Monday, November 25, 2013

I'm thankful...

I spent the past weekend talking about the existence of God with a group of amazingly intelligent high school students.  The questions they asked were both challenging, and asked with a heart of desire to lead people to Christ, rather than win an argument.  We finished up the retreat on Sunday morning talking about how an all good God could exist knowing that there is evil and suffering in the world. This is a question that has been on my mind a lot over the past several months.
I have asked many questions of God regarding Josiah's diagnosis.  Why him?  Why me?  What did my son ever do to deserve this?  How can you allow these things to happen?  None of these questions are easily answered and to be honest, the full answer is not to be comprehended with simple logic.  Sometimes, one has to step out with faith to find understanding.
These questions are even harder to answer when you're in the midst of the suffering yourself.  But every once in a while something or someone steps up to the plate to show you that God is alive and well in the lives of his people.  He is working in this long-suffering world.  He does care.
Several weeks ago, the church that I grew up in, called out of the blue to offer assistance to my family with bills that had been piling up since Josiah's birth.  One of my heroes called me and asked how we were doing, to which I replied, "Well to be honest, sometimes its a struggle."  Two days later a generous donation from the church arrived in our mailbox.
Just a few short weeks ago, while attending a conference in San Antonio, I was confronted by a dear friend.  He asked, "How are you doing with everything?"  I said, "I'm good.  Things are getting better. Yeah, we're good."  I say that a lot to people to keep them at arm's length.  Truth be told its a lie and easier than getting into every emotion I'm feeling; every thought I'm thinking.  But this friend was having none of that.  He simply stared at me and smiled, as if to say, "Bull.  I know you're not okay."  Finally, I broke the silence and said, "You're right, I'm not good.  I'm struggling."  What followed was a much needed time of debriefing and counseling.  In that conversation I realized that I'm still angry.  I'm still hurt.  I'm still questioning.  My faith is wavering no matter how hard I try to keep it from doing so.  And then there was a glimpse of healing.  I made a decision to get help.  And, I'm doing that.  I made a decision to refocus on the relationships that mean the most to me, God, Lisa, Lydia and Josiah, family, friends, and I'm trying.
And just a few short hours ago, I walked into my office to find a letter on my desk.
Bobby and Lisa,
We have heard about some of the challenges and trials that you and your dimly have faced recently.  we have also been told about your unwavering faith through these times and your great example of the hope that we as Christians should have regardless of what comes our way. 
We know that there may be some burdens in your lives that won't be removed soon.  However, in the midst of those burdens we hope that we may be able to facilitate a small blessing in your lives.  Please accept this gift from one Christian couple to another.  We pray that this will make it easier for you to enjoy the blessing that God has richly provided to all of us during this holiday season.  
Know that as members of the body of Christ, you are not alone.
With love, your brother and sister in Christ.
And that's it…no name, no address, no desire to be know.  Just a letter of blessing and a gift that unless holding it, I would've never thought real.

So, I'm thankful.  I'm thankful for the teens in Stillwater, who are not afraid to ask the tough questions, and even less fearful of finding answers.  I'm thankful for the McCune church of Christ, and the people who helped raise me, and are taking care of me still.  I'm thankful for my friend Ben, and so many like him, who are not going to back down, or abandon me because I'm struggling.  I'm thankful for an amazing couple who I may never know, or get to thank in person for a gift that blessed us beyond measure, the knowledge that we're not alone (the cashier's check was nice too).
I'm thankful to God that through so many avenues he is showing me that He is alive and cares and working in his people.  I'm trying desperately to make my way back to you God.  I've been away for a while and the road is littered with obstacles and questions, but I'm thankful that you're not giving up on me.
If you're reading this, well, I'm thankful for you too.  You are a blessing to me and to my family.  You are loved.  And those blessed love relationships are what this daddy desires.

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