Yesterday I considered the possibility that despite my journey trying to conceive, God may still choose not to answer my prayers for a baby (babies). The question that has been haunting me is: When God promises to give me the desires of my heart, does that mean He will necessarily allow me to have my own biological children? And I couldn’t come up with an answer; the question paralyzed me.
After pouring out my heart to God in prayer yesterday morning, and after putting together my HOPE page on this blog yesterday afternoon, I came across a couple of things that jumped off the page at me. One was C. S. Lewis’ quote, “I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face, questions die away. What other answer would suffice?” The other was the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, where they had been threatened by Nebuchadnezzar to be thrown in the fire if they didn’t worship him. “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us,” they said. “But even if He doesn’t…we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
These two things softened my heart towards God, and made me see that I often put the thing I desire before my desire for God himself. I have been praying for God to change my heart, and make me truly able to love Him more than the thing I want, to cheerfully give it up if He asked that of me. And I now meant it.
I woke up this morning in a state of complete joy. I finally felt free. Free to be happy with whatever God had in store for me. Then the day set in.
My quiet time this morning was out of Matthew 8:21-22 — the story of the disciple who said he wanted to follow Jesus but first wanted to go and bury his father. Jesus told him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” Essentially, “Let go of everything that doesn’t have true eternal value. Follow Me instead, and let those who are are not Mine tend to these earthly concerns.”
I got scared reading that. Is God really asking this of me? Is He really saying that because I gave this desire up to Him, He’s not going to consider fulfilling it? It seems from this passage that He actually does want me to give up my earthly concerns, my desires outside of Him.
The enemy filled my head with lies at this point. My joy began to fade to fear. In no time these thoughts had taken over and I was bitter at the thought of God taking this away from me completely. I want a baby. I want a family of my own.
It was like the enemy knew I was on the brink of a breakthrough with God, and wanted so much for me to retreat, to fear what I had just done. Fear that because I gave up my desire to God, that God would say, “I guess it’s okay that I don’t give this to her; she’s clearly strong enough to handle going without it.”
Then I realized something. God’s not like that.
And you know what else? God never asked me to give up this desire. He only asked that I put Him first.
He spoke to me very clearly today. And I’m so glad He did. Just when the enemy thought he could swoop in and distort God’s truth and my understanding of God’s character, God did something amazing for me. He opened my eyes to His Truth and His character more than He ever had before. Here’s what He showed me today:
- He gave me Himself. That doesn’t necessarily mean He’s taking anything away or keeping anything from me. It just means that He wants to give me an answer better than the one I seek — not necessarily different, but better. Shortly after my miscarriage, I subscribed to a daily email devotional for grief. Today’s email topic was so spot-on, it could have been written just for me. It said:
Because God sees your real need, He wants to give you an answer far better than the answers you seek.You may demand reasons and explanations, but what you need is something more—you need the Lord. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17:28). Think about the astounding reality of this Bible verse. God is all-sufficient for you. Your very being is in Him. You need Him for survival; you do not need answers. Joni Eareckson Tada says, ‘Because God is at the center of the universe holding it all together, and because everything in Him moves and breathes and has its being, He can do no more than give Himself. To do anything less is to be less than Himself. Why seek pat, dry, formulized answers when you can actually receive the flesh-and-blood reality of the love of God?’ God would not be God if He were not sufficient for everyone.
This was God’s way of showing me that I wasn’t wrong in questioning whether my desires are in line with His will — but that I was wrong to put limits on Him. To assume that He wouldn’t give me my desire just because I was willing to loosen my grip on it. In giving me more of Himself, He doesn’t necessarily not give me my desires. He actually wants to give me what my heart wants. But it has to start with Him.
The concept is similar to something else C. S. Lewis wrote about in The Weight of Glory: “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
I picture myself striving to make a perfect mud pie, and the Lord beckoning me to see beyond it, to see the holiday at sea He has waiting for me if I were to only look. Am I far too easily pleased by the prospect of having children, when infinite joy is offered to me in the person of Christ himself?
- I went to a fall festival with my mom and sister-in-law today. The minute we got there I was surrounded by pregnant women, women with infants, and strollers galore. It was pretty depressing, and the enemy tried to use it. He was definitely prowling around like a roaring lion looking to devour me. I kept thinking, why would you torture me with pregnant women all around, God, if you’re not going to give me my own child? I walked around and then out of nowhere, stumbled upon this:
This was the verse that just yesterday made me question God’s plan for me. How fitting that He would place it in front of me today, giving it a whole new meaning. I immediately felt a sense of peace, that God knows my heart and wants me to ask, seek, and knock when it comes to my desire. I started to move on, but looked back and saw this right next to it:
Is this not what I thought He would say to me? I had written about this just a few days ago. You won’t believe what I ran into next.
