Hidden in the Shadow(s)


Deuteronomy 11:19 New International Version (NIV)

19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

There are many times in our lives, where God teaches us something about Himself that is profound yet very simple.  It is in these profoundly simplistic moments, that God them turns to us and tells us to teach our children about these lessons.  Today, I received one of those lessons and am passing this along to you (as well as my children).

One of the hardest things we can do as human beings is give our love, our life to our pets.  Why would this be considered hard?  Well, we see this helpless creature looking at us with big eyes and unconditional love.  Our hearts are moved by this and we adopt them.  Over time, we learn that this pet needs to be trained.  Many sleep nights are spent comforting this new addition, giving them the love, attention and discipline they need to become productive members of our family.  They learn the necessity of either using a wee-wee pad, litter box or the outdoors for their bathroom needs.  They learn to share their toys and play in a way that is beneficial to both human and pet alike.

As time goes on, we experience the joy and frustration of helping an animal who can’t communicate the way we do.  We guess and what the animal may be asking for.  We discipline them when they do something like bit or scratch the furniture.  We care for them, we love them and in return, they love us with an unconditional love.

However, in the last days of their lives, we also have to make that most hideous call…whether to allow them to pass on or not.  This decision is never an easy one.  The pet has become a member of the family.  They have experienced joy and happiness, sickness and health and yet, they continue to love you all the more and in return, you love them all the more.

Today, I had to make that hard decision.  But I also get to share with you the joys and lessons learned from my first cat, Shadow.

About a decade ago, my wife was putting out the garbage.  She opened the garbage can and out jumped this black cat.  Although my wife learned she was allergic to cats, she felt compassion on her and wanted to do something.  She got bread, made some small wads of bread balls and tossed them to her.

When I came home, I learned about this but was very hesitant as I was taught, “once you begin feeding the cat, they keep coming back.”  Instead of forgetting she was there, we decided to pursue her.  Shadow didn’t want to come near to us.  She hid in the shadows of the bushes.  This was why we called her Shadow.  She was scared.  She didn’t know who she could trust.  She had no intentions on pursuing a relationship with us.  But we had intentions on having a relationship with her.  We chose her to be our first pet.  And because we chose her, we pursued that relationship with her.  Which leads me to my first lesson from God….  We didn’t pursue or choose God.  It was God who chose and pursued us.

Just as we decided to pursue her, God decided to pursue us first.  In Ephesians 1 we read, “…He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.”  In Luke, Jesus tells a parable about a lost sheep and how the shepherd goes out to look for it.  In John, Jesus then claims, “I am the good shepherd.”  It is Jesus who pursues the sheep.  It is Jesus who chose us.

Just as Shadow was terrified of us, we too can be terrified when Jesus pursues us.  What is He like?  Will He do things that hurt me?  Will He actually take care of me?  It is then that Jesus throws us the small balls of bread…His Word.  We smell His Word.  We play with His Word.  But it isn’t until we ingest His Word that we feel the nourishment He wants to give to us.

Well, Shadow continued to hide in the shadow of the bushes.  But after weeks of throwing her food, we began to lay the food down at the bottom of our stoop.  We could sit on the stoop, while she fed on the nourishment we provided.  As she ate, we could talk to her.  Tell her that everything was going to be okay.  Allow her to get used to our voices.  We never forced ourselves on her, we just patiently waited for her to begin to trust us.  Why would she trust us?  Because we cared for her.

1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.”  Peter also writes, “…cast all your anxiety on Him, for He cares for you.”  We love because God loved us first.  Even though we are scared, we can trust Him and place all of life’s worries on Him because He cares for us.  Just as we never forced ourselves on Shadow, God never, and I mean never, forces Himself on us.  He shows us He loves us by giving us a little nourishment and talking with us, even though we are scared of Him.

Well, after a while, Shadow disappeared.  We were concerned, but realized that maybe God just wanted us to learn these two lessons so that we can share the Gospel easier and softer with others.  About a month later, I opened the door to leave and viola…there was Shadow.  What had happened to her?  Where did she go?  Did someone else take care of her?  We had no idea until one of our neighbors saw us with her and said, “You have the mama cat?”  Whaaaaat?

As it turned out, Shadow was pregnant and had four kittens.  The vet who lived on our block had taken her after she gave birth and took care of all of her medical conditions.  What the vet didn’t realize was that he just answered a prayer of mine.  You see, I had prayed that if Shadow was to be our cat, that somehow, He would have to take care of all that we cannot take care of financially.  Everything we had prayed for was covered.

This was the third lesson we learned.  God takes care of us, not just partially, but fully.  Everything.  All of it.  Every last worry.   God takes care of it all.  This was why Peter was so confident when he said, “cast all your anxiety on Him for He cares for you.”  Peter knew that God would take care of it all.  Just as the vet covered all of the debt we could not handle, Jesus covered all of our debt with His death on the cross and resurrection.  We could never repay the debt we owed to God, therefore, Jesus covered our debt…all of our debt by sacrificing Himself for us.

For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” – John 10:17-18

Jesus gave His life up.  How much love did that take?  I know I don’t even come close to that much love.  But because He first loved us, He allowed His death to happen.  And because He has so much love for us, He died for us but He also rose for us as well.  Jesus took care of what needed to be done fully.

There have been so many lessons we’ve learned from Shadow.  It was in this light that when the decision to allow her to pass on came today, I didn’t take it lightly.  I wept.  I had just asked God, last night to give me the knowledge and wisdom necessary to make the hard decision, if it were to come.  Today, God made it very easy.  When the vet called me, she let me know that there was a mass behind her one eye, masses in her lungs and possibly more throughout her body.  The doctor told me that although Shadow never complained about the pain, there was evidence that she was in pain.  Therefore, with great comfort, I gave her the task of allowing Shadow’s life to end peacefully.  It was then that my final Shadow lesson came…  When our time comes for our lives to end, how will we go out?

Will we trust the God, who has cared for us fully, to end our lives the way He sees fit?  Will we just stay silent, never complaining about our pain and suffering, knowing the One who takes care of us can fully make that decision based on what is best for us?

Shadow can never be replaced.  She was my first pet, my first cat and my first furry friend that gave me a great insight as to the mind of God and how He operates.

I hope you find comfort in this.  I hope that you will trust God for the hard times.  Share God’s lessons with your children.  Share them with others, that they may take comfort in them.

When our time comes for us to move from this world into the next, how will we respond?  Maybe, we can respond like Shadow….loving our Caretaker, never complaining about our pain but always trusting that our Caretaker will make the BEST decisions for us.

God bless and encourage someone today.

