Friday, February 26, 2010

Where is God?

Where is God? This is a question often asked by people in devestating times. The bible tells us that God is with us all the time. That would mean that in the best of circumstances and in the worst of times God is with us. When we lose loved ones or witness devestation like Haiti's earthquake, some may ask that question.

Again I have been touched by the prayers of many believers of Christ Jesus. Poetic prayers, heartfelt and tear streaming prayers, prayers of faith by many who believe that all things are possible in Christ Jesus. Truth is, all things are possible in Christ Jesus. However, sometimes God doesn't answer our prayers in ways which we can understand. At this time I am thinking of a young Mother. Her name is Colleen. Colleen had a sudden heart failure. It is told that it took seventeen minutes to revive her. She has been in a coma ever since.

For years I sang in the chroir with Colleen and many other wonderful men and women of faith. Colleen is the mother of three children and the wife of Alec her loving husband. She is a loving sister, a daughter, a friend, a part of many lives. This is now day 39 since her initial heart attack. For the last 39 days people have come together from many denominations of Christianity and have prayed for a miracle.

Over this time period, I too have prayed for a miracle for Colleen along with many other people. I believe that many of the prayers have been prayed by those with great faith. Does this mean that God did not hear all of our prayers? Absolutely not. The bible says that God knows our prayers before even a word flows from our lips. This does not paint a picture of an uncaring God in any way shape or form. God is love. God is compassionate. Anyone who has faith in Jesus Christ knows that God has a plan beyond what we can understand.

It does not matter how much faith we have in knowing God can do all things. God can certainly do a miracle. To read the bible we see proof, page after page after page. Does God always show up and do a miracle? Sometimes people die before we are ready. We will all die one day. There is a song sung by Micael W. Smith. I heard it on radio yesterday. It is called "This is Her Time". It is a song written for a young girl who died in the Collumbi mass shooting in which she lost her life. They shot her dead for confessing her faith in Christ. A sad end to her life. Yet, her life and her death was part of a plan. For family members it was a devestating loss.

Death somehow rips to the deepest part of our souls. We don't want to let go of our loved ones. It hurts too much. We miss them everyday. When I thought about Colleen and all the people praying for her, I just keep seeing faith faith faith for a miracle. I also keep reading of the reports as she is now being moved to palliative care. Thinking of it all made me feel somewhat aggrivated, perhaps a little skepticle for moment.

Then the answer hit me like a wave. It takes a lot more faith to let go; to allow God's will to be done whether we like it or not. It takes more faith to say goodbye. It takes faith to say, "Colleen you are free to go into God's loving arms and be in paradise."

Sometimes in the mist of our fear of death, it is hard to remember that for Christians death is really eternal life. The spirit and soul are immediatley transported into God's presence. We pray for Colleen and her family and ask that God's perfect will to be done while believing for a miracle. In the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. Let faith be the hope to comfort all who grieve the loss of a loved one.

Since writing this blog, Colleen Mills passed from this life on March 7, 2010. Until we meet again Colleen, we will remember you fondly. I'll sing with you again some day in that heavenly choir.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Legs of Determination

It took a month of training with the hospital chaplain, to learn hospital procedures, emergency codes and things we should or should not say that may upset the patient. Our job as a spiritual care volunteer was to visit them as to offer them support by listening, praying or comforting them. If we brought a little sunshine into their room only by smiling then we would have succeeded. Many patients on the ward that I visited were long term care patients. Some of them may have been in the hospital as long as five years. Some were bedridden; others could only get up into a wheel chair. Other patients waited for a bed to become available in another facility like a convalescent home for the elderly. Visiting every week I could get to know some of the patients quite well. They looked forward to the visit. Sometimes if you missed a visit they would even worry about why you didn’t come. Many patients are quite lonely and cherish the time that someone can give showing them a little attention, love and care. Some patients can be sad, moody, angry, or in horrific pain.

One patient I visited had both his legs amputated because of an infected sore. One leg and then it transferred to the other leg and so they amputated that leg. He was left bed ridden for two years which caused bed sores on his back. These sores caused incredible pain. All he wanted was for his sores to heal so he could go home. His wife didn’t want him back home. She didn’t want to take care of him. Ted is a smart man who also is a writer. I find it amusing how God always brings other writers into my life. I went to visit Ted for the first time. I was quite intimidated I must say. However, he didn’t bite my head off. As it turned out, Ted was quite the friendly fellow, despite how frustrated he was at his circumstance. For months I would visit with him and prayed with him a couple of times. He exchanged a few writing tips to help get me motivated to write. We developed a friendly relationship.
For someone like me it is difficult to distance myself from a person. I usually get way too attached. Some relationships are for a season. In visiting patients that is what it is like. When you go in the next week they may not be there. I’d like to write a happy ending for Ted. However, I have to leave that up to God. One day Ted left the hospital of his own free will. It did not sound like going home was the right place for him to go in his condition. For Ted, time was not standing still. Being in that hospital bed for two years with no visitors except the hospital staff and a few volunteers, he decided that was enough. He was going to live life and it was not going to be in that hospital room anymore.

