Got Them

February 25, 2015

I smiled this week as I opened my email and saw the name of a couple I have not seen in years. They just contributed to our fund for our son, and it brought tears to my eyes to see that somehow they had heard of our situation and thought, after all these years, to give so graciously to what we are battling.

This couple is incredible. They are kind people with hearts that love Jesus. Richard with his quiet manner and Nancy with her heartfelt thoughts. They are gracious and kind, generous and honest. I have many memories of them- including one of my favorite dinnertime conversations of all time- but there is one that is at the top of the list. That memory goes like this:

When we had entered our Dark Night of the Soul, we had many people who said many things to us. Some meant more than others. No one in our lives at that time truly understood the magnitude of what we were managing at the time, but many tried their best to offer encouragement and strength.

One day, after worship was done, everyone was gathered in the odd-shaped space that held our coffee bar, talking and chatting and doing what they did every Sunday after we were done with prayers and preaching, songs and sermon. I was standing off to the side, tired. Most pastors are tired after preaching, but for me it was more than that. It took an large amount of work to preach during the Dark Night of the Soul season. No one really knew how much effort it required for me. No one, it seemed, except for Nancy.

Nancy is a passionate woman. A woman who carries the pain of others with equal amounts of compassion and passion. She loves Jesus and it shows. She’s one of the people who, without a doubt, follows Jesus with that sense of total abandon to him. So on this particular Sunday, she approached me as I stood tired and alone by the coffee table.

She was sheepish, embarrassed almost.

“I wasn’t sure if I should tell you this,” she started, “but as I prayed I felt like God said I should.”

I steeled myself. You never really know what is going to come after someone says something to the effect of “God told me this.” She continued.

“I was praying for you guys. Praying hard. Praying a lot. Praying and praying.”

She paused.

“I was yelling at God, ‘Why? Why are you letting this happen to our pastor? When are you going to step in? When?”

I nodded. Those words were ones I had prayed too.

“And then,” she said, “God interrupted me. And God said, ‘I’ve got them, Nancy, I’ve got them.'”

Nancy reached a hand out to my shoulder and softly spoke, “I don’t know if that matters, but I know that was God talking and not me making it up.” A quick hug and the conversation was over and we never spoke of it again. But it remained in my memory all these years.

God did have us. But it did not look the way we thought it should. Or the way most anyone thought it should look. Instead, God had something else in mind. A way for us to know him deeper. A way for us to experience his withdrawal in order for us to be given something much better. A way to understand him clearer. A way to trust differently. But even in the confusion of the Dark Night of the Soul, Nancy was right. God had us.

How it feels when “God’s got you” is not always how you plan on it feeling. It isn’t always an easy experience. It isn’t always peaceful. It isn’t always happy. But that doesn’t change the truth that God’s still got us, in some way, somehow.

Today as I drove home from the airport after a short trip, I heard a song that used the imagery of God’s promise being that one thread at the bottom of fabric, holding all the other woven threads together. Without that one thread, the woven threads all fall apart. But it is only a thread. It seems so little, so insignificant. And yet the entire fabric depends on it.

There are many times that I want so badly to have more than that one small thread.

But that’s not how it works for me. It’s not what God has me. I crave the feel of solid ground under my feet, but I would happily dangle from a rope, as long as it’s a strong rope and there’s a net beneath me. Give me that at least, God! But that’s not our path right now. That’s not our story. Others may have that story, but not us. We only have a thread. A small, skinny thread that feels equally insignificant and precariously important.

Walking by faith is hard. A lot harder than it sounds. A lot harder than it looks. Walking by faith held only by a thread is even harder.

And yet, like Nancy, as much as we would love to have it be different, we wouldn’t trade anything for this chance to know the Father fuller, to sense Jesus in the midst of it all, to feel the breath of the Holy Spirit every once in awhile as we round a corner in our house.

“I’ve got them, Nancy, I’ve got them” was the message God spoke to us years ago. Even though we don’t always feel gotten, the thread keeps us from fraying too far, too much, too long. “I’ve got them, I’ve got them.”

And with that, we let ourselves be gotten again.

***

If you, like Nancy and Richard, would like to donate to our campaign, please feel free to visit: http://www.gofundme.com/iansmedicaljourney.  We welcome any support offered to us- financial, prayer, or love.

2 Responses to “Got Them”

  1. Nancy Stromer said

    I like this. I love this. Like you, I love and depend on the God who “has you,” has us all. Love to you, Richard, and little Ian. Nancy

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