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No Child is a Mistake


I have prayed about this.  I have struggled with my thoughts about how to approach this subject.  To the best of my ability, I am trying to be more encouraging however, my thoughts toward this subject are solid and I know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that they are correct.  I just pray that as you read further, you will understand that this subject matter is a “slap in the face” towards God and His message of Hope in Jesus Christ.

In the year 2000, the former video rental store, Blockbuster, was given an opportunity by another company to expand Blockbuster to online video renting.  Blockbuster laughed at the opportunity and a short time later, the company Netflix became one of the largest online video rental sources of our time.  I am sure that those within the Blockbuster management team didn’t laugh after their company closed and saw Netflix thrive in this new venture.  What a mistake by Blockbuster.

In life, we all make mistakes.  We say things we shouldn’t say.  We forget to do things we should do.  We do things we shouldn’t.  We make mistakes.  We don’t mean to make those mistakes but we do.  Throughout our entire lives, we will make mistakes.  Maybe not the same ones over and over again, but at the very least we will make mistakes one time to learn from them.

As a child, I was taught that even though we make mistakes, we still must suffer the consequences of our mistakes.  As I got older, I was taught that even though we may make mistakes, there is a God who loves us, who cares for us and who wants to forgive us of those mistakes.  However, even though I may be forgiven, I still will suffer the consequences to the decisions I have made, even if it was a mistake.

Unfortunately, our society doesn’t believe that we need to suffer the consequences to our mistakes.  Our society has proven over and over again, that they believe we can make mistakes and bury them.  The current government shutdown is proof of that.  Both Democrats and Republicans in Washington D.C. have voiced their distain over each other’s position on border security.  Yet despite both sides not budging on what they want, over 800,000 people are either working without pay or have been asked to stay home.  Meanwhile, members of Congress (both House and Senate) continue to get paid because it is listed to do so in the Constitution.  Therefore, as our citizens suffer the consequences of Washington’s disagreements, those who are making the decisions continue to get paid and believe that they will not suffer consequences as well.  Why?  Because they continue to be re-elected.

Although I have friends and family that are majorly affected by the current government shutdown, there is another subject that needs more attention and the current liberal media refuses to give light to it and continually denies the consequences of it…abortion.

Recently, New York State Legislators and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have passed a revision to a law concerning women’s rights in relation to abortion and contraception.  I have read over the revised law and have concluded that the majority of this revision is mainly about abortion rights and little to do with contraception.  (You may want to read it for yourself and see if you come to the same conclusion.)

Why this is so important is not the fact that it was passed but the lack of recognition to the consequences of passing that law.  In the past, the law stated that an abortion could not be done once the baby was 24-weeks (in utero) or older.  It also stated that there were consequences, including jail time for those who were caught taking part in abortions once this time frame past.  Now, the revised law says that those who are qualified to do abortions (not just doctors) can do so past the 24-week deadline and no further timeframe was given.  This basically means that whomever, New York State deems worthy to do abortions can do so up to delivery.  As long as the baby is in utero, they can do their horrific and barbaric procedure.  And they can do this so long as they deem the mother and / or baby are at risk of death.  Hold that thought for a moment.

In addition, New York State Legislators and Gov. Andrew Cuomo also removed any and all reference to potential jail time to anyone who executes abortions.  All security a woman had in the decision making process has been taken away.  Here is why….

Let’s say a couple meets in a bar one night.  They have a few drinks and decide to get to know each other a little bit more.  One thing leads to another and viola…a one-night stand.  A couple of months later, the woman begins getting sick.  She goes to the doctor to find out she’s pregnant.  She breaks down in tears and wonders what her options are.  Her doctor says one option is to have an abortion.  However, she isn’t sure what she wants to do.  After a couple more months, the same woman gets into a car accident and enters a coma.  A week or so later, the woman wakes up and notices something is wrong, she no longer feels her baby moving.  She asks what happened and the doctor says that he had to abort the baby because her health was in danger.  Although, this is a made up story, the consequence of the revised abortion law would allow this to happen, even if the mother does not know about it.  The wording states…

§ 2599-BB. ABORTION.  1.  A HEALTH CARE PRACTITIONER LICENSED, CERTIFIED, OR AUTHORIZED UNDER TITLE EIGHT OF THE EDUCATION LAW, ACTING WITHIN HIS OR HER LAWFUL SCOPE OF PRACTICE, MAY PERFORM AN ABORTION WHEN, ACCORDING TO THE PRACTITIONER’S REASONABLE AND GOOD FAITH PROFESSIONAL JUDGMENT BASED ON THE FACTS OF THE PATIENT’S CASE: THE PATIENT IS WITHIN TWENTY-FOUR WEEKS FROM THE COMMENCEMENT OF PREGNANCY, OR THERE IS AN ABSENCE OF FETAL VIABILITY, OR THE ABORTION IS NECESSARY TO PROTECT THEPATIENT’S LIFE OR HEALTH.

Again, in most cases, the woman is making the decision on this, but now New York State has allowed others to make that decision for the woman if the “health care practitioner” deems it necessary.  Not only has the time-frame been removed but also the consequences of executing an abortion.

Now, I am not shocked by this decision, but I am obviously bothered by it.  I am not shocked because New York State government officials have proven their loyalty and devotion to sin.  They have openly and proudly displayed their satisfaction to rebelling against God.  In fact, the Empire State Building will be lit pink in order to commemorate this momentous evil occasion.  They are proudly wearing the badge of sin and shame.  They no longer hide their sin but place it in the open forum of daily living.  But why does this matter?  Why should we be concerned about this open display of sin?

First, God destroys those who are open and proud of their sin.  Sodom, Gomorrah, Babylon, Persians…all of these empires were proud to display their sin in the light.  History has taught us that each of these empires fell not because of economic problems or natural causes, rather they were destroyed because of their open display of sin.

Both Sodom and Gomorrah were known to be violent towards women and outsiders.  In Genesis 19, you can read about how the men of Sodom and Gomorrah wanted to have sex with “men” who came to tell Lot to leave or be destroyed.  Here is what the angels said to Lot…

“For we are about to destroy this city completely.  The outcry against this place is so great it has reached the Lord, and he has sent us to destroy it.” – Genesis 19:13 (NLT)

 “God will turn the sins of evil people back on them.  He will destroy them for their sins.  The Lord our God will destroy them.” – Psalm 94:23

There will come a time when God decides that the sin of a nation is so great that He will send for something or someone to destroy it.  Fortunately for us, that time has not yet come.  For if that time had come, this article would not have been written.

Okay, now that we have an understanding of what God does to those who are open and proud of their sin, what does God also say about children?

“Children are a gift from the Lord; for they are a reward from Him.” – Psalm 127:3

“But Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me.  Don’t stop them!  For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” – Matthew 19:14

And what about those children who are not yet born?

