Last evening I had a Stephen’s Ministry board supervisory meeting. During these meetings we spend the time listening to other *Stephen’s Ministers discuss their work with their care receivers and their progress. In case you are wondering, none of us know “who” the others are caring for, we are sworn to absolute confidentiality, so details are never in the equation. Last night, one of our Minister’s was relating how his care receiver believes that God has abandoned him (but he professes a strong faith) and that if God doesn’t give him what he prays for every night, this will prove that God has “left” him, so to speak. “God, if you are really there, then bring me what I want…”. In my Faith Journey, I have often challenged God with similar expectations and proof; consequently I have been reminded that I do not always know what is best for me! I should never relied on my own judgement to do what’s best for me!! LOL!! My mother reminded me on Wednesday that “God has a reason for everything.” (insert another eyeroll)
I am definitely a Type A personality. I love when someone says, “Let go and Let God” or “You need to let Jesus take the wheel.” Bologna!! How can I let Jesus take the wheel when he doesn’t know how to drive??? There were no cars back then, only donkeys. What I have come to know is that faith is a journey, not a destination. The final destination for a believer is Heaven, but in the mean time we are challenged with life’s hardest issues. Whether you are faced with medical issues, depression, mental health issues, cancer, FMD, MS, MD, HIV, Hep C, Parkinsons, Kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, or daily living issues, jobs, family, financial, you name it, every person in this world has something. Each person deals with their “something” in their own way. Believers and non believers alike struggle when life rocks us to our core. We falter in our human condition and ask for, and bargain with, omnipotent power–God or “the universe”. The journey is wracked with ups and downs and challenges for God, “Why me?”, “Now what?”, “How long do I have to endure this?” are just a few of the pity party phrases that I have asked. When someone dies the questions only get harder: “God, why did you take my loved one and not some puke in prison?”, “Why did you leave me here to suffer?”. Every single question you have or demand you make is understandable and God already knows and expects the defiance when things fly out of control and challenges come. The the days when you cry out in unbearable sorrow, the times when fear and uncertainty disable you, or depression that completely drops you to your knees give us the opportunity to reach and rise or sink and dive. For me, the promise God gives that all things work for our good helps stave off the times when I begin to listen to my own self serving ideas. The choices we make as Christians are ultimately ours. It is our free will to make the decisions we do and the road we take. The difficulty only gets worse for me when I think I can lean on my own understanding. I am such a literal person that I have to have it written out for me…God doesn’t always give me a super clear picture of the events and how they will unravel!! I make the decision and so do you. So when the bottom falls out do we turn toward the promise of God? Do we drop to our knees and pray or do we drop to our knees and rebel? The choice is an intimately personal choice that will determine the path we travel. I have tried it both ways and I can tell you that when I walk through the darkness with “Light of the World” I do much better than trying to navigate with no flashlight.
From childhood I have been terrified of the dark! My Grandfather would jump out from the hedgerow with a pantyhose over his head and chase me back to the house while he would laugh manically! It wasn’t funny! It convinced me that there was stuff in the dark that wasn’t there in the daylight! Much the same with my faith, when I chose to walk without any belief system there were all kinds of demons and scary thoughts. I was unable to process stress and grief with any hope whatsoever. When I “turned on the Light” the stress and grief were still there but the burden wasn’t mine alone to carry. My ability to rest in the fact that people way before my time were delivered from the darkness gives me the hope that I need to get out of bed in the mornings. It is hopeful to me when I recall the trials that Job faced. He had his world literally fall down around him and yet he remained faithful. Daniel found himself in the lions den and was protected. Haven’t we all been in a lion’s den at some points in our lives?? Peter, one of Jesus’ apostles denied him three times out of fear and yet came to be one of the most devout Christians of his time. He was given the courage to face the Sanhedrin and when found guilty of his Faith he demanded to be crucified upside down because he didn’t believe that he was worthy of the same glorious cross. Thomas doubted the resurrection of Jesus until he touched the wound in his side. My point is that all of these examples show that even in their doubt, where they could see no way humanly possible, they all were shown the glory of God and the promise of the risen Christ. The sin, that we as flawed humans, commit when we put God to the test is already forgiven. God knows we are not always going to believe that which we can not see, in fact it is mentioned so many times in Bible that we know it was going to happen to everyone at some point! If getting mad at God works for you then stay mad. It’s like being mad at your own children: eventually the mad wears off and you will remember love. The same way it works with God. You can be mad but you are never disconnected from the love. He knows that we are going to be tested and live to tell the tale. He knows that our demands of proof are simply thoughts and ideas that give us someone to blame when we make bad choices or bad things happen! Don’t worry, He can take it. There are many days in my life when I don’t know if I can take it, but somehow I still rise. I am humbled by the fact that I woke up from a surgery that I shouldn’t have survived. At the same time there are days that I am incredibly disappointed that I did…. It is times like that when I feel closer to God than ever but somehow still angry at times….still working on that. I don’t question the “why” so much as I question the “what is my task?” I am working on that, too.
So today, in the moment, in the right now, think about the number of times you thought that a bargain with God worked for you. If you have found that your demands were met, then power to you!! I have not been that lucky!! My girls laughed the other day because there is a person on Facebook continually talking about God “speaking” to her. My response to that was….”I am truly glad that she can hear so plainly, I really am. I must not listen hard enough!!” I don’t get the voice or distinct messages, I get God Winks. I see signs of a power much greater than anything I could ever imagine. I have seen miracles and I have walked in the darkness. I know that my life was spared up to this point for a reason. I know that I am supposed to be going through the trials that I am to ultimately strengthen my faith and to walk closer to God in my daily living and in my connection with my fellow man. I don’t like what I go through, but it doesn’t take much to look around and see that there are others struggling with difficult situations and I don’t want to trade them!! (See my blog “It is what it is”) I am glad that I was reminded of the times that I wanted to be angry with God…..ok, so maybe it lasted over a decade…but nonetheless, I am humbled by the way it has worked for my good. Take a minute to look up…. Just my random thoughts!
Stephen’s Minsters are available to anyone. If you are in need of support, someone to listen, or feeling like you need a relationship to bring you strength to endure… Message me. We can help.
*Stephen Ministry is a lay care giving ministry that supplements pastoral care. The program teaches laypersons to provide one-on-one care for individuals who request support. The confidential care-giver and care-receiver relationship, usually conducted by weekly visits, may continue for months or years.