Tuesday, September 20, 2011

More Than We Can Handle

This is Brandon tonight, sitting with our computer at Jude's bedside.  What a treat to be next to him this evening.  I wanted to share with you some recent ponderings of mine.

The phrase, "God will not give you more than you can handle" is frequently said to people who go through difficult things.  I think it's a mistaken notion often spoken by well-intentioned people.  In the New Testament we find in the book of Galatians the exact opposite.  In chapter 6 verse 2 it says, "Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ."  The word 'burden' in the original Greek represents something too heavy for just one person to carry, like a boulder.

If we are commanded to bear one another's burdens, that presumes that we will have experiences and seasons where what's happening to us is too large to bear on our own.  We will in some way be 'crushed' by them.  I think this is exactly how God designed it.

A number of years ago, in order to help our staff team experience this reality, I had them do an activity where we walked a mile and a half through our neighborhood carrying lots of stuff (5 gallon jugs full of water, tables, backpacks, etc).  Most of it was heavy and awkward to carry.  I was intentional to keep an eye on people and ask if they needed help.  While watching out for others, I was also carrying a lot not wanting to burden someone else too much.

We finished the trek then had a debrief about what we did, what we said and didn't say, and why we responded how we did.  I can't recall any of the particulars of what we learned that day (though I'm sure we learned something :) ).  What I do remember clearly is that two days later my arms were really sore!  I had carried too much for too long and I chose not to ask for help.  I wanted to be the one that helped and, therefore, I wasn't willing to depend on others in ways that would have kept me from unnecessary pain.

I have seen in my own life, and now more than ever before, that the Lord consistently gives us more than we can handle.  He wants to teach us that we are needy, that we are weak, that we are living independently (of Him and others).  I often want to prove the opposite, that I'm not needy, I'm not weak, and I can face life's challenges on my own.

But these burdens are meant to train us to cry out to Him more.  They are intended to force us to ask others for help.  He wants to teach us that we are broken and desperate for His power and presence.  We need others and, most of all, we need Christ.  The American dream of financial independence and freedom leads us down a path of terrible loneliness, especially for men.

Over the last five weeks I've picked up the phone numerous times and asked a good buddy to listen, give me their perspective and pray for me.  I've invited a few of these friends to come to Albuquerque and join us, even be willing to fly in.  I know I need others.  I'm starting to believe that this a mature way to live.  I've lived a mainly independent, self-sufficient way for many years.  I still live independently at times but the Lord is gently, graciously breaking me of that.  Thank you, Father!

I want to be fully engaged in this process.  I want to enjoy Jude every day we have with him.  I want to delight in and support my wonderful wife.  I want to love the nurses and doctors we are blessed to have treat Jude.  I want to grieve during this process.  I want to find Christ to be even more satisfying than before, to know Him deeply in suffering.

Pray for me that I will be a man that sets aside his pride and asks Jesus Christ and others for help.

I'm seeing more clearly now then ever before that I cannot be fully engaged without the help of others and without the grace and presence of Christ.  Mandy and I consistently marvel at the generosity and love demonstrated by you who are following Jude's story.  We know that we, and Jude in particular, are being sustained by the Lord and through your prayers.  What a tremendous blessing you have been.  We give thanks to the Lord for you!!!

So, here are some things to pray for Jude when you read this...

* That Jude does well taking 2ml/hour of breast milk and that there are no digestion issues.  He began receiving the breast milk Mandy's been pumping while I've been at the hospital this evening.
* That Jude will be able to get his heart surgery at the end of the week (or early next week).  We talked to the cardiac surgeon tonight and, as of now, that's his plan.  He needed to consult one more time with the plastic surgeon who worked on Jude's head last week.
* That he will continue to pee lots of the fluid that is still around his belly.  He gained .1 kg yesterday and needs to drop around 1.2 kg of fluids overall.

Thank you so much :)


Kellie said...

Kevin and I were just talking about that earlier this month, after he said that God won't give us more than we can handle. You stated it better than I did - I think I said something to the effect of "That's a load of ..." But it's true that He absolutely does give us more than we can handle. Because it's then that His glory and provision are made clear as we depend on Him and on His followers.