I have always wanted a little girl. This photo, this setup, seems to sum up exactly why. It gets at the heart of what I’ve always wanted. God was showing me… He sees that. He knows my heart. At this point, God wasn’t done yet…
That pretty much sums it up. He couldn’t have been any clearer. He is not suggesting, He is TELLING me to hope, and have faith in Him.
- As if that wasn’t enough, He kept going. I picked up a few books while I was at the festival. God definitely led me to them. I came home and read The Prayer of Jabez (for Women) cover to cover (it’s only 91 miniature pages). The book is about a man named Jabez who the bible said was “more honorable than his brothers.” (1 Chron. 4:9-10) He prayed to God: “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” And then the bible says, “So God granted him what he requested.” Simple as that. He asked, God granted. Here are some excerpts in the book that really jumped out at me:
God has a special plan to abundantly bless you and then bless others through you. (12)
God truly does want me to ask in faith for His generous blessings. (21)
Tricia was stunned by the many passages [in scripture] revealing God’s goodness and His desire to give to His children. She was particularly moved by the words God used when describing Himself…’merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth’…Tricia responds and prays to God differently now because she believes that her heavenly Father’s arms are open wide, inviting her to ask. Maybe without meaning to you’ve pictured God as withholding, not really inclined to bless you. Listen to Psalm 34:10: ‘Those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing’….Jesus promised: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.“ (26-27)
There it is again. ASK. SEEK. KNOCK. And this is the one that really got me…
Inside the cover of my bible, I have recorded a little story. It’s about a man who once asked Napoleon for an incredible favor. The man knew that he deserved nothing from the great general, yet Napoleon immediately granted his request. When someone inquired as to the reason, Napoleon replied, “He honored me by the magnitude of his request.” God is also honored when you and I come boldly to ask for His blessing and favor. That’s because we ask according to His greatness and not according to our worthiness….God is honored in direct proportion to the magnitude of our request. (32-33)
Right then and there I prayed for something BIG. I was immediately humbled by realizing that I truly don’t see how great God is when I pray to Him. I have been putting limits on Him without realizing it. I sheepishly pray that He will give me these things, when I should be coming boldly to His throne, asking with confidence — and honoring Him by the magnitude of my request. Because He is great enough to make it happen, and to make even bigger things happen than what I originally thought of.
God isn’t scanning the horizon looking for superwomen. He is actively looking for those who will believe and trust Him to do what is humanly impossible…just like [He did] with Esther. (61)
I’ve been trying to be superwoman, when He wants me to seek Him out to do the impossible through me. To glorify Himself through this journey. One more…
Do you always give your children what they want as soon as they ask you? I’m reminded of friends of mine who have a teenager named Krista. Sometimes when Krista comes to them and asks for something, they don’t give her an immediate answer. They just say, “We’ll see.” Later, they discuss her request and decide what the answer will be. But even if it’s yes, they don’t always tell Krista right away. During the next few days, they listen to Krista share all the creative reasons why she thinks they should say yes. They enjoy watching her persistence and take pleasure in her sincere attempts to sway them. Often, it’s a profitable process for all three of them as they discuss the pros and cons of granting her request. When they finally give Krista the yes she’s been waiting for, her delight and excitement is far greater than if they had given her an immediate yes the first day. I believe that God, as our heavenly Father, feels the same way. Even though He already knows our heart, He wants us to go through the process of persistently asking Him for what we desire. He knows that as we do this, we become convinced that what we are asking for is what He wants to give us. When He eventually acts to grant our request, His delight is as great as ours. (85)
As we KNOCK — persistently ask in prayer — we learn whether our desires are what He wants to give us. It is in this communion with God that we learn more about Him, our hearts become more like His, and we can see clearly whether our desires are in line with His will or not.
And having been on this journey for 11 months now, asking, seeking, and knocking — and truly seeking Him — I feel that His desire was to change me. But He didn’t necessarily intend for this journey to change my desire. It’s still there. If anything, it’s grown stronger. And because of that, I believe I am praying in line with His will for me. And I believe that He will answer me… and when He does, His delight will be as great as mine.
Coming back to my first question yesterday, “Why is it really taking several months for me to get pregnant again?” Because if I had gotten pregnant by now — even up to this week — I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see all of this. I have learned more about God’s character this week than I ever would have being preoccupied with a BFP and all that that comes with. Truly, God does have a special plan for me — to abundantly bless me.
My next quiet time is set up for Matthew 8:23-27 (I’m following a study of the book of Matthew in a group called Bible Study Fellowship). Funny, it’s the story of Jesus calming the sea. “And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but [Jesus] was asleep. And they went a woke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord! We are perishing.’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.“