Devastation or Beauty:  Where Does Your Mind Dwell?

As some of you know, my town was hit by Michael, a strong category 4 hurricane, (wind speed just 2 mph less than a category 5) in October. It’s been just over 2 months and devastation is still seen everywhere. Many businesses are still not reopened, and many of those will never reopen leaving many people jobless. Long lines and completely filled parking lots plague the few department and grocery stores that have opened. Contractors and their workers’ vehicles flood the streets so making a quick trip anywhere is no longer possible. Blue tarped roofs are seen everywhere as well as downed and broken trees, debris piles taller than the cars driving past them, and a multitude of damaged buildings. Some areas of town are still without electricity and internet. Many people who lost their homes either had to move away or are living in tents because there is no housing left. Schools have to share facilities since many schools were completely destroyed. There is not one building, one lot, or one person in our town untouched. Instead of concentrating on Christmas, many are exhausted from navigating insurance and contractor paperwork while trying to avoid the many scams that pop up in situations like this, jumping through FEMA hoops, or trying to find a job they can walk to since their cars were damaged along with their homes. Very few Christmas lights can be seen, and parents are desperately trying to seek ways to get some presents to their children. The more fortunate ones compete for the toys still available at Walmart, but many more don’t have the finances and have to stand in lines for many hours to get a chance to pick out some donated toys. Even worse, a good number of people have had to resort to begging strangers for help because they don’t have the transportation or health to even get to the toy distribution sites.

On the other hand…

After most volunteers and relief agencies have left, we are still being surprised with truck loads of toys, blankets, jackets, and other supplies arriving from people living in other towns near and far. More than a few Facebook groups have been created solely for the purpose of providing help to those who need it from insurance and contractor concerns to housing and shopping question. Quite a few people both local and distant have formed networks to ensure every legitimate need is taken care of to the best of their ability. Some people have opened their yards/land to house displaced people living in tents providing them safety, meals and hot showers. Many new friendships have been created and neighbors are watching out for each other now that fences no longer separate them. And the beauty of God’s creation can still be seen from the dazzling night sky (much clearer now since we have fewer street and commercial lights) and the breathtaking sunrises/sunsets (less trees = more view of the sky) to the delicate blooming flowers and the gorgeous beaches.

As I think about the people I’ve met and the people whose Facebook posts I’ve read, I wonder why so many are depressed and angry while many others are hopeful and encouraging. I don’t think in this case the answer can be found solely in their relationship or lack of relationship with God. It’s true that for many Christians, their faith is giving them the strength to keep moving forward. Yet I know just as many strong Christians who are depressed and hurting as non-Christians who are positive and optimistic. No, I think in this situation the answer might lie more in their heads than in their hearts. Where do their minds dwell? The devastation all around that is real and not going away any time soon? Or the beauty that is also real and not going away? Each is just as valid as the other. Yet for some reason it’s way easier to dwell in the devastation than to see past it to the beauty.

Maybe when we pray for people in devastated areas – not just here in Panama City but throughout the world – we could add a short sentence before our amen. It may not seem like much, but it might just make all the difference.

“Father, open their eyes to the beauty that is still around them.”

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Devastated pavilion surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation at St. Andrews State Park, Panama City Beach, FL, taken on 12/24/18 by Linda Schnepel

 

 

 

The Unicorn on the Ceiling Fan

She sat back in the recliner thoroughly enjoying the chance to relax in the silence of her daughter’s almost empty house.

She thought about her life the past month – the devastation to her whole town by the strong almost category 5 hurricane, the maze of insurance claims she and her husband were having to navigate, the abundance of contractors wanting them to sign away their benefits, the multitude of needs being posted each day by desperate people, the crowds and long lines at the few stores that had managed to reopen, the mountains of debris along every street, the power lines still laying on the ground in areas where linemen have not yet had a chance to work, the horrendous traffic as residents and volunteers and contractors try to get from place to another, and her growing need to be in more than one place at a time. She wanted to be at home helping her husband deal with all the decisions that had to be made and working towards restoring their home. But just as much she wanted to be here with her daughter with her new baby while her son-in-law was working out of town.

