This is awkward.

Renee and I haven’t used any form of birth control since just before she got pregnant with Ben.

Ben will be 11 in January.  He’s our fourth kid.  We have ten now.  You do the math.

Actually, it turns out that nursing a baby is some kind of magical, slightly effective, birth control through some crazy hormonal influence happening in a woman’s body, probably because it’s just too much to ask a body to do all of that at once.  That wears off after about 6 or 8 months, though.

Ayda is now 11 months old.  Once again, you can do the math.

No, we’re not pregnant, yet.  Neither of us.  Odds are it’s only a matter of time.  We’ll let you know.

So, we decided to go this crazy route because I was worried about the side-effects of a life on birth control medication.  I also love kids, and I’m slightly unbalanced.  Obviously, Renee also loves kids, and she’s also very unbalanced.

She initially only wanted three or so of the little folks, though.  While I was contemplating side-effects, she happened to meet a woman who was living this lifestyle of no birth control.  After a few weeks, we talked ourselves into it . . . as an experiement.

The experiment is going well.  We’ve proven that married life without birth control leads to population growth.  Eureka!

We’ve had big moments of pause in this process, as you would suspect, wondering what we’ve gotten ourselves into this time.  But, so far, we keep arriving at the same place:  let’s just see what happens (as if we didn’t know).

Our deal is this:  we believe children are a blessing from God; we like God’s blessings; we don’t want God to stop giving us blessings.  We also believe only God makes babies.  Humans make love.  God makes babies.  (Actually, turns out, he made love, too.)

So, we came to the conclusion that God would stop giving us babies when he wanted us to stop having them.  We kind of agreed to take no action to prevent kids.  The requirement for action would be his.

Don’t worry.  We’re not proselytizing.  We believe this is some kind of funky personal calling.  We can’t even figure out our own lives, so we’re not taking any chances on figuring out yours.  We wouldn’t wish God’s blessings callings practical jokes shaping love on you, unless it’s him telling us to do the wishing.

Of course, though, we would wish trust upon you, and maybe shaping love comes with that.

Trusting God, it turns out, is entirely counter-intuitive to the human paradigm.

In fact, trusting God at all, with all of its requirements for faith in unseen things, intangible things, irrational things, and maybe even self-sacrificing things, just seems foolish most of the time.

So, here we are, staring deeply into our forties, and double-digit family size and wondering if God is ever going to stop blessing us in this way.  Yes, that will make you pucker.  Yes, we have lots of days that make it difficult to avoid shooting dirty-looks heavenward.

People generally don’t say so much about this nonsense to us directly anymore.  They stopped that at about six kids.  I’m pretty sure that lots of people think this kind of trust in God is foolish, though.

Back before we got really radical, people used to say stuff like, “Yes, that’s great, but God gave you a brain, and the means to stop babies from coming, and he expects you to use the brains and the means.”

Well, yes.  God gave us brains.  So we could be captains of our ships?  So we could be in control of our own lives?  So we could snub our noses at his attempts to direct us?

Okay, so we’re not looking for converts to the baby boom, but we’re definitely looking for converts to the trusting boom.

Where is God prompting you to trust him more?  Where is God calling you to let your brain be used by him and for him?  Would it be foolish to trust him with that thing?  Would people call you crazy and tell you to use your brain?

Be careful, if you give in to God’s calling to trust, it could lead to blessings beyond imagination, in conjunction with trials and tribulations that make you all he needs you to be for his sake.

Be careful.

As Renee always says, “we may wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into, but which of these kids would we want to give back?”  If we had stopped at Ben, we would be missing six of the greatest things God has ever made.

If you stop now – if you use your brain to make rational decisions that keep you in control of your own environment and destiny – what will you be missing 11 years from now?  Maybe it’s easier to answer this:  In what area/issue is God calling you to trust him now?

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17 thoughts on “foolish trust

  1. Our little Kory wouldn’t be here unless God used your story to shape our hearts after Kaden died. I was definitely not ready to be pregnant again after having a stillborn only 8 weeks prior, but I wouldn’t trade an emotionally easy life for our little Bug. So add another to that list of people that God made after Ben… sometimes not using your brain is good. Our brains can be warped by our circumstances. God, on the other hand, can mold our hearts through those same circumstances. Clay, meet potter. — b

  2. Matt – seriously . . . no

    Tracy in L.A. – I love your input in my perspective and actually wondered what reaction this post might provoke from you. You are right – this is all theoritical/experimental and many times I whip out my umbrella. On the other hand, if the one who makes the rain wants me to be wet for reasons I can’t understand, ideally, I want to want to be wet, even after I’m tired of it.

    dave powell – I love you, man, and truly appreciate your experience as something beyond me. You are brave . . . and wonderfully wild.

