I heard it said once that what we think about the moment we hear God’s name…is the most defining thing about you and me. It’s probably true. If God is real, and God is well… God, then who HE is matters most, and what we believe about who He is is extremely and eternally defining. At the same time, I think that God IS a whole bunch of things, and what we think about first when we hear His name…probably says the most about what God is currently doing in our lives.
I’ve been thinking about this today because my friend asked me what life was like in the months before Charlie came. I started thinking about this thing I do at the end of every year where I name the attribute of God that seemed to be the theme of what He was revealing most often about Himself to me. It’s not necessarily which aspect of God’s character I most wanted Him to reveal to me, but rather what He seemed to want to reveal to me.
For example, the year that we got married the theme was “God is the Giver of good things.” It just seemed like God was going out of His way to lavishly show us His provision in our lives. The next year it was, “God is my Sustainer,’ and then the next was “The God who guides me.” But last year…2012…was interesting. We moved the first week of the year. With three small children. Into a vintage (read: old) house that had just been fumigated and had no hot water and no heat. In January. As you can imagine, it was rather chilly. (read: SUPER stressful time in life.) Then Reid got into a serious skiing accident and was on crutches for months. Then I got shingles. Then Reid broke the toe on the leg that had finally finished healing. So we dug out the crutches again. It was a really lovely time. And then in May…God surprised us with the amazing gift of Charlie.
Thus began, a wild year of seeing “God is my Provider” in new ways. He had provided a new home to live in. He had restored our health. And He provided a healthy baby…and a BOY no less! Even though I had wanted another boy, I just kept thinking at the ultrasound, “I cant believe I got what I wanted!” Kids can’t just be ordered if you know what I mean. You get what God gives you, when and how God choses to give them to you. But I was so very excited to be having a baby boy. We also needed a new car for our growing family since we no longer fit in our old one. And once again, the “God who will Provide” provided an awesome car through our parents generosity. Then He threw in a dream vintage camper named “Whimsy.” We had prayed that God would provide a way for our family of six to takes adventures together, and were again amazed to see God provide. These, along with countless other things last fall, made 2012 seems like a year of God’s very extravagant and specific provision in our lives. I seriously, stood back on Sunday January 27th and marveled at all that the Lord had provided in the last few months of our lives. God had showed us that 2012 was the year of “Jehovah Jireh” for our family. “God is my Provider” felt like the soundtrack of our lives. And that night…we found out our baby boy had died.
I wrestle daily with why God would go OUT OF HIS WAY to show me that 2012 was the year of “The Lord is my provider” only moments before He took away what I wanted so much more than any earthly thing. I really don’t know why. I’m just here to pour out my heart, not necessarily reveal the deepest mysteries of the One who knows and holds eternity. I do know that I am grateful for every single thing that the Lord has provided both in the months before and in these weeks after Charlie died. It makes it easier to hear Job say, “The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away,” when I remember how clearly God has revealed Himself as the One who provides for me. He does give. He gives every good and perfect gift I have. He gave us baby Charlie for eight wonderful months. As I cling to that, I know it makes it possible to walk with Him in the other half of Jobs words…to walk with Him as He takes away.
We often say “Jehovah Jireh” without stopping to think about its full meaning. In the Bible, “Jehovah-jireh” (or more accurately Yahweh-yireh, YHWH will provide), was a place in the land of Moriah. It was the location of the spot where God told Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering. Abraham named the place after the LORD provided a ram to sacrifice in place of Isaac. But we know from Scripture that Abraham fully believed that God would raise Isaac from the dead, if he had to go through with the sacrifice.
“And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.” Genesis 22:14.
Though God did not “spare” our son in the way we so desperately wanted him to…the beautiful irony of Genesis 22 is not lost on me. I truly believe that even for Abraham, the best part of that mountaintop moment was not really getting to keep the son he loved…it was what He had seen in the heart of God that day. Abraham finally saw what God already knew…that he was willing. Willing to give up the son he loved. Willing because He knew who his Yahweh was…he knew the God who would provide.
I have no idea what this years special attribute of God will be. Maybe “God is the healer of my broken heart.” Or “God is the God who carrys me when I feel like an emotional and spiritual quadriplegic.” Or maybe just “God is.” And that will be enough for me. I know that He IS all of those things. And I know it’s up to Him to glorify Himself in any way He choses to during any year in my life. I also know that it is only in seeing years of themes over years of life that we can even begin to glimpse this beautiful and mysterious God who is so very many things. It will take 10,000 years into eternity to scratch the surface and behold the character of our glorious God of mystery. But even in that…God will provide.
When we’ve been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun. We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, then when we first begun.