As she thought, her eyes wandered around the room, taking in the drawn shades providing privacy, the assortment of baby furniture, the black and tan dog energetically chewing on a rawhide bone, the small porcelain unicorn sitting on the ceiling fan, the beautiful new teal area rug, the…

WAIT!  Was that what she thought it was?

She looked back at the ceiling fan.

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Sure enough, there was a small unicorn sitting right up there just above the revolving blades.

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She stared up at it. What was it doing up there? Who would have put it up there? It’s so out of place it was hard to believe that it was actually there. It should be on a shelf, or on a dresser, or even on a window sill. Certainly NOT on a ceiling fan!

And then she thought how much that little unicorn was like answered prayers. We think we know where the answers should be, but many times we will find them in completely startling and unexpected places, often surprising us with God’s sense of humor.

She chuckled to herself as she thought about how amazing her God continued to be. No matter what struggles and decisions she was facing, no matter how bad things looked around her, He always managed to find a way to make her smile. And frequently in the most unlikely places – just like that unicorn on the ceiling fan!

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Bella – part 14 Are You Ready for the Truth?

Bella stared at her plate, regretting her words even as she said them. Now he would question her about them. What should she say? How much should she say? Maybe he didn’t hear her. No, she was sure they were loud enough. But would he ask her about them – or ignore them as he continued talking? She didn’t have long to wait.

“Knew what?” he asked as he bit into a slice of toast.

Stalling for time, she placed a large forkful of scrambled eggs into her mouth and began chewing slowly. Of course he would ask. Did she dare reveal her suspicions of aliens and a giant spaceship? No! She couldn’t risk having him laugh at her too. He’d think she was crazy and she’d lose any further answers about the pastor and his church. So what could she say? She didn’t want to lie, but she also didn’t want to tell the whole truth. Or did she? After all, he was the one to bring up the possibility that Pastor Toby was not human.

She swallowed the eggs, took a sip of her iced tea, then looked up at Andy.

Not knowing which direction to take, she decided to ignore his question and ask one of her own.

“What do you mean ‘for a human’?”

“Humans have weaknesses. We all have good and bad days, and we all have… less than good thoughts about other people from time to time.”

“That’s what I said,” she reminded him.

“And I’m agreeing with you.”

Exasperated, she blurted out, “But what about Pastor Toby? You said he was always good and I said that it wasn’t possible. And you said ‘for a human’. Are you saying Pastor Toby is not a human?”

Andy raised an eyebrow. “Not a human? What do you think?”

“I think this is a waste of time. No one seems to want to give me answers. Everyone just keeps talking in circles. Why is it so hard to get a simple answer to a simple question?”

“Maybe because your question isn’t simple.”

Now it was her turn to raise an eyebrow. “How is telling me who Pastor Toby is not simple?”

“Hmmm… well, maybe this will help. What if I asked you, ‘What is a rainbow?’  Simple question, yes?”

“Sure, but…”

“But is it still a simple question to answer for a 3 year old kid?” he interrupted.

She had to admit he was right.  “So a simple question to one person may not be so simple to another.”

“Exactly. It depends on what they are ready to understand. A child’s brain has not developed enough cognitively to understand rainbows. But yours has. So to you explaining what a rainbow is would be simple. But it would be pretty much impossible to explain it to a young child.”

“I get it. Do you think I’m not able to understand who Pastor Toby is? Is that why you haven’t answered that question?”

“No one knows whether you’re ready or not, except you. I can guess based on things you say, but I don’t know for sure.”

“So, do you think I’m ready?” she pushed.

He looked at her seriously for a few minutes.”I think you might be,” he said at last.

“OK. So tell me. Is Pastor Toby human or not?”

“Not,” he said, still watching her closely.

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Bella was stunned. As much as she had played with the idea that Pastor Toby might be an alien, to be told straight out like that was still a shock.

