This is the last in a series of guests posts for a blog project I’ve called, “Found Wanting.” If you’ve only just arrived, I hope you’ll catch up on the stories below.
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, it was not uncommon for him to approach the sick and sin-sick with this question: “What do you want?” In John 5, he speaks with a man lying next to the healing waters of Bethesda, a man who has been an invalid for 38 years.
“When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’”
The man seizes an excuse. “I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up.”
Was it too much for this man to hope for healing?
What is too great a risk to invite the responsibility for walking again?
There can be fear in desire: fear that we will want what God will always refuse to give; fear that we will not want whatever God, in his sovereignty, chooses to give.
Ultimately, we are profoundly afraid of ceding into the hands of God our trust.
I’m grateful for those willing to share their stories of desire here. I’m neither applauding nor condemning their stories: rather, I am amplifying their desires – and reminding each of us that to be human is to want. In my book, Teach Us to Want, I write, “Desire takes shape in the particularities of our lives. We cannot excerpt desire from the anthology of our stories. Our desires say something about us – who we have been, who we are and who we are becoming. They tell a part of the story that God is telling through us, even the beautiful and complicated story of being human and becoming holy.”
To catch up on the series, read these featured stories:
Amy Chaney, “I didn’t want to be a coach’s wife.”
Beth Bruno, “I’ve wanted beauty.”
Wendy Stringer, “I didn’t want to move to suburbia.”
Steve Burks, “I’ve wanted to produce entertainment.”
Faydra Stratton, “I didn’t want a child with Fragile X.”
Brook Seekins, “I never wanted to be a missionary in Africa.”
Sarah Van Beveren, “I have always wanted to be strong.”
Holly Pennington, “I didn’t want to find out what I wanted.”
Larry Shallenberger, “I wanted to know what I wanted.”
Hannah Anderson, “I didn’t want – because I couldn’t afford to.”
Megan Hill, “I want your blessing.”
Bronwyn Lea, “I wanted a boyfriend, college scholarships, permission to sleep over at the popular kid’s house.”
Jennifer Tatum, “I’ve wanted to be a woman of faith, but . . .”
Sarah Torna Roberts, “I didn’t want to be broken.”
Suanne Camfield, “I want a bigger house.”
Courtney Reissig, “I wanted a baby.”
Cara Meredith, “I’ve wanted it all.”
Anonymous, “I want to not want marriage anymore.”
Deborah Kurtz, “I wanted a husband.”
Ben Jolliffe, “I wanted nothing.”
Charity Singleton Craig, “I wanted to get married.”
Hannah Vanderpool, “I didn’t want to stay in America.”
Dorothy Greco, “I don’t want to doubt.”
Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, “I wanted security.”
Kris Camealy, “I’ve wanted to be known.”
Today, Alisa Luciano shares her story of desire.
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I wanted to believe God was a good Father. Unfortunately, I visualized God the Father as a harsh, exacting being, ready to hurl wrath on His creation. Even a growing trust in His sovereignty throughout history made me worry what His sovereign plans might hold. I had a healthy belief in the consuming-fire-God (Hebrews 12:29). But I wanted to hear, “Be not afraid. I am your Father and you are my child” (Isaiah 43:1)
After an unexpected bout with anxiety, an abusive church situation, a dead-end job, a bad economy that led to a temporarily unemployed husband, and a nearly complete graduate degree, I found out I was having a baby. I begged God to help me understand why He had chosen to give us a child, at this time. Having a child seemed humanly insurmountable – under-employment, a one bedroom residence, five and ten year plans gone seriously awry. I knew many Hannahs, kneeling before the altar of God, weeping and praying for a child… Was I really weeping because I was being given one I didn’t want? But our Father in Heaven is the Creator of the tangible, not controlled by it.
After a turbulent existence for the next six months, I was diagnosed with mild preeclampsia at week 31. In six days, my liver became enflamed. I found myself on bed rest, delirium overhanging my head, unable to lift my phone to read incoming texts, reciting Psalm 125 in my head. I had HELLP syndrome. Suddenly, my life and the life of my baby were hovering at the gateway to the valley of the shadow of death. In God’s gracious and miraculous timing, down to exact hours and minutes, I had an emergency C-section and saw a tiny 3lb baby girl being whisked away to the NICU, breathing on her own.
The circumstances careened beyond my control. When I was unable to comprehend any future beyond the current second that ticked on the clock, there was none of ME left. Life shifted so incredibly beyond my control, that I had no choice but to hope in God’s good care. While enduring the agonizing process of bringing new life into the world, I had no choice but to trust the eternal Father, the Creator and Sustainer of life, whose steadfast love never wavers. My desire to believe the goodness of God was strong. The desire to understand Him as a gracious Father was fulfilled on a stretcher, in a brightly lit operating room, in a NICU nursery room, in the parenting realities of each day.
God gave me what I did not know I needed or wanted. A bouncing baby girl, arriving on Earth so astonishingly, that I have never worried about God’s care for her life. As I have learned how to parent, I have breathed in the perfect and complete the love of the Heavenly Father. I found this gracious care is the only treasure that can turn worry into peace, tumult into calm, nothing into everything. Possessing the love of the Heavenly Father endows strengthening freedom found within His shadow. And so, now, I can now truly pray, “Our Father who art in Heaven…your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven…” knowing He is a kind and gracious Father with a good will for my life.
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Alisa Luciano lives in Southern New England with her husband Nathan and their two daughters. She is the Director of The New England Studio of Music where she also teaches piano. When she has free time, she drags her two daughters to coffee shops and takes photographs of beauty around her. She writes about God as a loving Father and Creator at Through A Glass.