Category Archives: Message

“Sadie’s Really Happy in her Spot”–Eli Davis

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Eli (on the way to school this morning):  “I’m sad that Sadie’s gone, but I’m happy for Sadie, because Sadie’s really happy in her spot.”

Me:  “What spot?” (a little perplexed, thinking he’s referring to “Sadie’s spot”, which is how we refer to the location of her physical body on West Division Street in Mt Juliet)

Eli:  “Her spot up to Heaven.”

Me:  (eyes fill with tears and pretty much speechless)

For goodness sake, I am looking forward to the day that I can sift through all of these emotions, and somehow transition from being so sad that Sadie’s “gone”, to being so “happy for Sadie, because Sadie’s really happy in her spot”…thank you once again, Eli Davis.  I wish I could process life so black and white.

Ultimately, Sadie is right where every parent longs for their child to end up.  I just really wanted to get to hang out with her here for awhile longer, that’s all.

Many parents lose their babies before they even get a chance to know them, so I am very thankful for the time I had here with Sadie.

Many other parents “lose their babies” by watching them turn their back on God and walk down their own path toward unrighteousness.

Our 17 months with Sadie was filled with many joys, and having her here changed my life for the better.  I am plagued for right now by the devastation that comes with losing my precious girl to cancer, but I am grateful for the blessing of her life.  I am so sad when I can’t even think of her without tears filling my eyes, but I am thankful for the legacy she is leaving.  No parent wants their child’s story to be, “she was so beautiful and so precious and then she died of childhood cancer”.  I just can’t let that be the end of Sadie’s story.  I think that’s part of the reason we are wanting to reach out and try to do good for others on her behalf, and to share the love of Christ.  I want there to be a big comma after the “she died of childhood cancer” part.  I want the rest of the sentence to be “, and then her sweet life affected so many others in a good way”.

Thank you to those of you who have shared with me how God has grabbed a hold of your life through this.  That’s often how He works.  God did not strike Sadie down with cancer.  But He did know the story of her life before she was ever born.  And yet He decided that, despite the pain He knew we would all be facing right now, that the end result of this happening to her would be for our good.  THAT is what keeps me from giving up.  THAT is what makes me (through tears) say, “God, I trust You”.  His ways are not my own, but nevertheless, I trust Him.

Tim forwarded me a really good article this morning about “The Silence of God”.  He and I both found it very encouraging, so I think I’ll copy it here for you to read, if you’d like:

 

Vol. 9, No. 77

The Silence of God

Few Christians have chronicled their struggle with God more poignantly than C.S. Lewis.

The famed Christian author was deeply in love with his wife, Joy.  Not long after their relationship began, she was diagnosed with cancer.  She endured a long and terrible season of illness before she died.

Lewis wrote about his feelings following Joy’s death in a series of notebooks that were later published just before his own death in 1963.  Lewis’ most telling observation?  The silence of God.

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.  I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid.  The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness…On the rebound one passes into tears and pathos.  Maudlin tears.  I almost prefer the moments of agony.  These are at least clean and honest…

…”Meanwhile, where is God?…When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him…if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be – or so it feels – welcomed with open arms.  But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find?  A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside.  After that, silence.  You may as well turn away.  The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become…

…”Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?”

The experience of the silence of God is real.  Many of us have felt it.  Times when we cry out to God, and there seems to be no answer.  We pray, pouring out our hearts, only to hear the words echo back without a reply.

The maddening thing is that we have been conditioned to believe that there is a direct relationship between input and output.  Cause and effect.  The interplay between what I do and what happens.  When we cry out to God, and nothing happens, how can we help but feel that something’s not quite right – and that the problem is with the Listener?

The silence, however, is seldom permanent.

Lewis would later write these words:

“I have gradually been coming to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted…[I was like] the drowning man who can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs.”

So what was he clutching and grabbing?

What was he missing in what first seemed like silence?

Many of us mistake God’s “no’s” for silence.  Or His “not yets.”  But for me, the easiest one to miss, but the most important to attend to, is when we’re experiencing “deep calling to deep.”

Consider the words of the 42nd psalm:

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’” (Psalm 42:1-3, NIV).

Here is someone who is hungering for a word from God.  He alludes to a difficult time, a season where he has been calling out to God in the midst of pain, grief or confusion.  From all angles, it appears as if God is silent to his cries.  So much so that those around him say, “Where is this God of yours that you pray to?”

