Madilyn and I sat on the carport talking with Mammaw at her house last night. A brisk breeze swept between the mountains, signaling a coming change in the weather.
Mammaw talked about what life has been like since her husband, my Pappaw, passed away last August. She said her son, Uncle Jonathan, said she had better be careful about the impression she gives off sometimes that she doesn’t want a lot of visitors from church. She said it’s true — she doesn’t want a bunch of visitors because of the time she wants to spend with the Lord. She told us about the hours she spends praying and simply talking to God. Tears well up in her eyes when she talks about the visitations she’s experienced. She has tangibly felt God’s presence many times.
And not just in the past year … she has walked with God since she was very young. But after Pappaw passed away, I have often prayed especially that God would be her companion. And He has.
I look at this powerful woman of prayer and see someone who truly lives with a heart after God. Holiness isn’t a checklist of choices she makes everyday; it’s simply the way she lives. Prayer isn’t a daily discipline; it’s an ongoing conversation with God. Evangelism isn’t an obligation; it’s compulsory.
The wind we felt on the carport blew up some much-needed rain in the area today. It was punctuated by a beautiful, full rainbow. Hopefully this rain in the natural will parallel some much-needed rain in the spiritual …
Last week my dad died.
He died just two days short of being diagnosed with melanoma three months ago. It spread from a lymph node under his arm to both sides of his brain. Radiation took his hair. The cancer took everything else, including his hearing. His weight melted until he was a skeleton with skin. It happened so fast many friends didn’t realize what was happening. His own brother managed to come visit him only hours before he passed.
My mom took care of him these last months in a way I can only describe as fierce. I saw her live out the nightmare part of her wedding vows.
I had a baby last summer, and ever since, I’ve experienced some of the darkest days my faith has ever seen. I’m not sure why.
When people say something to the effect, “How can people question the existence of God when they see a baby come into the world?” I answer, “I never questioned the existence of God until I was in labor!” I say it as a joke, but it’s really a cry for help. I wish I could shout, “Help me! I’m not sure where God is anymore, and I’m not sure why.”
My grandfather died two weeks after my baby was born, and although it was unexpected, it wasn’t a death that made me question God. My baby is healthy and wonderful, and so is my husband. I have a great job … so I haven’t been able pinpoint the root of this intense doubt and wrestling, but it’s been there, secretly, just waiting to rear its ugly head.
Since dad has gotten sick, and now that he’s gone, I’ve been inundated with stories of other people dying unexpectedly, people having horrible illnesses, children suffering, natural disasters looming — it’s overwhelming, and I feel my heart filling up with fear. I can’t even watch the news.
And I know it’s not what God wants. I feel like some days the faith is there for me to walk on, other days I can’t seem to find my footing at all. I know I’ve got to give it to God, and get back into the Word. The doubt has just choked the life out of my discipline.
But I finished reading a book tonight that has cut into some of the unhealthy things that have begun to take root in my spirit. It’s called The Sacred Echo by Margaret Feinberg. I read it to review it, but it ended up reviewing me. Margaret deals with the tough questions of life — why some people are healed and some aren’t; why some prayers are answered and some are met with a deafening silence — and points to the answers God does give, like “you are not alone.”
Tonight, I think that’s enough to get me through. Behind the heavy doubt and fear, I sense a tug of hope and faith. It’s gaining strength to fight back. It has to. I can’t handle the alternative.
To be continued …