Friday, April 15, 2011

Blessing God Amid Life

I like to sing. Give me 40 minutes of singin' and only 20 minutes of preachin' any Sunday. Or maybe 50/10.

A friend once shared a story about how a man in her church was quite offended by the song, "Blessed Be Your Name," written by Matt Redman. Wasn't a worship song. Wasn't uplifting. Had no place in the church. Ouch! There's a bitter porcupine. Wenda said, "Reminds me of me. How I'd rather not let God into the hurting places in my life. I'd just like to lock Him out and only acknowledge him in the good stuff. Seems like it would be the other way around, but for me it's not."

Boy, did she relate to me.

When I found out I was pregnant with baby #5, I wasn't the least bit excited. In fact, I'd say I was majorly ticked off. ANGRY. Hubby wasn't too thrilled either, but he adjusted to it quicker than I did. He's mature like that. While we never found out the sex of our other 4 critters, I told hubby I needed to on this one because I needed something--anything--to help get me excited...or at least help me not be angry anymore. Pink baby girl clothes scream happy. I'd have eaten pink baby girl clothes if doing so would have made me happy.

Well, one Sunday morning for some reason, hubby needed me to fill in for the guy who normally worked the Power Point/Media Shout for the music during first service morning worship. I figured doing it would give me something to focus on instead of worshiping a God I was ticked off at.

The first two songs were no problem. Then "Blessed Be Your Name" came on.

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Easy to read. Easy to hear. But the next weren't so...

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

By this point my throat tightened, eyes teared up, my lungs constricted...

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say...

By here, I couldn't breath and had to force myself to push the button to change slides...

See, I was okay with blessing God when "when the sun's shining down on me, when the world's 'all as it should be," but I certainly didn't want to bless, praise, honor, glorify Him when I was "on the road marked with suffering." Not that being pregnant was suffering, but being pregnant when I didn't want to be certainly felt like suffering to me. So I could freely say there was "pain in the offering," pain in blessing His name that I felt it was easier to stay angry at God.

Call me crazy, but I'm a pain avoider. I didn't like to hurt for myself so why would I want to hurt for God?

Somehow I kept my emotions bottled until we got home. Which was foolish. I should have felt free to weep at church. Only we hadn't told anyone I was pregnant, and I think I was at least three months along. Shoot, maybe more because I think I'd already been to the doctor and I hadn't gone in until I was 4 months along, which garnered me lots of lectures from the nurses. Actually, I don't think we told many people I was pregnant at any time during the pregnancy because tons of them were shocked when critter 5 and I showed up to church the Sunday after delivering her.

Anyhoo, now when I look at our precious #5, I can't imagine not having her. When I was typing this, she walked in my office and smiled at me. Needless to say, I had to pick her up and put her in my lap. She sipped my Vanilla Coke and said, "Mmm. That's good coffee."

Before I take the confused child to Starbucks, lemme finish my story...

Last spring, I did the Beth Moore ESTHER Bible study. During week four's video session, Beth talked about fear. She said, "We can protect ourself right out of our callings." Boy, do I know how to do that with my writing. But God didn't want me to focus on my shallow writing fears. He decided to smack me upside the heart with my deepest fear. Eventually. Here's what I wrote in my notes:

"Courage is when you look _______ in the face. Don't deny it. Deny it's victory over you. You may be one brave decision away from a new path--from your calling, destiny. The #1 command in the Bible: DO NOT BE AFRAID. We all cherish fear so closely that we can shed it even when told to. Psalm 138:8. Can you imagine living without fearing _______? Do you believe a good week is only a happy accident? Proverbs 31. Most of what we fear will never happen to us. Although this is true, Satan will keep threatening us with it over and over again. WHAT IF is an acronym for I FEAR."

In the listener guide, Beth wrote this: "And if _________, then God will take care of me."

She challenged us to find what that ______ was in our lives. What did we fear on a daily basis? What even was our deepest, most crippling fear?

