Childbearing Hips

As one negative pregnancy test led to the next and to the next, each cycle became less of an exciting wait and more of a dreaded encounter, hoping against all odds that this would be the month, only to have those hopes dashed be a single pink line and those telltale cramps. Agonizing cramps that seemingly mock me from within my own body. Taunting me that I have the body parts but that I’m broken, that I don’t work, that I might look like a perfectly fine woman on the outside-but that I’m not. Cramps that I still have to suffer. Suffer every month for what-for nothing my mind cries out. The frustration at “being broken” can feel overwhelming at times. Questions of “why was I created to be a woman if I don’t even work” flit across my mind as cruel reality brings jarring pain to such a crescendo that my infertility cannot be ignored–not today. I can go for a few weeks acting like everything is normal, but then the cramps, then the reality. The empty womb crying out at me–”don’t you dare forget!”– a war between my body and my mind, between my hormone levels and my desire to be a mother.

The identity crisis of being a woman with infertility is real and it was unexpected. It caught me off-guard when I began to feel trapped in my body, a body that didn’t work. A body that looked like it should work-but wasn’t. My childbearing hips were helping me carry in the groceries, or a box up the stairs, but that wasn’t what they were supposed to carry. They were supposed to help me carry a baby, my baby. Like I’d carried brothers and sisters growing up. Instead here I was all alone with no baby and these childbearing hips. Watching the diagnostic ultrasounds of my womb, finding out the exact measurements of these body parts that remained vacant, lifeless. I felt like I was useless, like I was defective. Betrayed by my own body it felt like there had been a mistake. Life wasn’t supposed to be like this. I was supposed to be a mom. My dream of raising children, homeschooling, making homemade bread, my body didn’t match up. It wasn’t right. Something was wrong.

Something is wrong. Things are broken. There is sickness. There is disease. I’m not the first person to feel trapped in, or betrayed by their body and I won’t be the last. In the end our bodies will fail each and every one of us, expiring to return to the dust because of the curse of sin that is upon us and all of creation. A curse that we’ve inherited and that we perpetuate. A decay that renders our ability to stay young, strong and healthy out of our control as time marches forward until we breathe our last. And when we breathe our last it will surely matter what or who we identity with and as. It matters because if your identity is founded only in the life that you spend in this body then you are guaranteed to be disappointed, to be betrayed by your body and by your idolatry. But, if your identity is rooted in Christ Jesus then you are guaranteed life eternal. Whenever I feel frustrated with my body, whenever the sorrow washes over me I cling to Jesus and I remember that my identity is in Him. I am His. I belong to Him. I am His daughter. I am His bride. He satisfies me with His Living Waters and comforts me with His strong arms. He holds me and He sustains me. He is my confidence. He is my Rock. He is my salvation. He is my hope. I will never be disappointed when my eyes are on Him, and they will be on Him forever–for when I leave this body I will be going home to a place that He is preparing for me. A place where He is the Light, where there is no more sorrow, no more tears, no more shame.

I refuse to agree with the lies of Satan that seek to take my eyes off of Jesus. I speak the Truth of God’s Word over myself. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am carefully made by the hands of my loving Father Who knew me in the womb, Who knew me even before He formed me. God made me a woman, God has given me the heart of a mother and I am so thankful for these things. I rejoice because of His tender love, He is my Victory. I am so incredibly thankful for my body. I am thankful for every part of my body. Yes this creation may be under the curse of our sin, but God is the Redeemer and He is making all things new. God is my Redeemer! He is my “dream-come-true-Boaz”, He has paid the greatest price so I can be with Him forever and ever and I gladly give myself over to Him, to His authority, to His will. He can–and is–making something beautiful out of the mire clay. I am free to dance in joy as He lifts me up from the ashes. He has brought me into His glory and I look forward to be taken into the full measure of His glory. His strong arm upholds me, His strong right hand defends and protects me.

I need thee every hour Lord. I need Thine Righteousness to revive me for Thine power to course through me, for You Holy Spirit to wash and cleanse me, for Your Word to lead me. For every part of me to be enveloped in Your presence, under Your guidance and authority. Every lie, every doubt hold no power over me-for I sit down under Your shadow with great delight and Your fruit is sweet to my taste, You bring me to Your banqueting House and Your banner over me is love. You satisfy me and embrace me, You come leaping and bounding over the mountains and hills and lead me into the Cleft of the Solid Rock, through Your pasture among the lilies. (See Song of Solomon 2).

