Natasha Metzler

where the brokenness of life meets the glory of redemption

when life turns out different than what you expected
Some stories don’t turn out like we expect them to.

I’m sure Mary would agree with me. She said yes to God’s plan, despite her limited understanding. She put her hand right in His and followed the path laid down for her.

But I somehow doubt she ever expected where all it would lead her.

When my husband and I were first contacted about adopting a little unborn baby, we went right to our knees. We were Gideon with all his doubts. We weren’t strong enough, wealthy enough.

Four times I stretched out a fleece. Not just the twice that Gideon did. Four times.

Are you sure, God?

Every time He laid my fears to rest. This was His battle, His decision, His plan.

As we followed the road, prophecies and words of wisdom came. Annas and Simeons and humble shepherds full of confirmation. The verse came to me, right in the middle. “And [Mary] treasured all of these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:51)

I was writing down the promises. Filling scraps of paper that I tucked into the back of my planner. On this day God did this. On this day He did that. My heart filled. Of one thing there was no doubt: God was in it.

But things didn’t turn out the way we expected them to.

The baby came early. Too early. We traveled and visited our little Annie and touched her tiny feet, let her impossibly small fingers wrap around ours. Every day that passed with her still breathing, my fears eased. We serve a miracle-working God and I prayed His miracles into my daughter’s life. But again, things didn’t turn out the way I expected. Instead of bringing home a daughter, we said goodbye to an almost-adopted-baby.

God, what kind of miracle is this?

But even Mary– is this not the story she embraced? The glory of giving birth to the King of kings came with knifing sorrows as well.

“Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35)

Mary, whose pregnancy carried shame, who bore the pain of childbirth, who watched her son be embraced by the lost and broken– and rejected by the powerful, and eventually lay weeping at the foot of a cross as her innocent firstborn died a criminal’s death.

It wasn’t what was expected. It wasn’t the glorious, miraculous arrival of a Warrior-King who would save the Jewish nation. Instead, it was a Servant-Child who would save the world. 

Can I surrender to this God? The One who does what I don’t expect. Who isn’t ruled by my desperate longings, but is instead ruling with the knowledge of eternity. The One who is revealing the hidden places in my heart– not to crush me or break me, but to heal me up and fill the emptiness with whispers of love.

I always thought Mary was “treasuring up” the promises about her Son, but I think I was looking at those verses with limited vision. I think Mary was “treasuring up” the Emmanuel-Moments. The God-right-there-with-her moments. It wasn’t about figuring out God’s plan, it was about realizing that God was going before her, that He was her rear guard. She was surrounded on every side no matter what came her way. 

And this is my promise too.

for the Lord will go before you,
    and the God of Israel will be your rear guard. (Is. 52:12)

No matter what. God is going both behind and before me.

So when my baby dies, He is going ahead of me to prepare the way so I am not alone. And when adoptions fail, He is coming behind me and holding me in the dark hours. And when another year passes without a child in my womb, I am surrounded on all sides with His presence and love.

With the knowledge of His presence, I can rejoice in the gifts I have, even as I mourn the ones I have lost. This year, despite every impossibility, I get to hold my beautiful nine-year-old, and whisper the Christmas story to her. I can promise that no-matter what, the Emmanuel is still here.

Oh, Lord, help me teach this truth to the daughter you’ve placed in our home. Help me keep my focus on where You are– not on what I want You to do for me. 

All those little scraps of paper– with all those moments written down? They are treasures because they are proof that God is Emmanuel. Right here in this broken, lost, sinful world.

So to you who are facing the unexpected: He’s right behind you. He’s going before you.

He’s Emmanuel. The God-Who-Is-Right-There-With-You.

I promise.

 

WordSnacks: Bite-sized Devotionals for Your Hungry Moments

 

 

 

 You can find 40 of my best-loved devotionals in the new book WordSnacks: Bite-Sized Devotionals for Your Hungry Moments.  

what I learned from the Shepherds

I’ve never seen an angel (that I’m aware of, though I’ve often wondered about a few people who moved in and out of my life very swiftly—and left huge blessings in their wake). To be honest, I’m not sure what I would do if I saw one.

From Scripture it seems that perhaps they are more terrifying than we tend to think. The pretty gal with the glowing hair and fluttering wings? Not so much.

Since one of the names we are given in Scripture of the Creator is “God of Angel Armies” I would guess that an angel might look a bit more like an army general.

In the book of Luke (Luke 2:8-21) we hear about the angels who announce the Messiah’s birth to a group of shepherds. Apparently this was a surprising turn of events as the shepherds were the unlearned of the Jewish society.  Continue Reading

what I learned from Simeon

 

There have been a few times in my life when I have been given a direct rhema from the Lord.

Once was when I was a teenager, asking God what my calling was. That day He sent me a note.

