Sunday, November 2, 2014

Journey of Loss {Part 3}: The Perfect Ballast

Around the time of thanksgiving, Billy and I visited my brother and sister-in-law in a little town called Graceville, located on the panhandle of Florida. 

     While Christmas shopping at a bookstore, I felt drawn to a book with a pale pink rose on it called Misty, by Carole Gift Page. I read the back cover and shoved it back on the shelf. 

     While pregnant, Carole discovered her baby was going to die when she was born.
Staring at the book on the shelf, I tried to resist buying it. It would be too painful to read, but at the same time, I needed to read it. However much I didn’t want to face the truth of my child's condition, I needed to be prepared. Maybe the Lord had led me to the book to help me.

So, I took a deep breath, slipped it back off the shelf, and bought it.

As I was reading through Misty, another wave of grief swept over me. As soon as Carole found out her unborn child was in trouble, her mother came and stayed with her for several weeks, helping and comforting her in her grief.

I didn't have anyone who could be there for me like that.

On most days, I barely had enough strength to take care of April. When Billy got home from work, he helped put her to bed, watched T.V., and went to sleep. I retreated to a quiet refuge by myself to weep. 

I felt so utterly alone and longed for someone to lament with me.

There were many nights when I couldn’t sleep. All I could think about was the baby. I kept worrying that our little one was going to die shortly after birth or would struggle to breathe and be in pain.  

Then, I would get up, grab my Bible, and head out to the living room. I snuggled into my plush recliner chair, placed the Bible on my swollen belly, and poured over Scripture.

At first, I felt all alone, but as I read God’s Word, I felt His presence, and I knew my Savior was with me. He gave me strength and peace. It was His love that kept me from sinking.

November 28, 2003

I lie awake in bed this morning, not wanting to get up. This being the last trimester of my pregnancy, I have felt too weak and tired to pray. I looked at my Bible thinking, there’s no way I’ll wake up enough to read. 

The urge to use the restroom got me out of bed. As I trudged to the bathroom, I realized I needed the Lord to give me enough strength to desire to “seek His face,” so I prayed for help. My mind was foggy, this being 5:30 in the morning, but I sensed God speak to my heart.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever.”

I spoke this truth out loud and then prayed again.

     “Please, Lord, give me the strength to seek Your face diligently, and to read Your Word.”

     I opened my eyes and felt strengthened. I grabbed my Bible and didn’t know where to start, so I turned to the gospels, in the Book of Luke and my eyes landed on Chapter 19, verse 28.

It was when Jesus entered Jerusalem at the time of the Passover feast, before He was crucified. I thought about how joyful the people were when they shouted, “Hosanna!” which means, God saves.
Many people recognized that Jesus was yet again fulfilling prophecy about the Messiah, and they cried, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord."

I wondered where this prophecy was in the Old Testament and the footnote said Psalm 118:26. When I turned to Psalm 118, the first verse said,

“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever.”  

The very same verse God spoke to my heart.

Yes, the Lord is good, and His love endures forever, and He shall reign as King forever.  

He reveals Himself to me and reminds me who He is.  He is the God who saves.

“The Lord your God is in your midst.  The mighty one will save.
He will rejoice over you with gladness.  He will quiet you with his love.
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
(Zephaniah 3:17, ESV)

Long ago, before going on a voyage, a ballast, or heavy load of rocks was placed at the core of a ship. The ballast would right the ship in rough waters and keep it from capsizing.

The one and only true and perfect ballast that kept me from sinking was Jesus Christ.  When the waves of grief crashed over me, threatening to submerge me its dark, despairing depths, I felt His presence with me, keeping me afloat.It helped to know I wasn’t alone.
The Lord was taking care of me, and I could still trust Him in my pain. When I was overwhelmed, His words became real to me, and my only anchor of hope. I knew He wasn’t going to leave me—especially, now that I needed Him so much.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-8, ESV)

Some nights, I agonized about what was going to happen and felt captive to all my fears. The burden of it threatened to crush me, until I surrendered my worries to the Lord. I laid them down at His feet in prayer and entrusted myself to whatever He had planned for me and my baby. Then, I was finally able to sleep peacefully, and had enough strength to make it through the next day.

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, Lord,
make me dwell in safety.”

(Psalm 4:8, NIV)

This is part 3 in the series Journey of Loss. Here is the link to Part 4.