Monday, July 1, 2013

Knocking on the Door

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 7:7-8

"Knock knock," Sara Ashley called from the back seat of the car.
"Who's there?" I replied.
"Banana who?"
"Banana robot!" 
She squealed with laughter as I smiled in amused confusion.

These were my daughter's preschool attempts at humor. Not very successful to the average listener (like her older brother), but they did make my heart smile.

However, all was not happy during that period of time. It seemed that everywhere around me, doors were closing in my face and in my daughter's future. That year, as Sara Ashley was completing kindergarten, my husband and I met with her school's special education team for our year-end meeting. This was a dream team of professionals who were working their hardest to meet our child's needs. But there was no denying the tests results that stared me in the face that morning. In black and white I read the words:

Does not meet the requirements necessary to be promoted to the first grade.

All around me, for a period of two or three years, I found doors closing:
  •  At Mommy and me in the library it was too hard for her to sit still and listen- slam!
  • Ballet and Tap Lessons found her running around the room to the beat of her own drum- slam!
  • Shopping at the local mall left me frantically searching for her as she hid in the clothing turn stiles- slam!
  • And now the school that we had counted on to teach her was not able to meet her needs- SLAM!

Denise faced similar challenges with her son who has the condition of Asperger's syndrome. Although the doctors and her son's preschool teachers did not recognize the severity of her son's struggles, she knew something was drastically wrong. So the obsessive research began. Hours and hours of research that took her away from nurturing her young daughter, from keeping up with her other responsibilities, and from being the balanced person that she needed to be. Denise shares a particular closing moment from this period in her past. A family vacation. As she and her husband packed, she remembers with clarity his pleading demand.

"We need you to be part of our family Denise. No books or research about childhood illnesses while we are on our trip!" 

Does God open and close doors in our lives? Were these "slamming doors" God's will?

My answer is a resounding- I'm not sure. I am certainly not a theologian, but here is what I do know:

  • Whatever our circumstances, whether we feel persecuted or encouraged, whether we see doors as open or closed, God is with us to comfort and love us. If we seek Him, we will find Him. Matthew 7:7-8, Matthew 28:20

  • God's purposes cannot be thwarted. If God wants something to happen, it will. If that means pushing us forward in a trajectory that leaves us kicking and screaming in protest, so be it. A better response would be to settle in and watch what He's going to do, knowing that His purposes in our lives are for our good and His glory. Job 42:2, Jeremiah 29:11

  • Clarity comes later, faith comes now. Although we may not understand our current situation, we must have faith that God's purposes are greater than our current situation's pain or sorrow. Looking to the Bible can give us this clarity. How often, when we read the account of Jesus dying on the cross, do we stop and wonder why God allowed him to endure such pain? But as we read on, it is made abundantly clear that God's purposes were for our own redemption because of His love for us. And that Jesus sits magnificently on the throne at His right hand, in glory. Remembering His faithfulness to us in the past can give us faith to realize that our current circumstances are only temporary.

Despite my knowledge of these three things, when I find myself in the midst of fear for my child, my human reaction can be quite...well, human. The verse in Matthew 7 makes it sound so simple. "Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you." I can assure you that during that period of time I was knocking, but it wasn't on God's door. Instead I knocked on other doors during the early years of our struggles. I knocked on the doors of doctors, specialists, teachers, other parents, and professionals who I thought would hold the answers to my daughter's differences. At the time, my logic in this type of seeking was: What could God possibly tell me that these professionals didn't already know? Hadn't He equipped them with knowledge as part of His divine plan? Couldn't I just bypass that personal "seeking" part? What I learned was: While nothing is wrong with seeking the help of experts and professionals, they can never take the place of praying to God for direction first. 

So I tried. Really. really. hard. To find the "answers" to help my daughter. I tried until I was all tried out. I was defeated. Finally, at my wit's end, I sought Him. I prayed.

God, what is your will for my daughter's life?

Although I did not get immediate answers or see the skies part and hear a thundering voice from above, over time I began to understand. God's ways are not our ways. What did not make sense to me in the here and now over time began to make sense. I can look back now and understand the guiding hand of God. Without the failings of one school situation, we would not have been led to find another school which has proven to be one of the biggest blessings in our lives. And without being forced to try new and different hobbies and outlets, Sara Ashley may never have found her true passions of horseback riding, art, and the outdoors.

And although I can admit that some things will never make sense, my faith and trust has grown as I have continued to seek God through prayer and personal relationship. I have seen God support me and our child in her circumstances. So now, when I don't understand, I still trust in His innate goodness and His promise that He will never leave or forsake me(Deuteronomy 31:8). I trust that it is His desire to give each of us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

Looking back now, Denise also sees that God's plans for her son's life, as well as her own, were for her good. In leaving behind her obsession with researching her son's disability, she found a renewed relationship with her daughter, a new doctor who skillfully guides her family on how to help their son, and a new calling in a large church production that gives God glory.

These days, I am still confusingly amused by my daughter at times. Don't we all feel that way about our kids now and then? Thankfully, with God in charge, I don't have to understand everything. I simply have to seek Him and know that His guiding hand is leading the way.

No comments:

Post a Comment