A Corner on God’s Goodness


At the square, the market is splayed with late summer, the ripe tomatoes and hot banjo, exposed tattoos. The broad smiles of a planting day tell relief is on its way, rain even. Everything bends burnt orange, and I haven’t been out in a while. I feel like a new mother, though my 4th born son kicks his legs as I stroll him around with a bag of peaches dangling from the handles.

Titus has that feeding tube still, and I don’t think about it until I see heads turn. They say look how precious, and I see that they want to ask what’s wrong. I just mention those new apples. Are they sour?

A boy plays a mandolin. An old man has wrinkled puppy on a leash. The corner of the square is ripe and rich, a rainbow of fragrances, everyone facing the music.

Some have told me that God doesn’t design our bodies with faults. Some have called what’s happening in Titus a work of the devil.  I hear the battle cry of how we’re made for Eden.  I do have to agree with some of it, that He made us to walk with Him, especially now that I walk such a tightrope, and I can’t let go.

It takes me 10 minutes to load up the van. Apples roll across the parking lot, and Titus is fussy, and I don’t know if he’ll eat at all, but I see no devil here. I eat a peach and call my day good as I press into it. I don’t have to work hard to see God. When I pray, all I know is that He’s here. Once I cried and held up my hands and said do what You will with my children. Take them or heal them. Other than that I don’t know how to pray; all I say is GLORY.

If Titus’ delays become pronounced, what then? What of his special needs, the boy who taught me Jesus in his weakness?

Often we act like the beautiful, privileged ones have a corner on God’s goodness. Is a life more because it’s long, less because it’s short? Fearfully and wonderfully made, we’re all the needy and broken ones, because 20/20 vision doesn’t ever mean that the eyes of our hearts can see. The standard is in the eye of One Great Beholder.

Yes, let’s picture Titus in Eden. Let’s picture us all with hearts that know, eyes that behold, the glory of God.

amberhaines
About me

46 Comments

Joy @ Joy In This Journey
Reply August 16, 2012

Is life more if it's longer and less if it's shorter? You know my answer.

Thank you for expressing it in such a beautiful way.

    Amber
    Reply August 16, 2012

    Yes I do know your answer, and it has become my answer, too. But not until I saw Glory lived out in pain did I start to question our culture of health and wealth. Prosperity Doctrine seems lived out in some very silent ways.

      Mrs Loquacious
      Reply August 28, 2012

      And how sad when I see those who hitch their hope to a prosperity doctrine that has nothing to do with Jesus, who calls us all to pick up our crosses and follow Him, even to the cross. Glory to Him in all things, for it is in Him and through Him, for Him. May the Father be glorified even as you continue through the valley, for I think it is from the depths that the echoes of laughter and praise ripple the loudest.

    Airs
    Reply August 16, 2012

    Big lump in my throat now, Joy. <3

    Teri @ StumblingAroundInTheLight
    Reply August 17, 2012

    Sometimes the life-of-more is born from long-suffering the lesser-life.
    I sit in Denver Children's Hospital and wait thru yet another round of tests & appts for my firstborn son. Years of praying for healing. Years of hope, and heartbreak. So many surgeries, so much suffering. And yet...he is, as HE is...all glory.
    Strength, endurance, faith, hope, gratitude, courage. Now a lanky, driving, blogging, running, miracle of a man-boy.
    Ongoing trials that ever-shine God's glory within him.
    I wouldn't wish it on any parent. Oh, but I wouldn't trade it either.

    (Amber if you wanna read a bit of our boy's story - and hopefully find some hope, empathy, & encouragement - http://freeagentmommy.typepad.com/blog/2011/02/the-caleb-miracle-part-one.html)

LoveFeast Table
Reply August 16, 2012

You are in a holy place, that's what I think. To be in that place where it's ALL about Him...the hard, the broken, the moments, the apples...Him. He is in it sweet sister and I think your position is right as it should be and you're teaching my heart this morning to remember to be in that place too.
~Kristin

    Amber
    Reply August 16, 2012

    Sweet Kristen, thank you. What's funny is that if I were given the choice I'd choose differently.