Conflicting emotions overwhelmed her. From fear and incredulous disbelief to relief that her instincts had been correct and a growing curiosity. If he wasn’t human, then what did he really look like? Humanoid? Insect-like? Or maybe some kind of energy form? Her mind was swimming with a whole new set of questions. Not able to hold them in, she began shooting them off to Andy, beginning with the most important one.

“Is he dangerous?”

“No.”

“What does he really look like?”

“No one knows.”

“Why is he here?”

“For us. Because we’re here.”

“What does he want with us?”

“To be friends.”

“Friends? Why would he come all the way here just to be friends? Surely he had plenty where he came from. Where DID he come from?”

“Well, that’s a bit harder to answer. He didn’t really come from anywhere. It’s more like he’s everywhere.”

“How can that be? Is he part of a collective consciousness or something?”

“Collective consciousness?”

“Yeah, like a hive mind. A bunch of beings all share the same mind so in a way they, as a whole, can be in many places at the same time.”

“No, nothing like that. He can read other minds, but they can’t read his so it’s not really a shared mind.”

“Does everyone else know about this?”

“No, not everyone.”’

“I mean, at the church. Does everyone there know all about him?”

“Some people know more than others, and no one knows everything there is to know about him, but sadly there are those who don’t really want to know more than the basics.”

“Such as?”

“That he’s there and he loves them. Beyond that, they don’t have much interest in learning more.”

“Why not?”

“Because, the more you learn, the closer you get to knowing him, the more he requires of you. And some people aren’t ready for that. Oh, and the enemy also comes at you harder as you grow in knowledge.”

“Enemy? There’s an enemy?”

“Yes. But don’t worry about that right now. Once you belong to Toby, you’re under his protection.”

Bella didn’t know what to say. Enemy? How dangerous was this enemy?  And what did Andy mean – belong to PastorToby? She didn’t want to belong to anyone. She had worked hard to become independent and was proud of her efforts. If she spent more time with Pastor Toby, would he make her give up her independence? Become his pet or something? And what if he decided to leave? Would he force her to go with him? Are those the plans Jude said he and his dad had for her?

Bella stood up abruptly. This was way more than she was expecting. “I’ve got to go,” she told Andy. “I’m sorry, but… I just… have to go.”

Andy stood up, too. “Bella, I know this is a lot. And it’s OK to be feeling a bit overwhelmed right now. I understand. I felt the same way when I first found out. But please don’t let it scare you away. Pastor Toby really does love you. More than you can imagine. And he only wants good for you.”

Andy pulled a card out of his pocket and handed it to her.  “When you’ve had a chance to process all this, please call me. I would love to talk more about this with you.”

Bella took the card and slid it into her pocket without looking at it. “Yeah, sure,” she said. “Thanks for…” she motioned to the half eaten food on the table, then, shaking her head, she raced towards the exit door. Good thing she had chosen a booth close to the door.

The nearby exit made a quick escape, but it also prevented her from hearing Andy’s prayer: “Father, I’m sorry. I sure messed this one up. Please be with her. Help her to understand and to feel your love for her. And bring her back to us soon. Don’t let anything I said drive her away from you.”

 

Bella stories:

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really Part 1 Part 2

Bella part 6   9  10  11 12  13

Is God Too Busy For the Little Things?

She listened as the people around her talked.

“We need to do what we can before we ask God to help,” one person said.

“Yeah, you know what they say, ‘God helps those who help themselves.'” said another.

“God’s too busy with requests from so many people for us to bother Him with little things or things we could do ourselves.” said a third, shaking his head adamantly.

And they all nodded their heads in agreement with each other.

She’d had heard similar comments most of her life. They didn’t surprise her. What did surprise her was where they were coming from. These were all Christians, all professing a personal relationship with God… yet saying He was generally too busy for them.

Were they right? She didn’t think so. She knew in her own prayer life, nothing was too small for God. And He was never too busy for her. Yet there were times He was quiet. She had thought it was to grow her faith. Or because it was something He had already told her. But now she started thinking maybe it was because He was pretty busy and hadn’t had time to answer her.

