by Paula Freeman
Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. Psalm 86:11 NIV
I sat alone in the front seat of my car in the hospital parking lot a few days before my husband died. Outside my window on that September afternoon, tree branches swayed in sync as slivers of sunlight twinkled between their leaves. Cloudless skies and warm weather mocked the storm brewing within me. They reminded me of life outside my reach, as I poured out my heart to God—fear of not being able to survive the foreseeable grief, frustration with unanswered prayers during Ray’s illness, and anxiety about the state of my relationship with Him on the brink of Ray’s death.
I wanted to rely on God’s faithfulness. But I didn’t believe He would be enough. Time was running out. I had to know if I could trust God in the dark places to come.
When I ran out of words, I waited. Then this verse came to mind: “Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name” (Psalm 86:11 NIV). I had memorized that verse a few weeks earlier. As I recalled it, right then my world tilted just enough.
I grabbed hold of those words as if they were a lifeline, and their meaning led me here: God is faithful to His way—not mine. This gentle, gracious answer, spoken into my deepest need, pointed to the certainty of God’s faithfulness. I would find it within my surrender.
Like Jesus in the garden the night he was betrayed, I thought. Knowing what was to come the following day, Jesus went with his disciples to Gethsemane. “Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Going a little farther, he fell on his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will’” (Matthew 26:38-39 NIV).
Jesus knew His story would take Him to the cross. Alone. Yet, after praying that ‘this cup be taken from Me’ He surrendered His will to the Father and endured the cross for the joy set before Him; He saw life on the other side of pain.
I’d prayed for many ‘cups’ to be taken from me since we received Ray’s terminal diagnosis. Begged actually, for both of us. God invites us to be vulnerable and honest and to cast our burdens on Him. But I had gotten stuck in begging for my way. When my torrential words ran dry that afternoon, lifeless and spent at the foot of the cross, I finally understood. And I surrendered. Not my will but yours be done.
I discovered God’s enough-ness in letting go of what He was allowing to be taken away.
Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness. The words that tilted my world aligned my perspective with God’s and allowed me to experience His faithfulness within the unfolding of Ray’s death. They sustained me in the unscripted days, weeks, and months that followed. And they anchor me still.
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Paula Freeman is a part-time author and a full-time follower of Jesus. She’s the founder and former executive director of Hope’s Promise, a Colorado licensed adoption agency and orphan care ministry, and author of A Place I Didn’t Belong: Hope for Adoptive Moms. Her newest book, Learning to Be Me Without You: A Story of Love, Loss, and Coming Home, is for widows and others who grieve. Widowed with seven grown children, four by birth and three by adoption, she lives in Kansas City . . . but gets to the beach as often as she can. Visit her at www.paulasfreeman.com.
Join the conversation: Have you ever grieved to the point of doubting God’s faithfulness? How did He prove Himself to you at that time?
3 thoughts on “The Day My World Tilted”
Beautiful message, Paula. Thank you for sharing.
Paula, thank you so very much for sharing this story of courage and God’s faithfulness. After being married 53 years, the thought of losing my husband pops up and I wonder how I would cope. Reading your post gives me courage and strength to know God will come through when needed.
Paula, thank you for sharing this deeply personal experience. As our friends and family move from this world into eternity, it is sometimes incredibly hard to let go! I can only do it by imagining their joyful entrance into God’s presence and rejoicing for their victory. But my heart aches for losing them… for now.