Every Second Counts

My son Jon was 9 years old at the time, and we were returning from a doctor’s appointment I will never forget.

Clock
(Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com)

In the previous three weeks, Jon had regressed so significantly that he could not go to school. All the tests came back unexplainably abnormal. The appointment lasted two grim hours. We left with a stack of sheets requesting blood work that would test for terminal, genetic, and neurological disorders as well as six more diagnoses.

The nurse’s parting words still echo in my mind: “I am so sorry. Taking care of Jon will be like taking care of 10 children.”

Spiritually, I was hanging by a thread, and at that appointment the thread snapped.

Hard work, prayer, more hard work, more fervent prayer . . . and we had ended up HERE? I said to God, “I can’t believe You are faithful, or loving, or caring, or a giver of strength to the weak, or comforting, or even listening. If this is what it means to walk by faith, I’m DONE . . . done praying, done trusting, done hoping, done believing.”

20 Seconds

I know some of you are right there . . . you are D-O-N-E!

That day I told God I would give Him 20 seconds to answer me, or I’d be D-O-N-E with Him. I would choose to believe for 20 more seconds, then we were breaking up . . . so to speak. The green, neon blinking dots on the car’s dashboard clock silently clicked away . . . 18, 19, 20. Silence. Without anyone to talk to but God, I said, “Okay God, you’ve got 20 more seconds.” We got home 20 seconds by 20 seconds by 20 seconds.

Nothing miraculous happened on the road. Jon wasn’t supernaturally healed, but God was there 20 seconds at a time.

Your Next Few Moments

Some of you are looking at the clock, counting the seconds, and considering giving up on faith entirely. For the suffering, faith can boil down to one second at a time. It’s okay to admit that. This is faith on the most basic level. So few talk about it, but so many who suffer can only trust for one second at a time . . . and God understands.

Yet each second you allow to pass and choose to believe, God is at work.

Life-Changing Seconds

Seven years later, the most significant changes in my life happened in those 20 seconds. I learned two truths that are the foundation of my faith today.

  1. God empties us of ourselves to accomplish His purpose. Job 23 speaks of being emptied out—which is not easy or painless. We often fight being emptied and are confused by it. Nevertheless, there is a purpose in it. (Read about Abraham in Genesis 18:25–32, Moses in Exodus 32:12–13, David in Psalm 22:14, and Paul in Philippians 2:17).
  2. God fills us with Himself to accomplish His plan. Paul wrote about this reality in Romans 5:1–5, which says:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (NIV)

Your Next Few Seconds

A few seconds can change your life. I ask you this question and would love to hear your response:

If God’s refining fire continues, am I willing to give Him a few more seconds, trusting He has a purpose and plan? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

  • As I read this, I couldn’t help think of the “don’t worry about” tomorrow principle. But instead, I apply it to the next five minutes. It’s really moment by moment with God.

    • Wayne,
      I just finished praying with a friend who has a parent dying with cancer…he is living moment by moment. Events that reveal how terminal this life really is often shakes us to the core. How often we assume our lives and how we spend our time is a ‘right’…something we have a right to control rather than a gift to be held with open hands. Time, like almost all other human issues, relates to our choice of surrendering our lives to Christ. And you are so right in saying that is a moment by moment decision. We are so dependent on our Lord, aren’t we! Thanks for your honesty…how refreshing! Colleen

  • Linette Montgomery

    Colleen,
    Thank you for your words that hit so close to my heart. I have and adult son age 20 with Asperger’s and I am now in the “what do we do now mode”. Many times more than I would like to admit I have wanted to give up on my faith, just this morning driving into work I was thinking this very thing.
    I came in opened up your blog and there was encouragement for me today.
    God Bless you for this wonderful ministry that you do for us that can’t talk about this taboo subject of giving up our faith or calling God out when we are at the breaking point.
    God Bless you in a ministry that is so very needed.
    Linette

    • Linette,
      I so appreciate your comment! I think many parents feel like we are one step from the cliff at times…and just to be able to express that is freeing! As if God does not already know…it’s a reminder of how much we need Him and how He longs for us to come to Him with child-like faith. It takes that to admit we don’t have the strength to hang on. It took me a while to accept that I couldn’t bare the pressure which, I’ve come to believe is about pride more than any kind of weakness. It takes courage to say “I can’t do this anymore”…and yet how wonderful it is when we fall into the arms of God who promises to be our refuge and our strength…to find Him there with open arms is one of the most comforting experiences in the Christian life. Linette, I really understand the emotions you are encountering… ‘what now’ and ‘where do I go from here’…so many pieces of this life will always remain a mystery. I don’t know what that looks like for you or for me; but I do know that Jesus is guiding us both…calling us to trust Him and promising He will always be faithful. Just as He was today in providing words which brought you hope; He will do again and again as we fall into His everlasting arms. By the way, I am sharing our Facebook link with you as it may be another source of encouragement in the days and weeks ahead. Thanks again so much for your comment; I hope to hear from you again. May you have a wonderful rest of the day. Colleen Facebook Link is: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Insight-for-Livings-Special-Needs-Ministries/109071132482250

  • Linette Montgomery

    Linette Montgomery
    Thank you for this Colleen for your ministry. I have an adult son with Asperger’s and the journey is hard, and now we are at the “what do we do now?”
    As I was driving into work this morning I was thinking about giving up faith, I have thought about it too many times lately.
    Your ministry has so much grace in its purpose because we can’t talk to our church family about these subjects and we need to know that we are not alone.
    God bless you for this service to us.

