Monday, September 14, 2009

Staying in the Game: September 14, 2009

"Teach me how to live, O Lord." Psalm 27:11 (NLT)

It is incredibly ironic how the death of our daughter, Emily, has taught us more about life than any other experience.

For example, I can remember sitting in on one of Laura’s pre-natal appointments when our doctor described the idea behind the movie Click, which we have not seen. Apparently the movie is about a man (played by Adam Sandler) with an amazing remote control that allows him to fast-forward through parts of his life that are painful or undesirable. The lesson learned from the movie is that gutting out these difficult seasons of life takes away the best parts of living.

Truly, grief comes to all of us. Many of us navigate though life avoiding any situation or relationship that carries the risk for hurt. But the truth is that grief comes to us all uninvited, and is often never in a hurry to leave. It is only a matter of time before it is our "time to mourn" (Ecclesiastes 3:4). A constant challenge for Laura and I these past several months has been to be willing to engage in our season of struggle and not instinctively search for an escape. I would say we have had moderate success.

A primary motivation for staying in the game for us has been the desire not to miss out on anything God was intending to accomplish as a result of Emily's life. God led us to carry Emily full-term and not induce early, and a big part of this difficult decision was based on this desire. Yes, we desperately wanted and prayed for a miraculous healing for our daughter. Every ultrasound appointment we wondered if this would be the day the doctor would be speechless to explain that Emily was completely normal. I remember within weeks of finding out about Emily’s condition the Lord impressed on Laura’s heart that we needed to be surrendered and allow Him to define the miracle. Our faith became less about demanding a change in our circumstances and more a broken posture of surrender to Christ. For weeks we reminded ourselves of the words of Mary after her world was turned upside down with the news that she was pregnant with the Son of God: “I am the Lords servant… May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38). For whatever it was worth and with whatever determination we had inside we intended to stay in the game, no matter how much it all hurt, and discover what treasures the Lord had in store. This is still our heart's desire.

“And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness- secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.” Isaiah 45:3

1 comment:

  1. ryan and laura,
    i have kept an email i sent to myself on may 6, 2009 in my email inbox to remind myself to pray for you and your family. after reading through your blog i am in tears. there is so much truth and power to the words posted on this blog. thank you for sharing your experience, struggles, and wisdom with us...and to make it personal...with me. staying in the game, as you have so powerfully described in this post, is not for the faint of heart. however, those efforts towards that end are not made in vane. i have long believed that suffering only deepens and carves out the bowl that is our capacity to experience joy. we all want to experience joy. few can stomach the suffering, discomfort, and struggle of "staying in the game" required to experience joy. your words are an encouragement to allow God to truly use those times when it is our turn to grieve to make us more into the people he created us to be. this is not something that just happens. you have to be intentional about it, the default is to avoid and seek distractions or escapes. thank you for being an courageous example to me.