Child-Like Helplessness

raindrops on windshieldThe raindrops hit hard, dancing madly across the windshield, while I drove north on Interstate 205 to my son’s soccer game.  The windshield wipers moved in tandem trying to keep up with the choreographed droplets.  My eyes were not focusing well.  The rush hour traffic propagated around me, and I attempted to pay attention to the British lady on my cell phone giving directions. I squeezed the steering wheel more tightly and began praying to God for help.  I was really having a hard time seeing.  I shook my head & squinted at the gray highway and rushing cars. Shaking my head or blinking hard seemed to reboot my vision, but then quickly my eyes refused to work together.  What is going on?  I can’t see!  I began to feel anxious. Soon, the left eye saw two landscapes…wait, no, there were three landscapes!  I felt frightened.  My left eye was experiencing double vision with one landscape on top of another exact image.  The right eye saw a single landscape, but that image set diagonal from the left eye’s double images.  Please, God, I really need you to watch over me.  I can’t see!

It was a year ago that my eyesight crashed.  After multiple doctor visits,MRI/MRA, various other requisite tests, weeks of vision therapy, long waits for appointments with the most specialized neurophthalmologists, I learned that my vision issues were not new at all.  The specialists agreed that the vision impairment stemmed from a horseback riding accident I had suffered in 2000 which resulted in a broken jaw, a fractured skull, and a cerebral cavernous carotid fistula.  The cranial nerves which controlled my eye muscles were damaged as a result.  My brain had compensated for fifteen years, but it was now refusing to “see.”  The specialists also agreed that there were no medical options available to repair the damage or restore vision.

During that long season of quiet waiting, God gave me grace upon grace to trust him.  Gradually, I began to experience some visual stabilization, and I cautiously began to drive again. I was on a very short leash traveling only a short radius from my home.  I began to understand my limitations.  I usually only had 2-3 hours to do errands, go to an appointment, etc. before my eyesight would begin to scramble.  I observed what irritated and overstimulated the eyes/brain making things worse.  In short, I was learning a new normal.

A year later,  I continue to struggle with the life interruptions my vision impairment brings, but God is also using it for my good. But, it isn’t always easy.  A couple of Sundays ago, I had quite the meltdown.  I don’t think I have sobbed so hard for so long in …well, let’s just say in a very, very long time.  The next morning, I felt like melancholy debris scattered from the tornadic upheaval of emotions dumped the day before. What was my purpose anyway? Why should I even bother to go through the motions of the day?  Daily, I had asked for “fresh manna,” my prayer of dependence on God for the needed strength to deal with unreliable vision.  I actually felt the grace of contentment even as I made adjustments to the hard circumstances. But, right now, I felt like I was going to be mentally unstable. The loneliness of being by myself day after day was wearing me down.   One day, my eyes would allow me a short burst of freedom.  Another day, I would be unable to leave my home because my eyes refused to cooperate.  The unpredictability was hard to bear. In the middle of my angry confusion, the gentle Holy Spirit spoke to my heart.  He quietly, but firmly, rebuked me, reminding me that although I pray often, I had not prayed my honest emotions before the Father about my eyesight. The Holy Spirit used a book I was reading A Praying Life to exhort me in this area.  The author Paul Miller speaks of coming to the Father like a child.  Very young children have no filter; they say whatever they are thinking at the time, whether it is appropriate or not; they ask endless questions; and it is common for them to whine when they do not get their way.  They can be very demanding when they want something & expect immediate attention.  In their helplessness, they trust their parents completely to use their love & power to help them.  Well, the Spirit searches the heart, and He knows exactly what is in the secret chambers of our hearts; and so it was with my heart.
Very gently, my Father was asking me to become helpless like a child. 

