A couple nights ago Sarah and I were walking out to our car to drive the 1.7 miles home from the hospital after spending some time feeding and holding Levi. I shared with Sarah that I had been holding Levi and looking at him and praying for him in that room and that, in the middle of that time, I had felt really overwhelmed with the reality that there are so many people - some who we know and some who we have never met - that are praying for our son and our family and pleading to God on our behalf. I feel amazed and encouraged and humbled and blessed and overwhelmed by all the support that we have felt on this journey. I even sometimes feel guilty (that's not really the right word, but I don't have another one to use right now) - because there are times when I know that others are praying for my son more than I am or more than I can.
As I was sharing this with Sarah, she commented to me that she didn't think that I needed to feel guilty about that and asked if I remembered the story of Moses having his arms held up during a battle that the Israelites were fighting. We talked a little more about this and I remember thinking that this was an incredible example of how I (and Sarah) don't feel that I/we can do this all on our own, but how God has faithfully provided the strength that was needed - often through the lives and prayers and service of others.
I read through this story again tonight and I wanted to share it with you here as well:
Exodus 17: 8-16 (ESV)
Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, "Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand." So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven."And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The LORD Is My Banner, saying, "A hand upon the throne of the LORD! The LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation."
There are several incredible things that stand out to me from this passage:
1) Moses' hands are not empty. He is holding "the staff of God" in his hands and the author is pointing toward the significance of Moses being the vessel or the person that God is using, but clearly reminding us that this was only being accomplished through God's presence and power.
2) Even with the staff of God in his hands, Moses couldn't do this on his own. Aaron and Hur provided support for Moses. They gave him a place to sit and held up his arms when he couldn't hold them up on his own anymore. God chooses to work through people (individuals and groups), but he seems to have clearly designed us for community, and Aaron and Hur show up as God's helpers for what He has called Moses to do - and perhaps provided the quiet, humble service that made something great possible.
3) In the chronology of the Israelites being led out from captivity in Egypt, this is the first battle that they have had to fight. They have certainly faced other challenges (Egyptians chasing after them, hunger, thirst, etc...), but this is the first time that they have had to pick up their weapons and trust God for the outcome of the battle. I find it significant to note that they (all the Israelites - including Moses, Joshua, Aaron and Hur) didn't have any experience with this. They had to trust that God's Spirit and presence would be enough for them and would equip them to make it through this new challenge. They knew they could trust God because He had already met their needs, but they hadn't been in a battle yet.
4) God told Moses to write this story down... There may have been many reasons for this, but at least one of them was for me to be able to read this story and connect it to my own life and my own situation and my own battle. Writing something down allows it to be remembered and allows it to become a permanent part of the shared experience. I'm terrible at journaling and not very good at writing letters, but I trust that if God is asking me to write this down, then God will use this blog as a reminder of His faithfulness and His mercy and His grace and His goodness and His sovereignty for me and for my family and for others.
I am done with my sermon now - actually it can't be a sermon because it has more than 3 points, so I'll have to think of something else to call it, but I'm done with whatever it is.
This seems a small and very inadequate way of expressing this, but I want to share a little bit about some of the people that have been Aaron and Hur for us over the past months:
- Sarah's mom (Darcie) has been staying with us since Levi was born. If we count the trip to Ohio she made with us and the time she stayed after that surgery as well as the past several weeks she has been here, she may not be able to claim being a full-time resident of Hibbing this year. Darcie - you have been an incredible blessing to us! You have allowed our lives to continue on in the midst of difficulty and have been a rock for Naomi in the midst of uncertainty.
- Our church has come around us in many helpful ways - both from people that we know and people that we have never met. We have had many people bring meals to our home and some good friends came to paint Levi's room and encourage us with their presence and a freezer-full of food.
- We have regularly received notes and gifts and prayers that have provided encouragement and hope and peace and again, these have come from both people that we know and people that we have never met. When I think about the number of people that are reading this blog and regularly praying for Levi, my heart overflows with thankfulness for each of you.
- We have family and friends that have called and emailed and spent time with us and prayed for and with us - they have allowed us to express our hearts safely and have given strength and encouragement and support in ways that we cannot fully explain and that deserve thanks that we cannot fully express.
- We have a Savior that has been by our side every step of the way and that has been holding our family in His hands in a way that no one else could have done.
Each of you have been Aaron and Hur for me and for Sarah and for Naomi and for Levi over the past weeks and months. In the times that we have been too tired or too emotional or too frustrated to continue fighting, our arms have been lifted up. I don't feel guilty that there are others praying with me and for me, but I do feel grateful. I don't have any sense that this story is over, but I am hopeful for how God will continue to move. If we face other challenges and obstacles in the coming days, there will be disappointment and discouragement again I am sure, but I am thankful that we are not in this alone and I am thankful that we all together can turn to God and trust Him.