Thursday, May 31, 2012


I just finished reading Francine River's The Atonement Child, a novel about Dynah Carey, a college-age believer that had it all until a rape and unwanted pregnancy threatened to tear her world and family apart. It, not surprisingly, is relationally incredible and tragically beautiful all in one. There is a healthy level of emotional catharsis I go through with each reading of one of Rivers' books. This book was different though. Maybe it was the close relation of pregnancy and my job. Maybe it was Dynah's parent's marriage on the rocks. Maybe it was precious innocence stolen in such a dreadful way and the realization of how easily it could have happened to me - and still could. Whatever the reason, this book was different. From chapter one. I struggled to keep composure several times - and failed often - as I delved into the complexity and depth of the characters. I was broken for humanity. It hit me: the characters weren't real, but the situations and hurts and brokenness and bitterness and regret and redemption were. I've known enough people in my 28 years to see it firsthand more times than I want to remember. And yet, we would see it exists in each of us if we would just take the time to know someone. Some have scars that bear the marks. Some are still licking wounds and reeling from the pain. Some are walking in the dark, fumbling for answers. Some are walking in redemption, allowing hurts to be relieved by Jesus, pointing to His grace and His glory.

We're all somewhere on the spectrum. It's just a matter of how well you know someone.

The thought came after a recent challenge of whether I just know God...or know God. The challenge came from a tried and true follower of Christ, Michael Hindes. He brought Paul's truth to life from Philippians 3:1-16, stretching my thoughts on how a mature Christian thinks. In his message he pointed out that when God asks us to do something, usually requiring some sort of sacrifice, we naturally look for the payoffs. But what if God is asking for us to sacrifice the payoff too? Would we still say yes to God? Would I do His will just for the sake of knowing Him. Because knowing Him is reward enough. It's a truth I believe. But how well do I live it out? Michael also said that out of knowing comes intimacy, connection, life. He related it to the intimacy between a man and woman, there is pain, tearing, creating of a rhythm, knowing it gets sweeter as it goes. The same is true in our relationship to God. There will be pain of our hearts tearing. We create a rhythm with Him. Know Him. And the knowing gets sweeter. If there was no other reward than knowing Him, that is enough. And here's another thought he presented: who would you rather give your power to? Someone who knows about you or someone who knows you? Really knows you? Heck, I choose someone who knows me intimately. When God surveys the earth for ways to demonstrate His power and make His glory known, I'll bet you He lands on those that truly know Him just about every time.

The testimony of every believer centers on knowing Him. Our stories change and grow as our intimacy grows. We mature in depth of character. God's power is exhibited in more glorious ways. The more we know Him, the more we're freed up to be used by Him.

But I get distracted. Life. Noise. Busyness. Weariness. I get to where I can't hear Him. I lose sight of Him as my sustenance. My only necessary sustenance. So a week and a half ago I stripped away the noise. The distraction. And I began to taste again. I began to taste how sweet He is, how sweet knowing Him alone is. The grace. The guidance. The love. The living water. This past Monday I was at Little Mulberry Park when this song, (Only You) came to me. It was a song I hadn't sung in over 15 years, and yet I remembered every word. I smiled as the reminder of His majesty, the depth of His love, the unique way He satisfies my desires flooded over me. And it came at a time when I really needed to be reminded. It's moments like those that come from knowing Him.

Friday, May 11, 2012

When Words Are Never Enough

Yesterday was a hard day. Not like an "I overslept and spilled my coffee" kind of hard day. More like an  "I'm not sure how I'm going to mentally and emotionally get through today" kind of hard day. Everything went as usual until about 6:50 am (early, I know, but when your day starts at 4:45, there are lots of things that can happen by 6:50). I woke up and got ready for the day. I spent some time in the Word. I ate some breakfast. I drove to work and listened to worship music. I changed into my green scrubs and sat down at a table in the nurses lounge awaiting my assignment for the next 12 hours. Everything was as expected. Then I got the news no nurse wants to hear: "Erin, you've got the patient in room ---. She's a fetal demise. Full term. First baby. Went to the office yesterday for a regular check up and there was no heartbeat. She's here being induced."

Holy cow. That'll make your heart sink to your stomach. It'll make you wish you'd never rolled out from under your covers. I made the long walk down the hallway, got report from the night shift nurse, and headed in to meet my patient and her husband. Everything you think about labor and delivery goes down the drain in moments like this. There's no excited chatter about what color the nursery is or what the baby's name is. No lullabies or first cries. It's pure and utter sadness. The level of emotion in the day is off the charts. The need to be attentive and in tune with my patient's every need somehow seems impossible and yet there's a sense of that being exactly why I was placed in her path today. That every need I have, every thought is of no significance in comparison to her needs, her thoughts. That suddenly every fibre in my being is seeking to guide her and her husband through this process as tenderly and gently as I know how. And words will never be enough. There has to be touch. And eye contact. And just a presence of strength and empathy. All of this in addition to medical care.

The minutes tick by as we try to get her into labor to deliver the baby she dreamed of holding under very different circumstances that still rests inside of her. The minutes turn to hours. Hard conversations are had. Tears are shed. Pain is managed with any medications we can administer. Hope is given. Strength is borrowed. And somehow she makes it through moments she didn't think she could.

And I made it through my twelve hours. She still hadn't delivered at the end of my shift, so I passed her along to the next nurse who would strive to do the same things I had done for the next twelve hours. I left with the promise of checking on them when I returned to work on Friday. I moved on with my night, headed to youth group, trying to enter back into a less heavy place than where I spent all day. I ate. I slept. And I woke up this morning ready to face another day. As I listened to worship music on my way to a class for work I heard Shane and Shane's "Psalm 118 (This Is The Day)." I found myself belting the words "Give thanks to the Lord for He is good/ His love endures forever. He is my strength and He's my song/ His love endures forever...This is the day the Lord has made/ I will rejoice and be glad in it." And I instantly thought of my patient from the day before. She's still in a hospital room filled with sorrow over the loss of her child. And yet I'm rejoicing? I'm literally praising our Lord with a smile on my face? But somehow it seems right. Because of His sovereignty? Because of His promise that He works all things for the good of those who love Him? Because He weeps with those who weep and mourns with those who mourn? Yes. He encompasses everything. He is all things. He didn't cause this woman to lose her baby. It's the result of sin entering this world and bringing with it tragedy and brokenness and sorrow. But God is a redeeming God. He can use any bad experience for His good. He somehow makes all things right. And I got to rest in that this morning. Did it take away the pang of sadness I felt as I pondered the weight of what my patient is going through? No. Will it remove her years of sadness and grieving? No. But He does give hope to the hopeless. He is strength for the weak. He is sight for the blind. He is the great I AM. In every situation, in every circumstance, He is sovereign. And He is enough.