  3. But don’t you think that if God wanted you wet, you wouldn’t be able to find an umbrella?

    I don’t mean to take away from the mystery of God’s Will. Many things do happen and there does not seem to be a way to understand it, and we have to have faith that there is meaning to that mysterious circumstance.

    At the same time, I believe that if we are given options, that’s because there is something valuable in the choice before us. We don’t have to stand in the rain wishing to be dry and hoping that there is a reason. Because if you could choose differently, and are stubbornly resolute to denying your choices, then you are narrowing down your existence to what you hope is your destiny, as opposed to stepping forward towards What Must Be with an open mind. In other words, you may serve God passively or you may serve God with purpose – whatever works, I guess.

    But to get back to the original point, it’s when I can’t find my umbrella that I wonder if that’s the point. I’m not the sort to dream of being dry if that’s something I can achieve. And if God needs me to be wet, He’s gonna hide that umbrella from me. Sometimes you do need to be wet, no getting around that. I think there is a difference, however, with accepting that wetness happens, and that there’s value in it, and laying down in a puddle because that just might be the place God wants you to be.

    You *are* where God wants you to be, gray skies or clear. How could it be otherwise? I don’t think you can reason your way out of your destiny.
    It is what it is. All you can do is walk your path with your eyes open, and pray for clarity and peace (or whatever it is that you need).

    I’m not saying you’re not doing that.
    I’m just saying.

  4. Tracy in L.A. – Thanks for the good thoughts. You are expressing the thoughts and questions we constantly ask. We are constantly praying for clarity and peace, and as I said before, reaching for the umbrella.

    In this one area of child-bearing, we have consistently reached the conclusion that it is right for us to not take the umbrella option, believing that sometimes God allows us to find umbrellas even when we shouldn’t use them. To the point, yes, I think there is solid biblical evidence (and just life evidence) that God leaves umbrellas lying around in the downpour.

    However, we have this discussion between ourselves and God and it will continue. We may feel it is appropriate at some time in the future to invoke the umbrella, but so far, we’ve felt God compelling us onward on this path.

    The real question is whether we should be wishing to be dry. Seeking our comfort is seldom God’s direction. Thankfully he offers comfort frequently, but compels us to seek him first. We’re not wishing to be dry or wet. We’re wishing to appreciate the weather God brings, and for the strength to stand in the most productive place (no pun intended) – whether that’s under the umbrella or up to our necks in flood water – for the sake of his plan and purpose.

    I hope that I have the perception and courage to pick up an umbrella when he tells me to. However, he may not tell me to. In advance, no one would have believed Jesus actually had to go all the way to the cross to fulfill the will of God. It’s ridiculous. It’s foolishness. The foolishness of the cross. But he did it for the joy that was set before him. Of course, I don’t equate raising children to a cross, but parenting is a blessing of trials and shaping.

    Let me be really clear: I want to do what he wants me to do. Every time. All the time. I can’t sustain that, but it’s my desire. So, my focus can’t be on the weather or the availability of shelter. My focus has to be on clarity and peace, as you have concluded.

    Thanks for forcing the thoughts!

  5. I remember the first time I met your lovely wife…..in the Mother’s Room at church. I was in there with my latest bundle with a bunch of other women who had congregated with their bundles. Renee was holding someone else’s bundle when I asked if she was getting her “baby fix,” seeing that the child she had in there with her was older. She told me she loved babies & through the course of conversation, she said she had 8 (maybe 7 at that moment in time, I lost count). I remember thinking in my head, “Is this woman insane?!?” ha ha Looking back on that moment, I see the humor in it, especially now that I know Renee better. She explained to me how you were letting God plan your family….I thought that was great for you, but no way was I going through all those pregnancies on purpose! Now, I admire you guys for your decision because it’s such an outward expression of faith & trust. We each have our areas where we need to trust…..yours is childbearing….mine is finances. My neighbor’s may be some relationship or another friend’s area may be something totally different. We each have our different type of rain. Sometimes it’s a down-pour, or a mist…..or just a steady, dreary rain. I don’t want to be wet if God allows me an umbrella……but if He wants me wet, I hope that umbrella I desperately grab for breaks. In so many ways, it’s easier to not think about it & let God be in control making the decisions. Then HE can take the blame & we can just live with the consequences knowing it was His decision & not ours! ha ha It’s also much scarier. In this age of being in control of everything, I think basic faith & trust are lost. I may trust God that He is going to provide something, but what stops me from figuring out how to provide it on my own? My lack of faith….& boy, do I lack it.

