Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Obedience is better than Sacrifice

In the bible God says "obedience is better than sacrifice". I read that all the time. I thought I had a grasp on it until we started walking down this road again with the second transplant. God really has given me such a clearer picture of that statement and I want to run out of the room and say "no more!".

You see, there is never a more clearer picture when you see God demonstrating a scripture, a heart motive, a principle you have never seen before, an innocence, a sin, really anything until you see it in your own child. Within our own home, we learn more about God than we do every Sunday in Church. I believe God designed the family unit specifically for us to understand the kingdom of God and His love for us. I truly believe that the kingdom of God is more about relationship than we realize. Throughout the bible God talks about it. In fact, that is all He talks about. His desire for us to know Him. Ultimately stated, He desires relationship with us. And so with any relationship it has the ebb and flow of life. Those moments that are wonderful and those moments of frustration. But at the end of the day, when the lights are down and the moment is quiet…you check the kids and see their innocence, you lay down next to your husband and you realize and feel the peace and love of God. That these people around you have taught you that no matter what happens, how you have acted at the end of the day they still love you for you…and no other reason. So therefore, warts and all God loves us that same way.

It is our relationship to Him that He longs for. That was the one and only reason for Him to send Jesus to help us, His only son, so we might understand how much He loves us. I think as a parent we see more through His eyes than ever as we watch our child grow and make a place in this world. We are able to envision that care and love that He demonstrates to us more than we have ever known by watching our child grow. We see the helplessness when they are born, the struggle for independence as they get older, and their walk into adulthood with the growing pains of their youth. No matter how old, how wise, how accomplished they are…they are still the babies we held and loved and our heart still yearns to protect every part of them. On occasion, we get a small glimpse into the sacrifice that God and Jesus made just for us. That selfless act of His son.

So my walk with the Lord has always been about love and obedience. I cherished the love He has poured out into my life and appreciated all the steps we have walked for good and maybe not so good. But never have I seen demonstrated so clearly the act of obedience based on love more than I have in Olivia these past few weeks. No one will ever know everything she has felt and gone through except her and God. The Doctors want to push her hard to protect her and my job as Mom is to honor that and to protect. But protection can sometimes mean a lot of unbearable pain.

Olivia goes to Physical Therapy each day. I really had not been going down with her because it had become a place where she and Dean did this together. But on Thursday she begged me to go down with her the next day. She said that Dad and the therapist really pushed her beyond what she could do. She held it together while she was at therapy but the minute she saw me she immediately started crying. Dean felt so bad. He felt he had not been paying attention but that really was not the case. Olivia has always, since a little baby, held her pain until she saw me. She broke her collar bone once in two and no one believed it was broken but me. Because she was not crying in pain. But yes, it was broken and the technician profusely apologized.

So on Friday, off we went to physical therapy. Honestly, I knew she was working the treadmill. She was doing about 18 minutes a day and I knew she did a few leg stretches but I had no idea how it all went together. Off we go to the gym to work out. I was in for a bit of a shock. They really make her work hard but the problem is not them, it is Olivia. They tell her what she needs to accomplish and except for a few, "I can't go anymore" that sound like she can but doesn't want to push…she does exactly what they tell her. She stretches every part of her body, walks on that treadmill, and works out for 30 minutes. I sat (it is not the parent gym, LOL) and watched her. I saw those eyes plead with me to stop but those feet that continued on…I saw the pain in the stretches but the determination to do it in her manner and I saw something else. I saw a trust that was beyond words. I saw her eyes pleading, begging and in much pain but I also saw this respect. This heart wrenching trust that if I said she needed to do it, even though it was taking everything out of her, then it must be the best thing for her to do. I saw obedience out of trust. I was almost in awe of the moment. That look on her face I will never forget. Pure trust that was etched in pain, struggle and a trust that is beyond words.

