Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Man Movie

My man and I went on a date this past Friday. Call it an early Valentine celebration, as this morning I put him on a plane bound for West Africa. We decided to see a movie after a very nice dinner, and the movie choices came down to a sappy chick flick or a man movie, chalked full of violence and adventure. I think the last movie that we saw together was a sappy chick flick, so I took one for the team this time and we saw the man movie. "The Hurt Locker." Not for the faint of heart.

It was a war movie based in Iraq in 2004. It followed a team of specialists who would disassemble bombs (I'm sure there was a name for them, but I'm completely ignorant to that terminology). By the time the movie was over, I was completely exhausted and thoroughly stressed, meanwhile my husband was jazzed up and ready to go conquer the world. Something occurred to me by the movie's end, though, exhausted as I was: men want to be a part of something bigger than themselves and thrive on the adventure of being a hero.

The story line in this movie followed a team of 3 men who were the amazing heroes in some very harrowing situations. They saved thousands of lives. They were called in to save the day when everyone else was evacuating. It was intense. And then, when their tour was finished, they went home. To cereal aisles that were entirely too long, and house gutters that needed to be cleaned out, and veggies that needed to be chopped for dinner. They went home where no one knew what they had seen, where the horrific images of death and destruction were a million miles away, where the tales of their travels were neither welcomed nor appreciated. They were expected to assimilate back into the mundane of life, knowing that people were still dying in their absence.

At one point after the soldiers had returned home, one was trying to tell his wife a story about disarming a bomb, and his wife was giving only a half ear to listen and quickly changed the subject, asking him to chop the carrots for dinner.

Have you ever tried to tame your man? Have you ever hoped that some wild-hair idea that he came up with would simply pass away without further exploration? Have you ever asked him to tone things down just a bit? Have you ever used the children as leverage, such as claiming that the children need their father? Have you ever reminded him that we need to be practical and responsible first? Have you ever seen his spirit just shrink back into nothingness?

Are our men not created to engage in the battles of the world? Were they not created for the struggle and adventure of conquering, rescuing, and toiling to create a better place? I think that sometimes we, as women, struggle with all that. We are relational, wanting peace and tranquility. Let's work things out over a cup of tea, or a good jog. And we want our men to be the same. That's predictable and rational, easier to control. But they weren't made like that. They long and ache for the adventure of it all. And I don't just mean travel, because I certainly love a good adventure. They love the quest, long for it. They want the battle, to be tested and proved worthy as a man. But what if they are convinced to not engage in it at all?

Today I put my man on a plane and I am praying for wild adventures for him. I miss him terribly and this is going to be a long spell without him here, but I am crazy about Jesus and am so proud of my man for stepping out in obedience, that others may know Him too. The girls miss daddy too, but they know that daddy's words about Jesus aren't just lip service. This is life and death. It's real. They get to see what it looks like to be completely sold out, holding nothing back, and we pray for the day that they too step out in obedience to Jesus, only left to wonder what it will look like.

Just the thoughts in my head as I go to bed alone tonight. Miss my man. Proud of my man.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Perfect Love Drives Out All Fear

One of my favorite book series is "The Chronicles of Narnia" and there is a line that has stuck with me for years. The children are learning about Aslan, the lion, and one of the children says, "Is he safe?"

The answer that came is so powerful and speaks to the character of God.

He's not safe, but He is good.

That is my God. He is anything but safe, but He is good. As I sat there that morning, with the pressing question of trust whirling around my heart, that line came to my mind once again. He's not safe, but He's good.

In order for me to trust God, in all the uncertainties and unpredictable possibilities, I must know that I know that I know that God is good. Whatever answer He decides to give is based on His goodness and His sovereignty to know the best possible solution to bring the most glory and honor to His Name, even when my limited vision says otherwise.

Perfect love drives out all fear, and so that morning, on my knees in the bathroom, I answered, "Yes, I will trust You. You are in control and I will trust that your sovereignty is bigger than all of this."

You see, in order to trust God with the best of care of my dad, I must firmly believe that God is real and personal and hears the cries of His children. I must firmly know that not only does He hear them, but that He cares. Then I must believe that He is good as His Word says He is. And I must trust that whatever answer He gives is the best. Whatever answer.

