Tag Archives: don’t give up

A Closer Walk: Storms That Shipwreck Our Beliefs

I didn’t believe anything could shipwreck my beliefs but I had never been in a storm like this one.

If I were to say that my doctors didn’t take my response to their diagnosis well—that would be putting it mildly.

These guys were men of science.

arrogant doctors

They thought my faith was absurd!

I was told in no uncertain terms that if I did not follow their diagnosis their would be consequences!

Prayer—What is that?

My beliefs only made them angry.

Their threats became nastier.

They informed me I couldn’t leave the hospital until they ran more tests.

More tests? The bills were already in the stratosphere and now there would be no job and no money?

How had my beliefs brought me here?

shipwreck

My life was spiraling out of control!

So I called for the Patient Advocate because even in the hospital we have legal rights.

I asked him for a clear explanation of what my legal rights were.

He told me my options and I checked myself out of the hospital A.M.A.  which means “against medical advice.”

I went home still experiencing all of my negative symptoms.

That’s when God “showed up” in an interesting twist of events.

The hospital wouldn’t let me check out without giving them the name of a personal doctor.

So I gave them the first name I could find but they faxed all my tests to the “wrong” doctor. Except he really was the RIGHT doctor!

He told me what was wrong with me, prescribed the correct medication, and most of my symptoms disappeared in a few days.

angry doctorAnd my angry doctors?

They made good on all their threats.

I lost my freedom because they revoked my driver’s license.

Losing my driver’s license meant losing my job.

The hospital costs for all their tests put me into medical bankruptcy which meant my five-star credit rating was gone!

My family whispered in corners looking at me like, “What did you DO to make God so angry?”

What about my remaining symptoms?

I still could not walk from room to room without leaning on the walls for support. I had blinding headaches that stayed with me all day. It was tough to focus my eyes to write; forget about reading or TV.

I sat on my couch each day in stunned, hurting, lonely, silence. I was numb with pain, both physical, and emotional. Forget about feeling anything “spiritual.” I didn’t want to read my bible. I didn’t want to pray. I did not call for the church or pastors to see me. I didn’t want to talk with anyone.

depressed womanI had nothing to say to God or anyone else.

I was angry and afraid.

My life as I knew it had been destroyed. I felt as if I had been shipwrecked.

How was I supposed to fix this mess if I couldn’t work?

I thought each day about ending my life. My anger, doubts and uncertainty made everything look darker and darker as I stared into that black hole called hopelessness.

Questions kept circling in my mind like, “What had I done? Where had I messed up? Why was all this terrible stuff happening?”

Wasn’t obedience to God supposed to equal blessings?

I was caught up in one of the worst spiritual storms of my life.

Just when it seemed that the darkness would swallow me whole—God showed upagain.

a closer walk

But now the Lord who created you, O Israel, says: Don’t be afraid, for I have ransomed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.   When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up—the flames will not consume you… you are precious to me and honored, and I love you.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.

Isaiah 43:1, 2, 5  TLB

In The Shadow Lands Of Our Story

I am a movie lover. Or, perhaps it would be more appropriate to say, “I am a story-lover.”

Movies, books, it doesn’t matter—I LOVE a great story.

