Thursday, February 4, 2010

Conception (Pt 1)

Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you — they are your life. Deut 32

I was 18 years old. I stepped up to the sandy edge of the cliff, looked over and stepped back time and time again. My heart was hammering, palms sweating, an inward debate went back and forth in my mind as I willed myself to jump, wondering if I were really going to do it. Suddenly I ran forward and leaped out into space.

I don't remember much beyond that. Screaming, flailing, plunging deep into water, pain, slowly stroking my way to the surface. Thank God I survived, but boy, was I dumb.

I was as a foolish young woman with something to prove, more to myself than anyone else. Ever been there?

I feel a bit of that same trepidation I felt on that cliff as I begin this post. However, my compulsion today isn't based in a desire to validate anything within myself. It springs from a belief that something needs to be said - and I don't hear anybody saying it. This post is intended for believers only.

When my life was given over to the Lord, I experienced something I'd never known before. It was this crazy mixture of being able to see. I could see sins I'd never known I'd committed, feel the full ownership of guilt for them (and not cover or shamelessly wiggle out and escape my responsibility), be sorry with true down-deep sorrow, and then - there was His forgiveness. What followed was a desire within for a commitment to never repeat them again. This is the freedom found in Christ.

As I continued in my walk with the Lord, I found that sometimes I unwittingly make mistakes even still. And at a later date the light will dawn and I'll experience that same cycle of uncluttered vision, personal ownership of guilt, Godly sorrow, forgiveness, and the turning we call Repentance.

Some years ago, while living in Salinas, CA I met a homeschooling Mom who was unlike anyone I'd ever known. I can describe some things about her, but it wasn't these things. First of all, she was a black homeschooler - the only one I knew. She and her husband had some property and farmed their own vegetables. She might have had a few animals as well, or maybe my romantic notions have added to my memories. She had four kids with a fifth one on the way. But there was something else that was more of a sense, and I guess quite simply it was a vibe of obedience within her.

One day she and her kids were over visiting at my house and I innocently asked that question every woman asks another pregnant mother, "So, are you guys done? Is this the last one for you?" She just as innocently replied, "Well, that's up to the Lord."

And I experienced it - Conviction. What I refer to as the big finger of God gently but firmly pressing upon my heart. We had done what everyone does.

My husband had decided that three was enough for him and had a vasectomy. As a new believer, I'd thought I was doing the right thing by honoring my husband's wishes, although personally I wanted more children. But he was the provider and my husband and so I had supported his decision. What I suddenly realized was that we had taken this part of our lives and kept God out of it. We certainly hadn't consulted Him on whether this was His will for us or not. We'd "done right in our own eyes" and behaved as though we were God.

My friend was all grace and understanding, I have to say. There truly was no condemnation from her, simply going forward in greater understanding of what it means to walk in this world after Him.

But this idea of conception being His domain was here to stay.

It's funny, I'd titled this piece before I began writing, thinking of how my view of conception truly being God's work has been established. As I finished here, I thought of it's other meaning, as in "can you conceive of?" Idea, vision, grasp, understand.

From the book of Job, "But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding."

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