It is often as well a struggle, a war, a crossroads. It is an altar of laying down, a summit to climb and a pinnacle of release. It is a completely mysterious surrender of human understanding, human will & of human control.
My oil press? To fully surrender my daughter´s life to Him & His sovereign, loving plan. Any parent knows that this is our greatest sacrifice. God also holds this sacrifice as sacred.
The thought of Jesus´ night spent in that garden has taken on even greater significance since I read that Gethsemane means ¨oil press:¨ Surrendering to His will is not an easy process. It is a painful pressing out of self (my will, my understanding, my fears, my loves, my ideas of the future, my ¨rights¨...) in exchange for the pure oil He produces from the surrendered heart.
Unlike Jesus, we don´t know ¨all things.¨ But sometimes I don't think it is an advantage to know the future! And it certainly would exempt us from the need to trust God on many levels. I sense a deep, essential need for each one in our family to wrestle with this and come to a place of surrender to His love, His plan, His glory, His understanding. We need to each, in our own way, style, maturity and age, come to terms with our beliefs about God's goodness & sovereignty. Releasing our desire to understand is a very deep place. Choosing to believe in His deep love for Jenna - no matter what that looks like - is holy ground.
The two girls & I were talking the other day about desiring what God wants and Dani said ¨I don´t know if this is a sin or not but I think I must not desire God´s glory very much...I just don´t want His glory more than I want my sister alive!¨
We are human. We make human confessions like this. Even Jesus did. This is an honest part of the process, a necessary aspect of our personal oil press.
So how do we get there?
I suspect it is unique to each of us. Everyone is unique in the first place & their walk with God is subsequently unique as well. God uses particular - and sometimes uncommon! - tools in each of our lives. It cost Jesus a night of wrestling in a garden with His Father. It probably cost Him other times of wrestling before that point that went unrecorded. It cost Israel 40 years in the wilderness. It cost Jacob a physical fight and a lasting limp. It cost Abraham his son (almost). It cost Jonah 3 days of forced reflection in a smelly, big fish. It cost Mary a normal family life. The price & process of surrender has many faces, many paths, many unexpected, creative God-ways to help us get there.
This will cost me many nights in an ¨olive press¨ . I need to lay down my own human understanding of my daughter´s destiny, all the joy she gives me, what she brings to our family, the irreplaceable daughter & sister that she is, the gifts & heart that she brings to this world, the love & fun she brings to many friends, the uniqueness of Jesus that she shows to those around her, the hope she can bring to the nations, the love she could give to some man, the wonderful mother she could be, the disciples she could raise, the future she could impact...Laying all this down so that His will can be done (not even knowing what that is), stretches before me like a giant, like a battle I am unprepared for, like a sacrifice like none other...
Oh Lord, please help me walk this road! Please hold me, counsel me, shepherd me. Please let my love for You exceed all...especially my human understanding of what is best. Let my love for You exceed my love even for those most dear to me. Let me withhold nothing from you - not myself, not my daughter. Help me in this oil press of surrender...
Help each one of us in our family to come to this place...that holy place where we realize that she has always belonged to You, only to You...and has been lent to us & to this earth for the time and purposes that You ordain in Your love & beautiful plan for all of us. We hope her years on this earth will be many...¨Yet not as I will, but as You will.¨ (Mt. 26:39)
Photos by: Matthew Shugart, Marco Bernardini, Chris Pencis and Micha84.