But notice what he goes on to write – words that read as if they were transcribed from the most reflective of journals:

“Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God…My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you…Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls” (Psalm 42:5-7, NIV).

The psalmist comes to see that there is no silence – there’s just an answer coming from God that’s deeper than words.  God is present, and speaking, but what He’s saying isn’t resting on the surface waters of life.

This is a season where deep is calling to deep.

When I was nineteen years old and in college, I was invited to a weekend party at a nearby university.  My friend, Phil, was going, and encouraged me to come along.  He said that there would be five of us in the car, but there would be room.  I wanted to go, and tried to make it happen, but couldn’t.

They left without me on a Friday afternoon.  Two days later, as they returned to campus, a car from the opposite flow of traffic crossed the dividing line, became airborne, and landed headfirst into their car.

All four were killed instantly.

I first heard the news late that Sunday night.  I left my dorm, walked over to the nearby athletic complex, hopped a locked fence, and sat in the empty football stadium under a moonlit sky.  I grieved for my friend; I thought of the brevity of life, and how close I had come to being killed.

I remember crying out to God to help me sort it all out, to make sense of it all.  To talk to me…to say something…anything!

Silence.

In truth, it was one of the deepest conversations we had ever had.  He was speaking to me, moving within me, communing and communicating with me on levels that had never been opened to Him before.

It was the start of many conversations – some even more traumatic.

Within four months I became a Christian.

It is of paramount importance to consider that it’s not silence we’re encountering, but a pregnant pause; a prompting to engage in personal reflection so that the deepest of answers, the most profound of responses, can be given – and heard.

This is the mark of all master-teachers.

I once read an article in Fast Company that profiled the chess master and much sought-after mentor, Bruce Pandolfini.  Here’s how he described his work with his students:

“My lessons consist of a lot of silence.  I listen to other teachers, and they’re always talking…I let my students think.  If I do ask a question and I don’t get the right answer, I’ll rephrase the question – and wait.  I never give the answer.  Most of us really don’t appreciate the power of silence.  Some of the most effective communication – between student and teacher, between master players – takes place during silent periods.”

Could this be how God is mentoring us?

Is the silence the work of a Master Teacher?

When I go through seasons where God’s answers do not come quickly or on the surface of things – when the way God interacts with my prayers draws me deeper into Him for guidance and trust, dependence and obedience – the answers I find radically transcend what I initially sought to find.

I get introduced to sin that I needed to confront;

…patterns of behavior I needed to break;

…insight into who I am that I didn’t have before;

…and depths of relationship with God that I had never experienced.

Such revelations are worth the silence, for in such silence came the voice of God.

Perhaps this is behind the ancient name for the extended prayer that is given while one might normally be sleeping.  “Vigils” means waiting.  It also gives insight, and appreciation, for why “listen” is the first word of St. Benedict’s Rule for monasteries.

Before even these insights came the ancient “desert tradition” of Christianity.  Though the sandy terrain was often literal for the early church fathers and mothers, Alan Jones writes of how they mostly entered the desert of the spirit:  “a place of silence, waiting, and temptation,” which is also “a place of revelation, conversion, and transformation.”  According to the desert tradition, such “empty” places were actually full, for it was out of the deadening silences that people were known to be reborn.

I know that it held that for me.

And will many times again.

James Emery White

 

 

Sources

Adapted from James Emery White, Wrestling with God (InterVarsity Press).

  

 

Editor’s Note

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president.  His newly released book is The Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity (Baker Press).  To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log-on to www.churchandculture.org, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world.  Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

Believer

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I am loving the song, “Believer“, by Audio Adrenaline.  Strange how pain can make you stronger.  Loss can make you appreciate more.  Tears can bring healing.  I’m not saying I’m healed and pain-free from all that has taken place in the past few months.  I am saying that “I’m a Believer”, and God is helping us figure out how to carry our sweet Sadie in our hearts.  Working on moving forward without feeling like we are leaving her behind.  Not a day, or probably even an hour, will ever go by without the thought of our precious child going through our heads.  We are torn, broken, stung, shattered, and beat down.  But we are trusting God that we will one day be taped up, repaired, redeemed, and lifted up to do amazing things in His name.  I thank God for the difference Sadie is making in so many lives.  That girl is more alive than ever in a lot of ways.  We just miss her so very much.  The hole is deep, but God is very capable of helping us today and every day.  I can’t wait to feel like “me” again!  And then not feel guilty about it.

