type='text/javascript'/> A Latte Talk: But for the grace of God...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

But for the grace of God...

Hearing about tragedies always always causes me to think about how life is so fleeting. How we don't know what will happen tomorrow, or even 5 seconds from now. I imagine people going about their daily lives, not having any idea that life is about to drastically change. Or end. It causes me to ponder the Sovereignty of God. The goodness of God.

There have been many tragedies for me to ponder. They seem to go in waves, where I hear about one tragedy after another. Freak accidents. Children with cancer who Jesus heals in heaven instead of on earth. A child with a harmless ear infection turned meningitis. Millions of impoverished people with no food and water, in the wake of 4 storms, one on top of another.

It is staggering to me how many tragedies involving children I have heard of in the past several months.

Especially in the world of blogging, you don't have to look too hard or long to find a website with a gazillion hits every day from complete strangers, watching and caring about a sick child or sick mommy. There are SO many people that are hurting. Deep, wrenching, heart-splitting sobbing kind of hurting.

I have to say that I am scared to death to post the following story. I'm not altogether sure I'm ready to share it with the world. But Someone is drawing me to, and so I will. But know that I have a big fat pit in my stomach as I hit "Publish Post".

Early this summer, on a Sunday after church, we drove up to our home. It was the first hot day, at 84 degrees outside. I was in a fog (I had a terrible headache), in a rush (we were hungry), really stressed (that evening, Matt and I were both performing in a recital, and we had yet to secure a babysitter for our kids), and generally, we were just out of our element. Not at all acting or feeling like ourselves.

We went about our business, rushing around to get lunch ready, I was on and off the phone with several potential babysitters, and some friends, trying to nail down exactly what we would do with our children that night for the recital. 20 minutes passed, with all of us going everywhere all at the same time. Can you imagine the scene? It was chaos.

All of a sudden, it hit me like a load of bricks. "Where's Isaac?". I hung up on my friend.

Matt: I don't know. Didn't you put him in bed? I thought you put him in bed.

Me: NO. I did NOT put him in bed.

PANIC. Chaos. I ran upstairs to confirm that I wasn't crazy. No, I didn't put him in bed.

My heart was racing and my chest hurt. We had been outside. Were the gates open and he wandered off? I didn't remember having seen Isaac in a long time.

Then, it occurred to me that I didn't remember seeing Isaac AT ALL since we got home.

(a horrid thought)
Me: Did we get him out of the CAR??!!

Matt: I think so?... I'll check.

Matt ran outside, and as I glanced out the window I was so. relieved. to see my poor sweet baby boy, being unbuckled and lifted out of the car by my no-color-left-in-his-face husband. Isaac was drenched in sweat, and when Matt handed him to me, he just flopped down on me like a doll. He didn't look well. His skin was bright red.

My relief turned to panic again. I whipped off his clothes and went and got the thermometer.

98.9. "He's fine. It was only 20 minutes. He's fine. He's fine."

He's fine. My boy was fine. But his Mama wasn't.

I have re-lived that scene and every potential could-have-been scene related to it. I have been angry at myself. Angry at my husband. I told him right after this happened, "I can't decide if I want to hug you or strangle you!" I was so upset that day, I actually threw up. And then had to go perform in a recital (something I hadn't done since college!). Suddenly performing felt like nothing.

My son was fine. But we could have killed him. By the grace of God, he was fine.

That awful scene with a "happy" ending has haunted me. Since then, I have been fearful about things I'm not normally fearful of. Soon after this happened, while I was backing out of a parking spot, I ran over a crack in the blacktop and the car bumped a little bit. I had this flash of the idea that it was a child, and I panicked. I pulled back in, even though I realized it was nothing. And I shook. And cried. I had to get out of the car and breathe some fresh air to get my body to stop shaking.

It's just so humbling, and brings me to my knees when I become so keenly aware of how life is a vapor. We are here for such a short time, and the truth is, we don't know how long. We don't know what tomorrow holds.

But for the grace of God, Isaac would have been out in that car all afternoon. I shudder. to. even. write. those. words.

But it's happened. We've all heard the stories.

But for the grace of God, we'd all be dead. That sounds so incredibly morbid and depressing. Until you add in the fact that God delights in us, delights in our Praise. Has plans to prosper us. And he Loves us with a perfect Love that is keeping us alive!

It's just such a different perspective... If it weren't for God's grace, we'd be dead. Let's see... I'm alive. Praise God! I'm alive!

That day in the spring, in my heart, a relatively loose grip on my children turned into a vice grip. I feared almost every day that something might happen to them. As I've preached to myself and let the Bible preach to me these past several days, I am loosening my grip again on my children. They are God's children first. God has entrusted them to me for a little while. But they are His.

So. Instead of worry. I'm pushing hard after the TRUE meaning of life. I'm passionate about following hard after Christ, trusting in my heart of hearts that He is in control and that I need not worry.

Not that this is the end of the story. It's going to be daily, "Lord, they're yours." "Lord, they're YOURS." It's a mother's heart's tendency to hold on. We need to be letting go.

Last night we read the Passion story out of our favorite new children's Bible story book, which does a fantastic job writing explanations of what's going on in the story. This version of Jesus in the garden before his arrest is so moving. It took us 15 minutes to get through a few short pages because there were so many questions from the girls, and there were many tears. There is NOTHING like a story falling on little ears with soft hearts to prick this old heart of mine.

