Month: December 2012

Trust in What You Know, Even if it Looks Bad

It’s been a weird few days at our house. I decided on Sunday night that our black and white cat, aptly named Oreo, needed a trip to the vet. He was acting oddly, well, more oddly than normal. He was trying to urinate all over the house, but apparently was not able to. I figured he had a kidney stone gumming up the plumbing. TMI?

So off to the Veterinarian’s office we went on Monday. A hundred and seventy dollars later, I brought him home with a week’s worth of antibiotics to treat an apparent urinary tract infection. Great. Ever try to give a cat medicine? It’s great fun. Should be an Olympic event.

When I let Oreo out of his carrier in our den, one of my other cats, Butterscotch, went completely nuts.  (Yes, we name all our cats after snack foods. Have you met Brownie?) Our little orange cat didn’t seem to remember Oreo at all. There was hissing and growling, and further unusual otherworldly sounds emanating from Butterscotch. It was like Invasion of the Body Snatchers

No amount of placating or explanation could convince Butterscotch that he actually knew and loved the cat now cowering before him. We do understand that the cats cannot understand us. Still, we explained it all to him, again and again. We even stooped to insults and name-calling.

Honestly, these cats are the best of friends. They sleep together, bathe one another… its all quite embarrassing most of the time, this relationship they have with one another.

I decided that Oreo must not smell right to Butterscotch. So I bathed him. Bathing a cat ranks a close second to giving a cat medicine as a potential Olympic event. It was all in vain, however, because even though Oreo no longer smelled like the vet’s office, he now smelled of vanilla and lilac and this seemed to confuse Butterscotch even more.

It’s been quite the ordeal. It’s not completely over, either. It has settled down some, but it has been like introducing a new cat into the mix. I’m exhausted. Butterscotch just could not trust what he was seeing with his own eyes. Oreo looked the same, but his smeller told him this wasn’t the right feller.

There is a lesson in all this. (Somehow you knew there would be, right?) How many times have I not been willing to trust what I know to be true? God’s promises are true, no matter what my feelings tell me. How many times have I just not been able to add it all up? Things aren’t working the way I think they should, and I just figure that God’s not paying attention, he’s not busy working all things for my good. If he were, then things would appear much differently, wouldn’t they?

Not too long ago, I was pretty desperate for God to move in a big way. I told him exactly how it needed to work, just so he would get it right. We had moved our kids to the second new town in less than two months. I needed them to connect with the youth leaders in our new church. Our BIG new church. It wasn’t happening. Not the way I told God it needed to. I needed someone to help us get our kids through a really trying time. They had always been used to having access to the church staff where Matthew served. Now Matthew wasn’t on staff at the church and I was coming up dry in finding any way to get anyone to help me help my kids transition to yet another new town, school, church, etc. Nothing I tried worked. NOTHING.

I was beyond frustrated. I stopped trusting what I knew to be true. God was busy working all things together for my good, for my kid’s good, too. Just not in the way I expected or had told him to. Imagine that

We are coming up on three years since that trying time. Matthew is celebrating two years on staff at our church, and several months on the student ministries staff. In a church of 20,000, the youth pastor(s) know my kids by name. My kids are in a place spiritually that blows my mind. The youth staff, both paid and volunteer, have poured into my kids in ways I could never have orchestrated myself.

Once again, God had to show me that he had it all under control. He didn’t need my help. I just needed to trust, again, in what I already knew.

I just wish I could get Butterscotch to do the same.

Joy Came to the World

I’ve taken a month or so off from writing. I don’t have a really good reason for it, other than sort of a “what does it matter” funky feeling I’ve been having lately. I’m not completely over this feeling, but the shooting in Connecticut that left twenty children, and five adults, laying dead on the ground has brought me back to the computer. I use writing to help me process things in my life, things happening in the world, and to hear from the Lord in these things. I need to hear from the Lord in this.

I first heard of the shooting while I was at work. A friend at work received a text from a friend that told her there had been a school shooting. All I really wanted to know initially was where the shooting was. Was it local?

I didn’t find out details of the shooting until I left work for the day and read about what had happened online from my phone. The sketchy details coming out initially about what had happened were enough to overwhelm me. Sadness for the children, both lost and those scared by what they had experienced, brought tears to my eyes.

Little children. Sweet children. Treasured children.

Then my thoughts went to the parents. Parents, who just a little while ago, had hugged their little ones goodbye, and wished them a great day, had no idea they had hugged those children for the last time

Lives that will never be lived out the way their parents had dreamed for them.

Birthday parties that will not happen now.

Everything changing in an instant.

Everyone wants to know why. We need to know why this happened, but the bitter truth is that it really doesn’t matter why. Knowing why will not bring back those children and adults who were lost. Of course, there will be possible reasons tossed around in the days and weeks ahead. Information about the shooter and his family will come out. None of it will change anything.

We have become a society of strangers. In all honesty, I don’t know any of my neighbors. Not even casually. And what about the people we do know? What if we suspected any of them were the least bit unstable? Would we do anything? Would we get involved in that way? Would we take that kind of risk? Likely not.

Our world continues to spin out of control. Right on schedule.

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Avoid such people. Quite a tall order when they are everywhere. What are Christians to do in these times of hardship? How are we supposed to process these horrible things going on right before our eyes?

I was reminded of a verse out of Jeremiah.

“Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come.” Isaiah 57:1

This verse comforted me years ago when I said goodbye to a son too soon. While I was robbed of enjoying his life here on earth, he was spared the pain and heartache this world can offer. The same will be true of these precious children.

This tragedy seems especially bad at this time of year. We can all imagine the unopened gifts laying under Christmas trees. We can all imagine that the joy of Christmas has been washed away for these families. And yet, it was on that first Christmas that true Joy came to the earth. This earth does not bring us joy. Ever. Joy does not come from the world, Joy came to the world,

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:9-11

On that precious, inexplicable day, Joy came to us. This offering of real joy and peace through Jesus is still on the table. Even in this time of great sorrow, he comes to offer us joy. The world around us will continue to fray and pull apart at the seams. We will continue to see the evidence of the evil one prowling about, seeking to steal, kill, and destroy. But our hope is not found in this world that is not our true home, our hope is found in Jesus. He is the giver of all good gifts. He is our hope and he still brings us joy.