From Chaos to Completion
On January 17, 1997, I gave birth to Casssandra Nicole. She joined her siblings Danielle (8), Bryan (6), Andrea (4), and Abigail (2). I still have a hard time believing it myself! I guess it’s because I just turned 29 in September.
Two weeks before the birth of Cassandra, Bryan got sick. He went to sleep on Sunday afternoon and didn’t stir. By Tuesday we knew he needed to be taken to the doctor. Soon after this, our three other children came down with the flu, too. Our king-sized bed became "the bed of recovery," yet no one seemed to be getting better. We went through three bottles of Tylenol, three pack-ages of Junior Motrin, three bottles of Tussin, some children’s Mylanta, four bottles of amoxicillin, and countless liters of 7-Up. Meanwhile, I was waddling around the house waiting to go into labor at any moment. My husband, Dan, was working overtime almost every night and my best friend, Linda Jarrell, was out with a had back. At this time we were all questioning God’s plan. I didn’t realize that through this difficult position, God was getting ready to put into practice the things He had begun teaching me. But let me backtrack.
The lesson began two years ago when my husband and I decided that if I left the workplace to come home full-time, maybe some of the chaos in our lives would end. Ha! That’s when the chaos got worse. When I worked out-side the home, I used to say that I bought the best mom that money could buy. When I left my job and looked at our children, I felt like they lost in the deal because I didn’t have a clue how to be their mother. Meals came when it was convenient for me; we had no schedule to speak of; bedtime was left up to the kids; and I was too busy cleaning the house to think of discipline, much less one-on-one time with the children. I was desperate for a change, yet too busy to recognize it.
But God in His faithfulness had begun to get my attention. Last year at summer camp, I received a shattering picture of myself: I had believed that people and their problems, whether it was my friends or my children, were an inconvenience to me. You see, if one of the children would come to me and simply ask me for a drink, I would either put them off or, while cursing under my breath, I would stomp to the refrigerator and begrudgingly pour them a drink. My attitude was "Get over it and leave me alone."
As I accepted this picture of myself, I saw how this mindset had annihilated those around me. I had expected our children to fit into "my program" and hadn’t realized how it had affected them. I literally wept for eight hours. After seeing how I had hurt people, I had no idea how to "fix" things. I had to rely completely on God to repair the things (and people) I had broken. I also realized that if I was going to change, God would have to do the changing in me. After camp, life continued on in the same way. I was looking for an outward change, but what had to change was inward.
Then God, in the form of a friend, showed me what this change looked like. Linda is the way I always wanted to be. She has an orderly, clean house, she runs a budget, she cooks nutritious meals for her family, and most importantly, she takes the time to help others. What was her secret? I had never met a Christian like her. Here was a Christianity that worked. I had always thought of Christianity as some high, lofty thing; so I had always given up, thinking, "That’s too had. I can’t do it." But Linda was not wrapped up in "religion." She was moment-by-moment doing the right thing for her family and friends. She believed Christ was living out His life as her in her home. That was her secret. Her life was working from the foundation up. I got in her tracks, paid attention, and began to believe that Christ had a better way to do things in our family. And He could do it through me.
Chaos was not what Christ wanted for us and for this family. But change was a slow process, not "boom." I started learning from Linda how to trust God for the small things-like establishing order in our lives. First, I get up and get myself dressed and ready for the day before the children arise. Now Dan and I don’t have to go through World War III because he can’t find no clean underwear for the seventh day in a row. Our meals are planned a week in advance, our bills are being paid on time, we live on a budget, Mt. Saint-Laundry has been leveled, and the house stays clean and de-cluttered.
In the past I would go through moments of victory in these areas but it never seemed to last. It’s been real hard seeing such an honest picture of myself. But now I know that’s the good news! I have learned that I am a vessel, I was created to contain a spirit. So all the changes in my life have been because I’m living my life by faith.
In Chapter 21 of Norman Grubb’s book Who Am I? I read "…transfer our believing from the negative to Him the Positive, and it is our believing which lets Him through. Our believing doesn’t do a thing in itself. God is the doer. God is the one who deliberately puts us in this problem situation and thus awakens us to get into faith action…."
I think every person will be relieved to read this next quote from the same chapter, "only by a full experience of the wrong way can we be established in the right." And concerning outer sufferings, "We now recognize by faith that it is He coming through in some new perfect manifestation of Himself in love and power. The sufferings are only the outer shadow cast by our unbelief."
So those two weeks of nursing the children through the flu became the proof that Christ was sufficient through me in a tough place. Though I was busy filling drink cups, writing and updating the medicine schedule on the fridge, washing and changing bed linens, and wiping noses, I realized that something was different. I wasn’t panicked; I wasn’t angry; I wasn’t "stressed-out." God had reminded me how my attitude of "leave me alone" had kept me from meeting the basic needs of our family. I had seen that my attitude was simply a cover-up for my own selfish agenda. At the end of those two weeks I knew how Christ walks it all out differently as long as we believe that He will. I had taken care of them, joyfully.
The day before I went into the hospital to have the baby, Linda called me and shared with me the daily reading in Summit Living: "… It seems that God’s Spirit has to take every forward-moving soul through a drastic process of self-exposure. The undiscovered self principle lurking in the depths, that root of sin, has to be looked in the face. Its pre-sumptuous claim to be a sufficient source of wisdom and ability has to be exposed in its falsity. And such knowledge can only come through failure, humiliation, and despair." I had surely experienced the truth of this!
We had seen God’s blueprint for our family for years. But none of it worked until I learned the secret-what Norman Grubb calls "The Key to Everything." We are learning in our daily lives what it looks like to have Jesus Christ living as us. This is who we are, and we dare to believe it. Life works !
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 13 No 3
- Our Cutting Edge
- Editor’s Note
- Moments with Meryl
- A Look at a Book
- Faith understands that God reigns…
- About Unconditional Love…
- From Chaos to Completion
- Bible Study: Ask…and Receive
- British Easter Conference
- Zerubbabel Focus–Rebuilding the Temple: The Business of Zerubbabel, 1997
- How It Really Works
- The Race
- Questions & Answers
- Tape Talk
- Area Fellowship News
- The Real Problem: Satan’s Lie
- The Mailbox
- Words to Live By…