“You guided my conception and formed me in the womb.” – Job 10:10

When Mary’s cousin, who was pregnant with John the Baptist saw Mary, she said, “When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy.” – Luke 1:44

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.” – Psalm 139:13

God views life from the point of conception.  It is God who guides the man and woman to marriage.  It is God who guides the sperm to meet the egg.  It is God who personally molds and makes the baby into the image He chooses.  The baby, both in utero and after birth are a gift from God.  So let’s look at this from a slightly different viewpoint…

If God sees life beginning at conception, then abortion rebels against God by saying conception doesn’t matter.

If God forms the baby, then abortion must destroy the very creation God is actively doing, therefore, it is murder.

If God has declared that He is intimately involved in creating children, then abortion actively defies God by showing distain towards His creation.

You see, abortion is more than what the world is telling us.  The world says it’s about women’s rights.  God says it’s about life He creates.  The world says that a child is not a child until delivery.  God clearly says that life begins at conception.  The world says they are proud to do what they want, when they want and how they want and without consequences.  God says that He will one day get fed up with our sin and destroy us as He sees fit.

My plea with you today, is this…please, please, please, stop this madness and repent.  Vote for those who will stand for what God stands for.  Voice your distain towards openly sinful practices and flaunting but do it in the most loving way possible.

Continue to stand for what is right.  Continue to vote in the right way.  Continue to plea with God to hold off His judgement against those who openly defy Him.  Continue to pray for our leaders and especially those in New York for their salvation, for their minds to be opened to what God says about life and for them to see the coming judgement upon all of us, if this behavior continues.

I do not know how or when God will decide to say, “Enough is enough”.  All I know is that in the meantime, I will continue to share the love and hope of life in Jesus Christ as long as there is breath in my lungs.

It is time for us Christians to stand together.  It is time for us Christians to show our rulers that God’s law is much higher than their laws.  It is time for us Christians to get out from behind our church walls and meeting places and enter into the political realm.  As long as we keep God first in our lives and do what He calls us to do, we will not hear the trumpets of judgement, rather we will hear the soft voice of God say to us, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.  Come and enter into my rest.”

That is what I desire to hear one day.  If God is for us, who cares who is against us.  He will protect us, He will save us and we will live with Him forever.  We need to stand for those who cannot.  We need to feed those who are hungry.  We are to clothe those who need clothing.  This is the action of the Christian which shows the world how loving and patient God is.  It is acting upon our faith that shows the world that God is in control and He desires to have a relationship with us.

I am praying for the New York Legislature and Governor.  I am praying that one day soon; God will touch their hearts so that they become His children and see life the way He sees it…beginning at conception, precious in this world, and eternal with Him.  Will you join me?  Will you act in a way that is worthy of our calling?  I pray that you do what God has called you to do.  Don’t delay.  God won’t delay His judgement forever.

God bless and encourage someone today.

Better Together – Chewy Tails


IMG_0903This is Chewy.

He thinks he is bigger than he really is.  Chewy is a Chiweenie, which is a Chihuahua and Dachshund mix and pours out his unconditional love to all.  His bark is loud, his smile can be intimidating, but after you get to know him, he’s a bundle of mushy love.

Over the last 4 days, I have spent lots of time with Chewy.  As I have spent hours upon hours discovering his quirks, his fears and his love, the Lord has also given me insight into why He has brought Chewy into our family at this point in time.

For almost the last decade, my family has been the proud owner of cats, black cats to be specific.  Each of them (Shadow and Angel) have their unique character and show love in different ways.  Regardless of their individuality, the fact that they are the same species and have many similarities remains true.

Both Shadow and Angel have worked hard to be friends by tolerating each other’s quirkiness, odd behaviors and personality differences.  Now, we have added a puppy to the mix and this is where the lessons began.

When you have multiple species living under the same roof, understand, there will be some difficult times.  In our case the times have not been so bad.  The cats have had to learn that Chewy is here to stay and Chewy has to learn that cats don’t play like dogs.  What I found interesting was the comparison to the Church today.

“The Church today” is comprised of many denominational and non-denominational churches.  Yet, many times, individual churches decide to do ministry on their own, rather than with the support of other churches.

We hear excuses like, “We do things the way the Lord wants us to do it” or “What works for them doesn’t work for us” or “We’ve always done things this way.  We don’t need the advice from anyone else.”

But is “the Church” supposed to operate this way?  Are we supposed to work like an island, surrounded by water, not being involved with the main land?  No matter how we look at “the Church”, we must understand that we are comprised of many different peoples, from many different languages, having many different cultures, with many different secondary beliefs.  Unfortunately, many times, it is the secondary beliefs that divide us rather than unite us.  Here is what I mean….

Shadow, Angel and now Chewy are unique in their own way.  However, both cats and dog have a single and clear goal…to please their Daddy.  Why?  I chose them.  None of them chose me.  In Shadow’s case, she was a stray that we had compassion on.  We decided to woo her until she trusted us and then when she desired to come in the house, we invited her in.  Angel was found under a car.  No one knows how she got there, but she was found and no one wanted her because she is completely black.  I took her home, comforted her and cared for her.  We could have sent her to a kennel for adoption, but instead made a conscience decision to keep her.  Finally, I was desiring a dog, so I went out and looked at many different kinds of dogs.  Ultimately, we chose Chewy and now he is a part of our family.  The same is true for us as “the Church”.

First, regardless of our denominational or non-denominational ties, God chose us.

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” – Ephesians 1:4 (NIV)

Do you realize that God chose you, BEFORE WE EVEN EXISTED?  How awesome is that?!  The Creator of all things made a conscience decision to choose you and I.  And to boot, he did that even before He created everything.  If that doesn’t get you excited, maybe the next point will.

Second, there are no denominations in heaven.

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” – Revelation 7:9 (NIV)

GASP! No mention of denominations or individual churches.  Unbelievable!  One day, all will be revealed and our secondary issues and beliefs won’t matter anymore.  Whether we believe in infant baptism or full emersion, whether pre-tribulation, post-tribulation or a-millennialism, it won’t matter.  Whether we believe in speaking in tongues or not, it won’t matter.  All of these secondary beliefs, which divide us, won’t matter one day.  All that will matter is that we will be with our Daddy, together, worshipping Him, doing His will.  We won’t care if we are Baptists, Catholics, Pentecostals, Calvinist, Methodist or any other denomination you can think of.  All nations, all tribes, all languages will be represented and what’s most exciting???  No one will be able to count us!  Not only has God chosen us, but He chose so many of us, that no one can count how many He chose.

If we can look beyond our criticism, our judgements of denominations and churches and focus on the reason why God leaves us here after becoming Christians, maybe, just maybe, we can join forces and change the world for the Kingdom.

