Days, months, years with Avery passed. Progress slowed and respiratory issues emerged. Life continued to be touch-and-go for Avery. The every day grind of this-is-where-God-has-us weighed heavily on our hearts. Avery attended a pre-school (The Sandhills Children’s Center) in Pinehurst, and she thrived there. Burwell taught down the street from her school (The O’Neal School). I taught at a Christian school near Hamlet, and Lindy attended there. Financial pressures presented themselves throughout the ordeal. Although many auto accidents of this magnitude result in financial gain, that wasn’t our case. Loss seemed to be the avenue for this event on every turn. No deep pockets found, not even by the attorney we hired. After tapping into a small policy, we received around $7,000 and a little bit to place in an annuity for Avery to be awarded on her 18th birthday. Justice. Humph.
However, what right did we have to complain? Had not the Lord prepared us for this season: well-taught, well-versed, lives poured into…now to be lives poured out? At our wedding, I chose a song, which was not on the top ten list for wedding songs, “Broken and Spilled Out” by Steve Green. My friend Jeni sang it beautifully with a heart fully His.
“Broken and spilled out
Just for love of you Jesus
My most precious treasure
Lavished on Thee
Broken and spilled out
And poured at Your feet
In sweet abandon
Let me be spilled out
And used up for Thee” (Steve Green Ministries)
Did I really mean those words, though? In the joy of the wedding, the presents, the friends, the hopes, the dreams, those words meant much to me. It was my prayer to Jesus. It was our wedding prayer to Him. But now, with all the hospital stays: Avery getting sick, fluids in her chest, needles, long days with no visitors, no phone calls, upset routines, and another daughter needing a “normal” life, did I want to be broken and spilled out? Did I have a choice? Only during these times of quiet communion with God, often in the hospital room with Avery lying in the bed beside me, and a toddler happily playing on the floor as if the hospital room was her preschool, would I learn that God cares so intimately for His children. He knew every moment. He wrote every moment. And I would learn to live every moment in that moment…one moment at a time. I kept an emergency kit packed. It wasn’t your usual kit. It was a bag with a Bible, pens, a notepad, thank you cards, and some “spiritual food” for a toddler that I may read to Lindy and Avery. I needed these things more than I needed a bag of diapers or a power snack to go. I needed the Bread of Life and the Living Water every day to get through the day…every moment to get through the moment.
Friends, it isn’t easy when we know we are in God’s training camp. It is especially difficult when we think with such a temporal mindset. When will it end? Why must I train for eternity? Why can’t I have my reward now? I want it here and now. But then, when we look into the Word of God, we realize that in Christ, we have our reward. There is fullness of Life, blessing, hope, joy, peace, eternal security for those who put their trust in Him. And no matter what difficulties the day brings, this life is temporary. Hope does spring eternal. Hope springs from Christ.
It wasn’t all awful. Our family saw God do amazing things during this season, like when a group of girls from Lindy’s dance studio danced with a gospel presentation and raised $21,000 in one evening. We were presented with a new van, and paid only the last portion of the much-needed vehicle. Another family gave us their car as a second vehicle. Each day, we encountered God meeting our needs in such a way that we could only profess, “God did it!”
As I mentioned earlier, though, as time lagged onward, the casseroles stopped. No visitors arrived. No cards in the post. Our peers traveled the world, planted churches, wrote books, earned more degrees, had more children…and we genuinely rejoiced for them…but we felt left behind. Where were the saints? Just Jesus. Even Burwell and I misunderstood each other. However, I love these words in the Bible…you can find them throughout the Scriptures…”But God…” I talked to Him. I poured out all my troubles. Imaginatively, I crawled into the lap of Christ as if I was a tiny little girl, and He rocked me. While I rocked my girls, He rocked me. At the end of each of those days, when I rested my head on my pillow, tear-stained as it may have been, I slept. With the peace of God, I melted into the safety of my Father’s embrace.
Have you forgotten the safety of your Father’s embrace? Your Father knows. “But God….” He hears. He cares. He answers. Take all your burdens to the Lord and leave them there.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty” I Cor. 1:27
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” I Cor. 10:13
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us” Eph. 2:4
“For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.” Gal. 3:18