1 Corinthians 16:8-9
New King James Version (NKJV)
Ever feel like you're on the verge of something great? An achievement you've worked towards, the end of a journey, an answer to prayer at long last? It's knowing that you are caught up in something bigger than yourself, that somehow, perhaps through divine intervention, you have achieved or are being used far beyond your own abilities and talents. And yet the closer you get to the moment of glory, the farther away it seems and the greater the obstacles in your way.
I'm a Labor&Delivery nurse, a midwife at heart. I was blessed to work at an out-of-hospital birthing center in Tucson for 5 years and see women give birth without the benefit of epidurals to ease the physical and emotional struggle of labor. In those moments-to-hours before a new soul is born upon this earth, I have seen this truth repeated over and over. It is always darkest before the dawn. When a new mother is closest to the end of her labor, she is the most vulnerable to discouragment. She believes with all her heart she has nothing left, that she can take no more, that there will be only pain with no joyous birth. I experienced this myself with both my children's births, and it is a terrifyingly beautiful thing.
With the first birth, I was in a hospital at this moment of crisis (also known as "transition"), reaching out for a lifeline. The lifeline was twofold, telling my husband "Call our mothers (who didn't know I was in labor being far away) and tell them to pray!" He only got as far as his mother before the room was filled with nurses and doctors, then I grasped what seemed the obvious lifeline of an epidural, followed by a dramatically quick birth of our oldest son Sammy.
The second birth, our daughter Ciara's, was at the birth center where I worked. I reached the same moment of "I'm not sure I can do this", but this time it was less of a crisis and more of just a question. An epidural was not an option. A warm, comforting jacuzzi tub was. I was surrounded by my loving husband, Gabe's mom (I wanted the live prayer this time!) and peaceful, supportive friends, nurses and midwives, including a dear friend who was a student midwife who I think was more nervous about the whole thing than I was. But what I recall most clearly was Gabe looking me in the eyes and saying "This won't take you very long." I believed him. And his confidence in me through the rest of my labor upheld me. With the first I think he was upstaged by the drama of medical intervention; with the second, I desperately needed his support and he was there. It still took longer than I wished, and was definitely more painful than the first birth. Yet the experience of giving birth with such comfort and encouragement, finding a way through the pain instead of around it, has stayed with me.
You can imagine which route we are choosing for #3. :-)
I say all of this to grasp hold of a spiritual truth. The closer you draw to God, the more opposition you will encounter. The more you allow Jesus to live and work through you, the more the Enemy will attack. The closer you are to victory over an sin or stronghold in your life, the more you will feel you can never overcome it. If you could only see the sun about to rise on the horizon!
We are finding this to be true in our lives and covet your prayers and words of encouragement. As we get established here, finding a church family, ways to serve, getting used to homeschooling, feeling a little like "Maybe we can do this after all!", the enemy has been attacking us from within. We find ourselves impatient with the kids and lacking the strength to love each other as we wish we could. We are discouraged. We need Divine intervention. And perhaps to remember that it is only Christ who can do anything through us, not we ourselves.
I know I'm dating myself here:-), but I first heard Rich Mullins sing this at a concert my freshman year in college, and still find it incredibly encouraging:
Interestingly, I have witnessed countless births right at sunrise :-) May you be encouraged that the dawn is near in your life if you are walking in darkness today. Thank you for your prayers and encouragment.