childlike

I have always been uncomfortable praying for myself in this way.  I could pray like that for my family, a friend in need, etc.  But, I held back my personal complaints before God; it felt disrespectful.  God is sovereign I reasoned; so, therefore, I needed to submit to His providence.  End of story.  God is sovereign, but He is also my Father.  My Father wants me to act like His child, to be helpless & dependent, even with my emotions.  I felt vulnerable.  I knew the Spirit had only told me what the Father desired for me to do.  So, I poured out my complaint in a lament before my Abba Father in child-like helplessness.  When I come running to my “Abba”…my daddy…with tears of helplessness, will he ever refuse me? No. He is a perfect Father. “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7:11). Come as a child with tears of helplessness to a Father who treasures you. “The LORD has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession.” (Deut. 26:18) He will care for you like a Father, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Ps. 34:18).

The next morning, the Holy Spirit spoke the Word into my heart again, this time using the first verse of Romans 12, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”  You see, I had been anticipating a milestone.  The youngest of my four children is now a high school senior,and I had worked my way out of my “stay-at-home” mom status.  I was on the cusp of beginning a new & exciting chapter of life…or so I thought.  But, somewhere along the way, the “living sacrifice” had crawled off the altar (dead sacrifices stay put).  The Spirit was reminding me that I can make my plans, but I must always be willing to say, “Not my will, but Yours.”  Really? Right now? Again, I confessed my own independent movements.  Child-like dependence included submitting to my Father and I wasn’t actually wanting “not my will, but Yours” to include my ability to see, or make plans, etc.  My Father knows me so intimately.  My Savior is so gentle understanding my frailties.  God loves me so much, that He lovingly puts me back on His path of light & truth.
luke-22
Yes, my Father did have plans for my good.  He reminded me that I could easily go visit the folks at Tanner Spring Assisted Living Facility where I was part of a monthly worship service.  I cringed. I lived close enough to make the trip.  If I went in the morning, I could commit to this.  But, God, I don’t want to…I don’t have anything in common with them.  I love them dearly, but I wouldn’t be very good at making conversation.  I argued with God like Jonah, “Don’t send me.”  That afternoon,  R_________,  called & asked me to practice some music with her.  Okay, God.  You really are seeking to get my attention.  This vibrant lady attended the monthly chapel services our church provided.   As I drove over there, I prayed.  I became honest about my emotions again, and I asked God to make me humble like a child before him, willing to submit to His leadership. (God, of course, happily answered that prayer.)  I enjoyed a pleasant two-hour visit; and before, I left this dear lady looked me in the eyes and said, “I am going to keep track of you…. I have been praying to God for a friend.  So many of the residents here do not have enough mental capacity to have meaningful conversations, and I am lonely.”  I felt ashamed and tears crowded the corners of my eyes.  You see, God was trying to answer her prayer by sending me, but I was too stubborn to go. He was also answering my prayer for more interaction.  God is my Father, and He loves me as His child.

  “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

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12 thoughts on “Child-Like Helplessness

  1. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.
    I don’t know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉
    Cheers!

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  2. Sheila, this is such a precious story of Faith. God is so sweet to take over and bring us to a safe place. I look forward to reading more from your precious heart. Love you

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  3. Sheila, I confess I’ve been an ongoing Facebook fan of yours, reading your thoughtful, prayerful, and spirit-filled posts for some time now. They have been a sincere source of encouragement. I’m even more delighted that you have a blog. After reading (with tears) and then rereading again your most recent blog, I am truly encouraged to trust in the Lord with all my heart–like a child would trust. As I read your sincere reflections on grittier aspects of God’s amazing grace, I truly see Eph. 4:16 at work. Your poetic words helped me visualize how to offer myself and my time as a living sacrifice, on the alter of His will. Thank you so much for encouraging me, Sheila; your transparency makes the fullness of Him all the more beautiful and glorious!

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    • Wendy, you are a warm-hearted affirmer….such encouraging, thoughtful words. I truly hope that REAL hope is offered through my pilgrim journeys…in Christ alone. I am truly humbled…thank you, my friend!

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