Tag: God’s love

questions

Why it’s ok to question God

I had a great conversation with a twenty-two-year-old yesterday. She admitted she was struggling with her faith, that she had a lot of questions.

questions

“Good,” I replied.

“What do you mean?”, she asked.

Here’s how I explained it.

“I wasn’t brought up in a Christian environment although I did go to Sunday School as a little girl. In fact, one of my most treasured memories is of a dear teacher with one totally cloudy eye. She was so loving. Her eye didn’t even bother me, an eight-year-old who is usually put off by such things. Anyway, because there was no one in my family to teach me, I asked a lot of questions. The cloudy-eyed teacher never had a problem with that.

When I got to be a teenager and then a young adult, I entered the stage where one asks the big philosophical questions, the ones they think no one before them has asked, but in fact, have been asked by young people since the beginning of time.

“What does it all mean?”

“What is the meaning of life, anyway?”

“What is my purpose on earth?”

“Why is there good and evil if God is all good?”

You know the questions. They are typical of any emerging, thoughtful mind.

Hers is no exception.

I went on:

“I find that even now, I’m still asking questions, maybe even more of them. That means my faith isn’t handed-down by parents, teachers, or preachers, or books and sermons. It’s mine. I’ve done my homework. You should do yours. Besides, you are in good company.

Throughout the Bible, people questioned God. I can’t think of a single incident where God chastised them for it. In fact, there are a lot of words in scripture like, “seek”, “find”, “learn”, “embrace”, “be transformed”, etc., all of which, in my opinion, means asking some questions first.

God is open to all honest questioning. He invites it by the word choices he inspired.

It is those people who never question who never grow.

I present this next little popular Pinterest ditty as exactly how not to think. questions(I just want to hit my computer some days when I see what people post and what people believe is scriptural. I hate these little sayings and I’m very careful how I use them.) Trust is not the absence of questioning. Trust is the product of questioning. If Abraham hadn’t put a period where God hadn’t intended, the whole Sodom and Gomorrah situation might have turned out differently. He stopped too soon. How’s about we trust God while we question?

 

To trust someone without the answers is the greatest trust of all.

 

We are in a classroom all the time, the classroom of life. The greatest minds, the strongest Christians, have always been those with an inquiring mind, those who don’t just ascribe to the “standard” formula of faith. The most faithful of Christians are those who don’t let God “go”, much like Jacob. They keep asking until they are given some sort of answer, even when that answer is something like, “That can’t be revealed just now. Wait on me.”

We went on to talk about why she doesn’t necessarily “buy” into certain theological concepts. We’ve had these conversations before and as usual, I didn’t try to persuade her any different. “A person persuaded against their will, is of the same opinion still“, is an absolute fact of life. Instead, I encouraged her to continue asking and never quit.

Some of you may wonder if I wasn’t a little afraid to go that route. What if she falls off the deep end? What if she gives up on her faith?

She won’t. And now you’re sure to be asking how I can be so sure.  Now, you are asking the questions.

I know because she is my granddaughter and I’ve prayed for her her entire life. My hubby and I were intimately involved with her and her brother’s childhood. My son and his wife invited us into almost every decision regarding them. We have spent countless hours (My spell-checker told me this was a cliché. I ignored it as some clichés are totally correct) with them. We have been there through their struggles and their triumphs.  They are more like our children than our grandchildren.

So when she left, I knew that all my prayers for her are being answered. She is going to be a strong woman of faith. I know it, even if she doesn’t. It has been hard with both of them to learn to adapt to them as young adults who happen to be our grandchildren, instead of our grandchildren who happen to be young adults. I talk with them as I would any young person their age. And then do you know what I do?

I pray.

I pray as hard as I can for them. I pray that they will always be willing to talk to me and their grandfather, that they will always be one hundred percent sure of our love for them.

I have to say that I wouldn’t want to be a young person at this time of history. Not because I think the world is any more stressful but because my world was “quite-er”. I wasn’t bombarded with everyone’s opinions every minute of the day because of social media. Interesting to note, neither her nor her brother are on Facebook a lot. They don’t “tweet”. Yes, they have Instagram and yes, they are on their phones texting a lot with their friends but the rest of it is not something they’re interested in. I’m grateful for that.

I never take my relationship with my grandchildren for granted. I work on it all the time as they go through the growing up process. I always try to remember what it was like for me and then I get all “teary-eyed” with gratitude as I remember that they have not had my experience. They have always had us to come to.

If you have young adults in your life, treat them with respect. Remember how confused you were at their age. Think what it would have felt like to have an older adult talk with you as they would anyone their own age, who would have been honest about their own questionings, who would have been honest about their own fears. Maybe you did;  I didn’t. I would’ve loved to have had those kinds of conversations with an adult I loved and respected.

