Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The flannel board Jesus

Many of you remember Him, the flannel board Jesus. Probably most of you who grew up attending children's Sunday school classes, or Vacation Bible Schools.

He was poised on the flannel board, arms outstretched, loving look on His face, and the teacher would point to Him and tell you all about how He loves you and you pray to Him and He makes it better.

It's not that I have any ill-will towards the Sunday School teachers, I get it. It makes sense to explain things that way to a child. You ask Jesus into your heart, and He lives there...that's tricky enough to wrap your mind around. Now add in living for Jesus, turning your life over to gets complicated. Also, how do you explain to a child that often the Lord allows you to hurt? He will comfort you, sure, but He could stop it with the blink of an eye...and yet He doesn't. How do you begin to explain that even when He allows pain, you just have to trust that He will bring good from it?

I met a man in the grocery store the other day who asked me how long I had been a Christian. I told him that I had been one my whole life. He seemed surprised at that, so I explained that I had been blessed to be raised in a Christian home, and grew up knowing about Jesus. I told him how I had given my heart to Him when I was much younger, but also -and just as important- have chosen to follow Him as an adult. Some people call it "re-dedication", some "sanctification", or something along those lines. The process of choosing to live your adult life for Christ, with Him. It's very different as an adult....or at least it has been for me.

As a child, living for Jesus meant believing I was going to Heaven, trying to be nice to people and abide by the golden rule of treating people the way I would want to be treated, and asking for forgiveness when I sinned. Those things still hold true as an adult, but it gets more complicated. As a child I think it's much easier to trust that the Lord "knows the plans He has for me". As a grown-up, I am in charge of a lot more planning, and have more responsibility. I have to make weightier decisions. I have to seek more wisdom. I have a lot more to turn over to Him.

And sometimes, Jesus doesn't just step in and make it all better.

Our first appointment with the specialist went well, and we are grateful for that. He is running some minor testing, and we have a follow up appointment next month. Although I have peace about the steps we are taking, I also have just general angst about the whole process.

I hate it.

Even though we are just at the very beginning of all our options, it also means that the end of them is now in sight. If I am honest, that might be part of what kept me away from a specialist for so long...I didn't want the end to be in sight. There are steps we can't afford to take, and steps that the Lord has not released us to take. So the space between here and the "end" of our options, seems to be diminishing rapidly. And it terrifies me.

I don't want it to. I don't want to be afraid. I know there is no use in borrowing trouble from the future. I want to trust that He has me in His hands, and in my head I know that He does. And most the time I know it in my heart too...but I have had so many moments lately where my heart is just... disappointed. Disappointed that the flannel board Jesus didn't just swoop in and make it all better. It's frustrating and it hurts, because I know He can.

And because He is not, I have to trust that there is a greater purpose. I know He loves me. I trust He has a plan for my life. It's just that I am worried about how painful that plan is going to be.

The "What if's" can suffocate you, can't they?

I think that's all part of the grown-up living for Christ. It's a little more complicated than when I was a child, but the truth is it's also so much more rewarding.

There is a deeper connection with Him now then when I was younger. My faith has matured. Those are divine benefits of having an adult relationship with Christ.

But that doesn't mean there aren't moments where I struggle, and feel a hunger for a faith that assures. Moments where I cry out for Him to just fix it for me, because the learning and stretching and growing and trusting is just too hard.

I realized today that I should have told the man at the grocery store something more. Yes, I asked Jesus into my heart as a child, and yes, I rededicated my life to Him as an adult... but it doesn't stop there. It never stops. It is a daily -sometimes hourly- choice.

I choose to believe.

I choose to trust.

I choose to have hope.

Lord I believe-Help my unbelief!!


Monica @ Writer Chic said...

Wow. Even though you and I had this entire conversation last week, you put it down so well here.

I'm walking this sometimes-disappointing road with you, hon.

The biggest hugs I have are coming your way from TN.

InDeeds said...

Lots of prayers for you as you begin (or, I guess in many ways, continue) this process!

Heather said...

Kendra, I am praying that everything goes well for you and your husband. I am hopeful that you will find some peace within this whole process and find solutions that you both are comfortable with! Let me know if there is any way, specifically, that I can help to comfort you or make this any easier!

Alexis said...

Oh, Kendra...I know that it's impossible to see what God's doing, but I promise you that He is working a miracle of some kind in your life. Sure, He could swoop in and make it better, but then we would have no need for faith. He wants us to follow Him because we love Him, not because He does nice things for us. You may not ever look back and say, "Ah-hah! That's why!" but He most certainly will. He has a divine plan for all of us, one that is far better than we could have written ourselves.

