Sometimes I am in awe at the inspiration that God will give us when we ask. Pete and I just 7 years ago were hit with something that we will never forget. Just hours before this life changing experience, we were celebrating Thanksgiving with our family. What was a joyous occasion would soon turn to terror in a matter of hours. After our Thanksgiving meal, Pete and I took our kids back to my mom’s house. Kate was not quite one year old yet (just days away), and we were getting ready to lay her down for the night. I noticed she seemed feverish and was coughing pretty bad. Pete rocked her to sleep and took care of her most of that night. In the wee hours of the night Pete awoke me with fear in his eyes. “Something is wrong, Anne.” I jumped up from a dead sleep and looked at Kate. She was seizing. “Mom, call 911,” I yelled. Kate continued to seize for over 25 minutes when the ambulance finally arrived. This moment still to this day is the scariest moment in my life. It was the day I realized I had no control – God had it all. It was the day that I was face to face with the death of a child. It was the day that I would have given anything to change places with Kate. I still cannot tell this story without pausing for a breath. I can feel the panic bubbling up within me every time I recount this horrid tale. As many of you know (because you read my blog), Kate is a vibrant 7 year old (turning 8 in 2 days). She has many behavioral issues that we have found different ways to treat, but over all she is a loving, happy child. Her smile can radiate a room. You would never know the pain and struggle that she has endured because she masks it so well. She is one tough cookie.
That one incident has changed Pete and me in so many ways. The strength that God showed me that day is one of the reasons I am able to write His words now. Fearing what people thought of me went to the back burner for the first time in my life. I really found that what pleases God pleases me. The first time I shared my story with people, I realized that God needed me to help Him guide people on their own journey. Pushing back my own reservations about labeling Kate, I started to share with people the struggles that our family has endured over the last 7 years. You know what I found? Families just like my own, that struggle with ADHD, autism, depression, anxiety, seizures, and many more ailments. I found families who needed to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Families that needed to see that “normal” is what you make it. Through these wonderful people that God introduced me to, I also found joy in the sorrow.
Psalm 5:11 But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult in You.
Letting myself take refuge in God, helped me find peace. Peace, which led to joy. Through this struggle (which lasted for years), I realized that joy and happiness looked a little different than I imagined. Joy came from inner peace. If I didn’t find peace with the struggle, I would never find joy. It is at this point, when I finally let go, that I realized what it meant to thank God for my struggles. Later (actually just recently) I have been able to take that joy a step farther. Sharing how to find that joy with others has been a wonderful experience. Writing, speaking and blogging on my own personal struggles have helped others find joy. This never would have happened if that one incident, 7 years ago was missing from my life. Praise God!
Finding that struggle that changed your life may be difficult for you. Maybe you never had anything happen like my “lightning bolt” moment. No worries. God works differently in each of us. It may not be something like a “slam, bam and thank you maam” kind of moment. It might sweep in slowly and simply. You might be a better listener than I was. God may just nudge you or whisper in your ear. I have a friend who tells me wonderful stories of how God speaks to her in prayer. She can feel his nudges vividly, but not fearfully. The Holy Spirit is vibrant within her. I, on the other hand, was a little like Paul (on the road to Damascus, Acts 9:1-19). I needed a bright light to blind me and remind me, I was not in charge. God probably nudged me many times before that moment 7 years ago, but I was probably too self-absorbed in my own life to listen. I realize now that God saw that Thanksgiving Day as a great opportunity to evangelize to Pete and me. Our eyes and ears were open and ready to listen. Our prayers were constant and we were actually trying to make a connection with God that day. We needed God, and He saw that and used it for good. Now that I have found time for God daily, I recognize Him a little more clearly. I pray I don’t need a “lightning bolt” moment anymore, but my pride does sneak up on me every once in a while. God may have to jolt me again, you never know.
Don’t let God’s inspiration pass you by. Be on the lookout for what He is calling you to do. Be ready to take on his Will. Be ready to find true joy. You won’t regret it!