Anchored In The Deep

Over the past few months I’ve been wearing holes in the soles of my figurative shoes from the endless pacing that my mind has been engaged in trying to figure out best how to interpret, understand, and responsibly handle the circumstances that my dad has found himself in after being diagnosed with two different kinds of cancer (one being a stage four malignant brain tumor) within the course a month or so. As I’ve told my dad and others numerous times, I cannot imagine somebody having worse luck (cancer being just the latest in a slew of frustrating and undeserved challenges he’s faced) and I can’t fathom any reason that he would deserve to have to deal with such issues. I just don’t understand, as well-meaning people tell me, how my dad’s suffering can benefit anyone in God’s grand scheme, least of all, himself. Then there are other people who see my dad’s circumstances as an opportunity to discredit the notion of a loving God to the point of comparing him to a mother who shakes her child awake in the middle of the night just so that she can show her love to her child by soothing him back to sleep. Well, get ready, because, here’s my big comeback…

Ok. I really don’t have one. From a logical human perspective, his argument is just as plausible as anything else I’ve got. But, then again, why should I try to place my own limitations (or his) on God? As a parent, I recognize that my kids don’t always understand why I don’t let them get away with certain things and they certainly let me know about it when they’re not happy with my decision. I also have to admit that I can be a real sucker for the crocodile tears that both of my kids are capable of producing in an instant. But, the fact is that if I don’t act as a responsible parent by helping them to make good decisions, sometimes allowing them to experience the negative consequences that come as a result of bad decisions, and, also, helping them to understand and deal with the fact that life isn’t always fair, I’m setting them up for failure in their own lives. Simply put, there are things that they simply can’t understand at the ages of three and seven that my wife and I do understand. Our judgments overrule theirs whether they like it or not and it is for their good whether they understand that or whether they don’t.

I just finished reading the Old Testament book of Job through for the first time in my life. I read parts of it as a teenager as part of a bible study and knew the general gist of it, but, this seemed like a good time to take it in as an adult and, in a nutshell, here’s what happened: Job was a tremendously wealthy guy with a prosperous family. Based on the precept of some kind of cosmic discussion between Satan and God (not sure how literal the book is) Job ends up being tested with the tragic loss of his family, his wealth, and the onset of health issues that make him absolutely miserable. Over the course of the forty-two chapters he questions God, complains about the notion that he doesn’t deserve all of the trouble he’s experiencing and he receives at first friendly support and then not-so-friendly advice from three other men who basically suggest that: 1-He does deserve it. 2-He has no right to question God. In the end, though, God responded and dismissed Job’s acquaintances’ advice as near-sighted and inaccurate. As for Job, God never really answered His questions, but, He did make one thing clear to Job and his acquaintances: men are not capable of knowing or understanding the purposes of God. Job rightly concluded, “…surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know,” (Job 42:3). God went on to bless the rest of Job’s life far greater than it had been prior to losing so much to begin with. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I will not claim that I understand what is going on with regards to the trouble that my dad is experiencing and why he has to experience it (though I can say, with conviction, that watching him go through this and not being able to change it is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to experience).  Additionally, I know that my arguments for trusting God may not always win out in a logical debate (perhaps there are arguments that could be used to win in such a debate, but, the person debating would have to be someone much more intellectually qualified than myself like, say, C.S. Lewis, for example). But, I do know that my dad is suffering and I don’t know why this has happened to him. But, God sees and knows everything and my faith in Him is the only hope that I’ve got. If He’s allowed it to happen, it will serve the ultimate purpose of good as God is love (2 John 4:8). He will win over sin (also known as selfishness) and the damage that sin has caused over the course of human history. As for my dad and I, I will continue to pray for him daily. I will pray for his soul. I will pray for his peace of mind. And I will pray for his health, because, though his circumstances may seem intimidating to us, they are are not intimidating to God and He can use them in whatever way he sees as being necessary. Until then, I will do everything I can to stand by my dad and support him and I will maintain my faith in my Father in heaven, my Abba.