Over a three month period of time, during my visits I had watched Ted exercise in his bed in an attempt to strengthen his arms so that he would be able to get himself in and out of bed and into his wheel chair without any help. I hope and pray that Ted is still doing that on his own, even better with someone who cares. Ted was a determined man and I think a courageous man. He had his legs cut out from under him and every day the sun would rise and he would rise with it. Pain and all, he tried to get back up and walk again. Doctors would not give him prosthetic legs. They said his heart could not take the strain. Ted had the courage to try and the desire to overcome his physical disability. He may not have received those legs but he can walk tall in his spirit because he is determined, brave and strong willed. His physical heart may have been weak, but he had the heart of a champion. I hope to see a new book on the shelves one day written by Ted . . .

I applaud Ted for his determination to rise above his situation. During the time that I knew Ted, I never once heard him complain or even ask God why this had happened to him. Ted accepted his challenge with the courage and strength of a champion. In this chapter I wanted to write something about Ted and relate it to some spiritual message. When I began to flip through the bible, I ended up in the book of Job. Probably because of the way I look at Ted and his circumstance. People always want answers or some explanation that would somehow defend God. God does not need defending. God is God. Knowing the depth to who God really is, seems to be something we have a difficult time understanding. In my weakness, I searched for answers in the bible that would in some way give reason to the whys of this world. Why would Ted have to live such a circumstance? Why do many suffer in so many different ways? The whys of this world are many and the answers seem few. I have come to realize that in life and in death there is a purpose only known to God the creator of all things.

The book of Job relates a story of a Godly man. God allowed such horrific things to happen to him. Even then, Job's friends and the people in Job's life looked for answers. Many pulled their own conclusions from their own wisdom or lack of. When I read through Job 39 and 40 to gain some insight as to see God's response to Job, it opened my mind to experience just a small climpse of the depth and the reality of God who is the Creator of all things. Perhaps the one verse says it best. Words of God spoken to Job in reply, "Do you still want to argue with the Almighty. You are God's critic, but do you have the answers?"

Job responds to the Lord, "I am nothing ~how could I ever find the answers? I will cover my mouth with my hand. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say."
Perhaps we need to read The Lord's Challenge to Job ~ Job 40 - God has some questions and teaching for Job. If you want Godly answers, don't look to me. Look to God and begin your conversation with God by reading Job 40. Read the entire book of Job, but first ask God to open your eyes and ears to hear what His Holy Spirit has to say to you. Through Jesus Christ the Saviour.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Praise God for Unseen Miracles

