Saturday, June 18, 2011

What does it mean to love God?

On my way to Boise, I heard a song on the radio that made me think. When Jesus was on the cross, how much did he love me? He loved me completely, perfectly, without reservation or condition. I've heard it said that even if I were the only person, Jesus would still have gone through the crucifixion. He did what he did, just for me. That implies that as he was being whipped, tortured, beaten, and finally nailed to the cross - it was me doing that to him. I did all those things to him
In essence, I whipped him.
I tortured him.
I beat him.
I hammered in the nails.
I mocked him.
I pierced his side.

And through that whole process, he continued to love me. Never once did he stop loving me. He had reason to be mad at me, to hate me even. And yet, he loved me while I did all those things to him.

Now I don't believe that God gave me arthritis to teach me some sort of lesson. I don't think he took my voice. I think we live in a world full of disease, and I caught something.

But, even if God caused me to be sick, how can I possibly be angry with him for having done that? I killed him and he never stopped loving me. How can I do anything less?

Given all the good things God has brought into my life, how can I stop loving him just because my voice isn't audible?

The answer for me: I can't stop loving him. I can't stop trusting him. I can't stop relying on him.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Auditory Memory

As I lay awake in bed early this morning, the quiet sounds were interrupted by a loud, "Caw, caw, caw," right outside my bedroom window. You might think I'd be bothered, especially at 5:50 am. Quite the opposite is true.

That one bird, with those three vocalizations, took me back to Labor Day family camp at Fort Stevens campground, over on the Oregon coast. Every morning I'd be wakened by the same sound. At the time I thought, "Seriously? You stupid crows! Go back to your nest!!!"

But now, it just reminds me of all the fun I had. My family are not campers. Mom's idea of camping is a 50' RV, and if I could choose, I'd take that over a tent any day. Even so, camping with the church was something I looked forward to every year. Being the pastor's son, I often got special treatment, and wasn't above taking advantage of people who felt sorry for me. I rarely had to bring my own food. Each morning, after I couldn't pretend to sleep through the crows constant noise, I'd make the rounds of different camp sites, getting breakfast at each site.

My favorite was always Grampa Jess's breakfast: potatoes, eggs, bacon, cheese (possibly other ingredients), all mixed together in a breakfast casserole, straight from the cooking pot. Mmmmmmmmmmmm. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.

Mr. Crow, thanks for the reminder.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Trust

Before my last trip to my doctor in Salt Lake (the ENT who's working with my vocal chords), I had a speech planned. I was going to be firm, strong, direct, telling him why I wasn't happy with the results so far, and exactly what I wanted done. I even practiced my speech and questions during the 6 hour drive down to SLC.

Sitting in the hotel room the night before the appointment, God and I had a conversation. No, it was not an audible voice from Heaven, but it was God talking directly to me. I'm taking some literary liberties here, but this is essentially the conversation.

God, please let me be strong tomorrow. Help me remember all the things I want to say and ask. Let me not get distracted by his fancy medical talk.

Chris, do you trust me?

Of course I do God. You know that.

What do you trust me with?

Well I trust you with everything. After all, I've given you my life. I guess that kind of includes everything.

Do you trust that I brought you to this doctor? Not just any doctor, not just any ENT, but this specific doctor. Do you trust that I brought you to him for a reason?

Yes.

Then maybe you can just relax a little. He's a good doctor. I've given him the wisdom necessary to help you. Even now, I'm guiding him to provide the right treatment and the right medications.


So, I didn't give him my speech; it had become unnecessary, and it seemed to me, disrespectful.

If I trust God, which I do, I need to trust him with everything. Since I know that he's in control, I have accepted that my being sick is somehow part of his plan.
NOTE: This is not an invitation for a theological discussion on whether or not God causes bad things to happen.

I don't understand everything God understands, obviously. I can't understand what little I do know about life. So to understand how my sickness could be part of a good plan is beyond me. Even so, I'm trusting that God is in control. Many of my friends are praying for my healing, and I appreciate every prayer. I don't pray for healing myself. I am content with my situation. It's beyond my understanding, but I can be content, even in the midst of life.

If God wanted to heal me, he could/would do it instantly. Obviously he hasn't, and who am I to question why? I am trusting that all this is leading to something greater.

I am content.

Where do I Belong Now?

Visiting Wendell, going to back into the schools, is so bittersweet for me. It’s emotional overload. When I was in Wendell I was important, every day. I was needed, necessary. Every day I had hundreds of kids show me love. Kids would come running across the playground just to give me a hug. Teachers sought me out for my opinion and counsel. Administrators trusted my judgment on sensitive issues. Parents came to me seeking help for their children.

In the midst of working in an environment of daily affirmation, in a job that gave me purpose, I was uprooted.

God pulled me out of that.

Now, I’m not needed for anything. I’m not necessary.
There aren’t any kids running to give me hugs.
There aren’t any adults seeking my counsel, trusting my judgment.

I’ve become useless and I don’t understand why.

Of course my family loves me, needs me, finds me necessary. But those things are true regardless of where I live. I know that my family will always support me, no matter the circumstances. It’s the other parts of my life that have me baffled.