By Laurisa Ballew
All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
- Romans 8: 22-25
This is a hard blog for me to write. Because I am in the midst of the waiting. And while I believe in the waiting, during which a great expectation and joy grow in us, it can also be a tiring place to be - a place where I find myself frustrated and grumbling a lot.
My daughter was ten weeks old when she had her first seizure. I knew it was likely coming because the disease she has, Tuberous Sclerosis (TS), is know for its neurologic side effects. (Seizures being a major complication.)
Lets rewind a bit. When I was 34 weeks pregnant I found out that my daughter had heart tumors that were very likely caused by TS. After doing a lot of research and meeting with A LOT of specialty doctors, I felt braced for what was to come. I knew, with every fiber of my being, that God could heal my daughter.
After she was born and the diagnosis was confirmed, I remember asking the Lord to heal her. For her to be miraculously unaffected by this disease. I knew He COULD if He wanted to. So I prayed, believing that, "God is bigger than her genetic code.” At some point, shortly after she was born but before she started seizing, I felt God ask me to move from believing He COULD heal her to believing He WOULD heal her.
Could is a safe answer. Would puts it all on the line.
This is still a conversation that God and I have...a lot. He continually invites me to trust FULLY in His goodness and believe that He will heal her. And it’s hard. It is so hard. She is almost six with very few words and very little independent function. When I think in my head or say aloud, “I believe God will heal her,” I feel foolish. Am I somehow afraid that my bold proclamation will not be fulfilled and God will look weak? I realize fully that God doesn’t need me to “protect His image,” so I come back to obedience and try to get over my foolish feelings.
On the night she started seizing, our pastor came to the hospital to pray with us.
I remember, at some point, telling him that I had felt very strongly about believing not only that the Lord could heal her, but that He would heal her. He listened with a wise ear and encouraged me to do just that. Then he gave me, quite possibly, some of the best advice I have ever received. In his calm confident voice he said, “Just remember, God sent His own people through the wilderness before they entered the promised land. Because He knew they would forget His goodness if He had lead them straight there.”
I have been living in the wilderness for almost six years. And never, not once, has God abandoned us. In truly miraculous ways He has provided. And yet sometimes I still have the nerve to grumble about it.
Remember how God fed His people in the desert? He miraculously rained bread down from the sky! And, after a while, when the miracle had lost it’s wonder, they grumbled! Yep. That is me.
Are you familiar with the hymn “Come Thou Fount”? There is a very significant line for me in the song that says,
Prone to wander Lord I feel it.
Prone to leave the God I love.
Take my heart Lord, take and seal it.
Seal it for Thy courts above.
These lines may have been written for me. I think that having Emmaus as my daughter has forced me to, “bind my wandering heart.” In general, I am a really capable person. My capacity is quite large. And I am a do-er. If something needs to get done, if there is a challenge or a road block, no problem, I will figure it out. But having Emmaus? It has forced me into intimacy with the Lord. It has left me feeling beaten and broken- knowing in all of my power I can DO nothing to heal her, to take away this burden from her - or from me.
It has forced me to realize that this broken world we live in is NOT my home.
From that first invitation to believe God would heal Emmaus, I have felt my faith begin to grow. I pray believing what I ask will be heard and done, because I believe in a God that can make bread rain from the sky and raise a little girl from the dead.
In all I have gained it also has hurt like hell. Romans talks about this anticipation in waiting being like a pregnant woman; growing a baby hurts! It has stretched me. Changed me. And some parts of me have died away. And that has been painful. But, just like in pregnancy, you can’t fight those things. You have to trust the process, and seek out appropriate help.
Somedays the anticipation of heaven is just more than I can even handle. A day when my sweet daughter will be unbound by her earthly body and mind. Where wholeness will be the rule of the land. Our struggle will be forgotten. Today the tears flow as I write this and I can’t find the words to say what imagining that time feels like for me.
I can’t find words because they feel Holy. Unspeakable. It is in such sharp contrast to my early reality. The here and now is heavy. I am so tired. And I don’t see an end in sight. At every turn it feels like there is a detour preventing me from getting where I need to go.
Wandering. I’m wandering in the wilderness.
The next part of Romans 8 says this:
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
In my aching groans my wordless prayers are heard. God’s spirit is right alongside me, helping me in my tired waiting. That, my friends, is some GOOD news. If you are feeling the pregnancy pains of waiting in expectation for something so much better - YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
The wilderness is real. But we are not forgotten.
Oh, that day when freed from sinning
I shall see Thy lovely face
Clothed then in the blood washed linen
How I'll sing Thy wondrous grace
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry
Take my ransomed soul away
Send Thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day