For so many years I had a reason to get up. That reason was my children. There was always noise in the house whether the children were playing or fighting over the television converter. Mum where is this? How do I do that? I was always needed, never too far away if I wasn’t needed. The roll of wife and mother, I took quite serious. It really was my job for many years. When my marriage broke up and we sold the house, my children moved out of the home. One day all the memories flashed through my mind making me smile. Next a deep sadness came over me to realize that those days are gone. It was very strange. It almost seemed that it was someone else’s life. I wasn’t ready for this to happen. It came far too soon. My children grew into adults’ right before my very eyes. My perspective on life changed when I awoke one day living in an empty house. My life had come full circle. I started my life in Keswick where I lived for twenty years. When I married we moved to Cookstown which was located on the other side of the lake. We raised our children there for twenty years. When the marriage ended, I moved back to Keswick to buy a small house that I could afford. This became my new home. The initial shock of living in an empty house was overwhelming at times. It felt like everything I had known and loved was taken away. It makes me cherish the memories I have of seeing my children get on and off the bus everyday when they went to school. The excitement on their faces and the happiness they felt to be home was priceless. Quickly asking, “Can I have a cookie?” Those are the memories that no one can take away. For the financial sacrifice of being a stay at home mother, it was surely worth it. Good or bad my children learned what I taught them. The time went by much too soon. I can’t believe it.
I heard this story spoken by my own mother when I was young. Then, I didn’t relate because my children were small. Now I see the same hands on the clock turn, just as they turned for my mother who raised six children. We are all grown up now and so are my children. Now we are on to the next stage of our lives. My mother is in her late eighties. She has thirty five grandchildren. While she seems to be aging I know I am too. It won’t be long before I am elderly. So, we watch the hands on the clock turn and the pages of our lives flip. In that process, we live life in the best way that we can. We must enjoy life and each day that it gives to us in a holy and right way. After all, this life is just a journey to something even better. There is a saying which caught my attention, so I put it on my fridge. It says, “The journey is going from who you were, to finding out who you are meant to be.” We can only imagine what amazing things God has written on the pages of our lives. Now I go out for a morning walk, talk to God and ask him for direction and maybe a little insight. We enjoy the day set before us and help others who are less fortunate along the way. It always amazes me how God answers our prayers.
One Sunday morning I felt more like staying in bed and pulling the blankets up over my head. Feeling a little empty and somewhat sad, I was thinking a lot about recent events. It is easy to feel sorry for one’s self and get into that woe is me syndrome. I managed to get up, get dressed and go to worship practice.
We were playing our instruments and preparing for the church service. A new face looked up at me from the seat in the front row. She was so intent and into the music we were playing. I thought how spiritual she must be. Her eyes looked somewhat sad. She tried to hide it with her smile. Still there was a sincere look about her that seemed to say: “The worship songs are so beautiful. God is good.” This petite and frail looking woman with her smile, silently called to me. I went over to her and introduced myself to her and welcomed her to our church. We traded a few informalities about ourselves. In that few moments we realized that we had more in common than a longing to serve God. We both were writers and she told me she was in the process of writing a book herself. I told her that I had a book published and her eyes brightened with curiosity. She asked me what the title was. I told her “When Times Stands Still”. I told her it was a non-fiction book based on many true stories relating to such topics as death, friendship and biographical chapters of my own life experiences. She asked where she could get a copy. I told her I would bring her one next week. The church service was about to begin and our conversation came to a close as time did not permit further conversation that day.
I find after church service, it can be quite hectic and many people are eager to leave and resume other activities. The weekends are always so full of things to do. When I was a stay home mother, I never understood or even thought about how precious weekends are to a person who works at a nine to five job every week. Now being in the work force, I know it all too well. The work week can leave one tired. Weekends are for catch-up - catch up on housework, laundry, yard work, bible study and in the summer stock car racing. The list can seem endless. That mad rush out of the church doors to get home breaks the short connection with God and company.
Many times throughout that following week I would think about her, wondering what happened in her life worth writing about. I felt compelled to take one of my books to church and give her one, and so I did. However she was not there that Sunday, but she was there the following Sunday. She was worshiping God, singing the songs, tears rolling down her cheeks. When our eyes made contact, we smiled an acknowledging gesture. We talked again after the service. I gave her my book. She told me a little more about herself. Her husband and she were once missionaries, she said. They had two children. Somewhere along the way they had some marital problem and they had separated. Oh, how I thought I could relate to her pain. I told her how I had been separated and had to move, my children moved out on their own and it felt like my world had fallen apart. She said to me, “It must be a very difficult time for you. I can relate to your pain.” I was somewhat moved by the empathy she responded to me. I said it felt like I died and woke up to find my entire world in pieces. With an endearing empathy, she said she understood exactly how that feels. She reminded me that my children are still alive.
Lisa went on to tell me her story. One weekend while her young daughters were visiting with their father, they were in a car accident and all three were killed. My eyes went red and welled with tears feeling the sting of her pain. My heart sank. That has always been one of my biggest fears, to lose a child by death. I don’t know how devastating that would feel. I pray to God I would never have to endure that loss. Suddenly my story didn’t seem so bad in comparison to what she has been coping with. Although I’m sure my pain was as real to me as her pain was to her, it sure gave me a different perspective. That was not the end of her story. She is still struggling through it today. Her tragedy - I say her tragedy because she is the one who lives it. Living it brought some ramifications. In her attempt to ease her pain she became addicted to hard drugs. The bumpy road she and her husband traveled on seemed to go to a dead end. Loneliness and heart break brought some anger toward God causing her to turn from all she believed and lived. While in this place of sorrow and incredible loneliness, the drugs and needles she shared brought more devastation, the Aids virus. Somewhere in that place she found herself in - a place that felt like death and darkness, she turned to God again for help. God never left her, she had left him. In spite of her pain, the anger and the sickness, she reached out to God. Hope is the miracle of the ages.

All that she had to overcome gave her the inspiration to want to help others who cope with similar experienceds by writing a book about her story. I don’t know if Lisa has finished her book yet. Sickness and addiction is a constant battle for her and often hinders her writing. Her sickness took her from our church not long after. A couple of times she went forward for a miracle healing. Only God knows when, how, or where the miracles will take place. It may be today, tomorrow or it may be in Heaven. Surely God will write the pages of her book even if she does not get it finished. Perhaps the real miracle is that above all that she endured and still endures, she overcame her anger toward God. With her weak body she praises God with all her heart, with all her mind and with all her strength. Praise God for the unseen miracles.