Dec 2, 2008

I Still Believe...

There are things about our lives that we like to keep secret.

We think if our secrets are allowed to be open and viewable, then it will diminish who we are, and perhaps those that we love or hold close to us won't want to be around us anymore. I can relate to those feelings and I understand how hurt is not individual. When we hurt, those around us feel our pain. I know it is easy to say that, but today I saw it.

I saw it in the eyes of my doctor. I saw it in the trembling of my mother. They felt my pain.

While I am not ready to divulge all that is going on in my life and let my life be an open book, those who know me personally, and those who are close to me know what I am talking about.

I had a visit with my doctor today. I have many doctors over the past couple of years, but this is the one I trust most. He has known me when I have been sick and when I have been well. Good times and bad. I trust his judgement, and when I have been afraid he has put my mind at ease. Today, he didn't.

They ran more tests today, and while I do not know all the results, the conclusion seems to be that my health has taken a negative turn. There are circumstances beyond my control in my personal life, and in my health that only God can change. I know some of the diagnoses they have given me, but something in my blood is messed up to the point that I make tiny blood cells that do not reproduce. They are not sure if it is somehow hereditary, or if it is a new symptom, but it did not appear in my body until September of this year. So, to the doctors, and to me, it is a new thing.

My doctor told me he has known for a while I have health issues, but this has him confused. Somehow, despite the multitudes of medications I am on, my body is doing whatever it wants to. He said I shouldn't lose hope, but today is the first day in this long journey that it really hit me.

I knew this morning before the appointment it was going to be bad news. I had a terrible time sleeping last night, and finally around four o'clock AM, I laid myself across my couch and began to pray. I figured if I can't sleep, maybe God was trying to talk to me. I felt like God told me that time is short. Now I realize given my health, maybe he was just talking to me personally. I played the why me game for a while, and let myself weep for awhile. I really don't mind the trial but I would like to know why. I asked God but didn't feel an answer.

See, I was a preacher's kid, evangelist, worship leader, minister, assistant to the pastor, among other things during my life. I have seen miracles, preached miracles, and believed. I have been blessed by God to not only see the results of his anointing but also to participate in it. I have never really gone out into the world; I haven't drank, done any kind of drug that didn't come from a doctor, or lived a lifestyle that would be considered immoral. Sure, like anyone I have my faults and failings, but I have tried to live Godly in spite of circumstances. I have seen those I care about walk away from me when they didn't have an answer. I have seen family members backslide because they cannot understand why this has happened to me.

I have been in this battle for going on fourteen years, and I do not like to talk about it. I have overcome a lot that many will never understand, or even hear about. I have struggled, but I am still here. I haven't given up or been defeated. There have been times where God has blessed me, and times where I saw the things I hold most dear be snatched away, and yet, hope has not left me.

But today, my hope faltered. Today, I realized my vulnerability.

I know that God knows best, and I know He has a plan. I have been up and down about the severity of my dilemas and I have seen those I trust lost hope in me. I have struggled with God for answers on many situations that affect the ministry, the church, and our lives, and have felt no direction on how to proceed. Yet, I believe.

You see, I have been given a gift. At the moment, this gift feels like it will tear apart the very fabric of my life and the lives of those who love me. I really do not know why, or how, or even if it will ever end about all the battles I am fighting. I do not have assurance that things will be ok, although many have tried to lift my spirits, or remind me of passages of scripture, or simply reach out. My confidence has been shaken, but I have not given up.

I know the devil has attacked me personally. I know he has attacked my church, my family, my health, my friends, and my ministry. I am not alone in the attacks though. Many who are reading this are going through similiar, if not worse, situations themselves, and feel like they cannot go on. I feel your pain. I really do, and the end of the pain is not in sight. It can, and probably will, get worse in the coming weeks, months, or years. I do not have the answers to your situation, but I still believe.

Most of us have heard the name John Paul Jones.

On September 23, 1779, John Paul Jones fought one of the bloodiest engagements in naval history. Jones struggled with the 44-gun Royal Navy frigate Serapis, and although his own vessel was burning and sinking, Jones would not accept the British demand for surrender, replying, “I have not yet begun to fight.” More than three hours later, Serapis surrendered and Jones took command.
According to some historians, Jones remained appealing as much for his actions as for his personality. The British thought of him as a ruthless marauding pirate. His attacks on British ships were often sudden and sometimes bloody. The vision of a swarthy troublemaker persisted even to the writings of Rudyard Kipling a century later.
In person, however, Jones was another man. Thomas Jefferson referred to him as ‘little Jones’ as he is thought to have stood just over five feet. Unlike other merchant seamen, he was well dressed, carried a sword, and conducted himself with practiced decorum.
He was never an easy man to get along with, intense about his honor and his duties but he was surprisingly sociable. He was a prolific writer, spoke some French, and above all, no one questioned his fortitude.
To some he was thought to be crazy; a rogue, and someone who fought against the establishment, but in history he is best known because he didn't give up.
Now, I understand that I am not John Paul Jones, I am not Job, Paul, Joseph, Daniel, and certainly not Jesus. I understand many have never even heard my name, and even those on here really do not know me, but the thing I am learning about myself is that I am stronger than I think I am.

I have lost a lot of 'things.' I have been hurt and rejected by those I trusted most, and I have been faced with difficulties that even I think I cannot overcome, but I am still here. I am certain that my battles are not over, and yet I am tired of wallowing in self-pity, tired of the mounting unbelief apparent around me, and tired of taking it.

I would like to adopt the words of John Paul Jones and say "I have not yet begun to fight", but I realize in my humanity I am frail and likely to be overcome. However, I realize the enemy can attack my body, my mind, and even my spirit, but the ultimate control of my life is not in his hands.

I have realized that when I am weak, then I AM strong. My infirmities, trials, tests are not only my battle but they belong to God. I am His Child, and even when I do not know the answer; even when I do not have hope; even when it looks like I am finished, He still holds me.

It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. 2 Timothy 2:11-13
Even if we cannot believe, he is still faithful. I still believe.

(previously published on ac ning site Dec 2, 200