Fear and Faith

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There’s a fear within me that something is going to happen to me.  My health has been a bit precarious in my life.  My liver function levels have been up and down lately.  I’ve lost so much weight lately due to an inflammation in my intestine as well as complications from my diabetes.  This is the time of year when I’ve experienced all of my trials and pain.  It holds too many memories for me to withstand at times; like a bucket trying to contain the waves of the sea during a storm.  It shows my weakness and need of Jesus, but it manifests in gripping even tighter on my loved ones.  Past trials make me see things clearer; pictures are sharper, memories more cherished, the present more appreciated.

The listening of my wife’s breath as it slowly goes in and out, dripping into my ears like a sweet symphony as the moon waxes through our window.  It is the small steps and pitter-patter of my youngest child running down the hallway, laughing as he plays with my oldest boy who just might be the best older brother in the world.  It’s the grace I see in my daughter’s eyes as she peeks up at me when my voice gets a little too loud and I near the line of going to far and too close to crush her little sweet spirit.  I hold her then, in my arms, longing for more of these moments, asking for promises from her that when I am old and gray, if I make it that far, that she will still let me hold her.  It’s the closing of her eyes when I say I am sorry, that instead of being mad, I am called to protect her and love her.  Her sweetness is my accountability; her grace to me is my motivation.

It’s the smells of Mia’s hair after a shower, all nice and clean, as she asks me to brush it so it won’t be tangled in the morning.  It’s both Noah and Mia running up to me asking me to brush their teeth or Noah grabbing his silky blanket and, almost at age seven, sucking his thumb as he nuzzles his nose and face into my neck at any time of the day.  It’s the focus of my son, longing for validation from me, as he kicks the ball during practice that I coach.  He loves me, I know he does, and wants so badly to do well in soccer, but wants even more for his daddy to say “good job.  I’m so proud of you.”  And I tell him.  And he beams.  And in goes to his thumb.  It’s these moments that are slipping through my fingers quicker than I can imagine.

So I take the time to get down in the dirt with Noah, dressed in our cub scouts uniforms.  It’s these moments that spur me to say “yes” to them and “no” to my own time.  It’s not about resting, it’s about them.  So of course I’ll be Noah’s pack leader in cub scouts.  Of course I’ll be his coach.  And when Mia’s asks, of course I’ll be the loudest who cheers at her gymnastics and of course I’ll hug the hardest after her dance recital.  Of course I’ll run first thing in the morning to get Christian out of his crib, or dance with him in the hallway to old VBS music.  Absolutely.  I’ll be the world to them, because in me, they see my Jesus.  It’s just the way of things.  In me, they see God, judge God, know God, love God, and experience God.  I may have a fear, and though there’s nothing to fear in God, I know God uses my weaknesses for His glory.  So I revel in my children, in my wife that is more than lovely, in the little fingers that grasp mine and the smiles that encompass my heart.

I may fear, but I’m okay.  I may be sick at times, but I’m okay.  In fact, I’m better than okay.  I’m exceptional.  I see things sweeter than most; I appreciate things more than most.  And for that, I wouldn’t change anything.

Health Update

December 24th marked the anniversary of my first liver transplant sixteen years ago as well as the death of my third child last year.  It was a hard but good holiday for us as we spent time together as a family thinking about all the Lord has done for His glory.  Today marks the anniversary of my second liver transplant and instead of celebration, I feel somewhat shoved to the ground with my face down in the mud of contemplation.

I write in my office now, after having posted on twitter some disheartening news, reeling from the possibility of new trials and new circumstances that seem to plague me.  Oh Father, why do they plague me, bite at me, and never let me go?  I know I will not get the answer to the why, but Lord; Lord!  It is hard for me right now; my flesh is screaming loudly in my ears.  I heard from the medical staff at SCRIPPS that the latest blood test results for my liver were not good; in fact, it was bad enough to elicit very important tests and scans that could only mean one thing; my health is in flux again.  The earliest I could get in to get these tests is January 10th with a follow up appointment on January 30th, a day before my oldest son’s fifth birthday; two weeks after the anniversary of my third liver transplant five years ago.  I am not a victim; Oh Lord, I am not a victim!  I have given my life to you, and yet I take myself off the altar so many times.

I need your hands to cradle me and enfold me and lift me up.  I need you to physically take my eyes off of these trials and force me to look only upon you.  I don’t care; take the clay that is my life and mold it!  I don’t want to, yet I do want to, look upon these trials yet again and feel like a rag doll pulled elastically back to the reality that is my life.  I know nothing; nothing is certain but your love for me.  You have imputed me with your righteousness as through your death you have been imputed with my unrighteousness.  You indeed broke the chains of my sin and have set me upon a hill like a city to proclaim the light of your truth to the world that will see.  And yet I feel alone right now Lord; alone in my trials, alone in my pain, alone in the confusion that pours over my heart and mind.

No.

I am not alone.  I will focus on your truth.  I will contemplate and meditate on your word as the only source of strength, for I know that I am nothing more than a beggar in search for food and strength and nourishment from the fountain of living waters.  Plant me by and in your truth; give me your life-giving sap of abundance that is your presence as I seek nothing more than you right now.  Swaddle me in the cocoon of your love and breathe life into my dry dry bones as I’m so tired.  Oh Jesus, I need you!  I need you so desperately.

The mantle of these trials upon these shoulders you have given me are not my heritage; you are.  They are not mine to carry, they are not mine to bear.  They are yours; and to you this is possible.  My wife is pregnant; expecting child within two months.  I was dying with my third transplant needed five years ago; so sick in fact that I was in a walking comma.  Kelly was pregnant with my first son, about to give birth, and about to lose her husband.  You proved yourself faithful again, and as I kneel to this truth, I know you will be faithful according to your steadfast love and will.  Your word, according to Psalm 119, is my counselor; may your testimonies be the loudest in my ears as I have only to look back on your goodness to find strength.  I look back on that time and know that you will take care of us.  You have never failed me; you have never failed any of us.

You are my God.  Help me to praise you during this time.  Help me to point others to your goodness and your everlasting covenant of grace made through Jesus Christ alone.  If this is a race, then indeed, let me run to you with eyes fixed obsessively on you.  If my finish line is near, help me to run the race set before me with endurance and faithfulness.  But may my life give glory to you alone; for this is what I was created for.  This is your plan for me.  This is my meaning to life.

I will find out more information as soon as the doctors get back from their vacations early next week; but my life is in the hands of the Almighty who gives grace to the humble and increases the power of the weak.  Give me eyes to see Lord, that indeed there is nothing to fear and that you have overcome all of this.