Therefore, my brother, who would learn to abide in Jesus, take time each day, ere you read, and while you read, and after you read, to put yourself into living contact with the living Jesus, to yield yourself distinctly and consciously to His blessed influence; so will you give Him the opportunity of taking hold of you, of drawing you up and keeping you safe in His almighty life. —Andrew Murray in Abide in Christ
As I strive to learn more about what it looks like to truly abide in Jesus, I find myself drawn to others who are doing it well. The hard beauty that God brings about from tragedy or difficulty in the lives of His followers is astonishing, and though sometimes it’s easier to look away, there is always blessing in the pressing in.
Just before Christmas, my husband shared the instagram account of an East Nashville photographer with me. I love a good rabbit hole to dive into, so I ended up on Eric Brown’s website and blog, aptly titled Disproportionate Joy. There you will find the story of this family and especially of their daughter, Pearl. Pearl was born with Holoprosencephaly (HPE) three and a half years ago.
The Browns found out about Pearl’s diagnosis at her 20 week ultrasound, and soon after that they were encouraged to terminate the pregnancy. Obviously, they chose life for Pearl, not knowing if that life would be moments or days or weeks. Each Friday they celebrated another week with Pearl by having Cupcake Friday. They recently celebrated week 180.
Eric’s instagram account does not hide the difficulties they endure and he does not mince words, and his truth-telling + his joy-in-the-Lord sharing has had a profound effect on me these last weeks. This man and his family know fully what it is to abide in the Lord and his sharing their story is a gift to the rest of us.
See for yourself, in Eric Brown’s words and photos, what their abiding looks like and you will find yourself encouraged:
“Life is hard for Pearl, but her Maker gives her all that she needs. He is with her, and she belongs to him. He is the Good Shepherd and he looks after her. He opens her eyes when he is ready for her to wake up, and he gives her body rest when he is ready for her to sleep. He makes her to lie down in green pastures and he leads her beside still waters. Pearl is his. He will sustain her long enough to glorify him in living until he is ready for her to glorify him in dying… and she will be with him forever. Those decisions have never been up to us and never will be.”
“So there you go. Life is hard. And beautiful. And filled with awe. And wonder. And suffering. And peace. God is sovereign over all of my family and there is not one particle of dust on our living room fan that he isn’t in control over. He is the Good Shepherd, and we trust him. He is here with us, and sometimes he ordains that we suffer, all the while knowing that it is for our good and his glory. If he didn’t spare his only Son from suffering, but rather ordained it, why would he spare us from all suffering? I’ve got to be honest… I read ahead and I already know how the story ends. Jaws are going to hit the floor. Actually, knees will hit the floor as well. All of this suffering, which is true suffering, seems quite temporal in light of what’s to come, and what’s already here.”
And at the new year, he wrote this on instagram:
“Another year of dancing in the minefields with Ruth and taking disproportionate amounts of joy in this beautiful stretch of life we’ve been given. Overwhelmed on all fronts by the heavy and the light, the internal and external, yet overjoyed by the change God is working in me. Above all, this year I’ve learned that I do not need to know “what” he is doing, but only to remember “that” he is doing. I need not worry. This is the year I surrendered.”
And those words, that I do not need to know “what” he is doing, but only to remember “that” he is doing, has been running through my mind on repeat ever since I first read them. What a beautiful reminder that His ways are higher and better.
Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases. —Psalm 115:3 ESV
And so I am grateful for the life of Pearl Joy Brown, though I have never met her. I am grateful for the openness of her parents – that they share their story and their faith and their abiding – to encourage and give witness to the ways of the Lord.
And I think of Pearl and have greater trust *that* He is doing beautiful things all around us.