Saturday, October 9, 2010

Being Okay with God: Part II

If you haven't yet, please read "Being Okay with God: Part I" first. Part II builds on the story in Part I.

Part II
When something bad happens to us, I suppose that it’s human nature—or perhaps human frailty—that causes the kneejerk question “If God loves us so much, then how come he let’s us suffer?” Or perhaps we ask the father of all God Questions, “Why does God let bad things happen to good people?”

When it came to the news of my mother’s cancer, I was asking both questions. In my mind, I thought that if saints were taking up residence on Rocky Mountain Road (the street my parents lived on), my mother could be a founding member. She was a woman after God’s own heart, humble and disarmingly sincere. Wasn’t this enough for God? Couldn’t he let someone else have cancer? Perhaps a murderer or cheat instead? Why her? Why now? WHY ever?

My dad always told me to keep God close because you don’t want to have to go running and searching for him when something catastrophic happens. My mom always told me that God is like a patient father who sits in a rocking chair in front of the fireplace at the center of the home waiting for us, the rowdy and busy teen, to sit at his feet and stay awhile.

You’d think with powerful anecdotes like that, I would have listened to their spiritual guidance… but I didn’t. And I only know that now as I look back over my shoulder into my past of just two years ago. I guess I thought God and I were a lot tighter than we were. And it wasn’t his fault we were that way; it was mine.

I was that rowdy teen. I acknowledged there was a God, and I even read my Bible, but I was too busy coming and going to actually sit down at his feet and stay awhile. And as you know, when we don’t work at our relationships, they become tenuous and weak.

God was waiting in a rocking chair in front of the fireplace, and I was too busy. So naturally, when something really bad happened, like my mother getting cancer, I turned from a rowdy teen into an angry one. I wasn’t truly making time for God before, and now I was really pissed off at him.

To put it simply, God and I weren’t talking. Or was it, I wasn’t talking to God?

As the weeks went by, I watched in awe as other people in our church and family leaned heavily on God when they heard the news about my mother. They were talking about him and praying to him and counting on him. And me? I was just nodding my head and crying.

It’s not that I didn’t believe in God (because I did); I just didn’t think he cared about us the way we humans thought he did. My new premise was that if God could do THIS to my mother, then he’s not the God I want to know. (And now, it’s hard to even type those words. I was wrong. I was very, very wrong.)

Despite my God-boycott, something amazing happened. In spite of my lack of utter faithfulness, God still had faith in me and my family. He was steadfast even when I turned my back. He still made a miracle I wasn’t worthy of.

BUT you know who was worthy? My mother! Her unwavering faith carried us all. She never asked, “Why me, God?” She never questioned the “why” at all. She just begged that we’d believe that God was in control. That was her prayer.

In the time I now call “limbo,” which was the two months between her surgeries and the news, I was told about a book called The Shack. Everyone was talking about it. Some people thought it perverted the Christian word of God, while others loved it because it clarified God’s love for them in a new and unique way. Since I wasn’t really speaking to God, I thought why not check out this book that’s got all these tongues wagging?

Well, reading The Shack changed me. It came to me at the right time in my life and walked me through my “limbo.” I couldn’t put it down, and I read parts over and over again, as the main character of the book came face-to-face with God after his daughter was raped and murdered. I thought about all the strife we see here on Earth, and that story got me thinking…
I learned that the strife is NOT God’s doing. Strife is the fallout of a free world, and God is the solution to the fallout. The book helped me to see God in a gentler light, when all I could see was a distant, austere giant. It softened my heart. And I finally prayed for a miracle right there on my carpet, as the afternoon sun beamed through the blinds. And this time I meant it. It was my first step in many of being okay with God.

And as I closed the last pages of The Shack, and as I started to pray to God again, a change in the tide was coming…

After two evasive surgeries and a whole community’s weight in prayers, my mother was declared cancer-free. She wouldn’t need chemo. She’s wouldn’t need radiation. She would only need to live her life. Hearing the news made an ordinary day the best day of my life.

The nurses were calling it a miracle by the doctor’s hands and that her news was the best news they were able to share that day. The doctor even said God was guiding his hands. Everyone we knew felt the same way.

I doubted God, but he pulled us through. It's a simple and as complicated as that!

Now I don’t see my mother as cursed and betrayed by God. I see her as a very special story, an angel on Earth. God loved my mother so much that he brought her through this trial so that she could be good news for others.

And God loved me so much that he was about to show me YET another miracle that would close the chapter of this poignant story…

Please stop by tomorrow for PART III...

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