She went to the only source of truth she knew – the Bible. “OK, God, are You too busy for the small things?” she asked as she opened it.

Eph 6:18 “… pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”

Phil 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Hmmm, she thought. All occasions. All kinds of prayers. Every situation. That doesn’t sound like just the big things. God wants us praying for everything – small as well as big.

She had a new question for God. “Can You really hear us each time we pray, or are You too busy sometimes and You miss some of our prayers?”

1 Peter 3:12  “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer.”

Ps 145:18 “The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.”

Ps 33:18 “The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His unfailing love.”

So, she thought, His eyes and ears are always open to my prayers. That doesn’t sound like He misses any of them.

She had one more question. “How can You listen to so many people and still have time for our little things?”

Is 55:8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways… as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Eph 3:18-20 “…how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ… and to know this love that surpasses knowledge… able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…”

I get it, she thought. He’s not limited like we humans are. We may try to understand God as if He were human like us because that’s all we know, but He’s not human. He’s God and He is BIG! Big enough to handle every one of our prayers – no matter how small they might be!

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Sometimes Muddy Water is a Good Thing

 

Emotions churned inside her as she bowed before the Lord in prayer.

“Jesus, I don’t know what’s happening inside me. It’s such a mess. And I don’t even know why. Everything seems to be going well right now – job, family, health. So why all this turmoil?”

“Just a little cleaning up.”

She frowned, not understanding. How can cleaning up make her feel bad? She thought about it for a while. What exactly WAS she feeling? So many emotions all mixed up inside her. Pain and confusion from her teen years that still plagued her. Doubts that she was actually hearing from God and that it wasn’t just her imagination, and fear that she would lead others wrong as she began speaking out for Him.  Depression that seemed to cling to her no matter how hard she tried to fight it.  Very low self-esteem, more like no self-esteem.  The list seemed endless. She struggled to put a name to it.

“Muddy water.”

Muddy water?

She thought of her small garden pond. She enjoyed going outside to sit by it each day and watch the fish swim around. The pond looked beautiful – clear shiny water with green flowering plants growing in and around it. From time to time she would add a little water to compensate for the water that had evaporated.

She remembered a time she had not gone outside to the pond for several weeks. When she had finally made it there, she had been dismayed to find the water level to be as low IMG_20180510_000206722as it was. So she had taken the hose and watched as the water refilled the pond. Almost immediately the clear water had gotten cloudy as the running water churned up the dirt that had settled at the bottom.  Within minutes she could see leaves and pine straw swirling around in the very muddy water. Yuck. She decided to keep the water flowing and as the water flowed over the top, it had taken the mud, leaves and pine straw with it until all that had remained was clear clean water. Her pond was beautiful again, only this time it wasn’t hiding a bunch of dirt and debris at the bottom.

She made the connection. She might look good on the outside, but deep inside her heart,  a lot of dirt and debris had settled over time. Jesus had turned on the hose in her heart, filling her to overflowing with living water!

Amazed at the way He helped her understand, she thanked Him for the work He was doing. It might not look so good at the moment, she thought, but when He gets done, my heart will be clean and clear and truly beautiful!

When Bad Luck Is Not Luck

She prayed, “Lord, even though I’ve been walking with you for years now, I feel so spiritually immature. Can You help me mature a little bit more?”

Not hearing anything, she went to sleep.

The next day, everything went fine at work and she forgot about her prayer.  But after work was a different story.

Stopping at Walmart, she couldn’t find most of the things on her list. It was made even worse because she had her two kids with her and they fought the entire time. Trying to rush, she grabbed what few things she could find and got in line to check out. It turned out the only line not moving was the hers. “Just my luck,” she thought angrily.

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Finally getting home, she started dinner. Preparing muffins, she broke an egg only to have it squirt out all over her shirt. She managed to break the second egg into the muffin mix and put the mix in the oven, then went to change her shirt. When she got back, she found the muffins didn’t rise.  More bad luck, she thought.

