Just when I think I'm going to run out of Memorial Box Monday stories, God brings another to mind. By the way, Memorial Box Mondays were started by Linny from A Place Called Simplicity. Click the bloggy button below to read her amazing stories and to link to others.
I'm tickled that my own box of items that remind me of God's faithfulness is filling up quickly.
This story takes place June of 2004. We had just months before lost a full-term baby boy then weeks later lost my mom to cancer. (For new readers, that story is here.) I was about 8 weeks pregnant with God's blessing of a new baby and was experiencing morning/noon/night sickness, so Brad had picked up dinner. I munched on crackers while the rest ate and I debated whether or not I was going to attend a summer Bible study that started that evening. Every day was hard as we grieved the loss of our son and my mom . . . as we looked ahead hoping for our goodness and mercy to follow.
Grief is a hard place to live in. One minute you just want to be alone with God--the next you need the comfort of friends and family. One day you want everyone to treat you like life is normal--the next you want others to understand what it is like to live in your brokenness. It was hard to expect others to "get it" when I wasn't understanding my own needs and thoughts.
I told my husband Brad that I felt like I was climbing a mountain. (My mind understands things better in the context of an analogy. Perhaps that's why I love Jesus' parables.) I wasn't talking about a gradual hike, but the kind that you scale holding on with your fingernails, with your feet carefully searching for just enough of a ledge to provide footing to carry you one more step.
As I talked with him, I could almost see my mountain. I've never been mountain climbing in real life, yet as I talked to him I could imagine what it would feel like to hang on by my fingertips. How scary it must be to climb alone with no wires and no net as back up.
I explained that as I climbed this mountain, I couldn't look down. If I looked down at where I had been, it would be so frightening that I would certainly fall. If I looked up at where I still had to go, it would be so overwhelming I wouldn't have the strength to continue. So I just needed to keep my eyes on the One who gives me strength, on the One who sustains me. My prayer each minute, each hour, each day, was simply that God would give me enough wisdom, courage, and peace to make it another inch up that mountain. I was not going to dwell on what happened yesterday or worry about what might happen tomorrow. I was truly surrendered to His will and I clung to my Savior on the side of that figurative mountain.
After talking with Brad I decided to attend the study that night thinking it would help me conquer one more inch of my imaginary mountain. We had only told a handful of people that I was pregnant again, but I'm sure I looked as green as Kermit the Frog as I sat waiting for our Bible study leader to pass out our new books. I knew nothing about the study except it was called "Extreme Love."
A stack of books made it to my hands. As I took one and passed the rest to the next person, I looked at the cover. I wasn't sure if I should laugh or cry. The photo on that book was just like the mountain I had pictured in my mind. It was only about an hour after describing this mountain to Brad in great detail.
And then it made me think that perhaps this wasn't MY analogy, but God's. I was stunned because not only did God give me the thoughts that would teach me a lesson I so greatly needed, He actually gave me a picture to go with it! What an arrogant ding-a-ling I had been to think that I was just making these analogies up, when all along my Heavenly Father was taking His God-sized thoughts and translating them into a language that I could understand. (It reminds me a daddy bird chewing up the worm before feeding his baby birds.)
This book remained on my bedside table (and now it is in my Memorial Box) and this visual image remained in my mind. It was a constant reminder not to dwell on the pain of the past or worry about what challenges I might encounter in the future, but instead to surrender this journey to Him.
I made it to the top of that mountain by God's grace and the view was spectacular. I've climbed other mountains since then, and although the mountains have been smaller, I still remember to keep my eyes only on Him.
So whatever mountain you might be climbing, remember not to look down at what you have been through or look up at where you still have to go, but just keep your eyes on your Heavenly Father. And know that you never climb alone.
More Than Lots,