    Anyway, nothing profound here. I may even decide not to submit this comment seeing as I have never commented on your blog before, but I read it on a regular basis. & I guess the new e-mail format is duable (smile)……as for children….we have four. We are so blessed. Our theme during our last pregnancy was “Four & No More!”……& now, sometimes we discuss how five might have been………ha ha.

  6. Jynelle – that’s plenty profound and the admiration is mutual: I regularly read your posts, too (see The Jacobsen Nation right up there on the blogroll).

    Living with the faith that God knows best, especially in the areas we are made most sensitive to pressure and worry, is truly scary as you said, but we’re finding that the exposure to that fear, and a trusting response to overcoming it, is a transforming process that builds and grows.

    By the way, I’m glad to hear Hatcher is doing better.

  7. *We’re wishing to appreciate the weather God brings, and for the strength to stand in the most productive place (no pun intended) – whether that’s under the umbrella or up to our necks in flood water – for the sake of his plan and purpose.*

    BUT STILL
    If you don’t eat, you’ll starve, is that not so?
    You face choices – go out and get food or pray that you’ll wake up to a fully laden table.
    Would you really just lay there thinking that if God wanted you to eat you’d wake up to that table? Or do you get up and get food? Or would you choose to starve because God gave you hunger in the first place?

    Why would you want to seek to appreciate that hunger?

    You don’t know His plan; no human does. We get glimpses – all those fortuitous happenings, all the coincidences, feeling the power of God inside yourself, those are to teach us that there is more in the cosmos than what we could ever imagine, and I don’t believe the human mind could grasp it all or understand more than a bit at a time. All you can do is take care of what you can take care of. God doesn’t give us more than we can handle (tho it certainly seems so sometimes), but I don’t think He would encourage us to take on more than we can handle just in case that’s what He might want for us (maybe there’s a verse in the Bible saying that.) You can make decisions from your intellect (vs. intuitive ones from the heart). No one has to, of course. You can just sit back and let God sort it all out for you. However, you won’t really be participating – just dealing with the consequences of giving your choices away. And I’d imagine it would be even harder to find appreciation for things you didn’t seek but let occur.

    I guess we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this. It’s cool. I’m still watching you, Dale, even if I don’t reply. Of course, today, you hit the jackpot. 😉 And I’m sure that this still doesn’t answer your question. Sorry. I have no answers that will help you, I don’t think. I appreciate what is by loving myself and doing my best. Would that be enough for you? That’s all I got, my friend. Have a good day and love to y’all. 🙂

    PS. How come you don’t capitalize references to God?

    PPS. Have you seen The Last Temptation (it’s not on your list)? Because the whole movie is a meditation on the Body vs. Spirit. It’s fascinating. But not for the kids or the faint of heart. 😉

  8. I understand the trust issue – which is sometimes hard to swallow. But I also know that we all have a different calling through Christ. He has different plans for each of us and has since the beginning of time. Some bear fruit – others do not. I will support you in that calling and expect the same from you. God has laid on your heart to follow the plans that he has for you and I am glad that you have chosen to do just that. On a different level, I am proud that you have chosen to go against the grain of society in all areas of your life and that you and Renee support each other so well through those decisions. I am aware that I could at any time bear the responsibility for your children but I would willingly and gladly accept that honor. I am proud to be an aunt of 10 (or more) beautiful nieces and nephews and would not willingly give any of them up. Love to all of you.

  9. Alisa – Thanks! I’m supporting you in your calling, too, sis!

    Tracy in L.A. – Ha! I definitely hit the jackpot on this one for you. Thanks for the thoughtful responses. BUT STILL

    First of all, it’s funny you mention being hungry. I never have a lack for anything to eat, but for the last several weeks I’ve been contemplating beginning a fast because I think God wants me to be hungry for a few days.

    Next, we don’t disagree as much as you think we do. It’s more perspective than content. You’re thoughts on the nature of God and our human limitations and abilities are great, but you hesitate to let him be Lord of everything, it seems.

    You said, “you won’t really be participating – just dealing with the consequences of giving your choices away”. I think giving my choices away is the best and most active form of participating, and the consequences are the blessings for which my heart ultimately longs.

    Keep in mind, I’m talking about the idealistic position. I can’t do this consistently and seldom do it well, but I believe that free will is overrated, and I want to make one choice, one pro-active position, to give my life to God.

    If he prepares a table for me, I want to eat. If he calls me away from the table, I want to be hungry. If he tells me to give all I have to the poor, I want to have nothing left. If he tells me not to worry about tomorrow, I want to squeeze every drop of life from today. I want to want what he wants, and I believe all of the biblical evidence points that way, and my heart points that way.

    The underlying assumption is that his way is the best way. If I want joy, doing what he wants me to do will bring it. If I want comfort, being uncomfortable for a time, for his sake, will bring it.