Just like Shadow, Angel and Chewy have to work together to please their Daddy, so too, we must all work together to bring the Gospel to the nations.  Our purpose is clear, to share the Gospel, by sharing our lives with others, serving others (even when they don’t appreciate it) and leading them to the Cross.

Imagine what the world would look like if we decided to put away our differences, and focus on our mission.  We need to be that positive influence on the world today.  There are too many divisions, too many differences, too many unforgiving people.  This is our time to show the world, how Jesus loves them.  This is our time to show the world that people from every nation, language and tribe can work together and worship together for the Kingdom’s purpose of leading others to Christ.

We can be better together.  Let’s work out our differences and change the world in the process.

God bless and encourage someone today.

I Survived and Lived to Grow – #isalt


As I lay in the hospital bed, I could not help but think, “Will I ever be able to use my hand and leg again?”  When the doctors checked for feeling, I could feel the pressure of the needle but my body would not react to its force.  Depression began to worm its way into my psyche.   The doctor had told me that I would probably get most of my motion back but could not guarantee it.

After my release from the hospital, I continued to drag my right leg and watch as my right arm flapped in the wind.  Depression continued its work.  I began to wonder what life would be like with one less arm and one less leg.  No matter what happened, my arm and leg would be a reminder of my stupidity that fateful night, the night I was hit over the head with a hammer.  During my internal battle of and sorrow of “Why me” syndrome, I was reminded of my past.

When I was younger, I had made fun of people with physical disabilities.  It wasn’t because I enjoyed it, but rather to hide the pain inside of me for being different than other kids.  Instead of feeling compassion, I was a fighter.  I physically fought others for many years.  In my mind, if I made fun of others for their problems, mine would just go away.  However, I was so wrong about that.  Here I was, disabled, possibly permanently and began to understand the hurt and pain I once caused in others.

It was then I decided to plead with God.  I asked Him to give me back my leg so that I wouldn’t have to drag it everywhere, but if He felt I didn’t need my hand or arm, He could keep that.  Although I continued to fight the depression and anxiety of PTSD, I also knew that God would answer me, even if it wasn’t what I wanted.

The very next morning, I got up out of bed and realized something incredible.  I didn’t have to drag my leg anymore!  My prayer had been answered.  I was able to skip, hop, jump and walk like I did before my “accident”.  God had given me back my leg.  My hand and arm were a different story.

As time went on, I went to physical and occupational therapy for my arm and hand.  Today, I have full motion of my arm and most of the motion in my hand.  It was in this very situation, God taught me “I survived and lived to grow.”

Most of us survivors will wonder and ask the ‘why me’ question.  Why did I survive?  Why didn’t God take me?  Almost always the ‘why me’ question is not one of selfishness or pride, rather it is a way which we express our desire to grow.  We want to grow.  We want to become better than we were before.

Psalm 1 shares this very thought of living to grow:

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

Have you ever gone camping and looked at a tree that grows next to a river?  Usually, the root structure is deep, the tree is properly nourished and if it is a fruit bearing tree, the tree has good juicy fruit.  If you look into the reason why, it is because of its deep roots.  The deeper the roots of a tree grow, the more likely it will withstand the hurricane force winds when the storm comes.

The same is true for us.  When we survive tragic events, if we have shallow roots, we will sway with every emotional thought that crosses our mind.  If our roots are deeper, we may falter with our emotions for a short time, but ultimately, we will stand tall once again after the storm is done.  We do not survive because we have deep roots, we survived so that God can teach us something and make us grow.

Just as the Psalmist stated, if we do what is right, if we avoid sin and if we read and study His word, our roots will grow deeper and our lives will become healthier.  This doesn’t mean we will heal physically completely, but it does mean that our mental and emotional state will be better because we have grown to trust in the Lord.  When we trust in Him, our lives will prosper.

When you have an opportunity, read Psalm 1 but also read Psalm 116.  The writer of Psalm 116 clearly shows how focus on the Lord is the very reason why we survive.  Below is an excerpt from Psalm 116…

I love the Lord, because He has heard
My voice and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.

The pains of death surrounded me,
And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me;
I found trouble and sorrow.
Then I called upon the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!”

 

When God spoke with Jeremiah, he stated the following in Jeremiah 26:11 (NASB):

“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

God never intends for us to continue to suffer in the midst of our tragedies.  God intends for us to grow from our situations and grow closer to Him.  God does not intend to hurt us, in fact just the opposite.  God wants us to understand that He has a plan for us.  It is a plan to allow us to grow, bear fruit and help others with similar situations.  Growth is not something we do, rather it is the result of our relationship with God.  When we get closer to Him, we grow.  When we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, we grow.  When we read, study and pray, we grow.  When we let go of the feelings and emotions that keep us slaves to our situations, we grow.

Our lives have a purpose.  God desires for us to walk with Him toward His plan for our lives.  The question becomes what we will do with what we have been given.  As survivors, we have a unique opportunity to positively affect others through our growth.  We can express our compassion, explain our lessons and encourage others to continue to fight in this battle of survival.

Recently, the subject of growth has come up again.  Over the last few weeks, our church has seen two of our oldest trees collapse from wind and rain.  In both situations, little to no damage occurred but one of our Elders noticed something.  He stated that both trees didn’t have a good root structure.  Their roots were too shallow.   If the trees had deeper roots, then the tree would not have fallen.

The same holds true for us.  As we grow from our situation and grow toward God, we will discover at one time our roots may have been shallow, but now they begin to grow deeper toward the nourishment that God provides.  However, if we reject this growth, if we reject His plan for prospering us, we will end up like the fallen trees with shallow roots.  On the outside, we will appear healthy, but because our roots are shallow, our lives will fall and potentially hurt others.

If we grow in our relationship with God and move our lives closer to Him, He will give us water and nourishment which will make our roots grow deeper so that when tragic events occur, we will be able to withstand the storm.  The question becomes what will you do next?  Will you allow your tragic event to become a crutch toward depression or will you grow from it so that God can show His love toward others who are suffering the same way?  It’s your decision.  What will you do?

To hear what our pastor shared with us concerning growth, just use the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/lifechristhope/videos/1022463191227667

God bless and encourage someone today.

The Hiking Trail


Have you ever felt lost?  For a moment, pretend you are hiking in the woods.  You are on a trail and understand how to read the trail marks.  As you follow the trail, you notice several intriguing items, a bird perched on a branch of a tall oak tree, the river which flows continuously and feeds all plants and trees by it or even the chipmunks which scurry around.  Just as you are admiring God’s creation you realize something, you’re no longer on the trail.  To add to your worry, you can’t see the trail marks either.  As you wander in the dense foliage, you come across another hiker (or so you thought).

