Monday, March 16, 2015

I need this like I need a hole in the head . . .

. . . has a new meaning to me. It turns out I DO need a hole in the head, and that will take place on Tuesday, March 17th at 1:50. This is a journey I had no intention of beginning, much less walking for weeks. However, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

So, here I am, walking on the path I didn’t plan but God did. What to do with God in times like these? I’ve wrestled with this for weeks now. Since my diagnosis, my great aunt has died, a friend lost twins before they took their first breath, and a 12-year-old girl whom I never met but who still impacted my life with her joyful smile, strong faith, and determination lost her battle with cancer. They, and many others I know have walked a difficult journey they didn’t ask to be on. So, again I ponder . . . what to do with God in times like these?

Some believe that if you try to live a “good” life, God won’t allow bad things to happen, or He’ll at least fix them before they get too bad. The problem with this theory is that each of these people who felt the sting of death has loved and served God wholeheartedly. While none of them led perfect lives, they desired God to be honored in their lives and lived out their beliefs. I am seeking (imperfectly, of course) to do the same, yet, here I am on this journey I don’t want to take.

I am persuaded that the better plan than hoping bad things won’t happen is to be prepared for whatever comes. That means you should know what you believe BEFORE you have a need to live out the full extent of those beliefs. This journey is where I will see what I really believe. It’s one thing to say I believe in God’s sovereignty, love, and goodness. It’s another thing to walk that out on the pothole-filled roads of life. Starting with a firm foundation will steady me when the bumps come. If I believe this life is about me and is mine to live as I wish for my own pleasure, I’m not going to be very sturdy if this surgery doesn’t go smoothly or those biopsy results come back with bad news. If I believe that my life is God’s to use for His glory, I will trust that even this situation is meant for good by my sovereign, loving God . . . even if it doesn’t look good to me. (Romans 8:28-29)

So, what is my foundation? What do I believe? I believe that God created man in His image. Man rebelled against God and sin entered the world. Man was separated from God forever, but God made a way for that separation to be repaired (John 3:16). He paid the penalty that we earned by sending His Son Jesus to live the perfect life we could not live and to die in our place, that we could be reconciled to Him. Jesus willingly paid our debt and calls all who believe to confess their sinfulness and to turn from their rebellion to Him and live a life that seeks to honor God (Philippians 2:5-11). As His children, we are not promised a smooth path. In fact, He promises just the opposite. (John 16:33 and others) However, He also promises to be with us always. (Hebrews 13:5 and others)

What does this have to do with my situation? Everything! If I believe in God’s plans and purposes, I will not be deluded into thinking that my life is about my happiness. Rather it is about Him being known to those who are in need of His salvation, and it is about my growing in holiness, that I might be more like Jesus. Sometimes, He chooses to do that through prosperity, comfort, and an easy path; but often, it is through hardship. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and wrongly imprisoned (Genesis 37); David was on the hit list of the king he faithfully loved and served (1 Samuel 19-30); Paul had an ailment God didn’t heal (2 Corinthians 12:7) and was beaten, imprisoned (Acts 16 and others), and died for the sake of Jesus; and Jesus took the weight of sin that was not his to a cross where he died a brutal death (John 19, Philippians 2, and others).

They all realized that this life was not about their comfort. They knew it was about God’s story, not theirs. So, here I stand with wobbly knees, walking head-on into a stormy and dark path. I know that this story is not mine, though. It is another small chapter in God’s story. Through this trial, I hope my faith will be proven genuine as I keep my eyes on the cross of Jesus Christ and trust that this is the path He wants me on for His glory. (1 Peter 1:3-9)

My fears for my children’s future and the possibilities of what they may have to face as a result of this situation cannot trump my belief that God loves them as much as He loves me. Whatever happens, if they are truly Christ-followers, He will take care of them (John 15:12, 1 John 31-3, and others) and guide them on the path that will make His story bigger in their lives than their own story, and it will be good. (Romans 8:28-29)

So, here I go. Lord, help me to persevere in this trial and fight with everything in me to beat whatever this thing is, but help me to also live out what I believe, that “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). I have no intention of dying anytime soon, but either way, I win. Help me to remember that and to love you more deeply every day, knowing that you are good and holy and you have lavished your love on me and my family. (1 John 3:1)

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