"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.