I went on a mission trip to Haiti in January 2015 and when I returned home and realized how bad it was in Haiti and how wonderful it was here in my comfy home….I thought how can God be good in what I just experienced? How can I look at a child with my privileged eyes, sitting naked on the side of a street in a pool of feces and animal urine? How can I watch a 5-year-old carry a bucket of water back to his shack for his family and then watch my 5-year-old son complain because he has to carry one of his 54 Transformer figurines back to his room, his own room? How is all of this good? If all of the bad that I had just experienced was out there, why couldn’t it all happen to me too? How long until God is no longer good to me and I have to suffer like the Haitians?
FEAR! Fear settles in me. Fear of losing all I had, fear of my child dying, fear that if I didn’t live up to what God said I should be doing that He would somehow “punish” me and take it all away. Serving and Bible devotions and Small Group time started becoming more of a checklist of to-dos to stay in God’s graces instead of true worship. Of course, I never admitted it, not even to myself but it was a true reality.
Several months into this thinking led to going deeper and deeper into believing God’s goodness had anything to do with HIM but instead everything to do with my discipline to be in His word and obedience to instructions for me. I was slowly turning my face from Him and into the mirror at myself.
There wasn’t some grand experience that snapped me out of this fear. It was a slow progression moving from fear to freedom. I do know that someone had asked me about when I became a Christian and my answer had always been the same whenever someone asked. I would say something like: “Oh I was raised around church, baptized as a teenager, had grandparents that loved the Lord…..” But this time, I answered differently. Never had I thought this was the time I became a Christian.
When my son was born we came extremely close to losing him. And I wasn’t living a Christ-centered life…..at all. I believed in Jesus but He was more of a “get out of jail free” card. I didn’t have a personal relationship with Him. I didn’t yet know what it meant to live in the flesh and desire the Spirit. I never spent time longing to know Him, or seeking Him out. I did what I wanted to do. Because I was taught that as long as you believe then you are forgiven.
In the quiet hours of the night, sitting in the hospital NICU with my son, watching him fight for his life; having absolutely no control for the first time in my life and feeling so much fear that it was consuming me from head to toe. It was here where I met Jesus for the first time. Something (later knowing it was the Holy Spirit) came over me and said, “And surely I am with you till the end of ages”.
All I could think of was Jesus, walking somewhere out there in the spirit realm holding my son and comforting him. I looked down at my son in his little plastic bucket of a “crib” and all I saw was a shell, a body, not my son. I hit my knees and told God that my son belonged to Him, not me, and if I was to only be a mamma to this little boy for these few short days then OK! The thought of my son being in the arms of Jesus was the only thing that brought any kind of comfort to me. I couldn’t hold him. They didn’t even want me touching him. But Jesus could and He was.
That night I became a Christian. I, for the first time, understood what it felt like to seek Him and that changed everything.
(Sorry, for the detour…..had to share that to get back to my point 🙂
So, when I was telling someone that was when I became a Christian, I realized that during the most horrifying and fear riddled time of my life was when God showed His goodness to me. What I always believed to be “good” didn’t hold the same definition of “good” to Him. “Good” to God and “good” to Nikki were not the same thing.
So I started looking at scripture and studying all of the fear-based moments and how God was working for the good in each and every person in the midst of it. Daniel, Jonah, Moses, Paul……so many examples of fear and anxiety – yet God worked it all for HIS good….not really their “good”.
The biggest one of all….Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. He cried tears of blood He was so sad and fearful knowing what was about to come. And the greatest gift to mankind happened through that! God’s definition of “good” and the human part of Jesus’s definition of “good” was NOT in any way the same thing! Yet…..look.
My most fearful time of my life brought me to the Lord. It brought me to a place of raising my children in a completely different manor. It changed everything. So now, when I’m feeling fearful or anxious about anything I know God is working…working on something BIG and the enemy is going to use all he has to shut it down because it means it will bring God Glory, and the enemy hates that with all he is.
When I question “Is God good to Me, for me”……I remember this time. I remember how good He was through the beating and crucifixion of my savior. I remember that MY “good” and God’s “good” may look differently from time to time, but that His good is always better.
Written by: Nikki Cook