Springtime in Oregon. On a rare day that the sun comes out, everyone feels like shouting, "Halleluia!" and we all emerge from our homes to head to the park, the beach, or the backyard. Last weekend was a sunny one, and Ivy asked to go play at the park. Yes, please!
I sat in the sun reading, feeling grateful that I wasn't one of the parents with younger children. The playground was packed with parents chasing their babies, pushing their toddlers on the swings, or clapping their hands and saying, "Good job! You went down the slide!" I remember those days. But Ivy was one of the oldest there at the playground, and I got to just sit on the bench and relax. She spent most of her time on the merry-go-round, spinning and spinning. And spinning. Lots of laughing and squealing.
Until she came and sat next to me. With a grimace. She said, "I don't feel good. My stomach hurts."
I said, "Oh, honey, I'm sorry. You probably feel queasy from too much spinning."
She looked at me weakly. I told her we could go home, and she looked relieved.
As we slowly walked away from the playground, Ivy was hunched over because of the unease in her belly, and she reached for my hand. She's ten now, and most of the time doesn't need Mom for comfort. But in that moment, she did.
As we walked towards the car, the green grass stretching out beside us and the warm sun enveloping us, I felt happy. I thought, "I'm not happy that Ivy is sick, but I'm happy she needs me."
And then I thought, "I bet God feels the same. I know He doesn't enjoy seeing us suffer, but He loves it when we turn to Him in our pain. He wants to be needed. He treasures us drawing near to Him."
It reminded me of the first women's Bible study I led called Stuck by Jennie Allen. I remember her emphasizing,"God wants us to need Him."
Jennie Allen gave an interview to 4wordwomen.org in 2011. I cherish her words.
Jennie: I think we all live wishing to be 'fixed.' We want to be happy, put together and content. I think God wants more for us. He wants us to need Him. What if our lives were perfect, and we were never needy, but perfectly secure and happy every day? We would love that, but we would never go looking for God.
We all feel more messed up inside than we would like to admit, but there are purposes for the aches and broken spots inside of us. They point to something more, something bigger that is broken. But we have to go to Jesus, not some self-help fantasy that only works temporarily. He is a person, and He wants us to go to Him because He alone can heal us.
4word: Why do you think that we are often reluctant to turn to God from the midst of our stuck places?
Jennie: I hate answering for others' souls, but I know my own pretty well, and honestly, I think we doubt God is real enough to fill us. We find more satisfaction from Facebook than Jesus. I'm not convinced we know how to look Jesus square in the face and talk to Him. We are often holding onto the idea of Jesus rather than Jesus Himself.
I once asked a friend going through an incredibly trying time if she had stopped to pray. She nodded yes and moved on looking for more practical answers. I made her stop and asked her, "When and where did you tell God everything you are feeling?" She could not answer me. We talk more about prayer than we actually pray. Jesus is our hope, our healer, our answer but we have to face Him, pour out our souls to Him and wait for Him to fill us. We have to be humble enough to run to Him.
I needed God this week. I was physically tired. Emotionally tired. Sad. I spent more than one night crying in bed. And I clung to that moment in the park, holding Ivy's hand, thinking I wasn't happy she felt sick, but I was happy she needed me. I think God provided that imagery for me right as I began a rough week. So I'd know that He treasured my tears and the way I was drawing close to Him in my need.
Our pastor preached on this passage last week, and I've said it often to myself the last several days: