Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Joy

"The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first." --Job 42:12


I am so grateful! I can’t fully explain how I feel. The LORD is pouring a steady stream of blessings into my life. I am completely in awe of Him. Thank you LORD!

First, I should explain that life has not been easy lately. I’m not saying that I’m going through times as tough as Job's, but it hasn't been easy. Here is a synopsis just to get you up to speed:

Thirteen years ago, after much struggle with infertility issues, my wife and I decided to adopt. That story is filled with miracles, and wonders, and pain. The refinancing of our home to pay for the adoption, the intrusive home visits, the lawyers, the counseling, and the caring for the birth mother led us to our first child, born on my wife’s birthday. The joy of that child was magnified by the generosity of our church family. And that same wonderful group of people were the source of great solace when he died of SIDS three and a half months later.

His death was a watershed event in my life. A very dark year passed where suicide frequently seemed a viable option. But I grew. (Thank you LORD.)

Eleven years ago, after much struggle with grief, my wife and I decided to adopt again. That story is filled with miracles, and wonders, and pain. The refinancing of our home to pay for the adoption, the intrusive home visits, the lawyers, the counseling, and the trip to Florida led us to our next two children, born and orphaned in Haiti, and brought into this country on medical visas the day after our first child died. The joy of those children was magnified by the generosity of our church family. And that same wonderful group of people were the source of great solace when one of them, playing with a candle, burned a large portion of that church down.

This fire has been another watershed moment in my life. It almost seemed that there were forces at work that were trying to drive me from the church. I continually felt inadequate to lead a Sunday school class. (The whispers seemed to say: Who are you to be here? You should be ashamed. It was your child who hurt these people, why should they have to put up with you anymore? At least you should be sitting quietly in the back somewhere. . .)

I had various physical ailments. I tore the muscles in my lower back. My psoriasis flared up and the skin on my fingers split so badly it hurt just to turn the pages of a book. Rashes appeared on my scalp, toes, ankles, the backs of my hands. My hair started falling out.

My wife and I had difficulty in avoiding arguments. She was having so much trouble loving this child who had done so much harm (there were several people who barely escaped the explosive inferno which literally threw our pastor out of the building).

The D.A. had to decide if he needed to try our son as an adult for arson, which could have included an attempted homicide charge as there were people in the building. We had to get our boy into counseling and agree to a 24-7 watch for him.

Our other son became severely depressed and we seek ways to get his feet on firm ground.

But the LORD is pouring a steady stream of blessings into my life. I am in awe of Him.

Since these events (and others, some of which I have shared in previous postings) the LORD has been faithful. No, He has been more than that. He has been working to make huge changes in my life and those around us.

Our church will be rebuilt, and the new building will better serve the needs of our community and our congregation. Prayer has become much more important to many, especially me.

I have felt confident stepping out in faith. I know that there is evil in the world. It seeks to harm me. (It seeks to harm you as well.) But if God is with me, who can be against me?

I’m a little kid is standing up to a school yard bully, knowing full well that my big brother is standing right behind me. I look at my adversary and I'm saying: "Bring it on!" And my big brother, with His arms calmly folded and wearing that thorny crown, flashes His eyes in warning: “Don’t try it”.

Let me share something with you, dear reader.

We just returned from a road trip, a get away. And here are two of the many things I saw that I want you to consider.

We traveled all the way down the Oregon coast and found ourselves in the Redwood National Forest in northern California. There are trees there. They are real trees. Not those we usually see, but trees that stand higher than any other. Hundreds of feet tall (up to 367 feet!) and can live 2,000 years. Imagine walking beneath a tree and looking up at its lowest branches which are over a hundred feet up! The trunks are over twenty feet wide. The moss, and ferns, and shrubs that carpet the floor of the forest seem perfect for kneeling. The birds that glide through the air beneath these boughs seem like motes of dust in a great cathedral. The burls on the sides of these trees can be over a dozen feet wide! This place cannot be described without superlatives. If I tried to fully describe this enchanted place you would think me spewing hyperbole's, not reality.

A nonbeliever may dismiss the wonder of such a place, but only by disregarding the joy that dances in one’s heart when confronted with true beauty.

We also traveled east and saw Crater Lake. When one approaches the lip of the caldera, the eye drops down a sheer drop of 1,000 feet to an astounding sight. The color of the water redefines the word blue. Because the water is so pure, so clear, the properties of the water molecule cleanly eliminate all but the truest portion of that exquisite color. The lake is the deepest in the United States (over 1,900 feet) and shines like a sapphire. The vision is so pure that one gasps and feels a sense of wonder not felt since they were a small child.