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,  being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.  2 Corinthians 10:-6

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.  Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.  I Thessalonians 5:16-24

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”  Revelation 21:1-8

Burn the Plow. Roast the Ox.

fire-1568645So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”

“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”

So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.
1 Kings 19:19-21

When we repent and accept Christ as our leader and director then we leave our old life behind. In fact we don’t just turn our back on it, but we are spiritually born, no longer dead in our transgressions, but alive in Christ. From that day forward when we wake up every morning the Holy Spirit within us cries out for Christ, for righteousness. A sign of a true believer is someone who denies the desire of his flesh nature, this is called dying to oneself.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? Matthew 16:24

You see Christ was made sin on the cross, even though He had not Himself sinned, as a payment for the debt we’ve racked up with our sin before God. However, the transaction is not complete until we offer up that sin in repentance. Burning it like Elisha burned his plow. When we repent and die to ourselves. Then and only then will Christ’s righteousness is imputed upon us to protect us from the wrath of God. We are purchased by the blood of Christ, protected by His righteousness.

The Christian life is one of continual repentance and dying to oneself, not because we lose our salvation every time we go to sleep, but because we have set our hearts and minds to accept Christ as our Rescuer which can only happen when we submit to Him as Lord. Submission means dying to self.

When Elisha was called to serve God he burned His plow, killed His oxen and ate them for a farewell dinner. He got rid of them for good, no turning back. We must burn our plows, our old life must die under the transforming fire of the Holy Spirit. While it is painful to die to ourselves it will not be as painful as it will be to come under the eternal fire of God’s judgement.

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8

Just like Isaiah cried out in terror when He saw a vision of God’s throne and His mouth was purified with a coal from God’s holy fire, so must our tongues be purified with the fire of the Holy Spirit. If not, our tongues will be scorched and parched for water where there is none.

And in Hades (the realm of the dead), being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, Father Abraham, have pity and mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.

But Abraham said, Child, remember that you in your lifetime fully received [what is due you in] comforts and delights, and Lazarus in like manner the discomforts and distresses; but now he is comforted here and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who want to pass from this to you may not be able, and no one may pass from there to us. Luke 16:23-26

God’s purifying fire consumes all unrighteousness. Will it only be your works consumed on judgement day (1 Cor. 3:10-15) or your whole body?

Something Has to Die

So I’ve just been thinking how you’ll hear “I’m just letting whatever God’s will is be done”, but the person behind that statement is living in blatant sin. I find this statement strange and unsettling. Why? Because there is a difference between choosing to live in sin with indifference towards God, vs living in submission under God’s authority and therefore denying sinful desires. One is called obedience the other is called rebellion. It is not God’s will for us to rebel but to repent.

It is as if we were told by our mom not to hurt our sibling, and then we just slap them up right in front of her and then say “I’m just trusting my mom for her will to be done because she loves me”. It was not her will for you to hurt your brother or sister, and even though she loves you more than life itself, you will suffer the consequences. If you really trusted her you would’ve known that, and feared that, and obeyed. The only thing is we have all done this before God. Blatant or not before men, it is all blatant before Him. The consequence of thumbing our nose at the Author of Life? Death.

But, God loves us in spite of who we are and so He gave His perfect and innocent Son to take our punishment so that if we are sorry and turn from our sin then when God looks at us He will see the blood of Jesus paying the price of our sins, no matter how many or how great. The thing is we must repent, we must be sorry for our sin, we must cry out to God for His help. We cannot keep on thumbing our nose, we cannot keep on living according to the desires of our flesh.

Something has to die, either it will be our soul, or our sinful desires. He has provided Himself for atonement, and He provides His Spirit to strengthen us to obey. Plus that means we get the greatest, most satisfying thing of all, Him. Call out to Him, cry out to Him, we all need Him.

But, there is a Redeemer

God is a master redeemer. He specializes in redeeming (or making something new and beautiful out of) the messes we are so good at making in our lives. From time to time we’ll find ourselves feeling like we don’t have a purpose, things may all seem to be going nowhere, or just plain going all wrong. The plan that God has for us may seem hazy, or even maybe a complete mystery. It’s time likes these that its good to stop and remember that God didn’t make a mistake when He knit us together in our mother’s womb. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, we are placed into space and time, into this specific point of space and time, with our unique abilities, appearance, personality, and everything about us for a reason.

The problem with being human is that we often mess that up, taking our eyes off Jesus and follow/worship something else that promises to satisfy without having to say no to the desire of our flesh. Sometimes we make life altering decisions that are disobedient towards God and we violently hurl ourselves off of the tracks God laid for us when we were just a babe.

We’ve been doing it since the beginning. Before the fall of mankind in the garden, God’s plan for us was being perfectly fulfilled. We were perfectly glorifying Him and in perfect fellowship with Him because we were free from sin. It would have gone on forever, except just as we do today, Adam and Eve took the gift of freewill that God gave humanity and used it to throw the muck of sin all over God’s masterpiece. We messed it up so royally that it could never go back, the darkness of our sin was so deep that it could not be scraped away to reveal what it once had been. The curse of sin (death) hovers permanently over all of us, the darkness of that original free will rebellion spans the centuries, dooming us to separation from God.

But, there is a Redeemer.