Frustrated, she took the kids to Pizza Hut, only to find that Pizza Hut wouldn’t honor the coupon she had. Of course they wouldn’t, she thought. Not with the luck I’m having today.

By the time she got back home and put the kids to bed she was so stressed and tired that all she could do was hide in her room and cry.

But then she remembered that God had said to come to Him when she was weary. And she had read that praising Him in the midst of trials was important. So she tried it. After some time, she began to feel better. Although still tired, the stress had left her. She picked up her Bible to read a little before bed and opened to James 1:2-4.  ...trials produce perseverance and perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature.

The words struck deep into her heart as she remembered her prayer from the night before. All that bad luck wasn’t luck after all. Amazingly, she had even asked for it.

“Lord,” she prayed with a smile. “Thank You for answering my prayer. I know it’s not over yet, and it’s definitely not the way I would have handled it, but I trust You know best. And thank You for being kind enough to wait until AFTER work to answer it!”

And when she fell asleep, she was still smiling.

Could Satan Really Do That?

“I need you. Come right over. Now!”

She hung up the phone, trembling as she looked over at the little boy standing in front of her. He seemed calmer than she felt even though he was the one who was hurt. She held his arm over his head as she waited for her friend to arrive. How could this have happened? One minute the eight year old had been running around the yard and climbing everything he could. The next, he had been dangling by one arm from an abandoned swing set frame. When she got him down, she saw that, as he had gripped the top of the frame with his upper arm to keep from falling, a large screw she didn’t know was up there had ripped a deep slash into his armpit. She could see layers of skin and tissue and other things she couldn’t identify and was surprised that there was very little blood.

The next few hours were spent trying to reach his foster mother, and praying in the clinic’s waiting room as doctors and nurses worked on his underarm.

Struggling with guilt, she tried to figure out why he had gotten hurt in the first place. In the two years she had been babysitting kids in her home, no one had ever gotten hurt. She took good care of them. She never left them unsupervised. She removed anything she thought could cause injury. And she maintained order and discipline, not allowing any wild or crazy behavior.

And yet, in the past month or so three boys had gotten hurt in seemingly random bizarre ways.

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Not finding any physical explanations for the sudden injuries, she looked to the spiritual. Did her recent spiritual growth have anything to do with the physical things happening around her? She knew the Bible said that Satan went around like a lion looking for who he could devour. She knew he would try to attack her to keep her faith from getting any stronger, but her kids? Would Satan really do that? Could he do that? Kids getting hurt was not acceptable.

 

“God,” she prayed. “Is it Satan? Does he have the authority and power to hurt people around me because of my spiritual activity?”

“What happened to Job?” she seemed to hear Him say.

“Satan was allowed to harm him in order to test his faith.”

“Did Satan harm anyone else?”

“Well, yes. His family was killed. Wow. I guess Satan CAN attack others because of me. But I don’t like it.”

“Job didn’t either. What did Job do about it?”

“Complain. Feel sorry for himself.”

“Did he lose faith?”

“No, I don’t think he did. He questioned a lot though.”

“Just like you’re doing?”

“Good point.”

What happened at the end?”

“You restored him. He was better off.”

“Why?”

“Hmmm… I guess because You were with him? And You have ultimate control?”

“Yes. Just as I do in all this. The boys are not permanently harmed. You did nothing wrong and the families don’t blame you. The question remains, what are you going to do? Back off spiritually to keep Satan from attacking again?”

“Nnnoooo… I don’t think that would be right. I shouldn’t let Satan control me like that. I guess I will keep working on growing my faith – but I AM going to get more serious about praying for the kids. And learn more about spiritual warfare.”

She did, and for the next two years that she babysat, no one else got hurt.

So what’s amazing about story?

Maybe how much the spiritual realm can manifest in the physical?

Maybe how answers for even something like this can be found in the Bible?

