Not My Will but Thine be Done
By Kathy Cartee
As I think of our lives, I remember that our own suffering cannot compare to that of Christís suffering. Often His will can be painful and hard to understand, yet if we allow our suffering to go through Calvary, then it will bring forth life. Every hurt, every pain, every thing in our lives that seems so unfair to us, must come to death at The Cross.
I want to share with you one of the most painful experiences of my life. As a Christian, I believed this was unfair, and I could not understand Godís purpose.
Seventeen years ago, our first grandchild came into the world. My husband and I were both in the delivery room at his birth and we thought he was the most precious gift God had ever given to us. At the time, our daughter, Sharon, was single. Our grandson, Bryan, was the result of a brief affair she had after her divorce. Sharon lived with us through the whole nine months she carried her child. During that time she rededicated her life to Christ and promised The Lord to give her child to Him all the days of his life. We dedicated Bryan to the Lord in church when he was only a few days old.
Bryan was a fussy child, and our daughter would sit up many nights rocking him. We would get up in the morning and find them both asleep in the rocking chair. Every day, as we tried to dress him, he would scream as we started to pull his shirt over his head. It was as though we were trying to kill him. Several times he quit breathing.
When that happened, we would rush to the doctorís office with him. By the time we arrived, Bryanís breathing would be fine.
When Bryan was three months old, Sharon moved out of our house to live with Eddie, a young man she had met before Bryan was born.
About three weeks after Sharon moved out, she was on her way to town when Bryan started having a seizure and stopped breathing. Sharon was in a panic and didnít know what to do, so she headed to the hospital. But once again, when they arrived Bryan seemed fine. Sharon refused to leave the hospital because she knew something was wrong. They allowed her to stay for a while to make sure his breathing was normal.
About an hour later, Sharon called us, crying and upset.
"Bryanís head has started to swell," she sobbed.
Sharon tearfully explained that they were sending him for some x-rays, so we rushed to the hospital. When the tests were completed, several doctors came to the waiting room and announced that they were taking Bryan into protective custody. They believed someone had shaken him severely and we would not even be able to see him without someone else being in the room with us.
Sharon a let out a scream that chilled me to the bone and brought doctors and nurses running from all over the emergency room. Seconds later, a doctor came and gave her a shot to calm her down.
We were all in total shock. How could this have happened? Bryan was the joy of our lives. How could anyone think we would ever hurt him?
There was no known history in our family of seizures, so we called one of his dadís relatives to inquire if there was a history of seizures in their family. The more we tried to figure out what had happened and the more questions we asked the doctors and Department of Social Services, the more convinced they were that we were just trying to find some lie to cover up what had happened to Bryan.
Our grandson had to undergo surgery to remove the fluid that was building up around his brain and during this time, several preachers came to pray for him. We knew some of them, but others we hadnít met. However, all of them proclaimed in their prayers, "This child is a prophet of the Lord."
I knew that God would work everything out, and I believed that after the court heard Sharonís testimony, they would send Bryan home again. For three days, I sat outside that courtroom, fasting and praying, pleading with the Lord to let us have Bryan back; but, in the end, the court gave him to the other grandparents, who never wanted anything to do with him. They had moved to Texas when they discovered Sharon was expecting their sonís child. They claimed that he was not the father of her baby. When Bryan became ill, his dadís grandparents called the family and told them that if they did not return and help Bryan, they would cut every one of them out of their will.
Many years of court battles followed as Sharon tried to get her son back. However he remained in the custody of his dad, although the responsibility of raising Bryan was left to his parents and grandparents.
By the time Bryan was twelve, he experienced the death of most of his dadís family. With only his great-grandmother still living, his dad was faced with the responsibility of raising Bryan himself. He moved one woman after another into their home, and Bryan was expected to call all of them "Mom." On top of that, his dad was taking and dealing drugs from home. A meth lab was discovered in the house where our grandson lived and Bryanís dad is now serving twenty-five years in prison. Bryanís great-grandmother was left with the responsibility of raising him until she too passed away.
Sharon had legal rights to visit her son, but she saw him only a few times a year on birthdays or special occasions. She was not allowed to leave their yard with him, and she was never allowed to form any lasting bond with him. This was against the court orders which allowed her to take Bryan anywhere during her visits.
When Bryanís great-grandmother passed away, Sharon was not informed of her death. When she went to visit him on his birthday that December, she discovered all three houses on their property were empty. She had no idea where they had taken her son.
Some months later we found him. His dadís twin sister had come to town and taken Bryan to live with her in Texas. As soon as we found him, his aunt moved somewhere else, and now, five years later, we do not know where he is. The court has no record of custody papers filed for Bryan. His aunt removed him from the state without informing Sharon of her intentions.
Through much prayer and pain, I had to take this to the cross and let God deal with it. I had to die to my own will and trust God that His will for Bryan is greater then anything I can see and understand. God does know how to prepare His prophets, and my trust is in His plan for Bryanís life. If you can let your pain go through the work of the cross, then you can lay down your will and trust the will of your Father in heaven.
The Holy Spirit helped me understand this through the story of Hannah and her son Samuel. As I read the story of Hannah in 1st Samuel, chapter 1, I am reminded of Sharon and her desire to give her child to the Lord as soon as he was born. Hannah also wanted a son and promised to give him to God all the days of his life. As soon as Samuel was old enough, she gave him into the care of Eli the priest.
As Hannah went up year after year to see Samuel, I wonder what she thought? Eliís sons were wicked and lived far away from the laws of God. They had no respect for God or His house, and their father, Eli had done nothing to correct their behavior. Because of their wicked ways, God cleaned His house and Eli and his sons were soon to die.
Hannah left her son, Samuel, with these people. I believe that by doing this, she was placing her trust in God.
I think I would be saying, "Hey God, I think I could do a lot better job than these wicked priests are doing."
Thatís how I felt about Bryan at times.
Like Hannah, Sharon only saw Bryan once or twice a year but she still loved him. I think of the coat, which Hannah took to Samuel each year, representing her love for him as well as a symbol of her prayers covering his life. Because of her prayers and her decision to place Samuel in the hands of God, Samuel grew up to be a mighty prophet of God, even in the midst of a wicked priesthood.
The one point that speaks to me from this story more than anything else is Hannahís trust in God Ė even though with her natural eyes she could see that Samuel was living in the center of a wicked priesthood.
We need to understand that God is in control, whether it looks like it to us or not. When we are able to let every part of our life experience the death of the cross, when we can say, "Not my will but Thy will be done," then we will experience the peace of God and realize His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways sometimes are beyond our understanding.
© Kathryn Cartee 3/23/05
Kathryn Cartee has been married 42 years, and has three children and six grandchildren. She has been walking with the Lord for 31 years and is a prison evangelist, on the board of Sacred Ministries and Debroah House Ministries Home, which helps women coming out of prison. Our prayers are with Kathryn at this time as she battles lung cancer. You may write to Kathryn through the Letters page of this magazine.