Tuesday, January 19, 2010

you give and take away

I love worship music.  I love to worship.  I love to sing worship.  I love to lead worship.  In a former life, that was my primary area of ministry (remember, I'm a pastor).  It's in worship, that I feel closest to God, that I can pour my heart out and where God really speaks to me.

In the course of worship on a Sunday morning, there is usually a phrase or portion of a song that sticks out to me--that touches me--that reveals something new about God and how he works to me.

This past Sunday it was Blessed Be The Name by Matt Redman.  I've sung that song, I've led that song probably hundreds of times.  Sometimes it's over-sung, but I never tire of the words in every part of the song.  As we sang it this Sunday, I recalled the most recent time I sang it, which was at Eddie's memorial service.  A very fitting song for such an occasion.

What struck me in a new way was the phrase "you give and take away."  Taken straight from Job 1:21.
Job knew pretty much the limits of what can be taken away--his children, his livelihood, the support of his wife and friends.  Yet he said he would bless the Lord.

So often we look at those as two separate things.  We can make a list of the things the Lord has given us--the blessings, the provisions, the miracles.  Then we make a list of what has been taken away--the loved ones we have lost, the jobs, relationships, opportunities.

What hit me Sunday was that these two things actually are quite connected.  Whenever God takes something, he also gives.  It's not that he replaces what has been taken with a duplicate or similar thing.  But he never leaves us without.

When I was 7 months pregnant, my job was taken from me.  I'll spare you the details, but it was a very difficult time.  I lost much more than a job.  But, through those circumstances the Lord gave me the opportunity to spend Miss Rose's first 16 months with her.  I worked at a daycare for a few months and I was able to bring Miss Rose with me.  Then I was home and also watched my niece full-time for her first year.  I am so glad she was able to be with me, and Miss Rose (they are just 4 months apart) for that crucial first year.  She holds a special place in my heart because of that year we shared together.

See the connection?  I'm not necessarily saying God took my job, but he did allow it to be taken--yet he also gave me so much.

I think about the loss of my friend Eddie.  His wife and sons have lost so much.  He was taken from them much too soon.  Yet, they are gaining a close relationship with his two best friends and their families.  They are gaining a circle of friends and supporters who want to be there for them in every way possible. 

If there is anyone in my life who knows the principles in this verse, it's my friend A.  After a few years of struggling with infertility, she was finally blessed with a pregnancy.  A baby boy.  After multiple ultrasounds and doctor appointments (routine when you have infertility treatments) it wasn't until her Level 2 ultrasound about halfway through the pregnancy they found out little Cole had a rare skeletal disorder and wouldn't survive.  Just a few weeks later he was born to heaven and then delivered onto this earth.

The Lord gave.  Then the Lord took away.  Then the Lord gave again just a few months later when A. found herself pregnant again, without any infertility treatments.  She wasn't even done grieving her son, as she also rejoiced in a precious daughter.  Baby Finley, who was born at just 26 weeks.  What?  How could the Lord take away again?  Why would he bless them with this unexpected pregnancy so soon after losing a son, only for it to be troubled and a baby born almost too soon?  Those are answers we still don't know.

What we do know is against most odds,  Baby Finley is thriving.  She's up to 4 pounds, from her birth weight of 1 pound and 6 ounces.  She's expected to go home soon.  Sure, the road ahead is still long, peppered with various challenges.  But Finley is a survivor.  She's Mighty Mouse.  The Lord did give.

The Lord has given them his sufficient grace.  The Lord has given probably hundreds around them, the privilege of praying for this baby girl and her parents.  There are people in my church, friends of mine who have never been A. or this family.  But they pray.  They constantly ask me for updates.  The Lord has given increased faith.  The Lord has given a testimony.  As Psalm 126:5 says, they've sown many tears, but now they will reap songs of joy.

God never leaves us hanging.  Whenever we lose someone or something, he also provides.

The next time you sing this song, the next time you grieve over the loss of something in your life, open your eyes to look for what God is giving you.  Because he is.  I'm certain of that.

Are you in the midst of that "taking away" part of the verse?  Hold on, because the giving is coming.  I promise.  He promises.

(Want to know what I can't stop listening to right now?  David Crowder's new album.  The lyrics, the music, it all gets me.)

1 comment:

  1. Good message. Matt Redman was at the MOPS Convention with his wife and children, and shared about the reason he wrote this song (his wife's miscarriage after many years of trying) and then sang it. It was so incredibly moving, and now every time I hear it I think about God's awesome power, and the ability He gives people to praise Him even in loss. Good to hear about Finley and Eddie's family.

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