I want to remember everything God says to me. Every date. Every detail. Every lesson. Everything. This past week, God graced me to remember and learn something profoundly transformational.
Three years ago last weekend Brian and I went down to San Diego to spend a weekend together. We planned this getaway with the hopes of celebrating a pregnancy. We scheduled this weekend after our final round of clomid [infertility drugs], trusting that we'd use this time to privately celebrate a positive pregnancy test. Instead, we went to San Diego to grieve. We received a negative pregnancy test. Another one. We had already tried to get pregnant for over a year and had spent the previous 8 months in test after test after treatment after treatment. And we had received disappointment after disappointment.
So, three years ago we packed up our broken hearts and drove down to the Omni Hotel in San Diego to mourn together. Brian remembers me crying a lot. What was supposed to be a weekend of celebration turned into a weekend of heartache.
Somewhere in the midst of my infertility treatment, one of my spiritual gurus, Ed, told Brian and me that he believed Joel 2:25 for us - that God would repay us for the years the locusts [infertility] have eaten [stolen]. Ed told us that this verse translated properly from the Hebrew meant that the God of all time, who knows no time, yet works within our understanding of God would GIVE BACK everything from the years of devastation from what the locusts had stolen. Somehow, in only a way God can, he would restore and make up for lost time. I didn't really believe him but I thought it was a good thing to believe about God.
Fast forward to this week - 3 years later. Brian and I once again packed up our car with suitcases, a diaper bag, strollers, and umpteen bags to head to San Diego on our annual Newsong staff retreat [now reenvisioned as the XEALOT Alliance Retreat]. We also strapped in our 3 year old son and 18 month old daughter.
Literally, we were almost to San Diego when it all hit me. Same weekend. Three years later. Same hotel. Our two beautiful Ethiopians falling asleep in the back seat. Redemption. The craziest part is that our annual staff retreat is never this weekend, we've never stayed at the Omni, and it's been in several other cities over the years, and Brian has never come with me on a staff retreat before. It was like God planned out the specific details of this retreat just for us. Grace poured out!!!
God redeemed time! Little did we know when we were grieving at the Omni the last weekend of August 2008 that a little boy named Abebayehu was 7 weeks old in a remote village in Awassa, Ethiopia. While we grieved. He nursed. While I cried, Judah cried too. While I was too immersed in my own pain, God was working a miracle behind the scenes that was immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine [Ephesians 3:20-21].
It's just like God to l.i.t.e.r.a.l.l.y give us back those years in the person of Judah Abebayehu. Only God. What the enemy intended to harm us with, God intended for good [Genesis 50]. Something deep shifted in my spirit this week to know - mind and heart - that when we grieve or are confused or in pain or just plain wandering, imagine what God is doing behind the scenes. He is working all things together for good [Romans 8:26-28] and making ALL things new. God doesn't give us his leftovers or hand-me-downs or even just polish the old to make it look new. He gives us brand new gifts because of his great love for us.
Even when we are angry with God or not even paying attention to him, he is graciously forming something beautiful. He is the most exquisite story-teller. Is he not?
"God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!"