Almost nine years ago my world began to drastically change…it started with the unexpected death of my younger sister. As I reflect on that time in my life, I realize that was some kind of a starting point for colossal change in my outside world and my inside life…who I was, what I believed, my…everything. I remember who I was then and see that now, I’m not even close to who I used to be. At the time I remember knowing God would see me through; I had no doubt of that…but I also remember thinking nothing would be the same. I had no idea how right I was.
Since that time, pretty much everything that was important, almost every significant person in my life, my ideals and perceptions, the way I approached and thought about things…literally everything is either gone or changed. Even material things I held dear are gone; hopes for things and the way I thought things would be…gone. My sense of fair, good and right are forever altered. Even my faith in God is completely different from what I thought (back then) it should be.
Life takes unexpected twists and turns. Stuff hits you, you have no way of seeing coming. You’re unprepared. I never considered the fact my younger sister would die before I did; didn’t see that coming. At my age (very close to 60) I never thought I would lose my job…get evicted…have to work 2, 3 and 4 jobs to make ends meet…didn’t see that coming either. Who prepares for this? To my embarrassment and immaturity (in Christ), I somehow thought because I had had some tests and bumps in my younger life that the rest of my life would be less difficult. Go ahead, laugh…I am. My faith was built on something false…something earthly – a false perception of what I thought I deserved and what I was sure would happen.
Over and over again “My ways are not your ways…” has played in my mind. “Lean not on your own understanding…” were the words I woke up to many a morning. Through all this, I found truth, absolute truth, in those words.
The enemy wants us to think we’re unloved and forgotten when bad things happen but because I’ve been through this “desert season” in my life I can tell you with absolute certainty exactly the opposite is true. When we find ourselves in extremely painful and terrifying circumstances those are the places where God…His literal presence can be more real to us than in seasons of joy. Some choose to blame Him and run like spoiled children as far away from Him as we can; others choose to cling to Him for our lives and fight the good fight of faith even if our faith is less than the size of a mustard seed…maybe the size of a grain of sand. Sometimes that choice brings a “curse God and die” mentality and a very real choice – sometimes on a breath-by-breath basis – confronts us. It doesn’t look like we’re loved and cherished; it feels like we’re utterly alone and abandoned…so will we choose to press on based on NOTHING else but God’s word to us or will be choose based on our raw feelings and emotions? Those are the moments of spiritual life and death.
Sometimes we have to “get naked” before God, absolutely stripped in order to get to the nitty-gritty of what the real relationship is all about. Sooner or later, I believe everyone will have a “season of Job” where there is nothing but you and Him. Our suffering seasons may not look all like someone else’s – it doesn’t even matter what it looks like to others because this is between us and Him. What matters is the result…will we allow ourselves to be forever altered? Will we come out closer to Him or farther away?