experience be?

The difference between when I went to camp and now is this: constant updates.

We watched the camp’s FaceBook page and Instagram religiously. They posted hundreds of pictures. Daily. 998 pictures by the end.

We saw our boy in 18 pictures. He is actually in 28 by the end…but that includes the cabin group photos and things from the last day.

18 pictures. 

He is smiling in exactly 4. 

Mostly he is standing with his arms folded and that look of concern. Instantly identifiable, and instantly bringing back all those moments I felt insecure in group situations. You know, like last month or last year or thirty years ago. We all know that feeling.

The husband and I were praying fervently. Speculating. Wondering if we should text and ask the youth leader if he was okay. Hoping for a picture of him with his arm around a buddy. Finally, the last night I had a headache and came downstairs at 1am. New pictures were loaded and there was one with him arms around his cabin mates at the worship time.

Thank you, Lord. He is not alone, he is not completely miserable.

I did text the youth leader who told me the boy had been quiet, but didn’t seem upset. Quiet is unusual for this one.

So, we continued to speculate. The brothers were pretty convinced along with us that the week had been a let down. We all wondered what we would hear when we went to pick him up.

Can you guess?

Yep, he had a great time. Not phenomenal, and there were moments of homesickness…but he wants to go back next year. I showed him the pictures and he laughed. He kept pointing out pictures of laughter and group activities where he was just out of the frame. We just couldn’t quite see the whole picture. Our vision was narrowed and limited and we ran with only what we could see.

We fervently wanted to protect and manage his life. We prayed, but we prayed with advice to God. We chattered continually about the situation, and our chatter went along the lines of all the things that could be wrong.

Did you read the quotation from Buechner above? Here, I’ll post it again:

“Stop trying to protect, to rescue, to judge, to manage the lives around you . . . remember that the lives of others are not your business. They are their business. They are God’s business . . . even your own life is not your business. It also is God’s business. Leave it to God. It is an astonishing thought. It can become a life-transforming thought . . . unclench the fists of your spirit and take it easy . . . What deadens us most to God’s presence within us, I think, is the inner dialogue that we are continuously engaged in with ourselves, the endless chatter of human thought. I suspect that there is nothing more crucial to true spiritual comfort . . . than being able from time to time to stop that chatter . . . ”

We have to remember that God sees the whole picture. He knows the whole story, and we can trust that. Our vision is limited, and it is not good to make continual judgments based on limited understanding.

Even of our own lives.

So, stop the chatter for awhile today. Stop running and questioning and determining the hundred outcomes you think will happen.

Be still and know that He is God.

It takes some time, it takes practice…discipline. Still ourselves and quiet our chatter. Realize the astonishing thought that our lives are God’s business. There is rest in that thought.

The Promises are True.

What a few weeks.

During the last week I have watched my FaceBook and Twitter feed carry on a long discussion fed by strong opinions on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue and both sides of the issues of race. Deeply personal reactions to flags, laws and how we are to live in this Nation together. I have listened and watched and seen some carry themselves with wonderful grace, and others with deep frustration and anger.

I am not one keen to dive into political or theological conversations on FaceBook. I need to have the time to pause and to think and to hear the tone in your voice. I need to be able to back up and correct how I state things. I need conversation in these topics, not wall posts. I listen, but I very rarely engage online.

This last week in the midst of listening to these conversations, deeper situations have held my attention. There is a young man who plays hockey a level up from my oldest. He completed tryouts a few weeks ago, even though he was not feeling well. His mother, concerned with his color, took him the ER the day after tryouts. They have been through a tailspin of diagnosis pointing to viral meningitis, viral infection, heart failure. Lungs filled with gunk. Liver and kidneys failing.

What is that argument on FaceBook? It does not have me holding my breath in the way that this young boy’s struggle has caught me and held my attention.

His mother has prayed. She has offered her fear and her distress alongside her hope and her trust in God.

She is trusting in a reality that is beyond what is before her eyes. She, and others reposting her thoughts, have kept us updated with each step of this young man’s struggle.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, in the midst of posts laced with hope, this young man Mitchell passed away.

All the other debates on FB feel trivial at the moment, and I apologize because I know they are not. I know they are deeply personal and important…but did you hear me? This young man who had just skated in tryouts for the highest level of hockey in our town, died three weeks after those tryouts.

At the same time, I heard from my family. A soccer teammate and friend of my nephew jumped into a river in Colorado to cool off. Strong, athletic, responsible young man. Hiking with friends who are co-workers at a camp, he hopped in a flooded river to cool off. Last I had heard they still have not found his body.

What do we do with the promises and the reality beyond what we see?

I have no idea how I would react in those situations, in the moments that follow. I cannot imagine the grief.

We could all list rapidly the stories of those in our lives who are walking through such deep pain and such tremendous struggle. Pastor Saeed and his family, little ones struggling with cancer, parents fading to dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Here is the reality, though. I do believe in a God who is true and who does fulfill His promises. I believe that He heard every one of those prayers, and that somehow he holds this grief and these situations in His care in a way we cannot understand in the moment.

Those promises…that reality, is founded on a the truth that He Is. The reality that He carries not only the desire, but the power, to care for those who believe in Him.

That He is the Way the Truth and Life.

And that means something.

That His revelation to us is true and even when things seem out of control, they are not. He is still there and there is a reality deeper than the surface we see.

That He rose from the dead.

Is this simply platitudes and fairy tales?

What if the reality is that the revelation of God is true?

What if the promises are true?

In order for the promises to be true, there has to be an authority behind them. There has to be One who causes the promises to be true. Otherwise they are simply platitudes we hang on our walls. Sayings we hope carry some encouragement.

When the promises are given by someone who has conquered death, they carry weight. They carry authority. They are spoken by One who can change everything.

And when God has spoken in ways we can understand, we need to pay attention. When it is not simply fairy tales and wishful thinking, we need to listen. We need to understand that He understands our reality far more deeply than we.

What does He say?

He says that His grace is there for us. For all of us. He says that He has overcome all the boundaries which keep us from knowing Him.

He says that He is near, and that He cares.

He says there is a way to live that brings healing and life, and there are ways to live which leave us broken.

He says to love our enemies, and to care for the widow and the orphan.

When those in our midst are overwhelmed, when they are beyond themselves with grief, there has to be a truth that is deeper than hopeful thinking. I need to pay attention to that truth, so I have something to offer those who are overwhelmed, those who are broken, those who are in despair.

Something to offer that changes everything.

Something that speaks to that mother mourning her son. To that soul that is in torment because they simply do not know who they are. To that child watching their parents age and slip to dementia. To the young person wondering how they will find a job, how they will succeed in a life that looks so daunting.

To them, the promises held by the One Who conquered death hold a reality that is more firm than any law can provide. In that moment, I trust that the reality that these promises are not fairy tales gives a foundation when there seems to be none.
Truth.

And here is the catch….that those of us who proclaim to know this truth live in a way that reveals the utterly amazing truth that we believe. That we live in a way that proclaims compassion and grace. Ultimately it is not about winning arguments, and sometimes we will come to different conclusions when we read the words that I believe are God’s revelation to us. Ultimately, it is about realizing we are all broken people needing grace.