A nonbeliever may dismiss the wonder of such a place, but only by disregarding the faith that dances in one’s heart when confronted by the works of an almighty creator who gave human beings the ability to enjoy beauty.

Those two places are concrete expressions of something that has been growing in my heart this summer. My wife and I have rediscovered the joys of praying together each night. I have rediscovered my duty in teaching my children to pray and sharing the truths of God’s world with them. I have fallen in love with reading the Bible and prayer. And let me share with you my friend, it is all VERY GOOD!

I feel like singing and dancing. Yes, I know it doesn’t make any sense. Things are all screwed up. But I am a part of His flock. He is my shepherd. I am honored to follow Him wherever He leads. Sometimes the path is rocky, but I trust him. He will lead me beside still waters.

My friend, I cannot express how I feel. But if you have never felt like this, and you wish to contact me and discuss this privately, please feel free to leave your email address in the comment section of this posting. I check this blog frequently and I will respond as quickly as possible. If you wish, we can delete it later so others don’t start spamming you.

God bless. God bless you and your family. May you feel Him walking beside you all the days of your life.




34 comments:

MMM said...

The kind of trees which I would embrace, and the kind of water into which I would dive with absolutely no fear.

Marvelous are Thy works, Lord. :)

lex said...

wow . . .such an unbelivable trust you have in our Creator to be able see His hand in all the terrible events of your life. this kind of trust is contagious.

many will see this and enter into the mystery, abandoning themselves to God. ps 40:3

that's the point, right? that others may come to know Him through the meager offerings of our lives?

curious servant said...

I am His. What ever He wishes is fine with me. It's simply joy to be in his flock.

Paula said...

You are His beloved. You exhibit real joy. You are truly blessed. Praise God for this post.

Your Sister In Christ,

bjk said...

a peace that transcends understanding...YOU have found it....God is indescribable but you sure made me want to know YOUR God and after all isn't that what it's all about!! ....check out this website another man of God who has found PEACE....
http://mightyintheland.com/index.cfm?PAGE_ID=45

elias said...

Your commitment displays true worship. Worship is not located in a building on Sunday.

It's a total commitment in spirit and in truth.

Fred said...

Thank you for such a nice post.

Live, Love, Laugh said...

this is my first time to your site. I have to come back and read more, how awesome. God is surely with you!!

Lucy Stern said...

The road in life is often bumpy. We need to just continue on until one day we are at the end of the road and in the loving arms of our Heavenly Father. We learn from our challenges and we grow stronger because of them. Don't drift off the road, for you could get lost and never find your way back again. Good post. Keep on trecking!

llcoolmom said...

May God continue to shine his light into your life so others may know His unfailing love. He is truly calling us to a closer walk with Him. Last November I was filled with his love and I know I will never be the same again. God bless you and your family. You are now listening to the Voice of Truth.

Bar Bar A said...

Thank you so much for stopping by my site, I am so glad you did so that I could find yours and read about everything that is going on with you and your family! You have an amazing story that is beautifully written. I'll be back to read more!

jrf said...

I am thrilled to hear of your joy after walking through such sorrow...

CaS said...

Thanks for stoppin by my blog... I'll be back to visit..Have a wonderful Wendsday

Serenity23 said...

I'm glad to see things are looking up for you. And thank you so much for the prayer.

HeyJules said...

I've been to that particular forest and totally understand your awe. It is one of those places God could have asked Job about- "Where were you when I made trees so tall they blocked the sun?" I can just see Job struggling to find an answer, can't you?

I'm so glad things are going well for you. You certainly have earned his unrelenting grace.

dsweetz said...

Good to hear you and the family had some time away to refresh, renew and enjoy the true beauty of what the Lord has blessed us with.
As always, you are so very inspiring with your words and faith.....even in the troubled times. God always has our plans....whatever they may be and a reason for them.

puremood said...

This is what it's all about. What an amazing post. God is so amazing. He truly works when you need Him most.

Thanks for the congratulations on my anniverary. I wanted to drop in, here, too. Glad I did :)

Sunshine said...

curious servant, your faith in God is very inspiring. I admire you for still keeping your faith after all the trials that came your way. The road really gets rocky, I know what you mean. I also believe when things don't go as planned, God has better things in store. My career is so messed up right now. But somehow deep inside I know God must have better plans for me, which does not include people I thought I would end up working for. God bless you!

calvin92joshua said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
~m2~ said...

what an incredible journey you are on...

i once heard that the redwood tree's roots are actually quite shallow, considering...they intertwine with the roots of the other trees and that is what makes them strong, the support of their *community*

which is what community is all about, isn't it?

thank you for continuing to share your story.

pax.

