Resting in the Father's Arms? Really?
I chose a theme song for this next season of my life. Well, actually I feel like the song chose me. Prior to my doctor spelling out what the next nine months or so of my life would look like as we aggressively fight this breast cancer with chemo, surgery, and radiation, I was immersed in a new song by Sean Curran of Passion, called “Bigger Than I thought.” Some of the powerful lyrics…
Come to me in the valley of the unknown.
God, You understand me.
I throw all my cares before you
My doubts and fears don’t scare you.
You’re bigger than I thought you were.
I stop all negotiations with the God of all Creation.
I believe but help my unbelief. You understand me.
Help me reach the faith that’s underneath.
I will rest in the Father’s hands.
Leave the rest in the Father’s hands. (repeat & repeat & repeat)
Learning this new song along with a huge group of friends from my home church and hundreds of other ministry leaders from all around the country was moving and inspiring on the first days of the conference I was attending. As I belted it out, swaying a bit, lifting my hands, I felt like I was proclaiming something significant but in a vague way. Immediately after my doctor told me my life was about to radically change with this serious diagnosis, I found myself back in a worship service singing it once more. The timeliness of these lines hit me hard. The Spirit brought into focus the necessity of not just singing these sentiments but embracing them, ready to live them.
I truly wanted to rest in His hands. It sounded so good, so right, so reassuring. The problem was I had no idea how to actually do that.
If you read my first blog in this series you probably noticed a lot of “I” statements. I was going to sail through this season with my rock solid faith. I was going to be the hero and glorify God with how unshaken I was going to be about the whole thing. I thought I knew enough already to be able to consider this trial joy because I knew He was going to take me deeper. I was going to be strong and courageous.
After all, my ministry right now is co-hosting a podcast called “She Speaks Stories” and week after week our goal is to share stories of people that offer courage and hope and inspiration to others because of what God is doing in their lives. Most often, the stories include severe trials that are life-changing but also faith-building. Women are changed as the plotline of their story includes God as the hero, faith in Him as the catalyst for change, and then some kind of victorious resolution…not usually a neat tidy bow as growth is continuous, but some kind of peace made with the chaos the trial started. How could I sit for these past 52 episodes focusing on women who have thrived through horrible adversity by turning fully to Jesus and not thrive myself through my own trial?
Well, God lovingly and without condemnation showed me clearly. “If you DON’T learn to rest in me, stop negotiating, and open up your mind to how big I am, and truly how weak you are, you will succumb to fear and self-pity and block any good this suffering could do.”
Bottom line: I had to get rid of any and all self-reliance! Even reliance on my faith, which sounds odd to say, but what I mean is faith in my faith instead of faith in HIM…the object of my faith. I don’t know enough to be guarded against faltering in fearful times because my own knowledge is not what He wants me to trust in. It’s so limited! He’s bigger than I thought I understood Him to be. Always bigger! If I think I can do anything eternal apart from Him, I’m deluded and setting myself up for a fall. One of my favorite guests on our podcast, Donna Tyson (check out episode #4 and you will be greatly blessed!), says that EGO stands for Edging God Out and that we inadvertently do that when we consider our plans, our purposes, our motives to be preeminent and not humbly surrender our lives to what He desires for us. My initial response to this diagnosis was egocentric and not centered in Christ’s desire for me to be more like Him.
This season I’m in is almost like (and forgive me if this sounds weird) being back in the womb. It’s supposedly going to last nine months. Hmmmmm…who made up that timetable? It’s a very sheltered time and dark and warm. (Why warm? Lots of flushes, lots of time huddled under blankets, lots of sweat when I do try and get outside and walk.) It’s reduced me to not being able to do anything much but receive love and nourishment and care from others. My brain is functioning and yet foggy. Scripture says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made in the womb and we are birthed into the world with such potential. I’m wondering what God is knitting together in my soul right now that might be fearful and wonderful? What new potential could be birthed in my character during this formative season?
Could He be weaning me off a lifetime of trying to do enough to be loved and accepted by Him and others and showing me how to truly rest in what He’s done for me? Could He be helping me merely receive His lavish grace and be transformed inwardly into something so beyond myself? Maybe I’ll be born again, again…not unto salvation as that was sealed for me years ago and I know it but onto a new level of sanctification, purification from the idols I’d unknowingly set up.
Instead of wanting to be the James Bond of the Spiritual world, my desire now is to simply rest and receive whatever the Father has for me. He understands me better than I understand myself. He knows my doubts and fears and the faith I have or don’t have. He’s big! His hands are kind! I don’t need to make Him proud of me, I just need to let Him make me transparent so He can shine through me. He is the hero of this cancer season because His hands will be evident in all I go through.
I’m humming that song right now with a smile on my face. I hope these words have given you one, too.
Katie Hawkins is the co-host of the podcast, She Speaks Stories, which shares exploits of our extraordinary God to bring hope, joy, and courage to their listeners. Katie is also a member of Mount Ararat Baptist Church with her husband Mike, former moderator of NorthStar Church Network, and an Alpha teacher. Follow along with Katie at her podcast (linked above) or through her blogs which will be posted here periodically, under the category "Stories."