And then there’s my Dad.  Strangest thing in the world.  I honestly feel like he is still “doing” for me.  I miss him so badly here on Earth.  Our loss here is enormous, and I long to be able to talk to him, hug him, and be hugged BY him, but I feel like he is wrapping his arms around me by being able to be with my babygirl right now.  I’m sure that sounds strange to some, and that’s okay.  Maybe it’s just God’s way of helping me cope with all of this without going nutso, but it helps me to know that my Daddy is with Sadie in a place far more glorious than we can even begin to imagine.  If we can’t have Dad here, at least she can have him there.

Anyways, in this song, they sing, “Take me to the ocean, I wanna go deeper.  I’m not afraid, no, I’m a believer”.  This is bold and hard to say, sing, feel, etc.  I am not looking for more heartache, but it seems that God is able to be glorified in the good AND in the “bad”.  His love is real, and He will not let me walk this path alone.  I can take refuge in that.  And, He has put the most amazing people in my path to laugh with, cry with, pray with, and just be silent with.  I am grateful for each and every one of you.

“Believer”–please click here for the video, and listen to the words of this song.

Here are the lyrics, if you are unable to watch the video:

“Believer”

I wanna live this life unsafe, unsure, but not afraid
What I want is to give all I got somehow
Giving up, letting go of control right now

‘Cause I’m already out here, blind, but I can see
I see the way You’re moving
God, how I believe that

I can push back the mountains, can stand on the waves
I can see through the darkness, I’ll hold up the flame
Take me to the ocean, I wanna go deeper
I’m not afraid no, I’m a believer

And so I lose this life to find my way and come alive
They can try to deny what’s inside of me
But there is more, can’t ignore all the things unseen

‘Cause I’m already out here, blind but I can see
I see the way You’re moving
God how I believe that

I can push back the mountains, can stand on the waves
I can see through the darkness, I’ll hold up the flame
Take me to the ocean, I wanna go deeper
I’m not afraid no, I’m a believer

Oh, I believe I can walk on water with You, Lord

When I walk through the valley of the shadows
When I’m trapped in the middle of the battle
I will trust in You
‘Cause trouble comes, but You never let it take me
I hold fast ’cause I know that You will save me
I will trust in You
I will trust in You

Oh, here I stand, all alone
waiting on you, Lord
Waiting on You

I can push back the mountains, can stand on the waves
I can see through the darkness, I’ll hold up the flame
Take me to the ocean, I wanna go deeper
I’m not afraid no,
No, I’m a believer

No, I’m a believer, yeah
yes, I’m a believer

Oh, I’ll never leave You, oh
I’m a believer.

Get On It.

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This post may seem a little random, but I’ve got a few things floating around in my head that I want to share with you.

First, I am so incredibly proud to be married to Tim Davis.  Not just because he is a wonderful husband and an amazing father (although those things are absolutely worth mentioning).  I am writing this because he had the opportunity to speak at our church yesterday, and God really spoke to him and through him.  Here’s a link to the message he shared, for those who want to listen…I think it will be time well-spent.

Tim’s Message at The Journey Church–Sunday, January 27, 2013

Second, I wanted to share a story of something Eli said to me the other day.  (Sidenote:  Eli is a big Spiderman fan and dressed up as Spiderman for Halloween–less than a week before all of the hospital visits started with Sadie’s illness.  He likes to spin pretend webs and save the world from all of it’s problems…)

Eli and Sadie as Spiderman and Sadiebug Ladybug (aka the "Cute Little Butterfly", per Eli)

Okay, so I was upstairs last Wednesday evening.  Tim stayed downtown to study for the message highlighted above, and I was just having a really hard day emotionally.  Well, Eli is very emotionally in-tune, and could tell that I was missing Sadie.  He suddenly ran up to me, put up his “I’ve got a great idea” finger, and said with great confidence, “I know!  Spiderman will go MOVE that grass, and he’ll LIFT that bed up out of the ground, and he’ll CARRY Sadie home and then we all can be together and we can all be happy again!”.  Then he looked right at me and said, “I’m Spiderman”…like he was going to go right then and save the day and all of our problems would go away.