r.elliott
Reply August 16, 2012

Oh...I lived with Lupus for 10 years...people brought scripture...told me to stand on the promises...there must be hidden sin...etc...all these “helpful” thoughts just drove me to fear and believing I had the power to make something happen...to make what I wanted happen. Most days I just had enough strength to get through my day with 3 small children...no strength to muster up faith. Finally, God broke through and brought me to a place of resting and because we live in an upside kingdom...these “dark” years is where I came to really...really know God’s love for me. and when I really knew how much He loved me...I could finally stop striving...pleading...and start resting in HIs love...His wisdom...His Grace.
I am praying for your sweet family...and I stand with you saying GLORY

Kelly @ Love Well
Reply August 16, 2012

Do you know Stephen Curtis Chapman's song "Angels Wish," Amber? It's one of my favorites. In it, he muses about talking with the angels, who know God in all His glory and in all His beauty. Oh, to see what they've seen! But then again, we know something they don't - His grace. And that is double beauty, a double portion of glory.

I have seen the dark and desperate place where sin will take you
I've felt loneliness and shame
And I have watched the blinding light of grace
Come breaking through with a sweetness only tasted
By the forgiven and redeemed

And someday I'll sit down with my angel friends
Up in heaven
And they'll tell me about Creation
And I'll tell them a story of Grace

Do I think the beautiful have a corner on God's goodness? Just the opposite.

Elizabeth
Reply August 16, 2012

Amber, amen. Beautiful. Here I go for a second read. So much good to gnaw on here.

Missa
Reply August 16, 2012

This is so beautifully written, Amber!
Last year, my son was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder and something I wrestled heavily was guilt, because I have it too. I am occasionally crazy with fear for him because I'm so socially awkward, even as an adult. What if that's the hardest bit he struggles with too? I cringe at some of the dumb things I've said or done because of my poor ability to read people.
Then, someone told me a story I hadn't heard since Sunday school, when I was small- the blind man that Jesus healed after the Disciples asked who's sin had caused him to be blind. Jesus said e blindness was present to reveal God's glory. It was like a bulb coming on. In so many ways, it can sound trite, but I've become convinced that God's glory will shine thru the stupid things I've done, because He loved me enough to save me and redeem EVERYTHING.
I'm marked with prosperity because He endows us with his splendor. It might look strange to our human eyes, but oh my, how beautiful we are because of His love. I've been reading and praying for your sweet family for a while- I know you guys know what grace and glory this has inspired beyond what you can see. I pray that your daily refreshment thru His love will continue to be that loud ringing bell of praise. Blessings!

    Amber
    Reply August 16, 2012

    Oh this chokes me up so bad. YES! "I’m marked with prosperity because He endows us with his splendor."

    Thank you for this. I often think on the blind man and Jesus' reasoning on his behalf, and then I remember, too, that Jesus did heal that blind man. There is always always room for healing. There's a both/and here, I think.

    You nailed it, though: "He loved me enough to save me and redeem EVERYTHING."

    Heather
    Reply August 16, 2012

    Thank you, thank you for this reminder: his blindness was present to reveal God's glory. Oh, how I needed to hear that today! His glory shines through all the broken places of this world.

Brian
Reply August 16, 2012

I think about a theology of suffering... how we as humans attempt to escape suffering - and yet Jesus says it's that guaranteed suffering that helps you find him.

I'm not a mother and will never know those thoughts nor those feelings and don't want to act like I do.

I can only relate on a tertiary level at best, where I want to be in a place where after my last breath, and my last bit of strength, and my last bit of control are all exhausted and all that's left is One who is greater, better, and more beautiful in all ways.

Miss you guys, love you both.

Courtney
Reply August 16, 2012

Oh Amber, your words are like medicine...

"Fearfully and wonderfully made, we’re all the needy and broken ones, because 20/20 vision doesn’t ever mean that the eyes of our hearts can see."

Glory....glory in weakness, boast all the more boldly that His power is perfected in this place of craving eden. That will be a glorious day. Until then, I am encouraged by Christ in you & your words—praying for you all and if there is anything I can do, don't hesitate!
Courtney

Shelly Miller
Reply August 16, 2012

I've thought of the omnipresence of God this morning as I read AW Tozer. "God is our environment as the sea is to the fish and air to the bird," he says. You've echoed this in the peach and Titus. The surrender, it's how I want to live. Just like that. Beautiful words Amber. You take me to the altar every time.

Tanya Marlow
Reply August 16, 2012

I am blown away by the truth and beauty of this post. I want to say something profound here to match the impact and insight that this has but I have no words - other than yes, yes, amen. Glory to the God whose glory is made known in weakness, whose grace is sufficient.

