So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore – Part 6
I got call from my Mom in S. Cali and a text from my lil sis in N. Florida, if everyone is ok from Storm Isaac.
Shreveport was spared from a direct hit. It was a bit of a let down ’cause I got all my things in order. If we lose power I’m ready to fire up the power generator, plus we got a stock of water and peanut butter. (Dear Isaac- Bring it!)
You know you’re Filipino if your pantry is stocked with food under normal weather conditions. I remember going to the commissary on base and we’d easily fill two buggies with food. Stockpiling is part of our DNA make-up!
Any who, I love how we can track storms on Weather.com and get real-time and predictive weather reporting. We can prepare to hunker down or make our exodus.
I believe God also gives us tools and/or individuals to identify and track storms in our spiritual life so we can prepare and help others.
What kind of storms have passed in your life? Or maybe you’re going through one right now.
In Chapter 6, you’ll see Jake face a Cat 5 Hurricane with no end in sight, but storm-chaser Tito John arrives on scene.
There was an all out shock-and-awe campaign to destroy Jake’s credibility and reputation. Jake resigned immediately from his post as associate pastor after being back stabbed by the senior pastor over the youth outreach debacle. Yep, those in leadership positions eat their own and have no shame using others as escape goats to save their tail. It’s similar to PR “damage control” protocols for high-profile individuals or companies who are black belts in the art of brushing-it-under-the-carpet crisis management.
The odds are stacking against Jake. His daughter is back in the hospital and fears are revisited that this could be the asthma attack to take her life.
Watch this insightful video by Moriah Peter’s and we’ll come back to the commentary.
It seems like Jake’s life is a wreck and all hope has been lost, but Tito John’s wisdom will slowly lift the fog from Jake’s eyes.
“I know it isn’t easy right now, Jake! These times never are. Just try to remember you’re in the middle of a story, not at the end of it.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“God is doing something in you, answering the deepest prayers you’ve ever prayed. Yes, that process has brought some incredible pain in your life, but he has not abandoned you, Jake. Far from it! He’s holding on to you today as tightly as he ever has.”
“It sure doesn’t feel like it. It feels like he’s turned every weapon he has against me.” Then after a brief pause my cynical side raised its ugly head, “I know, feelings don’t matter.”
“On the contrary they matter a lot! But the fact that you don’t feel him holding you doesn’t change the fact that he still is. It just means your feelings are set to the wrong frequency. I’m not sure this is the best time to get into this, but God wants to help you see through some things that keep tripping you up.”
That’s a good question to ask ourselves – What’s tripping me in my relationship with God?
Their dialogue is very revealing and I encourage you to read and highlight what stands out. There are too many truths to unpack.
If you’re going through a storm of your own “just try to remember you’re in the middle of a story, not at the end of it.”
If you’re not dead, you’re not done. (If you haven’t already, check out the series – “You Are Here” – from The Simple Church)
The chapter ends with a miracle. Do you know what that is? If not, you’re not reading the chapters and relying on my commentary. Ay nako! =)
Jake is wondering how he’ll pay for Andrea’s medical bills but Tito John whips out a fresh bag of answers:
“But he does, Jake! He’s already working that out. The fact that you can’t see it yet doesn’t alter that reality.”
“That would be OK for me if I didn’t have to see my daughter go through all of this. I can’t imagine that he’d make her sick to deal with me.”
“And you’d be right about that. Andrea has her own journey with God and he’ll walk her through this as well. You can’t keep her from suffering and her struggle is not something God did to get through to you. But I don’t think you’ll ever see her with asthma again.”
“Really? Why would you say that?”
“I actually came to the hospital this evening to see another friend of mine whose life is approaching its end. That’s how I knew you were here. I saw you and your wife having a bit of a discussion outside Andrea’s room earlier.”
Immediately I flashed back to that harsh exchange. Both of us were under the same pressures and had begun to take it out on each other. I cringed thinking John had seen us. “It wasn’t pretty was it?”
“Don’t worry about that, Jake. You’re both in a difficult place and I’m certainly not going to judge how you’re handling it. I just thought it was not the best time to interrupt. I went back a bit later to see if I could catch either of you and found Andrea alone struggling to breathe. Her eyes were alive with fear. I walked over to her and asked if I could pray for her. She nodded, so I did. Time will tell I guess, but I think her asthma is gone.”
“You healed her?”
“As if I could! No, but I’m pretty sure God did.”
“You’re serious? I’ve prayed a thousand times for that and he didn’t do it for me.”
“Who said he didn’t? I simply added my prayers to yours.”
“But why didn’t he do it the other thousand times I asked him to?”
“That’s because it isn’t in your control, Jake, or mine! It’s in his. Healing isn’t magic. As we learn to live in him we get to cooperate with that which he is doing. I was just praying for her to breathe easier and have God’s peace, but I’m convinced God did something more than that.”
“I don’t know how to describe it other than to say I felt her asthma left her. I think she knows it too. Her next breath came as easily as yours. The fear in her eyes was gone, a smile creased her lips and she sunk into the pillow with a deep sigh.”
My buddy who turned me on to this novel said he contacted the author who revealed that the book was based on actual events with fictitious names to protect individuals. I am a firm believer that God is miraculously healing people everyday and if he chooses to use medicine or a miracle, I’m down with it. Go God! =)
This part is like icing on the cake:
“That’s why I found her sleeping a while ago. We thought the medications had finally started working.”
“I’m sure they helped, but God decided to do something more.”
“That would be great if it’s true. I hate watching her suffer. But what you’re saying to me is that I should just be happy no matter what God does or how he does it.”
“That’s not what I’ve said at all, Jake. I’m merely helping you see what God might be up to in the circumstances you’re in. He doesn’t need you to pretend. In fact, I think it’s fabulous that you’re not trying to hide your anger. You’ve got some honest questions and deep struggles to sort out here. God’s big enough to handle them. Don’t run from your pain, or try to hide it from him. It won’t impress him and it won’t help you. Take your anger to God. He knows how to bring you through this and see his glory in ways you never dreamed.”
Here’s the last part of their dialogue:
…When you can trust his love in each moment, you’ll really know how to live free.” John started to get up from the table and I stood to embrace him before he left.
“But where do I find that kind of faith?”
“You won’t find it. It’s something he creates in you, even in the very circumstances you despise. Just keep coming to him and watch what he will do. He’s the Father that knows you better than you know yourself and even loves you more than you love yourself. Ask him to help you see how much he loves you. That will make all the difference.”
This chapter ends with a sweet after taste that will prepare us for the next episode. I really hope they make this into a film one day.
Enjoy these music videos and if you haven’t heard, Toby Mac came out with a new album and it’s off the hook!
Moriah Peters – Well Done (Official Music Video)
Toby Mac – Lose Myself (Lyric Video)