Julie D. said...

What an amazing story in so many ways (I just found your blog and so followed the links and read all about your children and church). Truly the Lord has taken you by the hand and is taking you on an amazing journey. I know exactly how you feel. Praise God that the joy is bubbling out. You are feeling with His heart at those moments.

steve said...

Hey do me a favor and send a prayer over to Rebekahs Site.
www.rebekahspage.blogspot.com

They are facing some tough decisions on radiation and could use some support. Tell 5 new people about her! Thats my challenge today!Thank you and God Bless! (sorry bout the copy and paste comment. Its the quickest way I can get prayer out! hope you see I just am trying to get a little girl some much needed prayer!)

curious servant said...

Of Course! (I have already)

And any of my readers, please do the same. There is more info at

www.rebekahspage.blogspot.com

You will learn more there.

David said...

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a note. I needed to read what you posted for you see I have been through hell with our youngest for the last 14 years.

I guess you were lead to comment so that I could read you post.

I wish I had your faith.

MrJ said...

Hey...
Just did some back tracking. Sorry it has been awhile since I have been here. Three weeks ago we found out Nick's IQ was around 50. It had always been estimated at around 65 but these tests 10 years later indicate much lower.

I find he likes things very repetitive and needs a lot of structure. His anger flares but with the help he has been getting he swings his fists a lot less. He has a hair trigger explosive disorder.

As you may have followed I have been praying for Nick for 14 years. I have had the support of several churches and people I have met along the way...including many internet friends.

God has answered all of my prayers and he has taught me to live faithfully.

Keep writing and sharing for it encourages us all.

Peace Bro

curious servant said...

I will come visit your blog and leave a prayer.

A frequent occurance in parenting is vicariouas living and chronic lying.

We often make plans of what we will do, and what our children will achieve and create vicarious lives t live planning out their futures.

We, at least I, are consumate liars to ourselves. Telling ourselves what we want to hear about our children.

These parenting flaws assume control over things we have no control, and pride over things we have no reason to glory in.

The death of our first child, and the realization of our childrens' limits have been accompanied by personal epiphanies that have showed me several things.

I have no control over what the Lord whishes to do in my childrens' lives. They are His. Also, my love of learning, of science and physics and chemistry, has led me to take pride in human intellect. I have been a very good liar to myself, thinking my children could do the things that I could do, Worse, that it has been a pride that gloried in things I have no right to be proud of and I have found that love and obedienced are better paradigms than pride and intellect.

Take care.

C. S.

BHGA said...

You are an of a loving servant....and a living testimony to the great works God does in His people...faith hope and charity and charity is the gretest of all. Mind if I list you on my links?

Blessings,
Donna

Kristine said...

I sat and read your whole blog. I don't know what to say. I don't have words for all of the feelings I have had while reading about your life. I am enriched by it all and while the stories have held pain and hardship. I am encouraged by them. So - thank you.

the kaz said...

hey you left this comment on my friends blog but never explained it ?
"I'm also a C.S.N. & Y fan."
SUP with that sorry if its an amercian thing cuase I am canadian....

Little Boy said...

Fear My Friend,
in your last message on my blog, you said that you are a little surprised that I feel able to be so critical of my government. And there are many places that open dialog readily is permitted, in Iran it's permitted, too. But the government can't stop people from doing this. In Iran every where you go people are talking about HOW BAD IS THE GOVERNMENT. But they do not let Newspapres to write against them, to be even a bit critical. You know, Iran is like a bomb, Ready for a BANG!!! if they don't let people to be critical at least in their own society, then they know the BANG will apear and they should GO AWAY... but by letting people to speak against them they wanna say they are giving the freedom!!! ... yes they are giving us the freedom to talk, but do you know what did the Iranian people pay to get it? do you how many of the young people was killed by this regime, to take the a bit freedom...
I don't think they'll do anything to me because of being critical of them, But even if they DO, I DON'T CARE... Even if DIE I didn't LOST ANYTHING !!!

.::SINA::.

Little Boy said...

OH MY GOSH, I had a lot of English mistakes in my comment, I a really sorry !!!
I wanted to say Dear... but I wrote Fear

Uarida said...

Our God is an awesome God. In the middle of all the pain, there is always joy - a joy that you cannot describe to anyone. May He continue to be your only source of peace, joy and serenity.

enonymous said...

wow, you have been through so much, but I am inspired by your faith and trust in joy in God. ultimately, this world is broken, and all the more we look forward to our home in heaven.

Thank you for sharing, and God's ultimate blessings await you in heaven - an eternity with him and his goodness, devoid of pain and suffering...

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