Saturday, August 15, 2015

when God doesn't seem faithful

Today is always such a strange day for me. Today marks 11 years since my brother was killed in Iraq.

11 years--more than a decade without being picked on by the guy who always told me it was his job to keep me humble and to teach me how to throw a punch.

Life has changed so much; I'm not even the same person I was the last time I saw him in person, 3 January 2004--my wedding day. I can't help but wonder what he would think about the person I am today, and I sure wish I could watch my kids play with their uncle.

There are moments in life that change you forever, moments that happen in a heartbeat yet affect your entire outlook. Sometimes those moments are so dramatic that it seems like the rest of the world should be changed, too. I think that's one of the hardest things to deal with--the fact that the rest of the world simply goes on. At times, it seems like it's going on without you.

There are lessons in everything in life, even though sometimes it takes years to grasp them. For a long time, I didn't want to even think about what I was learning from Michael's death quite simply because I didn't want to think about the fact that he was gone. My walls have slowly been coming down, though, and as they are chipped away I see glimpses.

The biggest lesson I'm still learning is that God is faithful even when it doesn't seem like it. That one's hard for me. If something appears one way in life, I tend to think that that's how it is. I'm a pretty literal, logical person most of the time, so I struggle with things that aren't that way.

When Michael was killed in that tank in Najaf, Iraq, I have to admit that it sure didn't seem like God was very faithful.

There's one of those acronyms that floated around church camps back in the late 90s: PUSH. Pray Until Something Happens. In a simplistic faith, we pray and keep praying until God does what we want Him to do. We prayed for
Michael's safety over there in Iraq. We're a praying bunch, so there were lots of prayers. Do you know what the  PUSH mindset tells you when your prayers aren't answered the way you want them to be? I must not have been praying hard enough or I must have been using the wrong words somehow or what's probably even more common, I must have done something wrong and God's not listening to my prayers.

I still don't have answers to all my questions. I haven't been given some divine revelation about God's purpose. A lot of the time, I'm still walking through life in the dark. The thing is, through it all God truly is faithful. He's in control even when I can't see it, and He's there even when I can't feel Him.

He is faithful...even when it doesn't seem like it.

Monday, August 10, 2015

road blocks

So...life. I have to tell you, sometimes I really don't understand it. Just when it seems things are headed one direction, a bend in the road suddenly reveals a road block.

Sometimes a road block is an attack from the enemy, something he throws in the way to keep you from accomplishing what has been planned for you. When that's the case, it's our job to keep pushing--to find some way to break past the road block and get back on the right road. In those cases, we need to fight with everything we have to move the road block out of the way.

Other times, a road block is something God puts in the road to show you that you're headed the wrong direction. When that's the case, we have to back up and figure out where we took a wrong turn so that we can get back on track. We have to stop pushing and realize that that road is being blocked for a reason.

The problems start when you can't figure out which side created the road block.


Sometimes, no matter how often you pray for guidance, God is silent. That's not something that gets preached a lot; we all want to hear that God will answer every prayer the minute we pray it in a way we'll understand. In those times when we don't get a nice, neatly worded answer, it's hard to trust. For me, that was the word for 2015: trust. I should have known that this year would require a lot of trust when that was the word that came up back in January. That's been the case each year since I started taking part in the "one word" challenge. I guess that's been God's way of preparing me for what's to come each year, because those words (faithful, follow, do not neglect your gift, and trust) have definitely foreshadowed the year.

Right now, I don't know if all the road blocks being thrown in front of me are things I'm supposed to push past or if they are things God is putting in the way to try to get me to turn around. Honestly, I don't think I would be surprised by either one. At this point, I really don't even care which it is--I would just like to find out which it is. Until then, like David I'll remind myself:

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
    a stronghold in times of trouble. 
 Those who know Your name trust in You,
    for You, Lord, have never forsaken
those who seek You.
Psalm 9:9-10