Thursday, October 9, 2014

Raw Honesty

 Mark 9:24 "I do believe; help my unbelief."

This is a portion of one of my favorite scriptures. The man is requesting of Jesus to help his son. Imagine that for a moment. You want your faith to be strong but in that moment he is real, vulnerable, desperate, & most importantly, he is brutally honest. In one moment, he says he believes & then quickly contradicts that statement.

One word comes to mind for me when I read this passage. Raw. The man displays raw honesty to Jesus. Did he get criticized for a lack of faith?  Is there anything in the scriptures to show Jesus was even mildly disappointed in him? No, and Jesus delivered his son.

I believe that being honest with God, even if we are weak, angry, disillusioned- take your pick is what he desires of us. Besides, can any of us fool God? Can we hide where he can't see?

Anger has been such a part of my life for so long that while I have made strides there are times when I go back to what I know.Last week, our lives were interrupted with a Sunday, 3:31 a.m. phone call telling us Sydny, our beloved little black, chihuahua mix, had passed away after what was deemed a successful surgery. My wife, Julie, and I cried, we prayed, we sought answers, we grieved.  We still are grieving.

I had prayed so diligently over that little guy. I even anointed his little head with oil. Many others joined us in prayers. I spent a significant amount of money trying to ensure he would be with us a few more years. Just that morning he was chasing the annoying neighbor's cat off the porch. It was so hard to accept how quickly he went. We blamed ourselves. What if I would have taken him to the vet the first sign of him throwing up? Julie, was doing a side job for a friend. She blamed herself for not coming home sooner. In the end I believe there were other things going on with him that were not so evident at the time. In short, there was nothing we could have done.

It was around Day 3 that I became angry. I was angry at God for not hearing me. My wife needed me to console her. I tried but the problem is for so many years when pain comes I crawl inside of my pain and in my anger I shut the world out. It pains me to say this is who I am. As long as life is moving forward with the normal ups and downs I am pretty good. I keep my faith, my hope, but when I hurt deeply I revert back to what I know. 

It is not as if the anger fixes anything but it seems to pull me through. Lashing out at God both in loud and silent ways. The silent way was to forget morning devotion. Forget praying because my faith was spent. 

It has been both a blessing and a curse that I met Jesus on a dark road one night. He showed up unannounced & spoke. The blessing in that is that regardless of how far I ran away from him at times, I knew him to be real. There was no escaping what transpired that September night, in 1976. The curse is my life with him that began with such a powerful, supernatural moment, is I know there to be no limit to his power. So, I want him to use it more frequently.

One thing I am certain about in all this is that God is not angry at me because I was mad with him. I believe he would rather hear our raw honesty above all else. Now, he certainly wants me to break this behavior pattern and I do as well. But so far I have not been able to live the Casting Crowns song, Praise You in the Storm. 

"Praise You In This Storm"

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away 

Pain will surely come again to me. You can't protect yourself from it. I know because I have tried. I have a dug a grave for three dogs in my life and each time I feel like a part of me went down that hole with them. This was the first one in almost twenty years. My choice would be to never do it again. I made that decision when I buried Pete, my black lab mix, on Christmas Eve night, in 1994.

My hope one day in this walk is that when pain & heartache come that the first thing I will do is to praise him in the midst of it. I will press into him. I surely have a long way to go as evident by the last week.

Many of you have referenced the Rainbow Bridge, of our beloved pets crossing over. I sure hope that is the case. I can't be certain but I want to believe that Pete & Sydny are playing together, and I will see them again, this time forever.

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