The “hiker” tells you to turn around go back about 100 feet and look for the small birch tree.  It has a marking on it.  You turn around, run to the small birch tree and see the mark, only it isn’t a hiking mark.  There are four markings, long deep lines, stacked upon another.  You look at the hiking book you have and realize those are not just marks, they are the residual of a bear scratching at the tree.  Your anxiety kicks in.  Not only are you lost but the “hiker” just sent you into bear territory.  You need to move and quickly.

You turn left and decide that going in a straight line is best.  You look up to see the sun, but cannot.  The forest is so dense that it cuts out almost all of the sunlight.  It is as if the canopy of foliage has swallowed up the heavens, hiding the glory of the Most High.  Your anxiety begins to heighten.  Thoughts of dying in the woods from starvation, getting eaten by a bear or mountain lion and even drowning begin to the thought process.  You begin to wonder what your family is thinking.  Are you okay?  Are you hurt?  Are you still alive?  It is then you look up to the sliver of light creeping through the foliage and cry out to God.  You say, “Oh Lord, I am lost!  Get me out of here!  I can’t do this!  Please Lord, help me.  I’ll do anything you want, if you get me out of here!”  As you sit in silence, you wait and listen.  No response.

After a moment’s rest, you get up and begin to journey further.  You come across another would be hiker.  You ask, “Can you please help me?  I am trying to find the hiking marker so I can get back on the trail.”  The hiker turns and says, “Turn left and go about ½ mile.  There you will find an old oak tree with one of the markers you are looking for.”  You thank the hiker and begin moving toward the place he pointed out to you.

As you approach the area the second hiker told you about, you remember the first “hiker”.  Would this hiker also send you into a den of horror and terror?  You begin to have second thoughts.  You stutter for a moment, but remember your family needs you, so you continue to approach the area.  You see the tree from a distance and run toward it.  At this moment, you see a marking on the tree.  It is a small hole.  As you look closer, you notice there are several small holes all over the tree.  At that moment, you take a look at your hiking book and realize those are woodpecker holes.  You read that woodpeckers create these holes when looking for bugs they can eat.  It is then you realize the old oak tree is not even alive.  It may look alive, but on the inside, it is as rotten as an apple sitting in the sun on a hot summer day.  Your anxiety peaks.  Your heart feels like it could come out of your chest.  Nausea enters your stomach, your hands begin to tremble and sweat drenches your shirt, your greatest fears become an alternate reality for you.  You cry out to God again.  “Lord!”, you scream.  “Please, please, please, get me out of here!  I’m sorry for going off the trail!  I’m sorry for whatever I did to get here!  Please Lord, get me home!.”  You again sit in silence, waiting for a reply, but none come.  Only the sound of the gentle breeze or an occasional chirping bird is all you hear.  You begin to doubt.  “Why won’t God answer?  Why has He left me here?”  You begin to cry in desperation.

As you sit and wonder what your death will be, you open your bag for a small snack and water to try and get rid of the nausea.  As you rummage through your bag, you grab a bag of trail mix and yank it out of the bag.  But something else came out with it, your hiking book.  It falls on the ground.  As you eat your snack you stare at the book.  Two thoughts come across your mind.  The first thought says, “Pick it up and read it.”  The second thought says, “It didn’t help you before.  What makes you think it can help now?”  You toy with each of these thoughts trying to make sense of each of them.  On one hand, if you read the hiking book, you’ll learn a lot, but will that help you in this predicament?  On the other hand, it only told you about what you see.  You don’t ever remember reading about trail markings.  Both thoughts seem hopeless.  Both thoughts have the same risk factor.  One thought may lead to safety, while the other one may lead to your demise.  But which thought was which?  Which one will lead you to safety?

The story isn’t quite finished, but I wanted to pause to ask you, as you read this story, how did it make you feel?  Did you begin to worry?  Did an actual situation come to mind?  Maybe you felt nauseas?  Maybe your hands began to tremble?  Did your heart race while you read this?  Did a panic attack begin?  Which thought do you feel is the correct one?  Should you look at the hiker’s book or should you discover another way?  Which would you choose?  Let’s get back with the story to find out.

Suddenly, there is a refreshing cool breeze.  The feeling of calmness begins to take root inside your mind.  You close your eyes and begin to count backwards from 10 to 1, taking slow deep breaths with every number counted.  The thoughts in your mind begin to have an order.  Instead of irrational thoughts leading to irrational behavior, you begin to put the pieces of this crazy puzzle together.  You look down and notice something odd, something you never noticed before.  There is a hand-written note on the inside cover.

You pick up the hiker’s book and read the inscription:

Dear Reader,

This book is based on what I found while hiking these trails.  It contains all you need to survive your journey, no matter what trail you are on.  This book contains which foods you can eat and which ones to avoid.  It will guide you from one trail to the next in order to ensure you avoid any potential threats, such as bear and mountain lion dens.  It will also guide you as an educator so that you will not be surprised at what surrounds you.  This book is my gift to you.  I have sent this book to other hikers as well.  If you come across another hiker but they do not have or listen to my words contained in this book, avoid their advice.  They do not have your best interest at heart, no matter how nice they may be.  I know these woods and trails, because I created them.  I paved the way for you to enjoy what God has created.

                                                                                                       With love and affection,

                                                                                                                     The Trailblazer

At that moment, you realize you had the answers all along.  You begin to study the book, rather than read it.  You notice chapters and notes that you had not seen before.  You read about the delicious fruit on one trail and the refreshing waters on another.  You read about the dense forest and its beauty but also recognize the warning of darkness on this trail.  It is then you realize, the trail you need is less than a mile away.  Now instead of anxiety and worry, you feel a peace you have not felt for some time.

You begin to remember how you received this book.  The older gentleman who passed it along to you, telling you to read and study the book before you journey into the forest.  He said he was like you and someone had passed this to him and now he would like to pass it to you.  You remember his joy and excitement to tell you what he had seen along his journey.  You remember his excitement easily flowed from his being to yours.

Upon graciously accepting this book, a joy and excitement about your journey came over you.  You couldn’t wait to prepare and begin.  Memories of the countless hours you spent preparing for this journey.  You remember what it felt like to be a kid again.  Never did you think your journey would end up like this, but now you remember the hope you once had.  It was because of this book that you were able to find your trail and continue on your journey.

Just like the Trailblazer’s hiking book, we too have a book that will guide us on our journey in this life.  It is called the Bible.  The Bible has everything we need to not just survive this life, but thrive.  It shows us where the nourishment is and what places, things or people to avoid.