  • Linette Montgomery

    Thank you.

  • This will be helpful to lots of people. Thanks Colleen!

    • Steve,
      Thanks so much! Just as you see in your practice every day, parents are at the end of their rope and need permission to say ‘I cannot keep on…I’m exhausted…I have no idea what to try next…”…and more. I have never found a passage in scripture that says…in this world you will be able to overcome anything on your own…we are able to overcome, to persevere, to endure BECAUSE Christ provides the strength. The most pivotal point in that process is addressing one’s pride…is saying as a parent, “Lord, I cannot go on…I cannot make it through without you”…what freedom, what peace, what rest is offered when that happens. My hope is that the church will embrace such honesty-that there will not be statements of guilt or shame but arms reaching out to embrace and support. That’s what Christ did, it’s what He has called us to do as well. Great to hear from you my friend. Colleen

      • donna

        I love what you said about hoping the church will embrace such honesty. I know I hold back from my true feelings many times. Feeling like people would either not understand , or that they really don’t want to know, or feeling guilty for not being able to “handle” it. So i go on pretending all is well. I explained it to a good friend of mine recently that i feel like a duck floating on a pond. On the surface the duck seems so peaceful and at ease but if you were to look under water the ducks feet are moving at a rapid pace to keep him float.

        • Donna, what a fantastic word picture.
          Candidly, the church is full of folks whose feet are flipping about like yours and mine. I don’t know why there is such fear…an almost terror like fear of being real. May there be a revolution in the body…one of accepting how broken we are and pulling together in unity and grace. It is by grace that we are saved…may we grow up in spiritual maturity…becoming humble, gentle, and tender towards one another, resilient, kind, forgiving each other, and full of grace for us all! I encourage you to live in such a way that others will know Christ more because they shared time with you. What a calling, Donna! Let’s encourage one another as we press on. Blessings, Colleen

  • donna

    Been struggling a lot lately with “whats the point”, wondering what God was thinking, looking around me and feeling like so many people are more equip, to do my job then I am. I am not a teacher and yet am called to home school my son, I am not a nurse and yet i am called to be his 24 hour a day care giver. i am not a therapist and yet God has called me to come along side my son to be that emotional support he needs. I wish i was better prepared, trained, gifted in those areas. BUT because I am not, I do know that I have to depend on God more than ever. I can not do it by myself. Pulling back the fears and trusting God with each moment of the day. I don’t think i have ever felt like” throwing in the towel,” so to speak , with God but I sure have had some arguing with him about the whys and whats the point! I do know that he has a plan, just not sure we agree on what that plan should look like!

    • Donna,
      I smiled when I read your words “I sure have had some arguing with him…I know he has a plan, just not sure we agree on what that plan should look like”…I have been there many times! As the years have passed, the Lord’s word has provided comfort…not in telling me how I ‘should’ feel because that is not our God. Comfort fills my soul as I remember God’s ways have been surprising to His people…Moses at the burning bush, Noah having to build an ark in a land where it had never rained, Abraham preparing an altar, Joshua facing the land of giants, Daniel standing outside the lion’s den, Jeremiah preaching for over 40 years and not one convert, Job’s consuming, comprehensive losses, Mary and Joseph raising Jesus…talk about feeling ill-prepared, treated without justice, shocked, forgotten, confused…and these are our hero’s if we follow Christ. Though we are not building arks or raising Jesus, we are in circumstances that have been allowed for purposes we cannot know on this side of heaven. That is the surrendered life. How often we are distracted by what God has allowed that we forget God’s purpose is to transform our souls. There is such consolation in reading Jesus’ cry… “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me…YET, I want your will to be done, not mine” (Luke 22:42) Isaiah 55:8-10 reminds us His ways are not our ways; Job was at a total loss to understand God’s ways much less couldn’t even find Him (Job 23:8-10); the cry of David in Ps 13 was “HOW LONG…”; the book is packed with those who wrestled with their path as we do with ours at times. Through it all, Donna, may you and I never forget this truth-being a follower of Jesus Christ means we release our lives to the care and keeping of Christ as our Lord…whether we understand it, like it, want it, deserve it, regardless…we bend at the cross and follow him (Mark 8:34). In so doing, we also embrace God’s free gift of grace; for without the death of His son, we would not have any hope. In all, we pull together, love one another through those darkest of times, encourage each other to stay the course, and know in heaven, we will be whole. Now that’s what we can celebrate together. Thank you so much for your comment! Sharing life with you, Colleen