Keep me posted.


Lauren Kelly said...

Just wanted to let you know I said a prayer for you just now, sweet friend! I love you, girl!!! :)

Lacy said...

You have the most eloquent way with words Kendra. I grew up going to church too, and the imagery you used in describing childhood vs adulthood relationships with God was unbelievable. I know things are hard right now for you. I am praying that you will be able to be at peace with the situation. And don't get too caught up worrying about the "end" that you can't focus on the blessings of opportunities that you have now. Keep believing, keep trusting, because I know that God has a wonderful plan for your family. ((HUGS))

Vanessa's Dad said...

I pray for you and Dave every day. I know that you are miraculously alive today, and God does have plans for you... wonderful plans... plans for hope and future.

Somewhere in the New Testament, Paul tells us about eating Baby Christian Food when you are a Baby Christian, and Grown Up Christian Food when you are older, more "mature." Affirms what you said about Life being more complicated as a mature Christian. Also affirms what you said about Life being better, even if more complicated.

I enjoyed listening to your chatter as a toddler, and I enjoy the fuller, broader, more colorful and meaningful comments and questions you have today.

As a Graying Christian, I find that I worry less, and rest more in the knowledge that the Creator of the Universe is on my side, and He will bless my effort to seek and do his will, even if I'm doin' it wrong... He'll get me turned around.


amy (metz) walker said...

I got chills as I read the words you wrote: "There are steps we can't afford to take, and steps that the Lord has not released us to take."

I can completely identify with you! Praying for you...

Faith said...

Oh boy, can I relate to this so much. I know what this is like and deal with these same questions and thoughts. God can handle it all though and I choose to trust His ways too. Praying for you dear!

Becca said...

Beautifully written, Kendra. I felt the same way when we started seeing a specialist and especially when we found out that our treatment options were limited. One of my favorite quotes by CS Lewis is exactly what you are saying here: "We're not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” In this world, pain and trouble are inevitable. How comforting that God works not just in spite of these troubles, but THROUGH them.

PS: I took my blog down temporarily because a few things happened that made me a little uncomfortable. I may make it private or change the address...still TBD. Just wanted to let you know I am still following along with you and praying for you in the meantime!

Amanda said...

I do remember the Flannel Board Jesus. We both probably met him in the same room at JBC, probably painted yellow. It's hard as an adult to reconile the open arms of Flannel Board Jesus that you are taught as a child can make everything better with the same Jesus that loves you just as much as an adult, but that allows you to endure painful and unpleasant things. The stakes are higher as an adult. The pain is deeper. But the faith is so much stronger and the relationship is so much more meaningful.

You are very wise to understand the commitment takes place daily and that He really does want what's best. Wishing I had better words of comfort or answers for you.

e.brown said...

I am praying for you :) God is in control! :)

natalierochelle said...


This is so beautiful and poignant. I just love your blog entries. You have such a gift for translating a wealth of confusing emotions into wonderfully written words - and you are so brave for sharing them with us. I know the Lord will bless you for your faith - and He will bless you even more for your questioning.

I love you.

Jen S. said...

Thinking of you Kendra in your journey. You have such a beautiful way of writing, and as always, it really, really makes me think. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with all of us Kendra...I appreciate it very much. I am sending lots of hugs straight to you, and will continue to pray for YOU. You are awesome in so many ways, do not forget that :)

Andrea said...

Kendra, I know that we don't know each other but I am praying for you just the same. I have had some of the same hurts, and to a certain extent know what you are going through. I know it's hard. I know the ache and tears. I also know the same Jesus, and have experienced how He walks with us through these hard times. Praying for answers and comfort.


Lianna Knight said...

I really needed to hear that today...Help my unbelief. I too have a lot of that stored up and need to let go of it.

I am SO glad your appointment went well and I look forward to hearing your next steps and plans...with God right by your side :)

Jenna said...

Praying for you my sweet sweet friend!!

Heather said...

Kendra- I am praying for you and just loved reading this post and hearing your heart for Jesus. You are so wise and faithful and an example to many...even though I know you don't feel like it all the time. I just know in my heart that God has a plan and that it will be so, so good. I am praying with all my heart that you get no where near the "end" without your faith baby in your arms!
You are such a sweet encouragement to me. Love ya!