2 Timothy 3:16 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

16 (A)All Scripture is [a]inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for [b]training in righteousness…

This means that no matter our situation, no matter how struggle, no matter our mountain top experience, the Bible has everything that we need.  It contains encouragement during our times of struggle.  It contains praise during our time of flourishing.  It contains words of wisdom for advice and words of rebuke for our rebellion.  The Bible gives us the guidelines for a prosperous life and warnings of problematic one.

Just like in our story, we have a trailblazer as well.  His name is Jesus Christ.  He created this world, came to this world in order that He might trailblaze a way back to the Father.  It was His life, death and resurrection which allow us to live this life (and the next) with confidence, love and servitude.  It is only because of what He did that we can have eternal life with Him.

This Sunday is Resurrection Sunday.  It is a time where we reflect and rejoice on what Jesus Christ did.  We will hear about His sacrifice but rejoice in knowing that He lives!  Not only that but we can also rejoice because He will return and make all things new one day.

Revelation 22:12 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

12 “Behold, (A)I am coming quickly, and My (B)reward is with Me, (C)to render to every man [a]according to what he has done.

Like the hiker in the story, all we need to do is open up the Bible, read and study its words and ask God to guide our hearts and minds into whatever He desires for us.  Everything we need for this life is contained in the Bible and the greatest part is that our “trailblazer” lives and wants us to know Him better.  Take time this week to open up the Bible and discover the greatest story ever written….  Jesus Christ is alive and well!  He has Risen!

God bless and encourage someone today.

Creator of the Eclipse


There is something about watching the wonders of the heavens that makes mankind realize how small we really are.

Today, across the United States, we had the extreme privilege of watching a solar eclipse.  For some it was a glimpse of how God has placed order on the universe.  For others, it was a totality of awe and wonder.  No matter how we may have experienced this event, one thing is for sure, there is order to our universe.

I remember in 1979 when I first experienced what a solar eclipse was like.  Our teacher had each of us create a shoebox pinhole viewer.  We watched as the bright small dot, became encompassed by the darkness of the moon.  It wasn’t a total eclipse but it began my interest and love of nature and the heavens.

As I watched today, I thought of Psalm 8.  As a nation, we looked up to the heavens and applauded in amazement as God’s creation did exactly what it was commanded to do on this very day.  No longer did we ask about racism.  No longer did we fear the terrorist.  No longer did we wonder what the Republican or Democrat was standing for.  No longer did we focus on our fears, anxieties or problems.  We focused on God’s creation, thereby focusing our attention on what He was doing at that very moment.

When we focus on our problems, we take our eyes off of the heavens.  When we focus on our anxieties, we no longer look up and wonder what God is doing.  When we focus on what God is doing, we forget about our problems.  When we focus on God and His creation, we realize that our problems are a mere flash of existence that doesn’t even make a dent in the view of eternity.

For 2 minutes today, each of us made a conscience decision to look up to the heavens, forget about our problems and re-focus our attention to the Creator of the Eclipse.  Read Psalm 8 and exclaim, “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”

God bless and encourage someone today.

*Psalm 8[a]

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name(A) in all the earth!

You have set your glory(B)
in the heavens.(C)
Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold(D) against your enemies,
to silence the foe(E) and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,(F)
the work of your fingers,(G)
the moon and the stars,(H)
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?[c](I)

You have made them[d] a little lower than the angels[e](J)
and crowned them[f] with glory and honor.(K)
You made them rulers(L) over the works of your hands;(M)
you put everything under their[g] feet:(N)
all flocks and herds,(O)
and the animals of the wild,(P)
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,(Q)
all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!(R)

*Taken from the NIV

From the Depths


As he sat in the hospital waiting for the doctor’s word on his son, Ron pondered every conceivable question.  Why is this happening?  What did my son do to deserve this type of treatment?  What is the purpose in all of this?  As questions continued to arise, he placed his tear-filled eyes into his hands and wept like all was lost.  It was then he began to remember happier times.

Six years earlier, Ron and his wife, Barbara, had been surprised by the news that she was pregnant.  Although the child was unplanned by them, they understood God had bigger plans for this child.  They began to adjust their lives anticipating the arrival of their little baby.  Ron worked feverishly to ensure that most of the necessary construction on his house was completed, while Barbara picked out colors and cribs.

After the arrival of their baby boy, things went well for them.  He began to grow as most children do, making up words, playing with their toys and learning to say, “No.”  For the first five years of his life, David appeared to develop normally.  It wasn’t until the elementary school called indicating that David failed a hearing test.

David had experienced ear infections for most of his life.  Sometimes medication didn’t work, sometimes it did.  In all cases, it appeared that he was healed every time.  There were no “red flags’ that entered the mind of Ron or Barbara.  Now their biggest fear became a reality.  David had a tumor that needed to be removed, otherwise he could die.

The doctor called it cholesteatoma tumor, a non-cancerous tumor inside the ear that eats away at bones and cartilage.  Normally, it wasn’t fatal, but in David’s case, they feared that due to the size of the tumor, it would begin to eat at the base of the skull.  It was the worst news they had ever heard.  Never did either of them understand how or why this happened.  The doctor speculated David may have been born with it, while another possibility was one of his earlier infections created the tumor.  In either case, no one knew how or where this tumor came from.

Ron had sat with his son in the waiting room of the hospital.  He watched his son play with various toys as if there was nothing wrong.  The anesthesiologist entered the room with a smile on his face.  He carried a small cup of clear liquid and called David over to him.  David gladly took the drink and within minutes began to feel sleepy.  Ron and Barbara knew the time had come for doctors to attempt to remove the tumor.

Ron dressed in the suit provided by the hospital.  Dressed in white from head to toe, Ron didn’t cry.  In his mind, he didn’t have time for that.  This time was for David.  His son needed him more than ever.  Fully dressed, Ron picked up his son and carried him down the hallway.  As Ron looked back, he could see Barbara place her head on her mother’s shoulder and cry like the world was lost.  Not being able to bear the sight, Ron turned his head and followed the nurse.

They approached a small room, where every electronic contraption could be found.  Large lights were overhead, a heart rate monitor was to his right and the operating table was straight ahead.  Behind the table was where the anesthesiologist stood waiting for David to ensure he was fully asleep.  Looking around, the doctor stood there encouraging Ron with a smile as if to indicate that all would be okay.  Ron doubting the situation wanted to run with his son in his arms, but knew that wouldn’t be the best decision.  David had this foreign tumor and it needed to be removed.

Ron carefully placed David on the table before him.  The doctor placed a mask on David’s face and asked Ron to leave.  Ron leaned over his son, kissed his head and whispered, “Don’t worry, everything will be alright.  Jesus is with you.”  It was then that faith turned into a reality.  Did Ron really believe this?  Was what he read really true?  Was God really with his son through this?  Ron lifted his head, nodded at the doctor to say, “He is in your hands now”, turned and walked away.