Bless him.  Eli knows that we are having a hard time, and he knows that we are sad because we miss Sadie.  He just wants to fix it for us so that we can all be happy again.  So, obviously that tells me that he doesn’t quite understand the permanence of the situation here.  I’m not sure that I quite understand it, either.  I still find myself thinking, “It’s time to go pick the kids up”, or “I want to take the kids to the playground”, or “I need to fix the kids something to eat”, and I even almost asked Eli yesterday if he wanted to go with me to pick up Sadie in the nursery at church.  Creature of habit–that’s just “what I did” after service let out.  So, I think it’s safe to say that as time goes on, I am becoming more and more aware of the fact that I won’t be seeing Little Miss Sadie any more here on Earth.

It’s kind of like, “you cannot see the wind–you can see the effects of the wind, but you cannot see the wind” (which, if I remember correctly, is in an old DC Talk song, but I honestly am not sure if this is scripture or just a catchy phrase).  So, I can see the EFFECTS of Sadie, but I cannot actually SEE Sadie.  I am so encouraged to hear story after story of how Sadie is changing lives.  That makes me so incredibly proud of her, and proud to be her Mommy.  But it doesn’t make me miss her any less.  I truly believe that, for me, this process is getting harder before it gets easier.  I am so thankful that I have a God that is willing to catch me when I fall, hold me when I cry, and give me peace with there is a storm raging within.

Thirdly, we sang a song last Sunday at The Journey called, “The Stand”.  I knew the song, but chose to really pay attention to the words this time.  I couldn’t help but hear all of the voices around me singing this, and think, “Do we REALLY MEAN THIS”?  Oh, because if we do, how we are about to change the world for Christ!  I’ll be excited to see what happens when we put feet to the words we sing.

Read these lyrics (or here’s the link to a YouTube video of Hillsong singing The Stand if that works better for you):

THE STAND

You stood before creation
Eternity in your hand
You spoke the earth into motion
My soul now to stand

You stood before my failure
And carried the cross for my shame
My sin weighed upon your shoulders
My soul now to stand

So what could I say?
And what could I do?
But offer this heart, Oh God
Completely to you

So I’ll walk upon salvation
Your spirit alive in me
This life to declare your promise
My soul now to stand

So what could I say?
And what could I do?
BUT OFFER THIS HEART, OH GOD
COMPLETELY TO YOU

I’LL STAND
WITH ARMS HIGH AND HEART ABANDONED
IN AWE OF THE ONE WHO GAVE IT ALL
I’LL STAND
MY SOUL LORD TO YOU SURRENDERED
ALL I AM IS YOURS

(Emphasis mine, and thank you to Robbie Cheuvront and everyone in the praise team at The Journey Church.  Music speaks to me, and to so many others, and you do a wonderful job of spreading the Word in song.)

And finally–I know that not everyone who reads my posts is going to agree with everything that I say.  And that’s good.  I encourage you to refer to God’s Word over anything I ever say, because I will be the very last person to claim that I have all the answers.  But what I CAN talk about without reservation is my own faith and my own experience.  And for me, I am telling you that I would not want to go through something like what we are going through without resting completely in the arms of my loving Father.  It is because of Him that I am not drowning completely in the sea of tears that I have shed over losing Sadie.  And the thing that is keeping my head above water is that I KNOW that I will see Sadie again in Heaven, and I KNOW that her time here was for a big purpose, and that purpose is being fulfilled.  I KNOW that God is stirring my heart, and I also KNOW that it is in my best interest to be obedient to Him and the work He has for me to do during the remainder of my days on Earth.  I am honestly not sure exactly what all of that will entail, but I know that He is guiding me step by step so far, so I also KNOW that I should, “Acknowledge Him in all your (my) ways, and He will make your (my) paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6).  So here I am.

Thanks to those of you who take the time to read these updates.  In my heart and mind, Sadie is living on through the lives she is touching and the legacy she is leaving through her experience.  This is proof that blessings can still come, despite terrible circumstances.  Nothing and no one will ever replace my Sadiebug, but it does bring me some peace to speak of how God is working in my life through all of this. And as a great man once said about the importance of urgency (in his country boy accent), “Whatever we’re going to do for Jesus Christ, we’d better get on it” (Tim Davis–January 27, 2013).

And so for me, it’s time to take The Stand and “get on it”.  I may tread through tears at times, but I can’t let that hold me back.  After all, this is real life.  God doesn’t expect me to be perfect.  He just wants me to be willing.