My wife, Kathleen, is about to turn 60.
In about 4 months, Lord willing, I will do the same.
The last 12-month stretch of the road to 60 has been, as most of my readers know, a rough one. Next month, October 22nd, will mark one year since Kathleen was diagnosed with breast cancer. The following days, weeks and months were quite intense.
Test after test.
Chemo, which seemed to damn near kill her.
The human mind always tries to make sense of things. That’s just part of what it’s supposed to do. But sometimes, there is no making sense of things. Others try to help you figure it all out with well-meaning but all too often meaningless platitudes.
“Just trust in the Lord.”
“It’s all part of God’s plan.”
If you’re lucky, you’ll avoid hearing anything like “You need more faith,” or “God’s trying to teach you something.”
I may have glanced at it briefly, but I never really went down the path of “Why, God?”
I’m not belittling those who go there. It’s a natural place to go. It’s just that in my journey, I’ve learned that’s usually a fruitless endeavor.
People, especially Christians (especially Western Christians) too often seem to think God owes them an easy life. When trouble hits their world they start questioning God’s “goodness,” or even if there be a “god.” What many of us, in our comfy little lives, apparently fail to realize is that trouble is always hitting someone’s world.
Someone’s father is dying.
Someone’s sister is going through a divorce.
Someone’s little boy is being kidnapped or murdered.
“Their” bombs are killing our families.
“Our” bombs are killing their innocent children.
The world can be, as those famous prophets “The Temptations” have said, a “Ball of Confusion.”
But, God is still good while all this is going on…
Until it’s “me.”
Until it’s my family.
Then it’s suddenly “Where is God?!?!?”
The thing is, “The rain falls on everyone.”
That’s religious language for “shit happens.”
Through it all, as one who does still believe in God, I have hope. I have faith. (Not that those who don’t believe as I do can’t have hope and faith.)
BUT, it’s a very different hope and faith than I was raised with, or than I adhered to in the past. It is not a hope or faith that requires life or God to be or act in a certain, narrowly defined pattern. The Divine (by whatever name) is not obligated to me because I quote some magical incantation from the writings of Saint Paul in the Bible. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped praying. If anything, I pray more.
I believe Jesus clearly taught, and came to show, that what he referred to then (because of the culture he was born into) as the “kingdom of God” is here and now. Being in that kingdom is a way of life. It’s learning to truly be one with God’s good world, rather than planning an escape from it. In this understanding, many Christians have been “left behind.”
How does that relate to pain and suffering? Well, I’m not sure I know. But I do know that even in my deepest dissatisfaction (and I’m one of those who is dissatisfied a great deal of the time) I retain some sense of, well, I guess I’d call it “ultimate peace.” That peace that I can’t understand or explain. A peace that’s there even when it’s not. Yeah. That makes no sense. That’s the point.
So, the fact that my wife’s turning 60 this month is a pretty big deal.
Making it to 60, alone, seems to be an accomplishment. Let alone being a cancer survivor.
She’s seen lots of pain in 60 years. Some of which I have been the direct cause.
But I know she’s had lots of joy and laughter in her life.
Some of which I believe I have also been the direct cause. 🙂
Next month will be a milestone. We will discover if her system is currently cancer free.
(Yes, your prayers, thoughts and positive energy are requested.)
The road to 60 (or, at this point, almost 60) has taken us to some strange, horrible,
wonderful, awesome unimagined places.
For 35+ years, we’ve went most of those places together.
Whether in this realm or another; in body or spirit, or in some way I’m not yet aware, I’m
looking forward to the next 60 years I spend with Kathleen.
In my faith, in my hope, in my prayers we will be one forever.
[Photo taken June 19, 2014 while joyfully attending
the wedding of Jean Capler and her wife, Jenny Austin.]
The Road To 60 September 13, 2014
Prayer August 28, 2011
[Here’s some funny/sad material from Frank Schaeffer.
I can relate to these forms of what mistakenly
passes for “prayer”.]
[My parents] would launch into a prayer that was earnest and full of theological content. The excuse for the prayer, for instance the information that someone was ill, would get briefly mentioned. Then a lot of solid theology would also be mixed in. It was clear they were praying at the person with them, not to God.
The prayers were often a not-so-subtle vehicle for sermons. Praying out loud was also a way of advancing one’s case, the advantage being that no one dared interrupt you or argue back.
Prayer was [also] a way to remind God no to let his attention wander or forget that we, and we only, really understood what he was suppose to be doing. So we prayed at him, too. Reading between the lines [you get this:]
“Dear Heavenly Father, in Your Word You say that when two or three are gathered together, You will be in the midst of them. Well, we’re gathered here, so do what we’re telling You to do because we have You over a barred and can quote Your own book back at you! We claim Your promises, and because You can’t break any of those since You wrote it all in the Bible, You’ll do what we say, and You’ll do it NOW! Amen!”
Theologically speaking, we believed in an absolutely powerful omnipotent and sovereign Lord. But in practice, our God had to be begged and encouraged to carry out the simplest tasks.
We lacked the faith to pray effectively and make God do stuff. So we prayed for the faith to make God give us faith to make him do stuff. But getting enough faith was the biggest problem, so we prayed for the faith we needed to pray for faith. But how much faith did it take to pray to have enough faith to pray for faith? And if God knew you wanted faith, why didn’t he just give it to you?
It was like spending all your time calling directory information for phone numbers that you aren’t allowed to call unless you can guess the number right without asking.
— Frank Schaeffer [from “Crazy For God“]
Encouraged By The Victories June 10, 2009
We know we must do what God has called us to do, whether or not we see the results. Nevertheless, it is good from time to time to be encouraged by the victories. In that vein, I just wanted to share some excerpts from a letter my wife received for a former counselee of ours.
We cannot thank you enough for the continued prayers for (our child)…we continue to hold on to the promises of God that He WILL continue to intercede and help us… In spite of some major ‘storms’ we’re going thru we have had GREAT encouragement… God is AMAZING…
We think of you and Dave often and continue to lift you both as well as your ministry in our prayers –there is such a HUGE need for your ministry and we hope you will continue to grow the ministry and find the blessings poured out upon you above and beyond anything you can ask or imagine!!!!
Have a blessed day and thanks so much for your thoughts and prayers!!!!!
Why Waste My Time?!?! June 7, 2009
I was talking to the Lord about my recent job-search. I was complaining (as I so often do) and asking why I have to waste my time putting in applications at places He knows are not going to hire me. Why waste my time, gas, and money going around town looking, when He already knows the outcome?
Following is His answer to me.
“Life is in the living of it. As you are living in Me, nothing is wasted. Every moment, every experience, every so-called “waste of time” is a part of the life you’re living. It is all profitable, or at least can be. Highs & lows, victories & failures, coming in & going out, when you see great things happening, and when it all seems dull and dead; it’s all a part of your life. Since I have redeemed your life, it can all bring you deeper into me.”
Lord, help me to trust in the flow of your Holy Spirit in me. I rest in You, knowing that apart from You, I can do nothing.