Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 – An Adventure in Faith

Where do I even start? 2011 has been a really rough year, stress at work and stress at home. I had no place to escape.

I could laugh at my stupidity when I got poison oak in January from hiking unprepared and encountering mud that forced Brad and I into the bushes. I suffered for a couple of weeks, then finally went to the doctor and got a Cortisone shot and a Prednisone prescription, which made me feel 90% better and kept me from wanting to crawl out of my skin. That was January and I can laugh at myself now.

Then, one Saturday morning in late February as Brad and I were getting ready for church, I received a call from my sister. She said Dad had a heart attack on Friday night, was in a coma, and dying. I hurriedly bought airlines tickets while Brad arranged for time off for me. I flew out Monday morning and Dad died that Wednesday, March 2.

In mid-March I bought an iPhone (had to wait for my current contract to run out). I am still in love with it!

On March 27 I completed my first (and so far only) half marathon! I covered 13.1 miles in 3:08:45, even though I am quite overweight and had to walk a lot. It was hard as heck, and I can’t wait for next year.

In May was the annual 12k Bay to Breakers run. A fun race as always and a badly needed break with all the stress this year.

May was also supposed to be the end of the world (May 21 per Harold Camping). I work at Family Radio. I knew I felt broken over what I saw being taught, but I didn’t know how broken. I tried to kill myself via an overdose of Xanax in the early morning hours of May 18. Brad didn’t know, but when I was acting weird later that day he called 911. The hospital checked me over, then sent me on John George, the local psych hospital. I was there for two days, finally being released Friday afternoon (May 20). I was off work the entire next week and burned through all but four hours of my sick time.

The May 21 prediction didn’t come true of course, and since Camping had two dates in mind (the May 21 rapture and October 21 end of the world), he just moved all events to October 21. By the time the second date rolled around, even Family Radio no longer believed their own hype.

I think it was June when my sister April suggested I use the money Dad left to us to buy a condo or townhouse in my area. Brad and I went looking and found the perfect condo on only our second weekend of searching. Escrow didn’t close until the following month, and we had to deal with the leak in the bathroom ceiling before we could lay carpet, and we had to lay carpet before we could move in. We finally moved toward the end of July and the HOA was kind enough not to charge us for that month.

In September I went back for a visit at my old church, which I left 12 years ago. It was good to see everybody.

On October 18 I finished the project I has started on January 1 - reading the Bible in chronological order. It was my third time through and very worthwhile.

October is also the month we got the bathroom ceiling fixed. It has been partially torn down before we moved in, and it took until October before I hired someone and arranged for the time off work.

It’s been a very long year.

I have wondered how I have made it through this year with my faith intact. There have certainly been times when I have railed against God and said all sorts of horrible things that I didn’t really mean (I hate You, I want You out of my life, etc.). He never abandoned me, and is big enough to take my anger and give me love in return. That is grace.

My second night in the hospital I couldn’t sleep (couldn’t sleep more than 3-4 hours a night for a week afterward either), and I laid in my hospital bed unable to pray much more than “Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.” At that time I didn’t know if He would answer my prayer or not, but I knew He heard me. In the end, He not only gave me the mercy I pleaded for, but gave me grace in the unexpected gift from my sister of two days at a spa in the wine country.

As I lay in that bed, God reminded me of Scriptures, and He reminded me of an article I read saying to thank God for something you have never thanked Him for before. What better place than a psych hospital to practice praise? So I thanked Him for the clothes I was wearing (even though they were not my own), and bed I slept in (even though it wasn’t mine), the food I ate (even though it tasted terrible), and the roof over my head (even though it was the roof of my prison).

I know exactly what God has been doing this year. He’s telling me it’s time to get serious and grow up. Get serious in prayer and Bible study. Understand that He is good no matter what my circumstances are. That’s one thing that I finally got through my thick skull – God is good even when life is bad. My circumstances do not change His essential nature. How many years have I wasted getting angry at Him for every bad thing that happens? My entire Christian walk – too many years. No more. I will praise Him even when the storm surrounds me. He is worthy of praise simply because He is my Creator. He is the Potter; I am the clay (Jeremiah 18:1-6), the work of His hands (Isaiah 19:25).

It was December one year ago when a John Piper sermon challenged me to get serious about my faith. The first 2 ½ months were great – then the shit hit the fan, and it’s been a wild ride since then. But if He has seen me through everything so far, He will see me through whatever lies ahead. I have to say, the last year has been an adventure of faith, and if I have learned anything, I have learned that God is faithful when we are weak. He has enough faith for both of us and holds me up even when I doubt. He is the only one who has been able to tame my rebel heart and get me to rest quietly in His love. O, how peaceful those moments are!

This year has been a test of my faith. Dad’s death sent me into a spiritual tailspin, though truth be told, most of the questions I asked were questions I would have asked whether I was Calvinist or Arminian – they were human questions about God’s justice in sending anyone to hell, not questions of human choice or God’s choice. It was God who got me through, patiently helping me to ask the right questions so that I could discover the right answers. I didn’t really expect Him to give me answers, and am humbled that the God of the universe would work with me one-on-one to get me through Dad’s death and answer my questions.

Thank You for seeing me through all the trials this last year, God. Thank You for making me get serious about my faith right before my life went into a tailspin. Thank You for hearing me when I knew I didn’t deserve it. I will never understand why Your name is so important, but I am thankful that Your zeal for Your name and Your glory has made me an object of mercy whom You will never give up on. Yours is a love that I do not deserve and will never fully understand. Thank You for YOU.

No comments: