Sitting in the hospital waiting area yesterday for my pre-op blood work felt a bit surreal. There was a certain deja vu experience – thinking that I was in the exact same place just 3 months earlier. I had ample time today to consider the past year, a journey that has been anything but calm. I feel like I was entered into some sort of recon training intensive for faith. After all, if a person wants to give their arms a workout, then they concentrate on exercises that will intentionally grow their biceps, triceps and forearms. If however, one wants to exercise their faith muscle, what are the appropriate exercises? Wouldn”t the training gym for faith require spending considerable time on a treadmill of life storms? With that picture in mind, I think back over the past year with the loss of my dad, both of Sandra”s grand fathers passing away in the span of one month, her miscarriage in April, brain surgery that same month, financial obstacles, relational challenges, and more… I am motivated to stop and ask, “How do you want me to proceed, Lord?” With what attitude do I advance? What life lessons am I to make use of? As I ponder those questions, I am also processing the present turn of events – attempting to trust when I hear faint whispers of discouraging possibilities.
This evening I am up late contemplating tomorrow’s surgery. My neurosurgeon believes that it would be wise for him to surgically place two more titanium coils in the brain aneurysm, located on the artery behind my right eye. With approximately 60 days until we move to Italy (to work with Young Life), we will be busy leading this year’s 200 Chinese hosting ministry (July 18 – August 8), in addition to our second kid’s camp in Tamale, Ghana with 450 children (July 28 – August 9). Sandra will stay to work with the Chinese students, while I lead the team of 18 to Ghana. In addition, we need to have our home rented and the balance of support raised before we depart. Overwhelmed by details yet? Some days I just ask God, “How is this going to happen?”
When I sit back and consider the journey, I feel as though I am watching the part of a suspenseful movie when the writers allow the tension to mount in such a way that those viewing the film begin to wonder, “How on earth will they get out of this?” “What will be the solution in the midst of these mounting life storms?” Isn’t that precisely when God gets the most glory? When life seems to throw us situations that extend us beyond our means to control or to fix them, isn’t that the time when “only God” can come through? (The perfect catalyst to extend our faith muscle, right?) When facing an obstacle that feels like a giant, when the challenges seem too intimidating to overcome, when we fall far short of our means, when we are unable to take credit and simply get by with extensive elbow grease – that is when “only God”… Like Elijah, who stood on Mount Carmel and boldly said, “Pour some water on it!” Then he commanded those present to repeat the process until the alter of wood was absolutely drenched, confidently saying, “Now do it again and again!” It was at that point that he confidently called on God for a response, so that every single captivated witness could observe the solution firsthand, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that it came from the Living God, (1 Kings 18:33-34).
Even when we lack the faith it takes to trust completely, God still remains faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). I am not sure that I am where Elijah was to say, “Lord, let the tension mount even more – bring it”; before you strike the match, “Pour some water on it!” (Or sugar for that matter, if you are an 80’s Def Leppard fan.) I am inspired by Elijah”s unshakeable confidence on that particular day, trusting in the power of the Living God, amidst staggering opposition. When considering the storms that we have faced this past year, and our pending challenges, I would not trade the trials of this past year for an easier route. “Why,” some may wonder? If we had a smooth path this past year, we would have missed the unmistakable presence of God in our lives, coming through time and again, when nothing else could. Thank you for your love and prayers that we have experienced in a tangible manner. I am looking forward to sharing more about God’s faithfulness on the other side of this surgery! Thanks Lord, for yet another opportunity to trust you with so that we might see you at work in our lives!