The poor nurse assigned to escort Ron back to the waiting area, placed her hand on his back and said, “Everything will be okay.  Your son is in the best hands.”  Not desiring to listen to anyone or hear any words of encouragement, Ron just turned to the nurse and crudely stated, “Please be quiet.  I don’t want to talk with you right now.”  The nurse, having wisdom, just smiled and continued the silent walk back to the waiting area.

After checking on his wife, Ron decided it was time for him to get some air.  He told Barbara that he was going outside.  Barbara didn’t acknowledge Ron, but Ron understood that she heard him but didn’t care because her baby boy was undergoing surgery.  Ron slowly turned toward the door and walked outside picking up his cell phone.

As Ron stood in the sun he decided to call one of his friends, Bobby.  Bobby had helped Ron understand many different situations in life.  Bobby was a temporary pastor at his church and had walked with him through the process, thus far.  Now Ron needed to work through this so Bobby was his best choice.  The phone rang and Ron heard the comforting voice of his dear friend.

“Ron, how are you?  How is everything with David?” asked Bobby.

“He’s in surgery right now”, stated Ron with an exacting voice.

“So then the question is… how are you?”

With tears in his eyes and a fluttering voice Ron shared, “Bobby, I don’t understand.  God gave us this child.  Why did He allow this to happen?  David didn’t do anything to deserve this.  Why is this happening?”

With the wisdom of God on his mind and sympathy in his voice, Bobby said, “I wish I could understand, but I cannot.  Have you cried out to God and ask Him?”

“No.  Right now I am angry with God and don’t want him to be angry with me.”

“Bobby, didn’t Job cry out to God?  Don’t you think he was angry?  He lost everything, his home, his worldly wealth, his health and even all of his children.  Even King David cried out to God in his time in need.  In fact, on the cross, Jesus cried out, ‘Father, why have you forsaken me?’ Cry out to Him.  He will answer”, encouraged Bobby.

Ron thanked him for his time and comfort and agreed that crying out to God directly was the best way to understand the situation.  Although, Ron didn’t feel like talking with God, he understood that was the only way to possibly get answers to his questions.

As he sat in the hospital waiting for the doctor’s word on his son, Ron pondered every conceivable question.  Why is this happening?  What did my son do to deserve this type of treatment?  What is the purpose in all of this?  As questions continued to arise, he placed his tear-filled eyes into his hands and wept like all was lost.  He cried out to God and said, “Why?  Why is this happening?  What has David done to deserve this?  There are so many others out there who have done worse, so why can’t you punish them?”

No answer came.  As Ron continued to cry out to God but over the course of the next few hours, the questions became demands.  “God, why aren’t you answering me?!  I demand an answer.  I can’t handle this situation.  You said you wouldn’t give me anything I can’t handle.  God, where are you?!”

Again, no answer came.  Just as Ron was giving up on his prayers, the doctor came out, still clothed in hospital scrubs.  As she approached, she told them, “Ron, Barbara.  I want to let you know that David is doing okay.  He is currently resting but unfortunately, he will have to do this again in six months.  We attempted to get all of it but we cannot do any more until then.  I know it has been over five hours, but the next surgery shouldn’t be long.  After David wakes up, you can take him home.”

Another surgery?  Ron and Barbara didn’t fully understand why their precious little boy needed anther surgery but trusted the doctor for her experience and knowledge.  Questions flooded Ron’s mind once again.  What was happening?  Why to his little boy?  All he could do is get his son, take him home and give him the care he needed.

Six months later, the second surgery came.  Once again, they found themselves in the waiting room with their son.  Again, the questions flooded Ron’s mind.  As they waited for the doctor, their son was in the play area putting together some puzzles.  Not far from David, was another little boy who appeared to be crying and whimpering in his mother’s arms.  Curious about the situation David approached the little boy and asked, “Why are you crying?”

The boy’s mother replied, “He has to go into surgery.”

Overhearing David’s conversation, Barbara asked the crying boy’s mother, “Oh, what kind of surgery?”

“Tubes.  It’s a pretty long surgery, about an one and a half hours.”

Barbara just smiled and said, “I understand.  Our son needs surgery in his ears too.”

The boy’s mother responded, “Tubes?”

Barbara mustered all of the strength she could find and replied, “No.  I wish it was.  My son is having another surgery to remove a cholesteatoma tumor.”

“Oh I’m sorry.  Here I am crying over this silly procedure, while your son has a more serious situation”, the boy’s mother stated while wiping tears from her eyes.

Barbara responded, “Don’t worry about it.  Our son already had one surgery, so this should be his last.”

“How long is your son’s surgery?” asked the mother.

“The first one was about six hours but this one should only be two or three hours.”

The other mother appeared shocked and the look on her face resembled that of a statue with the expression of shock and disbelief.  Barbara and the boy’s mother continued their conversation when something incredible happened.  David turned toward the boy and said, “Let’s play a game” and took the boy by the hand and led him to the video game console.

“What just happened?” asked the boy’s mother.

Ron realized that something special was happening.  He had seen God work before, but never like this.  God was working through his son in order to bring comfort and compassion.  Before the mother could ask the question a second time, Ron responded, “God is working through my son to reach your son.”

It was about that time that the anesthesiologist came forward and called David’s name.  Once again, David was given a small drink which made him “sleepy”.  Ron then picked up his son and carried him back to the same operating table they had visited six months prior.  He laid his little boy down, kissed him once again and smiled at the doctor to acknowledge his approval of her skills.

A couple of hours passed and Ron and Barbara waited patiently for the doctor’s good word.  No one came.  They inquired from the front desk, who called for the doctor, but no response came.  “What’s happening?  Why is it taking it so long?” were questions that raced through their minds.  Another hour passes, no word from the doctor.  After another six hour surgery, the doctor emerged with a smile on her face.

“I’m sorry I didn’t respond earlier, but there were minor complications.  The tumor had grown back so we needed to remove the tumor again and continue with the second stage of surgery.  Your son is resting now but all is well.  I believe we got it totally this time”, said the doctor with confidence.

Ron and Barbara finally felt relief.  Their son had been healed.  Ron still questioned God, but realized that the battle was over.  Their son would completely recover from his ailment.  He may not be able to hear but at least he would live.  Satisfied with the doctor’s results, they took David home and cared for him.

A few years went by and there was no sign of the tumor.  Only the scar behind his ear became the evidence of a prior complication.  One afternoon, Barbara took David to the doctor for a routine checkup.  It was there, the world was turned upside down once again.  The doctor warned, “I am sorry but the tumor grew back.”

Devastated by the news, Barbara asked, “Is it fatal?”

