Monday, April 15, 2013

an offering

I remember my Mom telling me what song they sang in church the Sunday morning following my delivery of our 5th baby,  a girl we named April.     Mom said I would have had a difficult time singing the words,  as did she that Spring Sunday morning, 3 years ago.

Blessed be Your Name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

The reality of pregnancy loss and the literal giving away of our deceased baby to the nurse was,  as the lyrics of the song truthfully convey,  a painful offering. 

Was it a true offering?   Something (someone) was being taken that I was unwilling to give.  At the time it seemed to make no earthly sense.
Why was I given only 17 weeks to carry her? 
Was I to offer God the life of this baby?  a life that had already ended?  

I used to think of an offering as a voluntary action.  I give my time or my service,  or maybe even a gift or tithe.   Offerings were something I initiated,  that I was comfortable with.   Meaningful and fruitful,  but not painful offerings. 

3 years ago today God moved in my life to make an offering of a different sort.   When faced with the devastation and sadness of April's death I learned (although not immediately) that I had to offer it all back to the Lord.   The confusion,  the ache,  the tears,  the emptiness,  the doubt,  the fear.    I had to release my plans,  our hopes for the child this baby would become.   Hanging on so tightly to these things would never give me peace.

The song continues and within the chorus, these words:

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

I had always found these lyrics perplexing.
Yes,  God gives.  That was easy to see.  All I had to do was look at the beautiful faces of my 4 children.
He gives immeasurably more than we need and most certainly more than what's deserved.  Perhaps this song speaks also of the comfort God gives,  or the Grace and love he lavishes on us.   Or the joy in Salvation that circumstance can't deplete.  
He gives.

But,  the next part...
He gives... AND takes away?  Lord Blessed be your Name?  
If I sing this,  do I claim that God took our baby?   am I supposed to praise His name anyway?
That seemed to make lesser sense.
Praising God in the midst of pain is work,  it is a choice,  it's an offering.  It takes faith.  For me it opened my heart for healing.  I believe this song speaks also to the way Jesus takes away our hurts,  our anger,  our sadness,  our guilt,  our sin. 
He takes. 

I don't want to imply that 3 years later everything is tied up nicely with a bow and this chapter is closed.  Nor do I mean to over simplify healing or equate my loss with the pain another may be experiencing.  I do desire to be honest about what I've learned.  I am thankful to see the ways the Spirit moves in my life through our loss of April.    So, yes.  Her short life was an offering.   An offering of my heart to ways that were not my own.   A yielding to the Father when my circumstance was beyond my understanding.

In those days I realized with new eyes that God held my life,   just as He held April's life until the moment her heart stopped beating,  and that He holds her still today.

If you are new or are interested in reading more about my story...
 Here is a link to click.  It's a summary with additional links to other posts.