Carpet Cleaners and God

June 26, 2014

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
                                                       For I am the Lord your God…                                                      Isaiah 43


It has been so long since I have written. So much has been going on and so much more churning in my heart and soul, so I haven’t had the time to write, or the ability to put into words what I have been thinking about.

It seems to me that life has no real pause button. And it also doesn’t have a commentary that helps us making total sense of everything that happens. So much is so cloaked in mystery. I know some people believe that life is a random series of events- both joyful and tragic- and I know that some people believe that life is so carefully orchestrated that every single step is ordained and governed by God- both joyful and tragic. I not sure I am convinced of either viewpoint.

But I do believe that God is good. Even when I don’t feel it. Even when I am tempted to believe he is capricious and callous. Even when I am pushed toward fear. Even when I bone-tired, soul-worn… like I am today.

My son’s illness is weighing heavily on me. Why we can’t seem to rescue him from his infections. Why we can’t seem to keep him from slipping away from us. I wake up ready to be a warrior-mama and go to bed whirling under the demands of our current treatments. And I wake up the next morning ready to fight again, to swallow the fears that lump up in my throat, to find private moments when I cannot do anything other than lay on my face and plead for Jesus to come.

I had a dream last summer that I, through much prayer and counsel, determined it was a dream of warning that this was coming. That dream was terrifying and I remember it to the very details. But I had no idea that when my son’s illness came it would be this long, this hard. No, the dream didn’t present that part of all this. I have newfound respect for families who struggle with chronic illness. We’ve become one of those families.

And yet, on Easter Sunday, God spoke again and made clear where we were in this story that is unfolding and how the story will unfold in the end. From there, however, the snowball effect started. The fight was on. And I find myself back in a familiar place of worry and anxiety.

That same place I lived in when I was faced with chronic illness, with the threat of never having a family, with the fight to make sure my son existed. I remember those days and weeks and moments well. And they have returned- only the storyline is different.

Fighting for peace is hard. But it is worth fighting for.

Today was a day when peace eluded me. When I faced yet another therapist and endless phone calls and trying to ensure the diet my son has to eat, my heart beat hard today and the whispers of longing were louder than usual. My lack of sleep caught up with me, my lack of time for meals too. And I ached. Oh, I ached today.

Yet in my mind were the words I had read this morning while making breakfast. Words that breathed reminders of God. Reminders that the waters do not crash over our heads when he is with us. When he walks beside us. When you pass through the waters…

The doorbell told me the carpet cleaners had arrived. And with that bell ringing, a special word arrived too. The wide face of the owner for this carpet cleaning business greeted me on the other side of the door. I had not seen him for quite some time. A loud man with a large smile and a big heart, and the enviable ability to talk freely to anyone at any time. Earle is a Christian, though we have different ways of reflecting it. We have had many conversations about life and faith in the past over the sounds of the carpet cleaning machine.

Today I mentioned how sick my son has been since last year. I talked about what happened, what keeps happening, and the side effects of it. And this big man stopped his cleaning, knelt down by my boy, laid a heavy hand on his head and prayed silently for a moment. I fought back tears.

A bit later, Earle stopped cleaning again and said these words:

“Sometimes God says stuff to me that I’m s’posed to pass on to other people. Now, don’t get all weirded out by that. But I think God has told me to tell you this, just this thing.”

Earle raised a finger into the air and with a very serious expression continued, “He says, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ And that’s it. That’s all. He just wants me to tell you that.” When you pass through the waters…

Fortunately, the dam to my tears is quite strong, so I did not melt into the puddle of sobs. Because I needed that. I needed to hear that. I needed to remember that. I needed to know that God was indeed hearing this simply mama’s cry. I needed to know what I know already but couldn’t quite trust. Be still and know that I am God. 

I am still fighting for peace. I am also still fighting for my son’s health. And it is hard to trust when the waves feel like they have swallowed me alive. But perhaps, just perhaps, that’s exactly how we come to know God’s presence. When you pass through the waters…

4 Responses to “Carpet Cleaners and God”

  1. Dave Bartels said

    …being “still” can be exhausting…it can take all that we have to restrain our “doing” and fretting. To wrestle our minds and our souls to stillness…well, it takes work. BE still Karen…try to be still…and continue to choose to KNOW that He IS God. And in that stillness, God says…”I am sending My Earle…to remind you…I am with you always.”

  2. Karen, my prayers are with you and your family. Beautifully written, though living the storyline has to be awful. God’s peace and grace be ever-present to you, your husband, and your son.

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