Blessed is the One Who Trusts
As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.” 2 Samuel 22:31
Time with Mike was slipping through my fingers like the sands of an hour glass. Only, there was no way to measure how much sand remained before time would run out.
The glow of Christmas lights—carefully wrapped around our week old tree—reflected off the dark brown leather of the brand new recliner we had given Mike as a surprise. But, the scent of medical supplies began to overwhelm the woodsy smell of pine and leather as our family room started to resemble that of a hospital. A rolling bed with crisp white linens...latex gloves...dusty rose colored emesis basins...and all sorts of choice equipment filled the corners of our apartment amid the clutter of toddlers' toys and coloring pages.
“These are the moments where you ought to get creative, make something special as a family,” the nurse urged.
Mom and the kids walked through the door with a bag full of projects. One of which included a set of four stamp pads in varying shades of green, accompanied by a piece of artwork depicting a barren tree with two love birds perched high on the branches. I quickly tore off the wrapping, grabbed hold of my beloved’s feeble hand, and, with permission, pressed his index finger into the dark ivy colored ink. Little by little, we adorned the desolate branches with Mike's fingerprints, still leaving room for Chloe, Caleb and me to complete our family tree.
My heart quickened with each second that passed, but my limbs seemed immovable. Every muscle engaged, prepared to put up a fight, and yet, bones staggered with the understanding that the events unfolding surpassed my ability to change. I could not undo the damage that cancer had already done to this incredible man's ever weakening body. He needed God's healing. He needed deliverance, and he needed it soon.
“Lord, how did we get here?”
“How can we possibly move forward without him?”
Just over six years ago we were enjoying one another’s company beneath the shade of the most breathtaking tree, happily situated amid the beautiful Irish foliage along the bank of Muckross Lake in Killarney National Park. We stood there simply amazed by the gift we had found in one another through the covenant of marriage. A new family had begun.
From the start, we knew that the best place for this tender sprout, "The Swanson Family," to be planted was by the waters. Surely, by the waters our roots could sink deep and draw from the endless supply of God’s love, power, and grace. Yes, there, in a deep-seeded trust in God, our family would receive all we needed for every season.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
As a family, that trust had been tested many times over the span of a few short years.
It was tested when the Lord told us to prepare to leave the comfort and familiarity of our hometown, the nearness of our families, and a ministry that we loved in order to start a church plant in Ireland.
It was tested when Mike received a diagnosis of stage 4 appendix cancer just two-months shy of our move overseas at the young age of twenty-nine.
It was tested when the doctor projected that Mike had 2 years of life remaining, after previously telling us he had many many years.
It was tested as treatments failed and the Lord's voice grew ever quiet.
While the temptation to uproot our faith frequently knocked on our door, by God's grace, Mike and I maintained our resolve to trust Him.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm 20:7
Trust —misapplied—frequently leads to heart-wrenching consequences. It is scarcely bestowed without evaluating the worthiness of its object. Despite all of the "earning" there always remains an element of faith that can leave us feeling quite vulnerable. Even after it has been offered, we watch carefully, testing to ensure we have not made the wrong decision.
How perplexing it is when we have met the One who alone is worthy of our Trust—the Sovereign One—who in faith we have followed....yes.... followed...straight into the valley of the Shadow of Death.
We think, "God, we trusted You! Why would you bring us here?"
It was in the valley that I heard a faint whisper strike the core of my being, "Are you still going to believe me, even now?"
Suddenly, I realized that I had begun looking at my circumstances to determine, or re-evaluate, God's worthiness of my trust.
All the while, the God who took on flesh and dwelt among His creation, who suffered and bled for my redemption, who proved His worthiness before He formed me in my mother's womb, was using my circumstances (in part) to surface the genuineness of my faith.
I chose to Trust....Mike chose to Trust.
Who better to lead us through the valley than the Shepherd who brought us to it? Who better than the one who comprehended our path fully? Surely, the Good Shepherd, who willingly laid down his life for his sheep would not bring us to this place if it was not necessary, if there was not a specific objective.
In choosing to remain by the waters with each test that came our way, we discovered that the single choice to Trust him was our gateway to supernatural endurance. We did not wither.
It was our gateway to supernatural peace and rest. We overcame anxious thoughts.
It enabled us to continue growing. We grew in love. We grew in joy. We grew in patience. We did not cease producing spiritual fruit.
The answers to my questions were clear:
We are here because You brought us here
We will continue to move forward without him if we Trust in You,
if our little "Swanson Family Tree" remains planted by the waters.
It would only be a matter of hours before Mike at last received the healing and deliverance for which we had passionately prayed. His cherished mom and I were at his side while our little ones slumbered peacefully in their beds.
Mike's Good Shepherd led him straight through the Valley of the Shadow of Death into the glory of Heaven.
The same Good Shepherd would now gently lead this widow with her young through life without him.
“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11
December 21st marked two full years without Mike and we are still trusting God! As we do, we hear his promises, we receive direction for each step, and we enjoy his presence. Our trust in Jesus has produced a family that is not withering but enduring—at peace and growing.
Oh Lord, You are faithful and true! You alone are worthy of our trust! Help us to lean on You today, to follow You even when the road is uncertain, when the path looks dangerous or dark. You know the way to lead us safely through. Remind us that our ultimate destination is not the other end of a trial but is Heaven. May we have peace and rest knowing that You, our Good Shepherd, will bring us safely before the throne of God, faultless, clothed in Your glorious robes of righteousness. All honor, glory and praise be Yours for You are worthy! Amen!
by Erin Swanson