Friday, February 8, 2008

Two Weeks and One Day Ago

My husband almost died two weeks and one day ago. From choking on an oyster cracker. I came home that day and found Seth sitting in his favorite brown leather desk chair. A sight I'm used to and one that I like. He would turn around and smile and say hi. He turned, but instead of a smile and a hello, said I'd never guess what happened to him that day. When he told me, I told him what I tell my one-year-old boy that I babysit, "Chew, baby. Chew." But that was after I knelt beside my husband and cried with my arms around his neck.

As I held onto him, I thought of what I would do if I lost him. How empty and unsafe I would feel. Empty. How my life isn't meant to be lived without him. It wouldn't be right. It doesn't make sense. And how could God let that happen? How it all seems up to chance. That God isn't in control. If he was how could Seth have almost died? Where was God's protection? It's all pandemonium. God leaves us all to chance, and a faulty bite at dinner could strip my best friend in the world from me. Thirty more seconds, and he could have been gone from my life in an instant.

And I suppose you think, but he didn't die. Right. He didn't. And maybe you're also thinking, God WAS protecting him. He didn't die. And you'd be right. You are right. And thankfully within a reasonable time, I began to have those thoughts, too.

But what if he had died? People die every day. Seth will die one day. Maybe even before me. Maybe I'll have time to prepare. Maybe it will happen when I least expect it. No matter what, it will feel like the end of my world. It will feel empty. It will feel unsafe. And what will I think then? Will I think it all chance and that God had turned away from me?

We sang at Redeemer Presbyterian here in New York this past Sunday: "Give Me Jesus," which Seth adapted from the well-known spiritual and added his own verses and bridge. I think they liked it, but I remember the sermon that Tim Keller preached. He preached from a passage in Job, about the fear of God amidst despair. That when despair enters our lives, what we really need more than anything, what Job realized he needed, the only answer to it all, is wisdom. And wisdom comes from the fear of God. Those who have not the fear of God have not wisdom. They are fools.

He described the fear of God, as not so much a scary fear, like the fear of an intruder, or the fear of what any bad person or person with bad intentions might do to me. The fear of God is believing in the purest good, even when that good allows for bad. This is wisdom: Realizing that yes, the world at times works the way it should. Hard work equals reward. Following God equals blessing. Following the rules equals fair. BUT the world is fallen. And alot of the times it doesn't work the way it should. Hard work ends in suffering. Following God ends in despair. And nothing is fair. Wisdom is knowing in these times, that we serve a God, who, actually, (yes), allows all around us to be black and dismal, allows the bad to enter our lives, does NOT prevent it, and at the same time, not only has control of our lives, but loves us more than we can we struggle through the darkness and hurt through the despair and beat our fists demanding justice. Amidst the darkest despair, TRUSTING and BELIEVING in that all-powerful goodness, in that love, and ultimately in the justness of it all. That is fearing God. That is wisdom.

Will I have learned wisdom when that time of despair comes? Will I forget that this world is fallen, that it doesn't follow the everlasting law of God? That it yearns for restoration? That it will be restored. Will I be a fool?

Job 28:12: "But where can wisdom be found...?"

Job 28:28: And he said to man,
'The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,..."


Bill Hensley said...

When hard times come it helps to keep an eternal perspective. God's purposes are often not clear, but we know that he has a reason for what he allows, and it isn't going to go on forever. The time we spend on earth is only an instant compared to eternity. It is like the pin prick we feel when we get a shot, that lasts only a moment but is rewarded with good health for years to come.

Chaotic Hammer said...

Beautiful post. I'm a little afraid to comment on this one because words can sometimes get in the way when something beyond words is being expressed so well.

So I'll just quit here, while I'm still ahead. :-)

kddub said...

That was such a scary story, and I'm glad everything turned out okay.

I do definitely have a fear of God's goodness, because I really don't understand at times why things happen the way they do. I know and trust in that He works all those things together for good, but it's so hard to face the what if's and the despair that life does bring.

Popcorn said...

The day I read of Seth's near death choking episode I was so disturbed. Seth experienced what I know can happen theoretically, but have never faced the reality that it actually does happen, and to people I know and love.I am forever relieved that guy in the soup place saved him. I have choking phobia! No more lifesavers, peppermints, or small esophagus size food for me. Except for popcorn, of course.

FancyPants said...

Mrs. Popcorn, I think I know I know you? Are your initials MC??? Married to CC??? Hmmmm....

KD, another thing that Tim Keller said...was that when we're in the middle of the despair, we won't be able to learn then, while we're going through it, HOW to go through it. That's almost impossible to ask of someone. We have to learn now, so that we can face those things when they come. He also said (can you tell I like this guy?) that God won't give us premature grace...meaning that if we worry about the what-ifs before they happen, he can't help us, because they haven't actually happened! Brilliant. So we'll go on worrying and asking God to help us with the what-ifs when we don't even know if the what-ifs are a reality. I've often wondered why worry is such a hard thing to get rid of in my life. Maybe I'm asking God the wrong things.....

C-ham, thank you.

Bill, absolutely.

Chaotic Hammer said...

Fancy - What you said there reminds me of something very similar I heard once, which I've always considered profound:

God promises us His sufficient grace for each day, but tells us not to worry about tomorrow. When we worry, we borrow tomorrow's troubles without access to tomorrow's grace.