I am not sure I have ever obeyed anyone out of pure trust like that when there was pain involved. When I could not see past the moment to the ultimate goal. To feel there is no hope and yet trust in someone else's hope that there will be better days. Because in Olivia's world life is hard to see past this 8x8 room. She is struggling to believe that there will be a day when she is better. At first there was much hope and joy. Things went very well. Then we rebounded and there was still a glimmer of hope but now on the third crash she is weaker and holding on. She is holding on to my faith. My belief that God will bring us through this. That He has a bigger plan because she feels He is just not listening to her. But yet, through all of that, that need to be obedient to Him, that need to trust in her parents is so much stronger, and a heart that needs to have hope still seeks it even though there is doubt. Her obedience is what is giving her hope and she does not even realize it. For the first time I can see why obedience is better than sacrifice. Obedience happens in the midst of the storm, in battle of war, the downward spiral of a crisis and instead of desperation to fix it all by sacrificing ...obedience through it all brings a consistent hope, though we are discouraged we are not beaten down because obedience knows the scripture and has a relationship with the Father that far exceeds the circumstances that we are standing in.

I am working daily to trust that God has it under control but that pure obedience without a question is hard. I know the scripture, I know I love my Father but, that pure obedience without a rebuttal, an argument, a well" I have thought it out and I agree with you" is still a bit of a struggle. But there is my child, with all her strength, all of her spunk, all of her ability to argue but not once did she argue. She just pressed until she finished the task because she trusted that one day she would be better for it. That her obedience is the grounds for hope in her hopeless situation.

Again, I am in awe. I can look over my life with the Lord and see the references to it through different moments in my life. I hear those words about obedience and at times I have been obedient but after a few arguments and a final "I get where you are trying to lead me!" but obedience for obedience sake. I am not so sure. My life has not been easy and life situations have made me mistrust many of my relationships because of pains from the past. But that purity I see in Olivia I long for.

The purity of trust, the purity of obedience because I know He loves me so much that He would not allow harm to come to me. That I just need to work through the hard stuff and I will see the better days…WOW. Yes on some level we all obey but truly I can say I need to become a small child again and learn that lesson over. Because now I have a new vision of what that verse truly means and applying that to my life will forever change me and my relationship with the Father.

In His grip eternally


Wendy said...

Broken and spilled out. That's where I am after reading this. I can't form a complete thought... Do you realize what a huge revelation this is? Yes, you do. Must go process.

Kathy said...

Barb, It's so true. When you are a parent, you get a better picture of what our relationship with God should look like and where we fail miserably. It is extremely humbling. You and Olivia amaze me. Love you both! Kathy

Shane Sutherland said...

Barb, I know there must be so many reasons that you and your sweet Olivia are still on this journey. But, if only because of this... this blog that I just read... if only for this lesson to be learned and then passed on... WOW is all I can say. I cried because reading this tugged at the memories of when I have been there obeying in the midst of the storm. But, then I realized I never had a choice. We don't as mothers do we? But, Olivia's choice to obey and keep trusting when she could choose to give up inspires me beyond words.

I am so sorry your family has to be the ones on this path of suffering. But, those of us who allow ourselves to be changed as we process the lessons you are learning are better for it. Thank you dear sweet faithful sister. Love, Shane

Ane Mulligan said...

Barb, all I can say is my trials seem so small. and they are in comparison. But the common thread is obedience. And I see where so often I'm like a pouting two-year-old, saying "I don't feel like it," when I need to obey and keep working.

You inspire me, my dear, dear friend.

pslm69c123 said...

So grateful for your posts. Never have I been able to glimpse the heart of Christ in the visual you have just shared here. I am forever grateful for the wisdom and insight you have been able to share with us, the heart of Christ through your struggle is so magnified. My family will not cease to lift you to the Father. Our hands are underneath your arms outstretched and holding your prayers out before the throne of the Father. Thank you for your walk in Him. Your words strike deep into the heart of the saints and I think everyone of us following this journey with you are somewhere selfishly hungry for the meat we are given through the Fathers table by all that you let us share. There aren't words of love or encouragement strong enough to articulate how much we the body, love your family and uplift you.

Donna said...

Well, I read another one and am a puddle of tears. I know better than to read them but then I find myself opening it and bawling again! The image of Olivia doing the hard stuff but looking at you with complete trust is such a pure picture of our relationship with God: "I hate doing this. I don't understand why I have to do this but I trust I'll do it." How awesome, pure and holy. It is amazing what you are able to write with so little sleep!