Maybe that Satan is real and constantly seeks to cause harm to God’s people in whatever ways he can, including physically?

Maybe that life – even spiritual life – is not always fair?

I don’t know. What do you think?

Getting Closer

Previously:

You Want to Be a What?

Wrestling with God (continued from You Want to be a What?)

Caught in the Middle, a Continuation

Under Pressure

and now… Getting Closer

Something was definitely wrong, she thought. He’s acting really strange tonight. Even stranger than he had the last few weeks, after she had heard from God to give him time. And she had. But now he was acting cold and distant.

True, he had traveled the hour to visit the local prayer meeting she had started attending. And he had been his normal endearing self to the others who were there. But when it was time to leave, he had said goodbye to her abruptly and without much feeling.

Now she was getting ready for bed and wondering what went wrong. Did she hear from God wrong and this was all normal as he prepared to leave? Was their relationship over?

“God,” she cried. “I know I gave him to you. But You also said he wasn’t going to be a priest. I have no idea what’s going on. And it hurts. Take care of him whatever’s happening.”

Just then there was a knock on her door. She glanced at the clock. 10 PM. Who would be IMG_20180421_203931566coming to her house at this time of night? Scared to open the door, she tried to peek out the window. There weren’t many lights, but she managed to see the car parked in the driveway behind her car. Could it be? It looked like his car! What could he be doing here? It had been an hour since he left and she was already in her PJs. She couldn’t let him see her like this!

“Hello?” she heard him call. “It’s me. Let me in.”

Dreading what he might have come to tell her – sure he was breaking up with her – she let him in.

“Why are you here? I’m already dressed for bed,” she protested.

“You look beautiful to me any way you dress,” he answered with a smile.

They sat in the den and he told her that as he was on his way home, he had begun thinking about the evening and didn’t like how it ended. So he had decided to come back to talk with her about it.

 

So she took a deep breath and prepared herself to be let down, certain he would explain how their relationship had to end.

“I’ve been thinking about this a long time,” he said. “I don’t really know how to say it.”

Here it comes, she thought, looking down at her lap.

“I love you.”

What? She was definitely not expecting that. She looked up into his face.

He was smiling but there was fear? uncertainty? along with the smile.

“I love you,” he said again. “I know the seminary is something we need to deal with, but for right now I want you to know that I love you.”

Unable to speak, she just stared at him.

“I don’t really know how you feel about this. I was afraid to tell you.”

She smiled. But then the smile froze on her face as fear rose up inside her. Now that she was faced with the moment she had waited so long for, she didn’t know what to say. Did she love him? Did she really love him – or was she just imagining her feelings all these months, building them up into something they weren’t? She felt so broken inside, could she love him or anyone? Was she even capable of love?

“I don’t know if I can love you. I don’t know if I can love anyone.” she finally said.

Her response was not what he expected, but he accepted it, as he had accepted her from the beginning. They talked for hours about her fears and feelings, about his fears and feelings, and about their possible future together. Then they prayed. “God, we don’t know where this is going. But we thank you for the opportunity we had tonight to really share our hearts with each other. We place this relationship in Your hands. And we trust that You will continue to guide us. ”

And He did. For the next six months as seminary loomed closer (those struggles are a whole ‘nother story), for the following four years of their courtship, and for the next 33 years and counting of their marriage – His amazing love was with them every step of the way.

The end. Or the beginning depending on how you look at it. 🙂

Caught in the Middle, a Continuation

A continuation of You Want to Be a What? and Wrestling with God (continued from You Want to be a What?)

They went on vacation with her family. A three week long vacation entailing well over 2,000 miles. Lots of miles with little to do than drive and talk. And sleep if you weren’t the one driving. Visiting relatives on both sides, answering questions… surely during this time God will make His plans clear for us, she thought. At least clarify things.

But she was wrong.

It just brought them closer. And yet, he kept talking about seminary.

So she came back from the trip just as confused as when she left.

She called on God again.IMG_20180420_123724358

“Lord, we need to talk again,” she said.