Ladies all over the room were in tears. Not me. I was, well, kinda peturbed.

How the heck was I gonna confront my deepest fear if I didn't know what it was. Oh, I have fears which you can read if you click on this link. Driving across a bridge. Heights. Swimming in a lake, river, or ocean where human-eating fish live. And so on. But those are only fears I have for to garner sympathy. I don't really fear those things. Well, maybe I do the fish.

So I told my friend Tanya as we were leaving the classroom (paraphrasing here), "I feel abnormal because I don't have any crippling fears. Surely I have a fear. A real fear. In fact, this week I'm gonna pray that God shows me a real fear. Ooh, I'm excited!" I won't describe the "look" she gave me. Just between us, I think she's confident I'm abnormal.

Three days later...NOTHING. Still no fear.

I even complained to my husband. I'm sure he thought I was abnormal for wanting a fear. I was considering pondering the very idea that perhaps maybe I was abnormal. (See note above about Tanya.)

Not but a day after I'd decided to live with my disappointment in not having a fear to conquer in Jesus' name, God opened my eyes. He played a song on my heart. Then again, it could have been on the radio.

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

I had a fear. A real fear. Getting pregnant. My fear began after baby #3. He wasn't planned. After I had him, I began to dread when Aunt Flo was late in visiting. I know: TMI. Do you know how much pregnancy and babies cost? Several years, a miscarriage, and a traumatic deliver of baby #4 later, I was emotionally crippled with the fear of getting pregnant again. So can you understand why I was so angry at God when I realized I was pregnant with #5? All my fears were answered with her.

Oh my satellites dishes! That was not the fear I'd wanted to face. I figured God would show me I had a fear of creepy crawly things or not making it to the potty quick enough when I was in the middle of Wal-Mart. I wanted a cool fear.

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

I had to pray my way though the song, though my fears, though my lack of trust in God knowing what was best for me. I had to reach a point where I could say "If I got pregnant again, God WILL take care of me and I WILL be okay."

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Funny thing is this past fall when I was at a doc appointment and the nurse said, "Is there any possibility you could be pregnant?" (a routine question), I shrugged and said, "Probably not, but if I were, it's no biggie."

So I'm back to where I was when I walked out of the Esther video session four: happily relishing my fake fear of driving on bridges and swimming where the human-eating fish live.

Boy, does it feel nice.

Love the song? Listen to it HERE

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

"For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

To read more about Matt Redman's inspiration behind the song, click here.

What do you fear? What lesson has God ever taken you through to teach you not to fear?


Mary Aalgaard said...

Wonderful, honest post. I think most women would feel guilty about that fear, and not want to tell the truth about feeling angry about pregnancy. They'd hear all the voices of people suffering from infertility, the blessings of new life, blah, blah, blah, but the truth is babies are a physical and emotional drain on us.
Fear of abandonment and isolation are my biggest fears.

Gina Welborn said...

Thanks, Mary!

I shared my fear one time in a Bible Study. The facilitator couldn't have kids so she didn't understand my anger at being pregnant again.

Fortunately, I lost that anger once Niley was born. She's such a delight and a blessing.

Jules said...

I related to your posts on many levels. First, I love that song and God has also used it to speak to my heart. Unlike you though, I did cry in church.

Secondly, after my fifth and last child I had a fear of labour that had started before he was born and which lasted until he was about 8 years old (with reason I might add). Had I fallen pregnant during those 8 years I'm not sure how I would've handled it. Screamed and cried a lot no doubt. Now (perhaps because I'm getting older and there's less chance of another pregnancy) it doesn't bother me anymore.

Another fear that I had for years and which turned out to be my greatest blessing was one of moving overseas. Having never been away from family, the thought of being separated by an ocean of water frightened me, and yet unless God shows us otherwise, we would never go back and I'm happy with that.

Gina Welborn said...

Oh, Jules, I'm so with you about fears turning into great blessings.

Thank you for sharing with me. :-)