I’ve written before about how I sometimes look back through the years and see how God has orchestrated my life. And because I believe that God does this for me I can see His hand in so many areas of my life and how even the seemingly insignificant times of my life have been for a purpose, leading up to this very day.
Through the years I have faced many trials and situations that at times I clung to Jesus and other times I got angry at Him. I remember when I got angry at God for not healing our daughter from seizures. Time after time I prayed and begged for her healing. At one point I got so angry at Him I threw my Bible across the room and told Him to leave me alone.
I got angry at him when my Dad suffered with cancer. Again, I prayed and prayed. He died anyway. I got very upset when the school I was working at a few years ago, let me go. For no apparent reason. A year or two after that the school closed its doors. I had already gotten another job at another school and loved working there as well.
Since the deaths of Russell, Shawna, Tylee and Blake God has given me many opportunities to speak of His goodness. I wrote an article about a year ago titled, “What’s the Difference? Lessons Learned” I wrote about the time I got angry at God and threw my Bible across the room and told Him to leave me alone. I compared it to the most tragic time of my life, the death of our family, and I ran to the loving arms of Jesus. You would think it would be the other way around!
What I discovered was that between the time I threw my Bible across the room and the time I ran to Him in my darkest hour, something had quietly, but strongly, changed in my walk with the Lord.
He had been preparing me. Stretching me as I walked through the sufferings and trials of life. He was helping me to learn to trust Him, no matter what. During the months that followed after I threw my Bible across the room and told God to leave me alone was a very sad and empty time for me. It was sad because I felt guilty for yelling at God and getting so angry at Him. It was an empty time for me because I missed my time with Jesus and reading my Bible. I also stopped going to church. The only prayer I prayed was, “God, I can’t and won’t pray and ask You for anything because You will do whatever You want anyway.”
The only reason I went back to church with my family after two weeks was because of my children. I couldn’t live with myself if my children turned away from the Lord because of my actions. My husband and I had to set the example. I truly wanted my children to love the Lord and put Him first in their lives. I would be the first to tell them that even though we have trials and suffering in our lives, we need to have a strong foundation in our faith and to trust God. A lesson I obviously hadn’t learned well enough. I let my emotions, anger, and fear take over.
One day at work during morning devotions at the Christian school where I taught, we bowed our heads to pray. For weeks I went to morning devotions only because it was expected that everyone come. So, I went through the motions. But this particular morning a change came over me. I felt God ask me, “Joanne, where are you?” It reminded me when God asked Adam the same question in the Garden of Eden after he’d been deceived and ate the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God knew exactly where Adam was, physically. Where was Adam in his relationship with God?
God was asking me where I was in my relationship with Him. I told Him, “Lord, I miss You. I miss my quiet time with You. I still love You. But as Saint Teresa said to You once, ‘It’s a wonder You have any friends at all.’ I feel the same way, Lord.”
Then I sensed Him ask me, “Would you love Me even if I called Rhonda Home? Doesn’t she belong to Me?” This question reminded me of God asking Abraham to offer his son, Isaac as a sacrifice to Him. Abraham didn’t question God and get angry at Him for asking such a thing. He trusted and obeyed. Because of his obedience, his son was given back to him and God provided a Ram; a substitute sacrifice, just in the nick of time.
Peace washed over me. “Lord, if you choose to take our Rhonda, I know she would be safe in Your arms and I would see her again.” He asked me another question. “You’re hanging on too tight. You dedicated her to Me when she was just a baby. I love her. She’s Mine. Do you trust me enough to give her back to Me?” Hesitantly at first, then slowly with my head in my hands, I began crying. “Yes, Lord, I give her back to You. She belongs to You. I trust You to watch over her and take care of her. And Lord, please forgive me for pulling away from You in anger. Please help me to trust You more. And thank You for never letting go of me when I let go of You.”
From that time on, I started learning to trust God and to be obedient. Little did I know that years later I would need Him more than ever before.
By the way; Rhonda had an operation and a Vagal Nerve Stimulant was place just below the skin on the upper left side of her chest. Wires were then attached to the vagal nerve at the back of her neck. This has controlled her seizures with only a few breakthrough seizures for the past 15 years. A miracle!
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 NIV