    Once again, that’s idealistic and I can’t do it, but with all of my heart, I think that’s the way to abundant life.

    That’s all I got my friend. Thanks again, and please don’t be silent!

    PS. I don’t think God cares if I capitalize references to HIM.
    PPS. I have not seen The Last Temptation, but I will, on your recommendation.

  10. I appreciate your post Dale! and Renee, I know how she feels in all this. Pray for me as Jay and decide what to do with our family today. Renee can fill you in on the details.

  11. Wellllllll alrighty then 🙂

    I do see that we are thinking alike, up to a point.
    It’s a big point, but close enough so that it’s not so much a disagreement as it’s a slight difference of perception.
    I really honestly don’t understand living God’s way – I get following the rules and understanding the text – but I’m not so clear on the being told what to do part. I never ask myself if what I want or need to do is what God wants, and I don’t feel like I’m missing anything by not asking Him (I like capping it). I can imagine that it’s frustrating, cuz those big stone 10 Commandment tablets are hard to find. 😉

    Lord of everything…Well, sure. But if it felt right in my soul to leave everything up to Him, then I know that’s what I would choose. I have a resistance inside myself to that path. I ask myself if it’s ego at work – control or fear issues – but it doesn’t seem to be the case. I am not greater than God, and I sure don’t know more than He does.

    I can only guess that my path isn’t heading there, tho it does seem to be leading to lessons in this subject. It’s a good thing to consider – the state and substance of spirit and character – but I can’t leave it up to God. I feel that I have to find my way with Him, not because of him, if that makes sense.

    About The Last Temptation – now of course I feel like I have to put a disclaimer about how the Catholic Church (and probably others) had a BIG problem with the movie – and I could see why – tho I do think it is one of Scorsese’s best, if you were watching it with me, I could point out the things that struck me so about it. I don’t really know if you’d actually like it or whatever. I think there is a lot of wisdom in it, and an intriguing approach – I didn’t like the book, but obviously love the movie. But I really mean it when I say it’s not for kids and maybe not for seriously religious types (I sorta wish I hadn’t mentioned it now).

    UM
    I take it back.
    Forget I suggested it.
    What if it breaks your brain? LOL! Renee would never forgive me, so nevermind about that movie, alrighty?

    Rock on ~

  12. Tracy in L.A. – You said, “But if it felt right in my soul to leave everything up to Him, then I know that’s what I would choose.”

    Sometimes choices shouldn’t be based on feelings. Sometimes choices need to be just an act of the will. Like opening a door to enter a room containing something that causes anxiety. You have to make yourself open the door because it’s the right thing to do. Afterward, the anxiety fades, the benefits arrive, and the right feelings justify the act in hindsight.

    Too late to take it back. I’ll watch the movie. Ain’t skeerd! Whom shall I fear?

  13. FEAR NOTHING!
    I hope you enjoy it, I truly do. But I don’t want you to be offended, that’s all. I don’t want feelings of offense to get in the way, obscuring what I think is so awesome. I listened to the commentary – neither the writer nor the director remarked on what I thought was so great about it, so maybe it’s all about what I brought to it, as opposed to what is right there on the surface. But to me, it was deeeeep and beautiful. So I hope that’s what you see. You can let me know, if you’re still speaking to me after the viewing. 😉
    ~ ~ ~ ~
    You know, it’s not just a feeling. As in, “I don’t feel like giving it all to God today cuz it’s Thursday” sort of thing.

    I mean, I feel it deep inside, like a fact. I am not rejecting faith; I do have plenty of it. I feel a deep open-ness to working with that Ultimate Power – to let it work thru me, to give to myself, to give to others (maybe I’ve already opened that door). But it’s not telling me to let it take responsibility from me. It is my companion, not my keeper. Do you see what I mean (without having to judge or disagree, just see)? I don’t have the Father/Child relationship with God. I have the Co-pilot relationship with that power, and I do believe that if it were meant to be otherwise, it would be. I don’t think it should be a conscious choice, weighing pros and cons, deciding HOW I’m going to love God. Because I come from the perspective of What Will Be Shall Be, I don’t have to work on my love and duty for God. It isn’t a struggle, and it’s not something that I meditate on. I have other things that I’m working on. I feel the flow of that energy all the time, and I feel that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I feel very safe believing that I am where I need to be, doing the things I’m supposed to do, without having to constantly confer and decide and pray that I’m doing the right thing. I think I already am. And when I stray from my path due to some distraction, I also feel that I’ll be guided back to it. I often feel the presence of guidance, and it took me a long time to trust it. Now I do, and I don’t have to wrestle with my spirit or question so often, as I used to.

    Thank you for the opportunity to think this idea thru. Invaluable. 🙂

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