Tag Archives: unfailing love

Younger Me, You Were Loved . . .

22 Jun

September 10, 1988 –

  • Brett and Bunny were married in a church but certainly did not exchange their vows before God nor consider Him as even a small part, let alone the center, of their marriage.

April 20, 1993 –

  • Brett and Bunny had their first child.  A beautiful little 7 lb. 6 oz. baby girl was born at 5:21 p.m. in Alma, Michigan.  No praise was given to God for her healthy little body or sweet little face.

May 24, 1993 –

  • Brett finished the electrical work and the three Biddingers moved into their first family home.  No prayer of thanks was offered.  No blessing was prayed over the home.

June 24, 1993 –

  • Brett was in a near-fatal car accident and flown to Grand Rapids.  If someone cried out to God and asked for His intercession, His preservation of life, it was not me.

Brett was in the hospital for 31 days.  Most of it was spent in ICU.   The crash team was called to his room more than once and it was two full weeks before we knew for certain that he would he live.  I can’t really say he slept, more so he floated in and out of consciousness in a room with glass walls for constant observation.  The tubes in his chest and down his throat forced air into the collapsed lung and the halo screwed to his skull aligned what was left of his crushed spine.  The traction apparatus above his bed held his broken femur in the air until he could survive the surgery necessary to fix it.  Still I did not pray.

I slept on couches in the family waiting room for many of the 31 nights. I listened to the doctors explain his paralysis — nipple line down, no use of hands, will not walk. I watched the nurses dump medicine down his feeding tube.  I saw the fear on his face each time he regained consciousness.  I guarded him fiercely and sat for hours in the hard, orange, plastic chair beside his bed listening to the hum of his respirator. I sat. I guarded. I watched. But I did not utter a single prayer.

Our baby girl took up residence 90 miles away from us with my parents.  My Mom bundled her from head-to-toe in the dead of summer because the hospital was so cold and they shuttled her back and forth, with the help of friends, almost daily.  My Dad’s right arm has to be two inches longer from all the miles he carried her crossing that parking ramp and skywalk in her baby seat.  Her visits were the only time Brett showed real interest in being awake.  The change in him was so marked when she was there that the nurses noted it all throughout their charting.  And yet, no thanks was given to the One who had given her to us.

Oh, others were praying and praying hard.  But I was not.  And still He did not leave me.  His thoughts concerning me never wavered from the unfailing love He professes in His Word.  I have no recollection of cognizantly crying out to God during that time.  But He must have been whispering straight to my heart because I found myself standing in line at the hospital gift shop with a Bible study on the Book of Isaiah in my hand.  I wish I could tell you that it was the beginning of a passionate, consistent walk with God but it was not.   I did do the Bible study though and this morning, with the anniversary date of the accident approaching, I felt oddly drawn to dig it out and read through the questions and answers on its pages.

It is so strange to look at my responses.  I know it was me but the young woman who wrote those words is such a dim memory.  I think I’ve worked so hard to leave her behind that I’ve almost forgotten that God loved her too.  Does that make sense to you?  He loved that girl who gave Him no consideration as deeply as He loves the one typing these words.

His affection was as firmly fixed on the woman who wrote “He is powerful and He protects even the weakest follower” 20 years ago in that Bible study book, as it is on the one who desires to write for His glory today.

His heart was just as consumed with the girl who read Isaiah 5:1-6 and scrawled, “God has planted many seeds in my life, from the time I was a small child.  He sent people into my life to tend them, but they were ignored.  Finally, He has let the cows trample me.  Too much sin has left me a wasteland.” as it is with the woman who clings to the truth of Isaiah 61:4 and knows that the ancient ruins and places long devastated in her were destined to be restored.

Oh, how He loved the one who wrote “God has guided me through many troubles only to receive nothing from me.  For a long time I have used the excuse that you can’t pray when you’re in trouble if you don’t pray when you aren’t” and then finished the thought by wondering, “But what if these things were brought to my life for precisely that reason. Is the Lord trying to get my attention?”  And oh, how He loves the one who now confidently answers, “He will always bring beauty from the ashes– if not on this side of Glory, then on the other. My God is good. My God is faithful.”

I guess the point of all this reminiscing is to say that you, Sweet One, are always and have always been on His mind.  There is no point on the timeline of your life that He has not loved you. No matter where we are on the spectrum of faith, He’s always about the business of loving us.  Rather we acknowledge or even notice Him is an entirely different matter but I assure you based on the authority of His Word that the One who was, the One who is, and the One who will be has always been with you.

And somewhere, in the back of her mind, that younger version of me knew that truth too.  She knew He was there and when she finally began to speak, she knew His heart was listening.  This is the final entry from that Bible study so many years ago:

“My understanding of this changed.  My heart believes that the Lord is listening.  God hears all my prayers and He answers them.  At times not the way I want but all my prayers are answered.  His thoughts are higher than mine . He sees the whole picture.  I don’t.  I can trust Him for the outcome.”