…being confident in this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

1 Corinthians 13:12

Steven Curtis Chapman: Chapman Family Tragedy

Words in a blogpost don’t come anywhere close to approaching the pain the Chapman family will likely be experiencing for some time as a result of their tragedy. Mathematically and logically they just don’t compare when considering the recent devastation in Myanmar and China in relation to the Chapman’s situation. But, because of the personal connection that I have to Chapman’s music over time (e.g., ”I Will Be Here” was our wedding song and “Cinderella” a song that is now eternally linked to my daughter), it weighs heavily. My family will continue to pray for them.

“Just hours before this close knit family was celebrating the engagement of the oldest daughter Emily Chapman, and were just hours away from a graduation party marking Caleb Chapman’s completion of high school. Now, they are preparing to bury a child who blew out 5 candles on a birthday cake less than 10 days ago…” [Jim Houser, Chapman’s Manager]

Beauty And Depravity’s post on the Chapman tragedy

Memorial news and Information regarding how to contribute, in lieu of flowers, to the Chapman’s foundation which awards grant money to needing families who want to adopt can be found on his website.

Shaohannah’s Hope

Damn Our Complacency!

There is an echo that keeps reverberating in my head and I just can’t get rid of it. Tragedies of gigantic proportion have occurred in the last couple of weeks in places like Myanmar and China. These events surfaced on the daily news without regard for and in addition to injustices that rage daily all over this planet in other places like Ethiopia and Darfur. Hundreds of thousands of people, living in circumstances unthinkable to those of us who walk through our daily lives cushioned by the golden calves of American culture, suffering and dying in the wake of oppression, starvation, disease, human greed, and natural disaster.

Yet, here I sit. Typing on my laptop in a comfortable living room, nursing a bowl of ice cream as I type about the deficit that exists between the death and hopelessness that so many experience in the world and the multitudes of hypocritical, complacent Christians who just ignore it all so that they can plug in their ipods, attend praise and worship concerts for $25 a pop and listen to the latest Tobymac album while sipping grande Starbucks Frappuccinos.

I’m a walking black hole who executes a quick online payment to some relief organization just to take the edge off of the guilt that amazingly surfaces through my thick shell in response to the news that the cyclone in Myanmar ripped a child right out of the hands of her father, never to be seen again.

There are certainly times, when despite my faith, I have no answer to give. Perhaps sometimes the questions are larger and come faster than my prayers can leave my lips. Then there are times when questions and answers are pointless and we should, instead, be focusing our attention on what we can do to help those in need. That time is now. Yet, here I sit asking questions.

“Oh My God”

Oh my God, look around this place
Your fingers reach around the bone
You set the break and set the tone
Flights of grace, and future falls
In present pain
All fools say, “Oh my God”

Oh my God, Why are we so afraid?
We make it worse when we don’t bleed
There is no cure for our disease
Turn a phrase, and rise again
Or fake your death and only tell your closest friend
Oh my God.

Oh my God, can I complain?
You take away my firm belief and graft my soul upon your grief
Weddings, boats and alibis
All drift away, and a mother cries

Liars and fools; sons and failures
Thieves will always say
Lost and found; ailing wanderers
Healers always say
Whores and angels; men with problems
Leavers always say
Broken hearted; separated
Orphans always say
War creators; racial haters
Preachers always say
Distant fathers; fallen warriors
Givers always say
Pilgrim saints; lonely widows
Users always say
Fearful mothers; watchful doubters
Saviors always say

Sometimes I cannot forgive
And these days, mercy cuts so deep
If the world was how it should be, maybe I could get some sleep
While I lay, I dream we’re better,
Scales were gone and faces light
When we wake, we hate our brother
We still move to hurt each other
Sometimes I can close my eyes,
And all the fear that keeps me silent falls below my heavy breathing,
What makes me so badly bent?
We all have a chance to murder
We all feel the need for wonder
We still want to be reminded that the pain is worth the thunder

Sometimes when I lose my grip, I wonder what to make of heaven
All the times I thought to reach up
All the times I had to give
Babies underneath their beds
Hospitals that cannot treat all the wounds that money causes,
All the comforts of cathedrals
All the cries of thirsty children – this is our inheritance
All the rage of watching mothers – this is our greatest offense

Oh my God
Oh my God
Oh my God

If you should feel so inclined to contribute to those in need in places like Myanmar and China, please consider World Vision. Because of their pre-established child/community sponsorship programs, have been able to distribute resources directly to victims in Myanmar and China.