Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Blessing?

This was the year that I finally touched base with a friend who is always looking for eager mulberry pickers to take advantage of all that her four trees have to offer. The berries ripen in late spring and provide a feast for the birds. Long gone are the days when an army of neighborhood kids would come with pails to collect their bounty. They've all grown or moved away, and the birds can only gobble up so much. Which means that thousands upon thousands of berries simply go to waste.

I arrived at her home with a few mixing bowls and a small step ladder. I was woefully underprepared! I really don't know what I was thinking. Maybe I was expecting that the "trees" would be more like bushes. You know, like "Here we go 'round the mulberry bush..." In reality, they were huge - much larger than our ladder could reach. The berries seemed limitless - much more than our bowls could contain. In what seemed like no time at all, our bowls were filled and a few sandwich baggies were produced for us to use. I could not believe how much fruit she had right there in her yard for the taking. I imagined all of the ways she could put the mulberries to use and kept telling her what a blessing her trees were. Yet, even as I said this, I thought of how that just did not seem to be the case for her.

I had been ecstatic to have the pleasure of picking all of that free food. What a joy for my fingers to seek out and pluck the plump berries with the birds looking on and expressing their displeasure with us concerning our thievery! My friend, on the other hand, had mulberries all over her driveway and yard. We squished berries with each step and she shared how they had twice replaced their carpeting when their children were young. We literally had a good inch and a half of berries on the bottoms of our shoes as we walked around gathering. The sheer volume of berries was overwhelming and the thought of how many of them just fall to the ground and rot each year was a bit depressing. I could see how the berries might not seem like much of a blessing to her.

Isn't it the same with so many things in life? What is great to one may seem terrible to another. As I pondered this I began to take this whole concept a bit deeper. I thought of instances in my life that have proved to be a blessing to others, but didn't at all feel that way to me. One of the greatest examples that comes to mind is the blessing that others receive by watching us cling to God through special needs parenting.

It's been almost four years since I sat in that doctor's office and began to absorb his callous words about my youngest child. I had asked what all of this would mean. What kind of quality of life would he have? Would he live independently down the road or should we prepare ourselves for institutionalization? His response? "Well, if I had a crystal ball to gaze into the future I could tell you what things will be like for your son. But since I don't, I can't." So many hopes and dreams died in an instant right then and there.

Life had not been easy up to that point, but I had clung to the hope that blessing was just around the corner. I knew that God would be faithful to us if we'd only follow hard after Him. We'd been leading a life that felt a bit nomadic with us moving around every few years. There was no steady, fulfilling, or well-compensating job to hold us. We seemed to be lacking in relationships - always feeling a bit out of place and awkward. No Sunday dinner with family or big birthday/anniversary celebrations. With no student loans, credit card debt, or mortgage to pay off, I began to think that God might send us into the mission field! It made perfect sense to me. I smile now to think of how I lived each day fully expecting my husband to announce that he was answering God's call to pack up our family and go to __________. I couldn't wait to discover what God's great plan was for us.

Sitting in that office, everything that I had fought so hard to make sense of just kind of slipped through my fingers. No, the explanation that I had come up with was not going to be the case. We were back to square one. We would not just pick up one day and move to some distant land to which God was calling us to serve Him. No, He was calling us to stay... at home... with no answers... with even more stresses than we had to begin with... trusting Him throughout... remaining faithful to Him... and inviting others to watch us navigate the sometimes murky waters of parenting our little guy... fully depending on His power and grace all the while.

And so I live each day on the mission field to which He has called me here at home. Always pushed beyond what I can handle, and always with an audience. God shapes me with a faithfulness that is so far beyond my comprehension. He means good for me and I can trust that He is moving all things toward that end. My only job is to love Him and follow His leading. He will take care of the rest.

I bow before You, precious Father, and look to You for rest. I humbly ask that You be my everything. When I begin to wonder if this journey that I am on is a result of my sin or if You are showing Your displeasure with me through it, help me to feel and believe Your love. When I remember the friend who warned me against having a fifth child, telling me that "Children can be blessings, but not all children are blessings from God," help me to see my son for the blessing that he is. Lord, I recall how adamant I was with her in my insistence that all children are blessings. I pray that Your grace will chase away the doubt when I wonder if I shouldn't have listened to her and fear that I am only getting what I deserve. I need You, Lord. Every day. Every hour. Continue to use our precious boy to bless others and point to You. Let others see You in me as I do this thing that You have entrusted me with. Thank You for the joys and thank You for the hardships, for You are found in both. I love you more deeply with each passing day and look forward to the time when I will finally be home with You. In the beautiful name of Jesus I pray, amen.