Thursday, August 13, 2009

He remembers

In church one Sunday morning about 6 weeks after Abigail had passed from this life into the next, I was broken. My arms ached with emptiness. My soul was bruised, and I wondered how I could even breathe. Yet I raised my hands in praise and choked out the words to the songs of God's faithfulness.

Pastor Scott got up and began an altar call. He asked all those with needs to come forward for prayer. I had a need, that was certain. I wanted to be prayed over. My spirit cried out to me that I needed intercession. But something held me back. Perhaps it was that I didn't want all those hundreds of people, who knew of our loss, to see me and, forbid it, pity me. I didn't want to be pitied. True, I was a victim of human suffering, a kind uncommon to most in that building. But my spirit was not crushed. I simply had a request to make of my Father in Heaven.

So I cried out to him in my heart, "God, I need you. But I can't go up there. I need you to meet me here. I know you can minister to me right here where I am. Father, my arms are empty. I understand what I must do, and that is to wait for your perfect timing. But I want you to know that I'm scared of your timing. I'm afraid my heart will break in two. I'm afraid that my spirit, though strong, will become crushed by the wait. And yet, I trust in who you are. You have brought me through so much. And I will trust in your timing. Just please, know that I feel as if I can't bear these empty arms much longer."

As I prayed these thoughts in my heart, I held back the tears. Then I felt an arm slip around my waist. I thought it was my husband's, but I turned my face to see a woman who had come down from the choir and made her way past the other worshipers down to the middle of the row where I was. She put her face against mine and started speaking: "God wants you to know that He hears you, and He is coming to you right where you are. He knows the desire of your heart, and He will give you what you need. You don't have to worry about His timing, because it will be sooner than you think. And He will hold you up. He will wrap His arms around you and you will not feel empty any more."

Through these words, I found that the tears had started to stream down my face. By the end, I was fairly sobbing. I had never experienced something like this before. I had been in love with my Heavenly Father since I had given my heart to Him at the tender age of four. I knew that He cared for me so much that He sent His only Son to die for me. But I never felt as loved as when He reached down and touched me that morning, through the words of a beautiful woman I had only just met. Suddenly it was me, there at the center of His heart.

How I wish I could express in words the jumble of feelings inside me as I left the sanctuary that morning. The God of creation had come to meet me where I was. No, I wasn't surprised. I knew He could do it. It's just that my expectation was to find a quiet peace come over me there where I stood. My envisioning was that I would find a spiritual connection such as the others that I had found throughout every other trial of my life. But that He would place it upon a relative stranger's heart to come and speak to every petition I had just made, and that she would hear it and command the courage to come down to me from the choir and deliver it, was greater than I could ever have imagined.

And yet, human as I am, fickle and often fragile in my trust, I left wondering if she had been right. I wanted to believe it. She had literally answered every private word spoken through an intimate conversation with my only Hope. And yet, there was a tiny seed of doubt lingering deep within my soul. And even the comforting words that His timing would be sooner than I thought (which, by the way, was along the lines of years) left me concerned. How soon did that mean? It's funny how I went before Him seeking merely peace, and He delivered much more; so I wanted even more yet.

But true to the words of that faithful acquaintance (now a dear friend), my wait was not to be unbearable. Only two weeks later, I had a positive pregnancy test. By my calculation, I conceived perhaps on that same day that I had poured out my soul to a God who really does care enough to meet me right where I am. And only a month away from the anniversary of Abigail's short life, my arms were finally wrapped around the answer to a promise. His name, Zechariah, which means "the Lord remembers."

And a few days later, I once more walked up those stairs, turned to my bedroom, and saw an empty cradle. But this time, I walked over and placed into it my beautiful baby boy. Then I sat on my bed and cried, just as I had only eleven months before as I looked upon it as empty evidence of her that was and is no more. There will never be a way to replace Abigail, and nothing will take the place of my love for her. But the faithfulness of the Lord is to be found in this: He not only held me through this terrible storm, but He also remembered my cry and gave me my heart's desire.


Beth said...

Shelley, thank you so much for posting this! It brought tears to my eyes (and sweetness to my soul). :-)

Sheila said...

I am so thankful to see you on your blog and thank you for visiting mine and posting. I will be sure to check out the link in my somewhat free time. :) whenever that is of course. Hopefully soon. I want to thank you bunches for sharing about abigail it's been a blessing for me. Thank you.