Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Her-Story: The Trumping of a Virtual Reality Victory

(Actual photo taken after meeting with God that weekend.)

The Trumping of a Virtual Reality Victory

The attack was brilliant and calculated. The strategy read:
Aim the missiles at the life-sustaining organs;
Give no time for recovery or to recoup losses;
Relentlessly bombard until mission is accomplished.
By the time this attack was over, its goal apparently met, its victims lay disabled in a stupor of pain, confusion and despair.

No, this was not a page from a military war handbook. This was a chapter in the life of an ordinary family in a 3-year span. The missiles were not actual warheads, but cumulative blows that left a wasteland in all areas of our life, financial, physical, emotional, and spiritual: a virtual victory for the Destroyer. Or so it seemed.

The first blow came when I lost my job, our major source of income. However, we took that as a confirmation that God was confirming our desire for overseas ministry. So we moved into temporary lodgings meant for missionaries in transition, where the rent was affordable. However, financial stress arose alarmingly in a couple of months.
It was then that the second blow struck. I suffered a miscarriage. I lost a baby. As I look back, my system probably went into auto-defense, burying my pain until I could deal with it. So, on the surface, I quickly responded to sympathy,
“Well, God knew best.”
Then my husband got a new night shift, which, although it provided more income, worked havoc on my husband’s system and our family life. His body just could not adjust to this shift and he went many weeks without adequate sleep. Fatigue and insomnia. Much later we would discover that he had adult ADD and a night shift was the worst possible scenario for his system. It was then the near-fatal blow struck, cutting off our breathing supply, as we went into a state of shock.

Our ten-year dream and planning of going into overseas ministry was squashed. We had spent all our savings in packing material and moving most of our belongings to a shipping company, ready to be shipped. That is how certain we were of God’s leading. Suddenly, we had to ask whether we really had heard the voice of God. Were our lives thus far a ‘lie’?
The tug at our hearts for ministry...
the Bible college and seminary training...
the Scripture we had 'heard'...
the encouragement of people who 'knew' our hearts...
This had to be the worst void I had ever felt in my entire life.
Loss of the 'voice' of God, the core of my existence.
I was afraid to listen, to hear God because deep down I would be questioning, "Is it really God?"
Then began a reticence to read God's Word simply because I was afraid to believe that it could apply to me. After all, it seemed to be all a farce in this situation.

However, we were not granted the privilege of having time alone with God to search our hearts and hear His Voice. That was what I had learned to do in the past, like David in the Psalms. Immediate physical needs demanded our attention.
We had to move from our temporary lodgings as agreed, but before we could move into a new apartment we had booked, the next blow, my husband lost his job. Without employment income, we could not move to the new apartment. For 2 months we stayed at the place of someone we thought had offered in good faith knowing our situation, only to be mistreated. I shifted to survival gear as I numbly told God, Help.”

Out of the blue we got a phone call from a subsidized cooperative that we had made an application with two years prior. We had got an affordable apartment! Around this time I also became pregnant again with acute morning sickness, which as the pregnancy progressed was replaced by intense back and leg pains.

More blows
. My husband went on to get two more jobs, and lose them consecutively. I watched him sink deep into a depression as he searched for God and could not find or hear from Him. All we felt was silence.
Where was God?
Physically and emotionally, I could not handle more than I had, taking care of my preschooler, coping with chronic pain and pushing my pain further down as I struggled with my husband just to keep our heads above water. After our baby arrived, I suffered post-partum complications including back pain and depression for over a year. I went into a stupor.

It was in this stupefied state, knowing that God alone could reach me as He had in the past, that I found myself down at the lake shore where my husband’s parents had invited us for a weekend.

On this cool fall morning, as I strolled slowly and purposefully down the shore, my soul felt as numb as my ears and fingers. I was determined for God to break through as He had in the past. This was the first getaway our family had had in several years, and being close to nature, especially in proximity to a large body of water, always seemed to usher me into God’s presence quickly. The numbness in my soul frankly scared me. Disconnected. I was lost in a fog of despair and fatigue, something I now label as depression, and I just couldn’t get in touch with God anymore.
“How did I get to this state, God? I don’t know who I am anymore. Please, let me hear Your Voice, let me see You again!” my soul cried.

I knew the facts of God’s love and grace. Yet, this onslaught left me doubting my value to Him. I could not find the God I had known anywhere. I was afraid to ‘hear’ His Voice; after all, I had been wrong before. Reading the Bible brought no comfort or feeling back to my soul, so I stopped. It seemed meaningless. I continued to pray in a rote manner, but concentrated on prayers for my children. The message I was receiving was clear to me:
”You’ve missed the mark; you’re not worth God’s time or attention.”
Satan’s plan seemed to be working. I had not had time to properly grieve over my losses using God’s Word as a filter, so my pain became buried and revealed itself in my cyclical depression.

So, as I sat down on the grainy sand on the lake shore that morning, I cried out for hope and then just stared at the lake and listened.
The calm, mysterious waters reminded me of my Creator,
as my soul rapidly quieted to listen.
All of my senses slowly heightened,
and I could smell the aroma of wet earth.
I could hear the soft swishing of water at my feet;
I could feel the soft morning breeze as it curled my hair about my face.
It seemed that I automatically stood up
and raised my hands in unison with all of creation in worship.
I closed my eyes as sudden warmth enveloped me,
the warmth of a love I had not realized before.
It lay before me, in the wonder of the creation that surrounded me,
the love that it had taken to create such grandeur.
Slowly the concepts of His absolute sovereignty and love
began to seep deeply into my soul.
This same God, who so lovingly formed
and left the stamp of His Presence in this grandeur around me,
formed me, loves me and never leaves me,
no matter what.

Even while Satan was implementing his brilliant scheme against us as a family, God was boldly marking His line of sovereignty and grace in our lives, the stamp of His Presence through it all. We were always delivered just in time or He provided that extra grace needed in the darkness that kept us from being swallowed up. His Word says, [inserting my name]
Isaiah 43:1-2
But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, O Sita
he who formed you, O Sita:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
Indeed, He did not leave us or forsake us as He has promised in His Word, even though we could not ‘see’ Him.

Our baby was born healthy and is the most joyful and sensitive child, who, along with his older brother, fill our home with joy and laughter. This is a miracle for me since they had such glum-faced parents around them. Friendships were weeded out and we were left with the genuine gems, unembarrassed by our weak humanity and sub-zero status on society’s who-we-know measure. This experience left some wounds yet to be redeemed, but it has left me with the sound knowledge that God is Who He says He is, sovereign, loving, and faithful.

Like a roaring lion, Satan seeks whom he may devour, and may succeed in deceiving us for a while that he has, but when we release our fears to God and acknowledge His love for us, Satan holds no power over us. Increasingly with each crisis, I am learning very slowly to face life with a peace that passes all understanding, and can truly say that I know this Scripture:
And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power forever and ever, Amen.” (1 Peter 5:10-11)

The destroyer’s victory turned out to be ‘virtual reality’, a simulated version of the eternal reality, lacking the true ending. God held the 'trump card' - redemption.
God reigns victorious.