I guess for many people these things might be obvious and easy, quick Christianese would have belted these things out without a flinch, but as one who has felt the disappointment of unanswered prayers, who has felt the sting of God "not coming through," who has felt the pain of being let down, these things are quite a challenge. Because now I wasn't just asking for provision for a bill to be paid, or hopes that the family van would be fixed, but the life of my daddy. This was much bigger. And I had a make a choice.

With tears streaming and heart aching, I opened my hands in surrender. "I am interceding on behalf of my father's life. I trust You in all things."

I love you Jesus. I love that you have such patience and love for us to allow us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. I love you because You are trustworthy and good. I love that while are you not safe, your plan is amazing and the promise of eternity with You is true. You are worth it all. I thank you for healing my daddy and giving him another day to serve You here on earth. I thank you for watching over and keeping my mom in the midst of all this. You gave her strength and clarity in a stressful time. I love you for all that and more. Your name is a shelter like no other, and I will cling to it. I love you.

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Terrifying Truth

I talked with my dad while he was in the hospital, and in his doped up state, he shared with me that as soon as he arrived at the hospital, his thought was that I would be there to take care of him. Because that's what I do. Except that this time, he was over 900 miles away, and I have a family to care for here, so I couldn't just drop everything and drive to Texas, though, truth be told, that was my first instinct. Drop everything. It's time to go.

When I hung up the phone with mom that morning, I sat on the floor weeping, working out in my head how I could get my family squared away and hop in the car headed for Texas. I was working it out. And the question came again.

Do you trust Me?

Well, yes, Lord, but...who's going to take care of him? who's going to ask these questions? who's going to take care of my mom? who's going to be sure he's getting the best of care? who's going to follow up with these issues? who's going to be his advocate? who's going to get him cleaned up when he vomits from the anesthesia? who's going to call for help when his pain gets worse? who's going to do all the things that need to be done so that my daddy gets the absolute best of care?

Do you trust Me?

Well, yes, Lord, but...You are so unpredictable. Can I trust you? How do I know You are counting these tears of mine? How do I know they will make a difference? How do I know that if I cry out to You, You will hear me and answer? How do I know that I can trust You with this? This is my daddy we're talking about. How do I know I can trust You? I've seen Your haphazard ways and You terrify me.

You terrify me.

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Do You Trust Me?

My father has heart disease. His first heart attack was several years ago, and at that time, he received his first of several subsequent stents. And so while this is not new information for us, it has not yet become easier when news arrives that my father is having chest pain and is now in the hospital.

That was the phone call that I received a couple of days ago. My mother had called early in the morning to notify me that my father had been having chest pain, so they spent the night in the ER where he showed some changes on his EKG, and was soon to be admitted to a hospital bed while his pain continued to be evaluated. But this time was different because he wasn't here, with me, but in another state. My folks moved to Texas at the beginning of this year, and so now my dad was sitting in a hospital over 900 miles away from me. Ever felt helpless?

As my mom was relaying all the information to me on the phone and tears began to pour down my cheeks, what I heard in my heart was a question that I dread to answer. He has asked it of me many times before in my life, and somehow, I have always managed to avoid answering it. Maybe that was answer enough. And yet again, He was pressing in, asking...

Do you trust me?

Well, by head knowledge, this is an easy answer. By head knowledge, I know what I should say. But my heart...I mean, this is my daddy we were talking about.

I worked in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit here in Tucson for over 10 years. I've seen more deaths than I could ever recall. I've carried some of the most precious of God's children to the morgue. I've seen prayers for healing, and the grief and anguish of prayers unanswered. I've seen weeping and wailing as parents cry out for the God of mercy to lay His healing hands on their babies. And I've seen it go unanswered. It all seems so haphazard. No rhyme or reason as to why this one was saved and this one passed. No formula that works and no guarantee that this prayer, this intercession, will "work."

Needless to say, this has become quite a sticky point for me in my walk. How do I pray for healing, how do I step in faith with this request, knowing how unreliable He has seemed through the years? Can I trust You? I don't know. You are so unpredictable.

Ugh. Did I just say God is unreliable? Many times, it seems easier to simply not ask, as it seems that God is going to do what He wills to do, regardless of the pleas of broken hearts and hurting souls. I came across this verse today in 1 Samuel 15:29:

He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not man, that he should change his mind.

It's a sticky point, and I'm sure that there are some great theological answers to this struggle, and great, pat Chistianese-answers that would rebuke me for even asking the questions, but that morning, as I sat on the floor of my bathroom weeping, helplessness overtook me. And my God said, "Do you trust me?" and I replied, "How can I?"

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