And I remember carrying all the junk through your neighborhood!

Praying for you all tonight.

Laura Dexter-Mooty said...

My heart aches for you both daily. Wish I could take the pain away...but that's not my job. When God does give us more than we can bear, and when we persevere and trust Him (tall order), but indeed...w/ the love & comfort of those in Christ, He meets us in that place...and when we joyfully submit to His will and depend on Him (another tall order-meaning easier said than done in real life)...then you are refined...and you will bear much fruit...in due time...His time. But this is now...and there are many folks lifting you all up in prayer. Thank you for sharing on the blog - I know it's hard...but it's beautiful to see your reliance on the One who is faithful and just. And that's what matters.
Give each other lots of hugs...and enjoy your precious little boy/s. Still praying lots for you guys! XOXO

kktennessee said...

I was listening to Joni Eareckson Tada on Moody radio yesterday when she quoted the following from an anonymous author. It's beautiful and so true.

"In the closing moments of this age, the Lord will have a people whose sole purpose for living is to please God with their lives. The Lord will take them farther and through more pain and conflicts than other believers. Outwardly, they'll seem "smitten of God, and afflicted," as it says in Isaiah 53. Yet to God, they are His beloved. When they are crushed, like the petals of a flower, they will exude a worship, the fragrance of which is so beautiful and rare that angels will weep in quiet awe at their surrender to the Lord."

Love you all. We are praying for you everyday. -- Karen Griffin & family

Jack and Mary Diven said...

We, Jack and Mary Diven, from Las Cruces, have a seven-year-old daughter with Downs. She had to be resusitated after birth, spent one month at Thomason in El Paso, and then had heart surgery at 5 months. We, as a family, have been praying for you all for several weeks. Reading your posts brings back such clear memories for us. At the time it seemed like more than we could bear as well, but the Lord upheld us through it all (Ok, our arms were sore afterwards.) God didn't just carry our burdens, He carried us in a way that revealed even more of his glory than we would have known had we not gone through that time. Jude is a blessing and a gift from God and it is so wonderful to know you feel that way about him.
God bless you!

Ian Ray said...

Hi Brandon:

Will keep praying for you, Mandy, Caleb and estpecially Jude. I can tangbily sense God's love, care, and compassion for you each day as I pray for you. Your update today is amazing. I admire how in these difficult times you are choosing to keep your focus on God's goodness and strength. You are soooo right that we cannot go it alone. I have struggled with the same issues you mention and am grateful that God allowed me to become overwhelmed with circumstances beyond my control in certain areas of my life. This forced me to realize how helpless I truly am - like you said- and how I need to relinquish control, put God in charge and ask others to help me maintain proper priorities and perspectives.

Praying for stength & wisdom to your family and all the doctors/support staff

Ian Ray

Melanie said...

That is very insightful!

You continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.

Jen said...

I once had a friend who use to say, "Who is the only one you can count on" and I would say, "You". In my head I would say, "You God". I found out the hard way that He is the only one I truly can count on. He saved me twice so far in this lifetime. You have been really blessed by him to have a wife like you have. I never want to be alone again and I never want to stand by myself ever again. Thinking of all of you each and every day.

Liz and Phil said...


We remember that exercise well! Thankfully I think Mandy and I were prego or just had the babies and didn't have to bear much. I do remember the lessons even though I didn't carry much. Thank you for letting us join your journey over the miles, for allowing us to go to the Father on your behalf. This is a true honor. Reminds us how grateful we are for your friendship and how you both have helped carry some of our burdens in this life. Longing for intimacy and richness of Him, longing for Jude's health, and longing for heaven even more! Love you guys!

Naomi said...

Brandon, thank you so much for saying that. I have bought into that lie so many times and tried to comfort myself instead of letting God be God and comfort me. As I am starting DTS I am struggling a lot with overwhelming aspects of fear, discomfort, conviction etc. and this was really an important thing to hear. I have lots of time in this season of my life and I am praying for you guys! Love you and miss you!

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