Have enough faith to know that the same God you question, and you do, is the same God they question.

questions

He has seen you through and he will see them through as well. Encourage their questions and don’t be afraid that by doing so, you are sending them down a wrong path. If you are praying for them at the same time, God is protecting them.

God bless and have a good day.

 

 

 

 

 

hydrangeas

A beautiful reminder of my mom

Sometimes God visits us in a unique way, a sunset, a sunrise, a stranger’s words, a book, a flower.

We should never be surprised with how God “speaks”, and yet we always are.

It was last Sunday morning. I had gone to church (hubby was at the cabin as the electrician was coming) and heard a much-needed sermon based on Psalms 139. It soothed my aching heart as Sunday’s are particularly hard for me during this grieving process. My husband and I almost always stopped by my mom’s after church.

Last Sunday I did that again as I needed to drop off something for my brother. I knew he would be gone but he left the door open to her house. It was hard walking in as everything is the same. I’m hoping my brother buys some new furniture soon so things will look different.

Her Hydrangeas are in bloom so I debated, “Should I pick a bouquet or not? How hard would that be?”  I decided I would.

It was hard.

She grew the most beautiful and largest Hydrangeas I’ve ever seen. But here’s where the surprise came. Without a doubt, these are the largest Hydrangeas ever on her bush. I wanted to take them in the house and show them to her. I always did that;   I would cut a bouquet for her and me.

The one in front and to the right is just one hydrangea. Huge! If I were to place it on a cardboard pizza disc (the largest size), it would be that big.

hydrangeas

But she wasn’t there.

I came home and arranged them, tears flooding my eyes. Why were they so huge this year of all years.? Why not last year, when I could show them to her?

And, of course, that question we tell ourselves we will never ask but we always do.

“Did I do all I could? Were there things I should have done differently?”

So to be reminded that I am “wonderfully, and fearfully made”, brought me comfort. And the Hydrangea reminded me that I, too, can flourish. It’s OK to get on with things, to enjoy my life, to laugh, to enjoy her Hydrangeas. God knows us intimately. He sees our struggles. When it’s the darkest in our life, he is there.

Nothing we can do can interfere with God’s love for us and nowhere we run can keep us hidden from his loving care.  

 

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts Or How amazing are your thoughts concerning me God!
How vast is the sum of them
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

hydrangeas

God can comfort us in all kinds of ways with all kinds of “props”. For me, it was Hydrangeas.

God bless and have a good day.

What does grief “look” like on a Christian?

How does a Christian wear their faith and what does that faith look like when one’s journey is painful?

Here are my thoughts based on years of studying the Bible, reading books by the great authors of past and present, prayer, and my own trials. Faith isn’t necessarily:

  • A smiling face though your heart is breaking
  • Displaying no tears.
  • Saying the right words
  • A lack of questions.
  • Acting brave

It is through tears, heartbreak, and questions that we become more aware, not less, of God’s all-encompassing love.

How can we know a God of comfort if we’re never been in a situation to be comforted? How can we know a God of strength if we’ve never been held up by “divine arms”? How can we have a will to survive when it seems as if God has abandoned us if not by experiencing that “quiet, still voice” during the tough times?

I was a hospital chaplain for about ten years and I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen grief expressed ways you couldn’t even imagine, from screaming to fainting, to stroking the deceased from the top of their head to their feet, to family fist fights, to stoicism, to anger, to not caring at all.

The time we should least judge anyone’s faith is when they’re experiencing grief.  “There but for the grace of God go I“, is never truer than at a time like this.

Besides our time will come.

Guaranteed.

I think sometimes that’s why we judge. We don’t know how to separate what has happened to them and what may, no, will, eventually happen to us. So we project on them all the ways we hope we will behave but aren’t the least bit sure we will. We foolishly imagine we would handle it better.

But we don’t have a clue.

If we don’t want others to judge us during our darkest hour, we’d better not judge them during theirs.

That has been true for me as well. During my darkest times, I’m sure I haven’t acted as others might expect but I’ve walked in the awareness of the presence of God and, frankly, that has kept me from caring too much about what anyone else thought.

As I’m writing this, I’m reminded of what I read not too long ago:

We get through the tough times by learning to walk in the continual awareness that we’re walking in the presence of God.

It’s kind of like walking in the woods. You don’t see a path, but as you walk the branches move back, the ground is swept away, and a   path appears. You don’t see who is clearing your path but you know there is a Presence walking ahead of you preparing a way. It’s kind of mystical and magical and yet Scripture promises that God will, in fact, always prepare the way. But I like to visualize my scriptures, so this works for me.

