Today's team journal is written by the DWITW "let's be real" champion and treasurer, Kaitlyn Carl.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away,
our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary
affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.
For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
- II Corinthians 4:16-18
Just as Mindy shared in her post last week, I, too, experienced a season of pruning in 2016. We suffered a horrific miscarriage only a couple of weeks before we moved into our new home. Not only did we have to say goodbye to that sweet baby long before we were ready, but I also had to be stripped of my “I can do everything by myself, no help needed here, thank you very much” mentality. I couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t pray. I’ve never been a “couldn’t” person. But the whole house still needed to be packed into boxes, clothes still needed to be washed, and I already had two beautiful daughters who needed me to care for them. And in my “couldn’t,” God provided an abundance of “could”s. Meal makers, packers, babysitters, house cleaners, prayer warriors, a Great Intercessor (Romans 8:26-27), and so much more. I experienced abundant love and sacrificial service from those around me and was utterly blessed, even in my grief and pain.
One month after we moved into our new home, my husband’s grandmother came to live with us. We had a joyous time with Nanny. The girls adored her, and she adored them. I loved having an adult to converse with throughout the day, and she even helped clear the table and clean the dishes after dinner! Joyous as it was, it didn’t come without pruning. When you’re 86, life moves at a much slower pace, and the Lord graciously used Nanny to s-l-o-w me down from my ever-hurried pace, though it was difficult at first. Through her, the Lord helped me see that the world wasn’t going to end if I wasn’t constantly moving 100 miles a minute; in fact, my marriage, parenting, prayer life, Bible study – almost all aspects of my life – have benefited greatly from this lesson! But then, not quite two months after she moved in, while the whole family was over on Christmas Eve, she collapsed. And she died in the hospital six days later. Again, we were sent reeling. Again, only three months after our miscarriage, the sympathy cards came rolling in, and with them, new waves of grief over the loss of our baby and over the loss of Nanny and why, God, why? as if the crying had never stopped.
These all died in faith…having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth…But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. – Hebrews 11:13, 16
This world is not our home, dear sisters (Hebrews 13:14), and the evidence is all around us: pain, suffering, injustice, betrayal, sickness, death. We are sojourners and exiles here (I Peter 2:11): in the world, but not of it (John 17:14-18). Praise God! He has chosen a people for Himself and is bringing them home, to the place that He has prepared for them (I Peter 2:9, John 14:1-3). But until then, we are here. We’re in the final chapters of the Story, yes – Christ has come and He has died and He has risen and ascended into heaven, and through Him we have forgiveness of sins and life eternal, hallelujah! But we’re still here. We’re not home yet.
We had so many plans for that little baby. We had so many hopes for the years that we envisioned Nanny would live with us. "Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes" (James 4:14). God is pruning and burning away in His refining fire the white-knuckled grip with which I hold on to so many things in this life. He is slowly helping me to see what it looks like to loosen my grip on the things in this world because I’m just passing through. And I’m not saying we should stop caring about the people around us or to walk glibly through life with no attachments to anyone or anything. In fact, God tells the Israelites living in exile in Babylon to "build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters…multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare" (Jeremiah 29:5-7). But we do all these things with this end in mind: I will bring your back to the place from which I sent you into exile (Jeremiah 29:14).
It’s about maintaining an eternal perspective, "for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal" (II Corinthians 4:18). We live hard, love hard, cry hard, play hard, pray hard while we’re here because we don’t know how long our life is, nor the lives of those around us. We thank God for the days we have, even the hard ones. We treasure our loved ones while remembering that they are ultimately His. And all the while, we look forward to the promised land: the New Heaven, Earth, and Jerusalem (Revelation 21). Because we know the end of the story, dear friends. We know that we will not always be sojourners here in this foreign land. We know where our true home is: a place where God will wipe away every tear from our eyes, death shall be no more, and there will be no mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4). Praise the Lord!
Kaitlyn Carl is a wife of 5 1/2 years and a mama to two precious girls. She is a worship leader at her church and a group leader with Bible Study Fellowship. Kaitlyn is passionate about sharing life with others. She loves brunch/lunch/coffee/play dates, over-sized sweatshirts, coloring books, and having to double recipes because her table is surrounded by people.