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Not But I . . . But God

On Monday, February 26, 2018, I carried my husband, Dave, to the hospital. He was there 10 days and 11 nights. While he was there he had two medical procedures and one operation. During that time, I stayed with him all day almost every day, took care of our dog (as much as she would allow me to – she is a daddy’s girl) and worked from Dave’s hospital room, from home and even made it to the office once for a meeting.

I don’t handle stress well, yet I live in a state of what I call semi-stress all the time. My mind doesn’t know how to be quiet and my body doesn’t know how to relax. So, imagine the state I was in during the time I described above.

The hospital where Dave stayed had a coffee/water station on each floor. One day, about half-way through Dave’s stay, I went to get some ice at the station. There was an elderly African American woman standing at the station. She said “hello” and I replied “hello.” Out of politeness, more than true interest, I asked her how she was doing. She said “I am too blessed to be stressed!” Immediately the thought came to my mind that if anyone says that to me again, I’m going to scream. And so I popped off, rather sarcastically, “Well, I’m blessed, but I’m extremely stressed.” This woman, whose name was Margaret, reached out and grabbed my arm as I tried to escape. Following is a paraphrase of our conversation:

Margaret: Let me tell you a story. I stand before you as an example of God’s grace                and mercy and healing power. In 2008, I had a stroke that was so severe, the doctors          said I would never walk, never talk, would basically be a vegetable for the rest of                my life. And do you know what caused that stroke? Stress. My son-in-law is down              the hall-the doctors think he’s had a stroke. And do you know what caused that                    stroke? Stress. Who do you have in the hospital?”

Me: My husband.

Margaret: I want you to go back to his bedside, stand next to him and say over and             over “But God. But God. But God.” Repeat after me.

Me: But God. But God. But God.”

By now, I’m crying. “Thank you,” I blubbered. I start to walk away. But Margaret is             not  finished.

Margaret: Let me pray with you before you go. And she prayed such a powerful                  prayer – three sermons could have been preached from that prayer.

I walked away, after receiving the sweetest hug and more words of encouragement. I thought to myself, “Well, she has a great testimony. But I’m not sure that’s for me.” How thick-headed can one person be?? (Note here – I said “But I…)

Later that evening I was checking my personal email. I receive several emails each day from various Christian websites, book stores, women’s ministries, etc. One of the sites had sent an extra email that day as they were promoting a book titled…you got it…But God…can change anything.” Now God has spoken twice in one day – But God! But God! Not but I…But God! I ordered that book that night and two days later it came. I began reading it immediately. It was like the author had been spying on me.

I plan over the next few weeks to complete the book and hope to write some comments and thoughts about it as I go along.

In the meantime, just remember, it’s not “But I” – it’s “But God”!

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Honesty and Anger

When I started this blog nine years ago, I promised myself and you, my readers, I would always be open, honest, and transparent. I think I’ve done those things, yet, when I think about what I’ve posted, I realize that I’ve never posted anything that was gut-wrenching, soul-baring, lay-it-all-out-for-the-world-to-see exposure. I’ve played it safe – posting blogs about my family – my husband, mother, daddy, my kids, my sister, and friends. Or blogs about Lent and Advent. Or blogs about cooking. Anything but what’s going on with me. One reason I’ve not posted anything about me is that I am a very private person and a very proud person. I only share what’s going on in my life with one or two people. So today’s post is the gut-wrenching, soul-baring, lay-it-all-out-for-the-world-to-see post.

Now before you decide that you don’t want to read another sob story, I would like to ask that you hang in with me for a moment. There’s a lesson in all of this and I’m sharing because I hope that even just one person will learn something.

I have been angry for years. It hasn’t always been evident, in fact, most of the time, it simmers beneath the surface, ready to boil over without even a second’s notice. My anger has known no boundaries, it has been directed to anyone and everyone. It has been directed to me. But most of all, it has been directed to God. There have been so many times that He could have stopped situations from happening, made things happen that, in my opinion, needed to happen. After all, He is omniscient, omnipresent, all-mighty, can-do-anything-He-wants-to God. Right? Wrong.

God created each person and gave them a free will. That means that each one of us can choose-right or wrong, good or bad-but it’s our choice. Because God gave us a free will, He will not try to change our mind. He can’t change our mind unless we allow Him to. Sometimes we allow Him to and sometimes we don’t. When the people we love, admire, and look up to, choose not to change their minds, we get wounded, hurt, destroyed.  Instead of putting the blame where it truly should be, on the person who wounded us, we blame God. After all, He is omniscient, omnipresent, all-mighty, can-do-anything-He-wants-to God. He could have stopped that person from wounding us, if He’d wanted to. And that’s where I really got tripped up. “If He’d wanted to.” “If He’d wanted to” – read “If He’d loved me – really, truly loved me – He could have stopped that person. But since He didn’t stop that person(s), that means He doesn’t love me.” And that, dear friends, is a lie straight from the pits of hell.

The enemy wants us to believe that God doesn’t love us at all. Once our minds and hearts absorb that lie then our anger towards God seemingly has no limits. But God answers back with grace, mercy and love. God loves us more than we’ll ever be able to comprehend this side of heaven. Jeremiah 31:3 says “I have loved you, O my people, with an everlasting love; with loving-kindness I have drawn you to me”. (NIV) The Amplified Bible says it like this: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, with lovingkindness I have drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you.” God’s love for us is boundless, extravagant, reckless, unlimited and everlasting. And when we realize that fact, and absorb it into our hearts, minds, souls and bodies, we can no longer be angry at anyone. Most of all, God.