Think about all of your favorite stories. They all have certain things in common, don’t they? Good guys and bad guys, disasters with all kinds of potential (if not actual) hazards. Twists and turns in the plot with questions, questions, questions. What will happen next?
Yes. To have a good story, one that really captures your imagination, you must have all the elements of risk and uncertainty, plus truckloads of unanswered questions that lead up to that suspense-filled finish.
Now, think about your story.
The one you and God are in the process of writing.
The story you call: My Life.
If you’ve been on this planet any length of time I’m guessing your story has had its share of ups-n-downs. Perhaps there’s already a good pile of debris with many well-intentioned-risks that DID NOT turn out the way you had originally planned, yes?
But isn’t that the thing about a good story?
Doesn’t a GOOD story need a few spectacular disasters here or there with a few unexpected cliff-hangers thrown in for good measure? Wouldn’t a story with everything predictable and nothing spectacular be, well, boring?
Now, shall I tell you something really strange?
This seems to be what most Christians want, a nice safe, predictable, boring life, with “certainty” being the rule rather than the exception! And, when they don’t get what they want? This is the point in the story where “the experts” (whoever “they” are) tell us that most Christians give up! Yep, they bail out. Abandon ship. God didn’t come through so, “See yah.”
There seems to be a growing trend for “the faithful” to bail out on their faith. Especially when everything they thought was going to happen, didn’t.
Right where the risks tanked, and all seems lost, and God did not come through like they prayed and believed He would so, “See yah God.”
Apparently yonder hills are scattered with former “sheep” wandering disillusioned, disappointed and discouraged; let down by themselves, others, and yes, even God.

Or, so they think.

Can I confess something? That was me once-upon-a-time.
Thrown into my own (much unwanted) holocaust, beat up, and left for dead. Angry, disappointed, and disillusioned, this is the point in my own story where I was sorely tempted to give it all up and walk away. In the Shadowlands of confusion, pain, and yes, even anger and disgust, where contradiction seemed to rule my every thought and emotion, right there in those dark shadows, where dreams and hopes had withered and died. Where people had lied, disappointed, and disappeared. Right there, in the middle of my story, I was reading, “The End.”
Mighty powerful temptation—giving up.
It’s a wide road. Well populated. Well traveled. Dark and shadowed.
We look at our story’s “first draft” and wad it up, intending to pitch it out, and say, “No good thing can come out of this mess.”

I was watching a great movie over the holidays called, The Shadowlands. It’s the love story of C. S. Lewis and Joy Gresham. Lewis is an Oxford professor, published and successful writer, a sought-after lecturer, living at the heights of his career. Smugly sure of his beliefs, sounding off to others with lofty phrases about God and His ways, until… everything crashes. Everything he believes about God gets shattered by brutal reality. Suddenly he finds himself out in The Shadow Lands with a God he does not recognize and does not want to know. He’s caught in the grip of darkness and pain with no miracle or escape on his horizon.

Now, what?

Enter Joy with his answer!

Not an answer he wants to hear but the answer he needs. She tells him that “The pain now is part of the joy then.” She is speaking of heaven but I started thinking about her statement.

Isn’t that the answer for all of us who find ourselves stumbling through the dark pages of our own story? We imagine and plan a storyline that doesn’t involve pain or disappointment. We want to write happily ever after’s only. No dark disappointments, please. I’ll take bliss and certainty every time.

But aren’t the dark pages an essential part of the greatest stories?

What if that’s an essential part that turns a good story into a GREAT story? Isn’t it at least possible?

And, if God is the one writing the story of our lives, isn’t the temporary part of our journey through the shadowlands, the last place where we should give up? What about the end of the story?

What about the end of yours?

Isn’t the pain we experience now, out in the murky-middle, part of the joy to yet be revealed at the end?

David was chased and threatened by Saul, hiding in caves. Joseph was hated and sold by his brothers, ending up cooling his heels in a dungeon. Joshua was faithful and believing, yet made to wander for forty long years with all the carping-complaining unbelieving. Gideon was at the bottom of a deep hole wondering how did this happen to God’s “chosen” ones?

All of them—destined for great endings—yet walking through The Shadowlands of their own stories.

The shadowlands were not the end of their stories.

Perhaps it’s NOT the end of yours either.

Each day, you and God together are still writing pages to your manuscript, yes? My point?

If you’re walking through the Shadow Lands of your story it’s not finished yet.

Don’t give up now.

No great story ends in the murky-middle.

Yours won’t either.

The shadow Lands is not a destination, it’s just one part of the journey. The pain now will be an integral part of the joy at the finish.

So? Simple. Your story’s not finished yet.

God has not stopped writing your pages.

If He’s not finished—neither are you.

7507f7e20df9153b049f14d29ba2eecf