If my mom’s behavior this past weekend means anything, her passing may be sooner than I want. I grieved for my dad but I will grieve for my mother even more. There’s something about losing a mother.

Will I act the way people think I should? I don’t even know if I will act the waythink I should. I only know I have been grieving for a long time now.

Have you seen some of those commercials that advertise meds for dementia? They present a romanticized picture of an illness that is anything but. Maybe in the beginning of the illness but let me tell you, it’s not sweet and lovely as they make it seem. Dementia is a horrible, degrading illness and watching a loved one deteriorate in unimaginable ways is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to watch.

I will grieve and miss my mother but I will not grieve her escape from this nightmare. I will grieve my loss but will rejoice when I think of her in God’s presence, whole and beautiful once again.

Whatever you’re dealing with today, whether it’s grief, depression or any number of other life’s assaults, I hope that you are aware of God’s presence in whatever way He has chosen to make Himself known to you.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.

end of life

When “two weeks” isn’t long enough.

I had hoped to write something different today. But my mom and her declining health take up all the creative space in my mind.

I am reeling hard from news received on Saturday. I asked the Hospice nurse how long she thought my mom had left. I did this not because I necessarily wanted to know but because there are grandchildren that live away and needed to have a heads up so they could visit.

“About two weeks”.

I wasn’t expecting that. I don’t think I’ve started breathing again.

Here’s what’s going on. She has aspiration-type pneumonia. After giving her antibiotics intravenously for three days and it not working, they said there was nothing they could do, so we brought her home.

Today I will approach her about the true nature of her illness. I think she knows anyway.  How I wish I would’ve never had to have this conversation, that she would’ve slipped away peacefully in the night, angels carrying her on their wings. But it’s important.

There may be things she needs “settled”, things she needs to be reassured of.

For me there is nothing.

Only that she knows how much I love her and I’ve been saying that for awhile.

Right at this minute, I’m trying to decide, do I take a pill to dry up the tears a little or not? I think I”ve decided. Not.

I don’t want to feel this pain but I know that feeling the pain now will only help me heal later. Feeling emotional pain is part of who we are. I wouldn’t deny myself laughter; why would I deny tears?

Wouldn’t you know it, it snowed last night and it’s dark and dismal. But the covering of snow reminds me that God’s loves covers everything. If I told you in detail all the decisions that have been made these last few month regarding my mom and how each decision turned out to be the right one, you would have to catch your breath. That’s how faithful God has been.

This is so hard. but I’m so grateful I’ve had my mom for as long as I have.

end of life

I’m trying to post throughout this experience, for me so I have a record and for you, so you can see how God equips during the worst of circumstances.

God bless each of you.

 

 

God's omnipreseence

Why God’s presence is comforting, never oppressive

Weren’t the Olympics great? I loved watching the swimmers and the runners. And then there was that scandal.

I was watching a newscast and the journalist pointed out how in this age of surveillance monitors everywhere, and where most everyone has a cell phone with a camera, that almost nothing can be hidden. So why did these Olympians feel they would get away with their behavior?

I immediately thought about the post I wrote about God’s omnipresence.

God's omnipreseence

Isn’t it interesting, how the reporter made that observation and yet, the truth is, our actions have never gone unnoticed? I mean, think about it.

We are concerned about people using their cell phones and taking unauthorized pictures of us and posting them somewhere. But as Christians, we never think about how nothing we do is hidden from God. That doesn’t mean we have to feel we’re under a cosmic microscope at all times, or that God is recording everything we do to trip us up. I just mean that we are always in God’s presence.

The fact is that we are never out of God’s presence.  Even when we’re eating a bag of Cheetos.

I find it comforting to think God is aware of everything I say or do. It makes me feel secure. Children function better when they feel they are in a secure environment. God, as our heavenly Father, provides that for us, His children. And if you’re someone like me, who never experienced that security as a child, it is even more comforting.

I will tell you next week about how this has played out in my lie this week. It has been a tough one for a number of different reasons. Lots of people with lot of needs. Lots of things on the horizon and the disntinct possibility that some situations are going to go from bad to worse. But I have never had such peace as I’ve had this week knowing that I have been in God’s presence every single moment.

If someone had told me I would handle this week’s events with as much peace and calm as I have, I probably wouldn’t have believed them.

I love this portion of Scripture and find it so reassuring.

Psalm 139:7-16New International Version (NIV)

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

Be aware of God’s presence. Make it a point. Unless you do make a deliberate effort, it will be easy to forget it. Like most things in life, intention isn’t enough. It’s the follow-through that counts.

Life gets crazy at times. Isn’t it good to know we are surrounded at all times by God’s love?

God bless and have a good day.

 

 

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