Sunday, October 2, 2011

My Heart is Weak Too

John, here. Little bit of venting, tonight.

I'm amazed at how rapidly the seasons of my heart continue to change. I have found myself waking up joyful and expectant, and by lunch, feeling dejected and heavy-hearted. I can wrestle with the boys with laughter and joy, and ten minutes later, when they're off to bed, become overwhelmed with loneliness and inadequacy. It's fast, it's sudden and it's relentless. I don't know what emotion to expect just around the corner and as a result, I'm exhausted on the inside.

I spent this weekend down in Carlsbad, being best man in a wedding for one of my favorite people. Cristin was unable to come with me, which was a bit of a let down. But all in all, it was a great time with old friends, new friends and a necessary distraction from it all. Still, in the midst of the joy, the laughter and the late night shenanigans of groomsmen, my heart would sink. Suddenly and without warning.

The flowergirl broke me. She was this beautifully adorable little blonde-haired girl, picture perfect with a personality to boot. And all I could think of was Ruby Jean. Watching her run to her father and watching him hold her with such a joyous and smiling love, all I could think of was Ruby Jean.

And for the first time I felt a new emotion: my heart was embittered.

It frightened me. Is this a path that I need to explore? I can deal with issues like trusting in God's sovereignty, believing in His absolute Goodness and leaning on His Spirit everyday. I can love a God who gives and takes away and worship a God who brings little children home to Him. But this... this frightened me. Do I walk this path for a while or do I avoid it? Can I be so candid and frank as to shake my fist at God? He knows anyway. He saw through my composed demeanor that day. He saw the tears I wanted to shed and my heart as it gripped the reality that Ruby Jean will most likely never be flowergirl, never be a bride, and even worse, never feel my arms wrap her with such a joyous and smiling love. It official and I can't act like it doesn't affect me any longer... I want my girl. I want my baby girl. I want Ruby Jean.

But I guess I'm not alone. One of the reasons I love the Bible so much is that it takes the time to show the weaker side of it's 'heroes'. Moses, David, Jonah, Job, and the list goes on, all shook their fists in protest. However, there is one who sticks out to me time and again: Elijah. 1Kings 19 tells of a compelling and pivotal moment in the prophet Elijah's life, and it shares a mind-shatteringly deep glimpse of God's very heart. Here, Elijah has just been used to purify Israel of the pagan Baal worship that had perverted that generation. Elijah prayed to God, calling down fire from Heaven. Through him, God revealed Himself anew to Israel and showed Himself for who He is.

But then something funny happens. Jezebel, queen of Israel and known Baal worshiper, makes it known that she is now seeking the head of Elijah. So what does the prophet who called down fire do? He runs for his life.

Elijah finds himself in a wilderness... in the desert. And he's ready to die. He's done. His heart is finished and he feels himself a failure. Read it for yourself. But the best part of it all is how God responds to him. God comes to him simply calling his name. "Elijah, Elijah. What are you doing here"? Elijah gives his list of complaints to God and requests to die.

That's when God does the unthinkable. He tells Elijah to hide in a cave and to prepare, because He's about to pass by. Elijah watches the mouth of the cave, heart racing, as fire, earthquake and a rock shattering wind passes by, but God was not in any of it. Read it. Then God whispered, and Elijah covered his face and went to stand at the mouth of the cave.

There's a sense in which I feel like shaking my fist in anger and making plain my complaints and my reasons for knowing the better good. I feel like running out into the desert in order that I could just die (figuratively, of course). But I sense that God's response would be similar to 1Kings 19. "John, John. What are you doing here, John"? That is a beautiful question and a surprising response from God, isn't it? There is love and much grace in that response. There is a Father's heart in that question. It's a conversational question, an invitation for heartfelt discussion. It sheds new light on why God not only instructs us, but commands us to "Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you." (1Pet. 5:7).

The strange part of it all is simply this: as I reflect on these truths and see His heart in this light, my embittered spirit simply fades into the brightness. My wants and desires, no matter how passionate or valid, simply do not compare to His Holy Fathering heart. And all I'm left with is simple trust and simple faith. He cares for me and He cares for Ruby Jean. She may never be a flowergirl or a bride, but she will be light, and glory and forever His.

To wrap up. The pregnancy center gave us an incredible opportunity last Wednesday, to simply spend time with Ruby. Cristin and I had the room to ourselves for as long as we wanted, just working the ultrasound machine exploring every detail and every subtle movement of her body. It was fun and fulfilling and heart-breaking all at once. Why did God form her fingernails? Why her legs, if only to kick in the womb? Why give her a mouth at all if she'll never taste food? I simply don't know. And that's okay. She's beautiful and picture perfect in her brokenness. I don't know much, but I know God is Good. And for now, that's enough.


  1. John, your honesty and faith in the midst of this huge storm is beautiful. You and Cristin inspire me to truly examine my so called faith. I so easily walk away when things get hard. I pray that I can follow the example you have shown. I am praying for you and your family. Despite all the years & the distance, I still love you and am here if you need anything. You'll always be my Joshua brother!

  2. I love you John, I feel those emotions. I also know God loves Ruby too, He planned her. He has a purpose in all this and no matter how long a life He gives her, she will make a difference, she will touch lives, if only through our responses to His plan. God is preparing you and Cristin for an amazing ministry. Your journey is already touching people everywhere. I am blessed by you and the man, husband, and father you are to your sweet family.