The doctor turned and said, “No.  It is operable, but I recommend a full ear canal wall down.”

Seeing the confused look on Barbara’s face, the doctor continued, “It means that he will no longer have an ear canal.  We will remove it completely, so that if this ever happens in the future, we can take care of it right here.”

This news brought a sense of relief to Barbara, but how would she tell Ron?  He had been questioning God since the last two surgeries.  Would he completely flip out and turn away from God or would he respond by going to God?  This, unfortunately, was a risk she was going to have to take.  No matter the outcome, she would stand by Ron and pray that he would respond properly.

She picked up her cell phone and dialed Ron at work.

“Hello”, said Ron.

“Hi honey”, Barbara stated with hesitancy.

“What’s wrong Barb?”

“David needs another surgery.”

The news was crushing.  It was as if his heart had been ripped out of his chest and placed into a trash compactor.  Everything hurt.  His body, mind and soul ached with pain beyond comparison.  It was then Barbara interrupted his self pity session, “Ron.  It’s operable.  The doctor will remove his ear canal and remove the tumor once again.  Once completed, they will be able to do it in the office so that David doesn’t have to go through this again.”

There was some sense of comfort to that news, even though his life felt crushed.  At least David would only have to go through this one more time.  Ron, however, knew that he needed to carry his little boy once again and place him onto the operating table.  The toughest of tasks he ever encountered was once again upon him.  Would he be able to do it again?  Would he loose his mind?  As he contemplated each of these questions, he remembered his first thought, ‘At least David would only have to go through this one more time.’

Weeks went by as Barbara and Ron prepared David for the final surgery.  Day after day they would answer David’s questions.  “Why is this happening to me?  Is God really there?  What will happen after this surgery?  Will I get sick again from the ‘sleepy medicine’?”  David has a number of significant and relevant questions.  After the first two surgeries, David had gotten very sick and didn’t want to leave the hospital.  Although the doctors and nurses gave him an anti-nausea shot, David’s body continued to react negatively.  Vomiting, stomach cramps, headaches and pain surrounded David after every surgery.  For David, the nightmare was going to continue.  Was this going to ever end?

On one occasion, David asked Ron, “Daddy, is Jesus really with me during my surgery?”

Understanding the fear in David’s mind, Ron responded, “Absolutely.  Jesus is always with you.  He never leaves us alone.”

“How do we know?” asked David.

Holding back the tears, Ron responded, “Jesus told us this in the Bible”.  It was then Ron waited for the response he thought he would get.  However, David was to respond in a different manner.

“Well, Daddy.  If you believe that, then so do I.  I love you, Daddy”.

No longer could Ron hold back his feelings.  Tears began streaming down his cheeks.  He opened his arms and David gladly embraced his father giving comfort and relief.  Attempting to control his composure, Ron looked into David’s eyes and said, “Thank you.  You helped Daddy today.”

“How?” asked David with a curious look.

“You helped me believe what God has told me.”

“What did he tell you?”

“He told me that this wasn’t about me.  It was about you.  God told me He was going to use these problems for your life.  I don’t know exactly what this means, but I do trust Him to complete the work He has started.”

David smiled.  He didn’t quite understand what Ron meant, but he knew if his daddy was happy then so was he.

The day of the final surgery came.  Once again, the anesthesiologist gave David the “sleepy medicine” but this time asked him a question.

“David, now that you are older.  Do you want to walk in on your own or would you like a wheelchair?”

David thought for a moment and looked up at Ron as if to ask for his approval.

“Would you like for me to carry you in again?” asked Ron.

David then looked at the anesthesiologist and with a sense of confidence and said, “I think I will walk in.  Can my daddy come too?”

With a smile on his face the anesthesiologist looked at Ron while bending down to David’s height and said, “Sure.  He can come too.”

David then grabbed Ron’s hand and walked down the hospital corridors to the operating room.  This was the first time David had seen it with his own eyes.  The other two times, David remembered falling asleep while waiting.  Fear began to encompass the young boy’s mind and body.  He knew he couldn’t turn back but he was scared.  David turned to Ron and asked, “Daddy, can you stay with me until I fall asleep?”

Ron smiled and said, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

They entered the operating room and Ron picked up David and placed him on the table.  While the doctors prepared the anesthesia machine, David held Ron’s hand.  Recognizing David’s fear, Ron bent over to kiss David.  He then assisted the doctors in placing the mask over David’s nose and mouth.  Ron then told David, “Remember, Jesus is with you and I’ll be right here when you wake up.”

David continued to hold Ron’s hand, gripping Ron tighter and tighter to let him know that David didn’t want his daddy to leave.  A few seconds later, David’s eyes drew heavy and his hand slowly released Ron’s hand.  Ron then knew it was the doctor’s moment.  Ron turned to the doctor and said, “This is my boy.  Please take care of him.”

The doctor acknowledged Ron and said, “As a parent, you have my word.”

Ron turned around and met the nurse in the hallway who was to assist him in getting back to the waiting area.  As Ron met up with Barbara, he embraced his wife and comforted her once again.  Both knew this was the last surgery, but it still didn’t make it any easier.  Emotions flared from one extreme to the next, from happiness to sadness, from smiling to depression.  Each moment was different from the next.  As they once again waited for the doctor to say she was done, Ron decided to take a walk outside.

Once there, Ron decided it was time to do business with God.  He hated the random thoughts that flooded his mind and wanted help to get them in order.  Standing by the ledge, Ron gripped it with both hands, looked up toward the sky and said, “Lord.  I know you are in control of all things.  You have shown me how faithful you are.  Even when I am not faithful, you are.  Please let me know if this is truly the last surgery.  I know you won’t give your children anything they can’t handle, but I am not sure if Barbara, David or I can go through this again.”

Ron then patiently waited for a response.  Almost immediately, his random thoughts became order.  Where there was disorder in his mind, now had a sense of organization.  As Ron searched his thoughts, he was reminded something Jesus told his disciples.  He remembered that during his final meal with his disciples, after his resurrection, Jesus told them to “baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.  Teaching them everything I command to you.”

Although Ron didn’t believe in trusting his thoughts normally, nor did he believe in numerology, Ron believed that this portion of God’s work was going to be complete.  He thought to himself, “The first surgery was for the Father, the second for the Son and this one for the Holy Spirit.  All of these surgeries were so that each member of the God-head could take part in working in David’s life.  Each one desired to do a work but each work was with one purpose, to bring David closer to God.”

Excited to hear this word from God, Ron immediately shared it with Barbara.  Although they would not have confirmation for years to come, Ron believed that God was done with teaching David this way.  It was God’s special way of reaching out to David and carrying him through the dark times of his life.  It was in their darkest moment, that God revealed Himself to their hurting souls.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. “ – Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)