Street Lights in the Valley

My wife had to take me down the aisle for prayer at the end of service today. Admittedly, as the spiritual head-of-house, it was not my finest moment. You see, in the valley that we’re walking through, I keep asking the Lord to show me the way forward, but I somehow miss the streetlights right in front of me.

“Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, the sheep under his care. Today, if you hear his voice: Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the wilderness.”

Psalm 95:6-8

I’m so thankful for my wife because she calls me out on my stuff. I was so dense and oblivious to my hard heart that I was about to walk out the door after the pastor preached the paint off the wall about — wait for it– “have you hardened your heart?”

Once we got down front and started talking to our worship pastor, I realized just how far I had missed the mark. I had so normalized this experience of parenting children with intense special needs that I’ve been hardening my heart toward the Lord. Not in that I don’t trust him, but just that I don’t need to convey everything to him.

I guess while understanding that I’m a sheep in his care, I have been omitting the part about worshipping him and kneeling down before him. Street light: on.

Street light on dark road

Our family’s life beginning in May 2019 is far different than in April, when the effects of mental health and trauma burst to the surface. Our children never wanted this journey. They don’t deserve it and it’s purely the product of severe abuse and neglect by parents whose addictions were stronger than prudent parenting.

If you’re new to this space, the lows have been far more frequent than the highs since then. We’ve found ourselves on a very, very tough post-adoption road. Hands down, we’d do it 1,000 times over because our love for our sons is very, very deep. That doesn’t mitigate the difficulties of watching them battle a war that wasn’t their own doing. Hence, the long, dark valley.

But there are many streetlights. While I want God to provide a blinking neon sign to say this is the answer to all the hurt, pain and confusion, I only need to focus on him in the present moment.

It made me think of other streetlights that I’ve been missing:

Random social media messages from potential new clients — a streetlight to my concerns about business and finances as the pandemic continues to evolve. Trust Jesus, he’s providing for you.

Two pastors giving up an afternoon for a 3-hour road trip to visit my son at his residential program — a streetlight that we’re not alone in this journey. Trust Jesus, he’s encouraging you.

Laughter and full bellies with our friends at Thanksgiving — a streetlight to enjoy the blessings of friendship and fellowship. Trust Jesus, he’s got a greater plan for you.

Week after week of great reports for our one son — a streetlight that he’s doing well and progressing in his treatment. Trust Jesus, he’s the ultimate healer.

And the best one of all- 24 wonderful hours at home with our eldest son for Thanksgiving — a streetlight that this separation is temporary. Trust Jesus, he is still writing the story.

I’m certainly not the brightest bulb in the box, but I do know the road is easier to navigate when you can see what’s right ahead. And even though we don’t know what’s down the road, I think I can do a better job of opening my heart for what he has right now. After all, he’s never failed us before and I doubt it’s going to start now.

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