Four hundred and twelve days ago, I stood on a stage 20 weeks pregnant and preached a message about God’s invitation to abundant life. I used the text Isaiah 55, and here was the hard-hitting pinnacle of my proclamation:
“8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
I passionately reminded the women sitting in the audience that God does not work according to our plan. He does things sometimes that do not make sense. And I used the analogy provided in the text to encourage them that even when we go through hard times in our lives (rain and snow falling down from heaven), God will not allow pain without a purpose. His promise WILL remain true, and He WILL do what He said He will do.
God always gives me His best lessons when I am trying to teach others. And I had no idea that if not a single woman was in that room that night, He had given me that message for ME so that I would have a constant reminder from words that flew out of my own mouth, that God IS faithful and that He WILL do what He said He will do. Because three days later, the baby in my belly that was with me on that stage as I proclaimed that promise was born too soon and opened his eyes to see Jesus.
Months before, when Jacob was just a tiny mustard seed of faith growing, I had written words in a journal that I felt God speak so clear, “This will be your redemption baby. This will be the child that will change the chapters of your story.” A child with so much promise. So much anointing. And yet, he was gone.
My thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways.
My word will not return void, and I will do what I say I am going to do.
I have done my best in the hundreds of days that have passed to cling to God and remember that He is good in all things. And He will fulfill His promise. And I have seen Him be faithful. So, so faithful. But recently, as only God can do, He reminded me yet again of His goodness.
There are some friends you’ve known since Kindergarten, some you clicked with in college, and some who you’ve met at kids’ birthday parties from school. And then there are other friends, thanks to God’s gift of the internet, that you sort of know, but feel like you could totally be besties. She was the last type of friend. Known through mutual relationships, and highly stalked on social media for having way more coolness than I could ever muster, she is a true gem. This week, she delivered to me words I never expected, “I don’t know if you knew, but the significance of our son’s name is to honor and remember your son Jacob. Your story has opened the door to your most intimate moments. We feel like we have known you guys for years. Jacob is precious to our family… thank you for sharing his name with us.”
I read the words over and over again and let them soak down deep into my soul until finally I could dry the tears enough to reply to such an incredible honor, “… it was difficult to understand, in the moment, why a child with so much promise, anointing, and legacy would be taken away. But almost instantly, I saw God prove Himself true—a shining example of how His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. God has held up His end of the bargain, we just never imagined that it would be in losing Jacob that all of those things would come to pass. But God has been faithful. And Jacob has been a source of redemption, his time short but his anointing and legacy more far reaching than I ever could have imagined in loss. And the weight of you choosing the name Jacob to honor our Jacob is not lost on me… one more grand display of how God can use the unexpected circumstances to prove His goodness and glory. Truly, in all things, He is good.”
And so, four hundred and twelve days later, I make the same proclamation. Not a declaration of faith, but a reality learned in hindsight. There is no baby in my belly, and there are no little feet running around. And yet, I can say with certainty that God is powerful. He can do big things. And no circumstance is too big to make Him take back His word. His promises to you are true. His word will not return void. He will do what He said He will do. Because in ALL things, He is GOOD. Hold on, my friend, the sun sets, but it will rise again. And though the rain and snow may be pouring down, the flowers will flourish soon…