Another was at Bible School, when I was seeking to further define my calling. He met me that night in a dream. One thing I had always wondered was what I would say to Jesus if I saw Him in person. That night I found that the first words from my mouth were, “Abba. Oh, my Abba.” In the dream He was on His way to the cross and when I cried over His wounds and what I knew was to come, He turned me gently toward a hillside. There in the shadow of the cross, dozens of children were playing—oblivious to the horror happening above them. “I am going to make all things new,” He told me. “You go and teach them to see.” Continue Reading

Anna

I remember the day of our seventh anniversary. I woke up, looked around and found my husband watching me. He smiled. “Has it really been seven years?”

It had. Years that flutter away with the spinning of time. Years I pray are simply the beginning of a lifetime.

Anna, daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher (a Jewish woman in the New Testament) was married for seven short years before laying her husband to rest. During a time-period when the average marrying age was fifteen, she would have become a widow about the age when I began my married life.

Only seven years. I know how short that time really is.

Translators are a bit undecided if Scripture says that she was then a widow until 84 years old or a widow for the next 84 years. (Luke 2:37 text and footnotes) Either way, she was a widow a very long time. Continue Reading

What I Want My Daughter to Know About Christmas

I want her to know it didn’t start with a baby. Nor did it start with Joseph and Mary. They are all part of the middle, but not the beginning– nor are they the end.

The world was created in perfection, with love. All was beautiful, all was good. It was a glorious place where fellowship with God was possible. (Gen. 1)

Yet, the perfection did not stay. With the ability for true fellowship came the ability for broken fellowship. When Eve believed the lie, that all was not good, that God was hiding something from her, the relationship broke.

I want her to know the whole story. Not just about the manger, but about the creation of the world and man’s fall into sin and the God who gave up the glory of heaven for brokenness and betrayal. About His gift, the greatest gift of all. Continue Reading

“Mama,” the little girl said, “should I make a list of everything I want for Christmas?”

Her mother stood still and quiet for a moment. She was carefully hanging tinsel, pulling the strands gently from the glittery pile. “I think,” she finally said to her daughter, “that you should come and sit and listen to a couple stories.”

The girl came quickly, for she loved stories of every kind, and she knew this would be a special type of story. It would be a story from when her mama was little, like her. She brought her big ball of red yarn and her crochet hook. She was making a long, long chain to wrap around the Christmas tree. Her mother continued to pull the tinsel apart, piece by piece, and tape in carefully in a dangling, sparkly row.

The two worked busily with their hands as the stories began…

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Continue Reading

prince and the servant

Once upon a time a girl was born with an extraordinary gift. As a tiny infant the gift was revealed, though it was not until she was four or five that her parents realized what a treasure it was. She was born with a beautiful voice that always sang on key, no matter what. In a land that valued song, her gift was precious indeed.

Selah grew up knowing her gift was sought after and loved by the people around her. “You will marry a prince!” they would say, and then beg her to sing for them.

She was pleasant-hearted as well as gifted, so she would sing for their harvest dances and sing at their church services and sing on the market streets when asked.

Soon word traveled around the land of the lovely girl who could sing as beautifully as a nightingale. A prince from the neighboring kingdom heard the news and decided at once to go and visit. “This girl may be just what I am looking for,” he told his parents. He took his servant, packed his things, and headed toward the land-of-the-singing-girl. Continue Reading

It was a lemon bar. Nothing of great importance. The only thing that mattered was that it was taken without permission. We have a pretty common saying in our house, “If it’s not yours, don’t touch it.” She forgot.

It’s crazy how the things I think are a big deal, often fly right over my child’s head. Then along comes this little thing, and for some reason it catches her right and she ends up heartbroken over her decisions. “I just wasn’t thinking, Mommy,” she cried into my shirt. “I just wanted it so I ate it and now Daddy won’t have one.”

I’m patting her head, trying to catch up with a simple reprimand turning into a huge ordeal, when she says the words.

“I just feel so dirty.”

I pause. My first reaction is to correct her. “That’s silly,” I want to say. “You’re not dirty, you’re beautiful and we love you more than any old lemon bar.” But something stops me. Maybe this is a whole lot deeper than the lemon bar. Maybe God is doing something. Continue Reading

the best Christian books for infertile women #alist

**disclosure: affiliate links present. For more information, read my disclosure policy.

As with any list, every book here may not be helpful to you. Many were just what I needed, some I included because while they did little for me, others have shared how greatly they were impacted by them. You will quickly find that most are faith-based and there is a reason for that. As a Christian, I believe there is a unique way to look at trials in life– and I naturally turn to others who are also looking to God for answers.

This is not a list of books that offer ways to get pregnant, but rather, ways to deal with infertility from in the middle. Continue Reading

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