“What do you want to know?”

“I want to know about him.

“I already told you that.”

“When will he know?”

“When it’s time.”

“Why do you speak in riddles? Why aren’t you more informative?”

“It’s better this way.”

Exasperated, she gave up and they changed the subject.

 

The next time she drove to his house, she asked him about their relationship.

“You help me a lot,” he said. “Like a soothing ointment on my pain.”

“You mean the pain after your previous girlfriend left you?”

“Yes, that pain.”

That made her feel good. But then she thought what will happen when he doesn’t need me anymore?

So she asked him. “Is that all?’

“Well, our relationship is completely different than any I’ve ever had before. It’s lively and refreshing and perfect.”

“But you’re still going to be a priest?”

“I don’t know. I think so. I’m going to spend some time at a seminary next month. I should know after that.”

God had told her to relax and enjoy her time with him. But how could she with this hanging over their heads – her head? She felt like something was going on and she was caught in the middle. He says he probably will be a priest, God says he’s not going to be a priest. Who should she believe? What she could see? Or what she couldn’t see? If only her emotions weren’t so caught up in this dilemma.

to be continued, again…

Wrestling with God (continued from You Want to be a What?)

IMG_20180420_033725515(If you haven’t read  You Want to Be a What?, you may want to read that first to provide the context for this dialogue.)

God, we need to talk.

I’m listening.

Did You send my friend over here today on purpose?

Maybe.

Is she right? That I need to release him to You before You can work in our lives?

Hmmm…

Does that mean You’re planning something for both of us? Or is this just for him?

What do you mean?

If you take him to serve You, You have a plan for him.

Of course.

Then what about me? I’m involved too.

Yes, you are.

I need You as much as he does.

Yes, you do.

I want Your perfect will for me as much as he does for him.

That’s nice to hear. But what are you really saying?

I don’t want to be left behind.

Ah.

And I’m upset. You told me it was OK to go out with him. To talk to him. To let my feelings grow.

Yes, I remember that.

So why? Why tell me that just to take him from me?

(silence)

Did you plan this to show me I can love again? If so, You could have shown me that when You gave me someone to keep.

(silence)

Did you call him away to show me how much I love him? If so, You could have let me discover that on my own.

(silence)

If this is to show him something, then that’s even worse because that’s using me. Downgrading me, like I’m not important. You love me and promised to take care of me. You can’t just use me like that.

(silence)

If You’re doing this to push him in a different direction, then I want some definite guidance, too.

(silence)

If You’re going to split us up, then I want a reason. It makes no sense to put us together, encourage us grow close, just to separate us. That’s mean, and You’re not mean so I can’t believe that’s what You are doing.

Whew. I was worried there for a minute.

Why are You doing this?

Trust

Trust?

Do you trust Me? You’ve been saying you do. Do you really?

(pause)

Well?

I’m thinking about it.

I’ll give you a moment.

Trust is hard but I believe You love us and want what’s best for us. So yes, I trust You.

Here’s another question: Do you really want My perfect will?

Definitely. You’ve already shown me many times that Your will is better than mine.

One more question. Will you really give Me everything?

I’ve already given You everything.

Everything?

OK, not everything. Not him. You want him? He’s Yours.

Good.

Wait! Don’t take him just because I’m giving him to You.

(laughter)

Lord, here’s the bottom line. I will accept whatever You want for me – for us – with one condition: that I know it’s Your will. I don’t have to have a reason. I just need to know that it’s Your will and not our misguided decisions.

Are you finished? Is it My turn to talk?

Yes, Lord.

I love you and want what’s best for you, just as I love him and want what’s best for him. Trust Me. Keep going out with him. He’s OK. It’s OK. You’re in my will.

Soooo… do You want him to be a priest?

No.

Then what in the world is this all about? What do You want me to do?

Continue what you are doing. Listen to Me. Relax. I know what’s going on and I’m in control. I will take care of you. I’m on your side. Will you trust Me?

to be continued