Each of us does the same thing that Adam and Eve did. Although we are born into a life leading to physical death because of the original sin, we are born with a clean slate for our souls. We each have the choice to either live in obedience to ourselves, or to live in obedience towards God. It doesn’t take us long in life to start sinning though, satisfying the desires of our sinful nature and dooming our souls to the second death. As we grow we begin to make decisions that affect the trajectory of our lives here on earth; and the thing is, every decision we make is either one that is God Honoring, or one that is self-honoring and each has its own set of consequences. It doesn’t take us long to start using our free will to not only coat our souls in sin, but to also hurl sinful decisions into the path of our life, altering the direction and our future. We derail ourselves. There was no undo in the garden. There is no undo here and now.

But, there is a Redeemer.

Some of us can look back at our lives to the specific age, place and rebellious decision that threw us literally off the tracks. We can see how this decision of disobedience marred the masterpiece that God had intended for us into something that we could never go back to. We can never go back and follow those tracks that God had laid out for us. We are left crashed into the dirt, stuck in the mar of our sin, with a feeling like we have no purpose left. That one decision becomes the greatest regret, the regret that hangs heavy on us, weighing us down deeper into the mar as we begin to rust.

Some of us look back at our lives and we don’t see a single moment, we see a whole life where God’s intentions or plans for our lives were a mystery. A life where we’ve done nothing but serve our own desires, and yet here you find yourself feeling lost and without purpose. All that is left is disappointment, and the futility of grasping satisfaction that all too quickly fades away into emptiness.

Whichever it may be, we have used the free will God gave us to mar the original masterpiece of a plan for our lives. We’ve allowed ourselves to think for a moment that the brush was in our hands, when in reality the Creator simply allowed us to sink our hands into the darkness of sin and to throw it all over His handiwork. We think we are triumphant in overrunning God’s authority, taking control, but really we are not in control, we are being allowed to sin, allowed to use our free will to rebel. We’ve given birth to sin, and the wages of sin is death. Death of our bodies, of our souls, of relationships, of dreams, of purpose.

But, there is a Redeemer.

The beauty of our complete brokenness is that we cannot mend ourselves. Sure we can choose to go our whole life spinning our wheels in the mire of sin until we sink into the grave we’ve dug, sealing our eternal fate. But because we have free will, God gives us the option on this side of eternity to stop living in regret or rebellion and to set our eyes on Christ. The Redeemer can become our Redeemer.

The Redeemer builds something new out of what has been destroyed in death, a new set of tracks in an impossible situation. Although we cannot go back and undo that one decision, we can move forward today. Although we cannot go back and give our lives over to Christ when we were but a young one, we can today.

There is a Redeemer.

The beauty of that deep sense of regret, of the groping in the darkness of our sin, is that it allows us to be deeply acquainted with how much we need a Savior and it leads us to repentance. God doesn’t give us a magic redo at life, He doesn’t take away the consequences, He uses them to lead us to our true purpose, to the reason why He created us: to be Redeemed by the power of God, for the glory of God, through Christ. To be satisfied in God through Christ, passionately in love with Him, bringing glory and honor to Him through the Holy Spirit.

We have each disobeyed God. We have lied, we have dishonored God’s name carelessly or even as a curse, we have looked at someone we aren’t married to with lust, or even acted out those thoughts, we have coveted what belongs to someone else, we have all sinned. When we stand before God when we die, we cannot hide our sin behind good deeds, there is nothing good enough that we can do to hide our sin from God. There is only One who Has the power to redeem our soul and bring it from death into life, Jesus. Jesus, took on flesh, although being fully God, faced temptation and through the Holy Spirit’s power did not sin. He took our punishment on the cross, obeying God and allowing Himself to be separated from God by our sin. All of mankind’s sin from all of history was heaped upon Christ at Calvary, cloaking Him in darkness, separating Him from God the Father. But Christ, in the power of God overcame death, and was resurrected. All who trust in Him, who repent of their sins, and follow Him instead of themselves are saved from the second death. We, the redeemed, are covered and protected then by His righteousness, just as our sin covered Him on Calvary. In Christ we become new, our souls are reborn in Christ our Lord. Our hope is complete in Him, knowing that our born again souls will not have to taste death and can be in perfect fellowship with God in Heaven. The Redemption of each us, for all who say yes to Christ here on earth, becomes the Redemption of humanity after the fall.

There is a Redeemer.

Stop looking back, stop spinning your wheels. Turn to and follow Christ. Look to Christ and rest in Him. When we put our trust in Him and obey Him, He lifts the burden and the weight of our regrets. He builds a new path for us in the wilderness, a path that leads us to Him. The Holy Spirit strengthens and transforms us, who belong to Christ, and empowers us to do God’s will in peace. So seek first God’s Kingdom and God’s righteousness. Be transformed by the entire renewal of your mind and fulfill your purpose: to know Christ and to make Him known.

“The LORD redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.”
Psalm 34:22

“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness,
and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
I Corinthians 1:13-14