Lore Ferguson (@loreferguson)
Reply August 16, 2012

I wrote last night about the waves that throw us against the rock and i know Spurgeon was speaking of suffering when he first penned those words. I think about you. I think about my pastor who had brain cancer. I think about my little brother who died in the middle of the road. I think about little girls I know who have cancer and marriages that are thrown again and again against the rock and I think: GLORY. Come quickly, Lord, but in the meantime, show us your Glory. Because it's better. It's better here on earth and it's better in heaven than all the beautiful mess of life.

You are loved and prayed for.

Linda
Reply August 16, 2012

Dearest Amber - I am joining my heart with yours - praying. I walk where you walk. I stumbled over what others offered as "wisdom" and my heart turned from the only One who is wisdom. When I came to the place where you stand, simply crying glory , He answered peace. He didn't make everything good; He assured me He is good.
Titus was knit together by loving hands - hands that don't drop stitches or make mistakes. His story was written with a love that knows no bounds - a good story - the words formed before Titus ever drew one breath.
Praying His grace and peace will fill your moments and carry you through the days.

Heather
Reply August 16, 2012

"Often we act like the beautiful, privileged ones have a corner on God’s goodness. Is a life more because it’s long, less because it’s short?"

Oh, how I am wrestling with God's goodness, why He heals some and not others and how pain and suffering are ever-present in our world. Yet I take so much of the goodness and blessing around me for granted like a spoiled child. My heart can't seem to make sense of it all and it leaves me gasping for breath. I want to see it all as glory but I'm not there yet...

    Amber
    Reply August 16, 2012

    I'm not always there, Heather. I think my bad days are what I call bad because they're ripe with grief, mourning what I thought I would have and what I got instead.

    One of the psalms says that the lines have fallen for me in good places, and sometimes they just don't seem good. I think I'm learning that what causes us to lean into Jesus, to feel the weight of all this trouble roll onto His back, that is the real relief. We have light and momentary trouble compared the glory being offered, and I guess it's faith to believe that glory will outweigh the pain. I have to believe it.

    I wish I always believed.

the Blah Blah Blahger
Reply August 16, 2012

I want to punch those people who used "Jesus talk" to infer the devil is attacking your boy. Sometimes there is just no explanation for what is happening to us...but YOUR faithfulness, your hope, your steadfastness in the Lord is so real to me as I read your words that it's become an inspiration to me.

XOXO!

HopefulLeigh
Reply August 16, 2012

This preaches, Amber. All I know is that God has met me most in the dark valleys and He has turned my prayers into "use even this." I know He will for me and for you. Love to you and yours.

Jennifer@GDWJ
Reply August 16, 2012

"I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen."

When everything is all fluid and slippery in this life, those set of facts are secured -- with nails.

I'm so glad God made you, Amber Haines. You're a beautiful person. And I say, "Glory."

    Seth
    Reply August 16, 2012

    "Creed" by R. Mullins is one of the Haines' family favorites. Sometimes we play it when things seem "slippery."

Kelly Sauer
Reply August 16, 2012

Here, I feel you here, but not quite here, because pain and wonder mix without words, even in the best of times.

I've been the one who has been told that I have sinned, that the devil was at work in me, the one with the cane, in the wheelchair that caused people to ask and to stare and to suggest how to fix. I've been right and wrong and scared and gutsy, and Titus will be too, because more than we were made for Eden, we were made for life, and we cling to it, here or There, and it's worth fighting for because it is in Him who breathed it into us in the first place.

That's the glory we bear in our weakness, and the wound too, the hard and guilty truth that we were not ever meant for here but somehow we are here anyway, sustained by His hand.

Annie
Reply August 16, 2012

He told us, right, that we'd see him when we're broke and and laid low? Maybe this is more worth pursuing than the ladders out of the muck? Or maybe it's learning to see wherever we're planted? I'm not sure, but I'm grateful for your true words, praying for eyes to see. Thank you, Amber.

Drey
Reply August 16, 2012

You have written both truth and beauty. Yet again I am reminded that with Him it is always enough. And as Ann said yesterday, we have all we need today. Trusting God will sort everything out.

Brandee Shafer
Reply August 16, 2012

There's a person, a place, like this in my life. It's been there for many years, but I have not reached the point of opening my hands. I clutch it and grieve it and break with it over and over. Sometimes daily, sometimes more than daily.

It's hard when it's hard.

