Line upon line.
We’ve heard it innumerable times.
But I think we still forget how often it applies.
For instance, I think God uses little microcosms in life to teach us and prepare us for the macrocosms ahead. If we are paying attention, if we are heeding the Lord and trying to learn from Him, we can use these patterns to teach us, shape us, and prepare us for the further training and challenges we will face.
God teaches us in these patterns. Are we paying attention?
I recently celebrated my third child’s tenth birthday. He was born in the hottest part of the summer. I endured many weeks of putting bags of ice on my feet each night to try to cool off at the end of the day. My hot, swollen body was so ready to turn my little tenant into a roommate. I experienced acid reflux for months. I felt uncomfortable standing for very long, sitting, or lying down. I also had an extremely difficult pregnancy with regard to my mental health. I had heard of post-partum depression, but I had never heard of perinatal depression, which is what I was experiencing. And to top it off, at the very end I had contractions every few minutes for hours a day, every day, for more than a week. I even tried just going to the hospital, knowing I was not in labor, but hoping they would have enough pity on me to let me stay with a nice Pitocin drip.
In short, I was in physical agony and mental anguish.
Why I am still pregnant? I thought.
I was ready to do anything at all to not be pregnant anymore. Even go through labor, delivery, and recovery.
Would I have felt that way at a cool five months pregnant? I’m sure I would not. I still had reflux, but I was sleeping fairly well, had decent energy, and wasn’t overly warm or disconcerted. I was managing.
Why would I want to put myself through labor and delivery when everything was going pretty smoothly? I would not have been ready.
I delivered my third beautiful baby boy and was so relieved—for his health, for his life, and to not be pregnant anymore.
Years later, I was on the phone with my grandmother, also a mother of five.
Her husband, my sweet grandpa, had died the same year my third son was born—on the evening of his baby blessing day, in fact. Grammie had moved into an assisted living facility and her Macular Degeneration had advanced rapidly after his death. She was then nearly blind, making it difficult to keep up with her lifelong hobbies of reading, sewing, quilting, crocheting, and other handicrafts. Grammie had used her talents for decades to serve others. Now, she felt she was burdening others.
She missed grandpa and was heartbreakingly lonely.
She missed feeling needed and useful. She missed being productive.
She was in nearly constant pain, enduring difficult challenges with her heart health and arthritis.
She hesitated on the phone and then asked with a tender depth of feeling, “Becca, why I am still here?”
Why am I still pregnant?
And suddenly I understood.
“Grammie,” I said, “you are going through this time at this moment so that when your time does come, you will look death in the face with no fear. Death is the great fear of all of us—a fear of the unknown. But by the time you are there, you won’t fear it. Grandpa has passed and that makes being here without him harder, but you know he is there waiting for you. There will be nothing of life on earth left that will be worth enduring what you’ve gone through in these final years. By the time it is your time, you’ll be ready to go through anything, even death, to not continue on in this life anymore.”
I said it and I knew it was true. Just as it was at the end of each of my full-term pregnancies.
God teaches in patterns.
He prepares us now for what is coming.
Are we watching? Are we learning? Are we preparing for what He has in store?