Well said younger me.  Well said.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV

The Resolve To Love – – Without an Asterisk

31 Jan

I felt a little sheepish when I read back over the last post in preparation for this one and realized I hadn’t clearly stated that marrying Brett and the privilege of being Miss Britt’s Momma were definitely my biggest blessings.  I’m hoping that the sentiment was a given and needed no explanation, but just in case — Biddinger Duo, I love you so and I give thanks for the very good gifts you are each day.

Even though I love the Dynamic Duo with all my heart, and from the seat I now occupy in time can honestly say “I wouldn’t change a thing,” I would be less than honest if I didn’t confess that my life has taken some turns that I did not expect when I said “I do.” If you’re married, I bet the same is true for you.  If you’re single, honey, it will be.  Not many of us, when we get married and say “for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse,” have any clue what we’re saying.

Just imagine if we actually comprehended the commitment we were making as we exchanged vows.  And do you Marilyn, promise to love and cherish Brett even when you are celebrating your 5th anniversary and realize he still hasn’t learned to read your mind?  Do you promise to honor and partner with him in the pursuit of your dreams when after having been married 10 years he still drives too fast and rides the cars in front of him?  And will you love him above all others when he insists you buy a dryer without seeing it in person and it melts all your favorite socks?

Lest we think all the future revelations are for the bride, I’m certain most grooms have no idea what is in store for them when romance meets reality.  Poor Brett.  I’m so certain he did not sign up for toothbrushes slathered with dripping white goo, eyebrow hair sculptures in the sink, or “winter legs.”  And Girlfriend, if you’re from Michigan or any place cold weather sets in, you know what I am talking about there.

I think it’s probably best that we don’t stare straight into the face of real life and see our spouses-to-be without at least a hint of rose colored glasses prior to our marriage. Imagine if Brett had looked at the ankle bones above my lace covered wedding shoes and seen the shadow of the coming winter.  We did get married in September so if it hadn’t been a special occasion . . . . . I’m just sayin.

Picture what might happen if we knew the unsanded, ungroomed truth looming just the other side of the honeymoon?  How many of us would stand firm in our desire to be together until “death do us part” if we knew in advance about the hair sculptures in the not-so-distant future or the melted socks on the horizon?  Might we decide that dealing with the imperfections and unmet expectations just wasn’t worth it?  Unfortunately, because I know the fickleness of my own heart, I can state with certainty that apart from Christ, my love is conditional at best and self-centered at worst.

Unlike the unfailing love that I have received from my faithful God and Savior, my love comes with an asterisk –*until my expectations aren’t met.  And my asterisk love is not limited to my husband; it extends to my Divine Bridegroom as well.  Can you imagine the God who is jealous for me (Exodus 34:14) offering all that He is to keep my heart safe, secure, and wanting me to be devoted solely unto Him being met with:  “I will love only you if ___________.”?  Your fill-in-the-blank might be different than mine but we can easily come up with some general answers to paint a pretty good picture of the things that steal our attention and our affection.  Might the “I LOVE YOU” we profess be more accurate this way:     I love you.*

* if my children are happy and content.

* if I am successful and happy in my job.

* if I have a nice home and money in the bank.

* if I do not experience pain—physical or emotional.

I might not have hit on yours, but I bet you know without a lot of thought what comes after your asterisk.

Here’s the thing.  God doesn’t tell us to love only Him because it does a thing for Him. Remember, regardless of who or how I am God has always been, is today, and will continue to be perfect (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8).  He needs nothing from me (Acts 17:25).  He has no unmet inner need.  It really took me a long time to get over the notion (I pray you aren’t offended by this and ask you to stick with me on it) that God was a “glory hound.”  I had this warped picture of a red-eyed God with a lightning bolt in the sky demanding that all eyes and all hearts be focused on Him.  I had no idea that an undivided heart served me – not Him.

That’s right. His desire for my heart to be undivided, to love Him with no asterisks, serves only me.  Because only when my eyes and my heart are fully pursuing the God who is Unfailing Love can I hope to  begin to love others.  It is His love living in me that reaches beyond my human limitations and loves my husband, my child, my friends, and my enemies.  When I am firmly determined to love Him with everything I am, when I am resolved to be filled with His Spirit –no asterisks involved—I will live life to the full.  I will possess life beyond my wildest imagination when I live, move and have my being in Him (Acts 17:28).  This is not only the future inheritance He has set aside for me (1 Peter 1:3-6).  It’s the asterisk free living He calls me to now.

Sisters, the Beautiful One has declared that He is enthralled with your beauty (Psalm 45:11).  He promises that His great love toward you will stand firm forever and that His faithfulness was established in Heaven Itself (Psalm 89:2).  He takes great delight in you and rejoices over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17)–and doesn’t your heart just know that it’s a love song.   Yes, the One who is Love has chosen you to be His beloved and based on the authority of His Word, I guarantee that you can search the pages of your Bible from now until the end of our age and  . . . . . you will never find an asterisk.

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