This past week was a very trying time for my daughter and her family. A time of crisis hit, and it brought all of us to our knees. We were afraid, even though God says not to fear. We prayed, fasted, and tried to keep our eyes on God, but there was so much that we could not understand. We couldn’t make sense of anything. And then the light began to dawn. Things turned around. We are not totally out of the crisis yet, but things are looking better every day.
This time of crisis brought to mind a book I read several years ago, Kisses from Katie A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption, by Katie Davis (Majors).
Katie spent three weeks in Uganda during Christmas break in her senior year of High School. After graduation, she returned to teach kindergarten for a year, that turned into a lifetime. The book tells of her life there, the adoption of thirteen girls by the time she was 23 years old, and the struggles she faced as she tried to understand God and his will for her life and those around her.
Katie gave up what the world says is important. She didn’t go to college, she gave up designer clothes, she gave up her boyfriend and left a very comfortable life behind. She went to a place where she would experience danger, disease, and sorrow, where only by leaning totally on God, could she get through each day.
The thoughts that came to mind as our family struggled to get through our crisis was a story she told in her book on pages 225-227. Here is a condensed version.
Grace (Gracie) was one of Katie’s adopted daughters. Gracie loved baths until one day when she turned three she decided she didn’t. Night after night, Katie would try to get Gracie to the bathtub amid quiet “I don’t want” statements to a shrieking and crying, “No bath, no bath, no bath!”
Once Katie finally got her into the bath a “funny thing” would happen. Grace would remember “She likes the bath! The bath is fun. Not to mention a really great way to get clean.” By the end of the struggle, Grace enjoyed her bath so much she didn’t want to get out.
As Katie says, “The bath time struggle never is about the bath at all. It is about obedience. Grace is three years old and she simply does not want to obey. She thinks she should be the one to decide whether she gets in the tub or not. She is three years old, and she is trying to figure out just how much control she has in her little life. At this point, not much.”
Katie goes on to say, “I shudder to think of what I could have missed in life because of my disobedience. I am so thankful that God in His grace does not allow me to win. Because usually, the fight is not really about what He is asking me to do…. It is about me, trying to figure out just how much control I have over my little life. At this point, not much.”
“Sometimes I still think what I do with my life should be my decision. God asks, and reasons, and encourages. He gently explains that I do not know what is best for me and that I do not always get what I want. And I just look at Him, not understanding at all what He’s trying to say. Sometimes, I even whine and sob and shriek, just like a tired, angry three-year-old. So God picks me up, exhausted from struggling, and plops me in the center of His will for my life. And then a funny thing happens. As I kick and scream and struggle, I remember: I like being in the center of God’s will for my life. God’s plan is usually pretty great. It is a whole lot better than mine anyway. I am so glad that He does not allow me to win.”
And so, as we went through a week of crisis, I realized how little I understand of God and that I have absolutely no control over anything. God wants us to KNOW Him, but sometimes the challenges we face are totally outside of anything we know of God from scripture, or sermons, or study. What is going on around us just does not make sense. But we cry out to Him and we feel his peace. We still do not understand, but then the morning light breaks on the other side of the crisis, and we sigh and lean up against God, and feel his arms wrap around us and the ones we love, and we are safe from the storm once more. We will never understand on this earth why these things happen. We are as inept to understand as a three-year-old. But, there is faith, and hope, and love, that gets us through, and God is right there in the midst of it all, steering the course, getting us were we need to be, just before it could really turn ugly.
I pray for all of us, in the days ahead, as we face sickness, lost jobs, unrest in the country, and danger from all sides… to stop trying to understand, accept that we are not in control, and to lean into the arms of God for support and comfort for each minute of the day. He is our only hope.
“….how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Matthew 23:37b (KJV)
“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to you for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by.” Psalm 57:1 (NLT)