"Mommy, WHY is he so sad?" "Because he knows he's going to die soon" (tears)

"Mommy, WHY does he ask God to let him not die?" "Because it's going to be very painful, and God is going to turn his back on Jesus while he dies, because he can't look on sin" (tears)

"But, Mommy, Jesus didn't sin!" "I know. It's our sin that God is turning his back on." (tears)

THIS is life. THIS is what I'm here for. THIS is WHO I'm here for. Not for myself or for my children, or my husband. I let go of that grip, put myself in the loving hands of Jesus and... ahhh.

There is great Joy.


Denise said...

what a vulnerable post.

somebody once told me that "God doesn't give us grace for our imagination."

my imagination can carry on with all sorts of "what ifs," and i have to remind myself that God will not give grace for the worry, but He Will Give Grace, amazing grace when i need it (and believe me i've needed it).

Praise God that He has magnified His mercy on us all through Jesus.
(i need that too).
and Praise Him that He shows us the
truth about who we are in Him.

Anonymous said...

I am telling you...you need to write my friend. I am so sorry. I locked Bradley in the car on a hot day. The key to the car fell off the key chain somehow. The police wouldn't answer the phone. It took three trys before I got a response. I was freaking out and about to break the window. Not the same as what you went through but my heart was beating fast and I was sick to my stomach. The firefighters gave him a stuffed animal that I hate because it reminds me of that day everytime I see it. I will be praying that the Lord gives you peace and thank him for his grace that we each get to see another day. I have been thinking on this subject a lot too since we lost Katie. So tough. I love you Jenny. Thank you for your honesty and sharing your tough moments. It gives the rest of us courage to share as well.

Jackie @ Our Moments Our Memories said...

I got chills and then tears reading this, Jenny. I can only imagine how sick your mother's heart was, even though your precious little guy was ok.

"They're YOURS, Lord..." Yes. That is what it comes down to, and oh, sometimes that is so hard to say, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

"Lord, they're YOURS." It's a mother's heart's tendency to hold on. We need to be letting go."

Wow. I'm just humbled down to the ground that you would share your story and more that God would use it to minister to Me.

You're absolutely right, we don't know how long we have been given. Can you believe its been 7 years since 9/11?! Every day is a gift. I'm especially grateful for this one.

(((Hugs))) & Blessings,

Jenna said...

"God doesn't give us grace for our imagination" is so helpful to me as I read this post, Denise.

Living five doors down from you makes this story 5,000 times more real to me. I remember that day, but I didn't know about that part of it. Just knew about the recital.

Jenny, I feel sick. I know the end of the story is happy, but, it makes me sick because it came so close to tragedy. And that could be anyone of us.

hug your kids for me. and thanks for reminding me today that they are His...all of them.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

This is a beautiful, authentic post, Jenny. I love it.

And truthfully, I doubt there's a mother alive who hasn't done something like this. We are HUMAN! We put ourselves and our children at risk in hundreds of ways, just by living in this world.

Which is why God is our only hope. Like you, He is teaching me to daily place my family in His capable hands.

Dawn S. said...

Thanks sweet Jenny for being so vulnerable to share this. I have two friends who have told me stories similar and followed them up with, "Please don't tell anyone this! No one knows!" So thank you for sharing and I am glad that my precious nephew is ok!! We love him to pieces!

PS Still crying

Sheryl said...

Thank you for sharing your heart! Mine was racing as you were telling the story, only imagining what that must hav felt like.

We are here for HIM alone - that is profound. Thank you for that reminder. Absolutely loved this post!


Tiffany said...

I read this a half hour ago. I left and went to make dinner. I kept thinking about it. I am still shuddering thinking about it so came back to comment. Jenny, wow. I don't know what to say. Tears were streaming down my face when I read this. I can imagine your feelings at the time. I would not have been okay either. I praise GOD with you that he is alright. When Jeneva was two, she escaped out of our kitchen, down our back alley and ACROSS THE STREET. Your story brought back similar emotions. The sudden panic of where is my child!? Also, whenever I back my car out, I get that pit in my stomach of someone being back there. I am always so cautious. I know of several tragedies (some close to home) where that has happened. It freaks me out. Oh, I just want to give sweet Isaac a hug now too. Thank you for sharing your heart.

Heather of the EO said...

It would have been easy to hold on to pride, not wanting to share this story, fearing what people might think. But you had the courage to share it, and it's powerful and already doing God's work. Maybe because moms can relate to making mistakes and feel freed of their guilt and shame. And secondly because of how you tell the honest tale of moving from a vice grip to a fuller acceptance of God's hand in our lives. A beautiful post.

Heather said...

I love you, Jenny. I'm proud of you for sharing this. I have wondered if you would post this, and as a mother who has made similar mistakes, I am so proud of you for being forthcoming with your humanity. We're all human, but most of just hate to admit it...

You teach me so much, my dear friend...

Anna - Three Sneaky Bugs said...

Once I was almost all the way to work when I happened to glance in the rear view mirror and noticed by baby sitting there quietly. I had forgotten to drop him off at day care. If I hadn't happened to look I could easily see myself walking into work and not realizing he was there until I came out at 5. We are only human and must be grateful every day when we only make small mistakes.

I'm so happy that Isaac was ok.

lmichaud said...

Thanks Jenny for sharing your heart and reminding us to Praise God eveyrday for the time he gives us with our kids. I needed that reminder today. Thanks so much for your blog. I love reading it.

Also you stated you have a new childrens bible story book. I am always looking for new books for my kids to help explain. I would be interested in the title of the book.

Blessings to you and your family
Lori Michaud