I climbed our stairs around midnight, carefully and quietly. I knew Ben had already been asleep for a while and I didn’t want to wake him up. I had just fed Brode and needed to get him all swaddled up before laying him down to sleep. As I placed my sweet son on the bed, wide-eyed and with a crooked smile, I stared at him and began to weep.
The week prior, I had battled a particularly stubborn case of Mastitis and was on the tail end of recovery. I was concerned about the amount of time it was taking for the soreness to resolve and I was worried that I still had a clogged duct. I wanted to ask my friend, Emily, who is in her last year of grad school to become a midwife, and because I trust her with all my medical questions increasingly more that any doctor, about my slowly recovering Mastitis. After a quick discussion regarding lumps vs. ducts, she told me about two tragic stories of women who were seen postpartum for what they thought were clogged ducts, but happen to be stage 4 breast cancer. Later that day I heard of a woman who had passed the evening after she delivered happy and healthy twin babies, and after 6 years of infertility, from complications surrounding her c-section. My heart was heavy that day for these women I knew nothing about, except for their stories of pain and loss.
That night as I looked down at my 2 1/2 month old baby boy, I played the movie. What if the lumps in my breast aren’t glands, but cancer? What if I had stage 4 breast cancer? What if I miss out on seeing my boys grow up and go to school, get girlfriends, become adults? What if I die?
I stared at him and began to weep.
I could not fathom missing out on my boys lives. I was beside myself! I actually am surprised Ben slept through the snot-snobbing wails I was producing. I saw myself going to the doctor, being diagnosed, battling cancer, coming to grips with dying. I imagined what kind of words of wisdom I would want to leave my boys. Would I have time to write it all down in the journals I have for each of them that I had planned to fill throughout their lifetime? I saw my death, and even saw my husband remarrying and my boys calling someone else mom. I starred at my second born and just wept.
After pulling myself somewhat together, I realized this reaction to the cancer I didn’t have was really a control issue. It forced me to my knees and I metaphorically curled up in my Heavenly Father’s lap. I prayed that even if – even if I get cancer and die, even if one of my boys, or both, die, even if Ben dies, even if all of my worst nightmares came true, God is still God and my life and the people I love the most are His. I spent the next hour thanking him for giving me such amazing gifts that truly bring me such incredible amounts of joy. I sat in my bed, next to my sleeping husband, ugly crying as I prayed to God and reminded myself that my life and my kids life are his. I knew with how I had responded to playing this movie out, I had taken them out of the hands of Christ and into my own. I can’t even keep succulents alive. My “hands” or rather, my ways and trying to control how God will use the lives I cherish the most will only result in something resembling a withered, tired and thirsty cactus.
This morning I was recharged as the wives of our Pastors met for breakfast. They had all just come home last weekend from a retreat on Prayer, and although I wasn’t able to attend, we all continued the conversation and I received a concentrated version of their time there. One question that my dear friend, Sasha, asked this morning that sticks in my mind now was, “Can we change God’s mind by praying?” We wrestled with the question, alongside many more that rose up from this one, but landed on such real truth of the interpersonal relationship we have with Jesus when we connect with him through prayer.
I was reminded this morning that prayer really is about realigning our will; our desires with Christ’s. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. God already knows, past, present and future. Do we change God’s mind when we pray? It was difficult to come up with many examples where God’s mind was changed in the bible, but we do see such a sweet “bartering” between Abraham and God when he pleads for Sodom.
22 The other men turned and headed toward Sodom, but the Lord remained with Abraham. 23 Abraham approached him and said, “Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked? 24 Suppose you find fifty righteous people living there in the city—will you still sweep it away and not spare it for their sakes? 25 Surely you wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the righteous along with the wicked. Why, you would be treating the righteous and the wicked exactly the same! Surely you wouldn’t do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?”
26 And the Lord replied, “If I find fifty righteous people in Sodom, I will spare the entire city for their sake.”
27 Then Abraham spoke again. “Since I have begun, let me speak further to my Lord, even though I am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose there are only forty-five righteous people rather than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?”
And the Lord said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five righteous people there.” Genesis 18:22-27
He continues on with God until he gets down to ten righteous people. This interaction is so sweet to me because I can trust that God hears my pleas. It isn’t so much that we are changing His mind, but that he interacts with us and as an All-Knowing God, decides if he will grant us our pleas. I think the hardest truth to swallow is that while he may grant us some of our requests, sometimes he doesn’t.
In these times where my mind wonders and I find myself playing out the movie of what if, I come back to the Gospel. To Jesus who hears my cries. Who sees my heart and desires. I come back to him accepting that He is God, He is in control, and even if, He is still God and He is still in control. I know that as I plea and barter with God and He hears my requests, I will not underestimate how he may use my tragedies, my pain of loss and when he says no to bring people closer to Him and know Him.
Because that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it?
To know our Creator and make him famous.