What I think is: keep going to the Primary Source in prayer and through His Word. If you want to listen to people: great. If not, don't. People piss me off all the time. Even if they're walking with the Lord, they're seeing through my same, dark veil. They don't have the answers any more than I. If there's an answer, it's a riddle to be unraveled down the line, and probably not in this place.

I say: be true to who you are. Grieve when and how you need to grieve, and don't let anyone tell you you're wrong to deal in your own way. Feel it, and feed it to God. He can handle it.

If anyone tells you to count it all joy, call me up, and I'll hunt them down like a dog.

SimplyDarlene
Reply August 16, 2012

love
prayers
and cyber hugs

to you and yours this day.

Ann Ehlert
Reply August 16, 2012

Three years ago this post would not mean anything to me but now I understand. I don't understand because of the easy stuff that has happened but because of the hard stuff. Thanks for writing and thank you, Lord, for using those hard times so that I may see even though sometimes I still believe its hard.

Airs
Reply August 16, 2012

I'm picturing it right now.

Jenny D
Reply August 17, 2012

While I don't believe that anything wrong with the human body comes from the enemy (I've been taught - AND I believe - that the devil doesn't have that kind of power), I do believe that God puts us in circumstances - whether it is spiritual, financial or physical - where we will have to lean on Him to get through it. The saying, "God doesn't give you more than you can handle"? Yep, I believe that.

That being said, I also believe that life and death is in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). What we speak can change a situation. If we speak of fear, we will live in that fear. If we speak of Jesus and His healing power, there will be healing. I believe that every life is precious no matter how long it is - 8 hours or 80 years. No matter what, follow Jesus' leading for your family.

Blessings and prayers being sent your way!

Ashley
Reply August 17, 2012

Your post reminded me of a book I've been reading called "Disability and the Gospel". I bought it to check out for a family member who has a severely handicapped daughter... and have been surprised to find how much I myself can relate to it. The main point it keeps making over and over is the need to see we are all "broken". Not a rainbows and butterflies kind of read, but very encouraging in a good kind of uncomfortable way.

    Ashley
    Reply August 17, 2012

    By Michael S. Beates ... just realized there's more than one book with that title!

erin a.
Reply August 17, 2012

You made the tears spill out. Beautiful! I am praying for you & your family. Titus is God's good creation.

Amanda @wandering
Reply August 18, 2012

Crying and nodding with this. Both my boys were NICU babies. Strangely, my second spent only a couple of weeks there, but he is now 20 months old and has developmental delays that do not make any sense. We have no answers, no reasons. Just questions and therapies and early intervention.
I keep reading these lines over and over, "If Titus’ delays become pronounced, what then? What of his special needs, the boy who taught me Jesus in his weakness? Often we act like the beautiful, privileged ones have a corner on God’s goodness. Is a life more because it’s long, less because it’s short?"
This was an encouragement and a reminder. Thank you.

Diana Trautwein
Reply August 19, 2012

Sort of gasping for air out here on the west shelf of this grand country of ours. That anyone should say something so despicable to you as 'devil' in connection with your son is just beyond belief. There is such beauty in the brokenness, yet we so often turn away from it - in ourselves and in others. Every single one of us - no exceptions - has something that doesn't work right. Usually more than one something. And it is there, RIGHT THERE, that we find the bending-low Jesus, the one who whispers 'glory' into the muddle. Keep walking the tightrope, hanging on for dear life. And please keep writing it down. We need these words. Yes, yes, yes.

Kat Wesley
Reply August 21, 2012

Prayers for Titus!!
Good Health for the family!!!
Have Fun!!

Marcia Kin
Reply August 24, 2012

I love your whole family so be happy always. Wishing Titus good health too.

Anita @ Dreaming Beneath the Spires
Reply September 22, 2012

Oh lovely, the peace of acceptance. I learn it and forget it; learn it and forget it!

jenn
Reply September 29, 2012

I think that one of the illusions of the enemy is that there really is some form of prosperity while we are here that is tangible and man-made even. Blown away! that we cannot face our beautiful helplessness until we sit at a funeral. And also, who am I that you should be mindful of me? My GOD sees me, knows me, loves me. There is majesty on this earth, and peace and hope, I have it inside of me, and so why do I grieve when pain comes home? Can I really know what I need until I have tasted my share? Am I going to accept the thorns or fight them. I love your Wonderful thoughts. My 13 m/o was born with Lyme, we are both being treated. We are going to be going to pick apples soon,

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