Doubting Dork

God recently answered a prayer of mine. If I were to be totally honest, I would have to say I was just a tiny bit surprised. I’m not sure why I was surprised except that, while I have great faith, I am still a bit of a doubter sometimes. I think God likes us doubters. That may seem a convenient thing to say. Yet one of Jesus’ closest friends was one. Remember him? “Doubting” Thomas? Poor guy. His uncertainty is revealed one little time, and he’s forever given that embarrassing nickname.

Why do I think God likes doubters?

I think God likes to say, “See? I can do that.” He uses it as a building block for faith. I can relate to that a bit. I used to be a nurse on a vascular access team. That meant I was the one who showed up to start the IV when no one else could find a vein to stick, or they’d turned the patient into the human pincushion, and still they had no IV. Usually by the time I showed up on the scene, the patient had become a doubter. They doubted that I’d be able to do what others before me had been unable to do. I’d do my best to put them at ease, but I could still see the skepticism in their eyes.

Reluctantly they’d extend an arm for me to have a look see. More often than not, I’d get their IV started on the first try.

Now I’m not bragging, rather I’m what my Dad calls a “one trick pony”. You see I started IV’s. That’s it. If you have a vein to be found I could find it. So I really enjoyed the moment when my skeptical patients said, “You got it? Really?” I looked up, saw the doubt was gone, and had been replaced with surprised relief. They believed. Made me smile.

So God recently answered a prayer of mine. A couple of years ago, a dear friend of mine confided that she and her husband were separated. This was not her desire but his. It was a terrible thing. I hurt for her, and I was mad at him. According to my friend, it was as if he had lost himself somehow. I told my friend that I would pray with her for her relationship to be restored. I truly believed that God wanted this family to be whole again. We talked occasionally, and it seemed that things were going from bad to worse. I would pray some more. Still, she never gave up on him. She was so strong, and yet so terribly hurt.

Now more than a year later he is home, and they are together. Really together. She is so happy, and she still believes in him. Somewhere along the way he found God, and he found himself again. So God said yes to my prayer. I began to think about why. The answer is not so profound really. He said yes to my prayer because it was what He wanted all along. There’s more to it of course, but in the end that’s the main ingredient.

So why was I surprised to hear about their reconciliation? Well I must admit it is because I had doubt. I had doubt that God could fix this terribly messed up situation. I still believed I should pray, but did I truly believe that God could unravel the tangled mess of my friend’s life? Well I thought I did, but if I truly did believe it, why was I so pleasantly surprised to hear He had? The only thing I can come up with is that I am a dork.

Most of the patients I saw at the hospital had never had to put their trust in my abilities before. I was a stranger to them. On the rare occasion that I had a returning patient, the relief shown on their face when I walked through the door. Why? Well they knew me. They knew of my wonderful skills with a needle. Hey, everyone should be good at something. But the new ones, the ones who had never had to place their trust in my abilities before, had doubt.

I am not in this position with God. I am like the returning patient. I have seen His work, and I know Him. I know of His great love, and for His capacity to heal broken relationships. So I felt guilty when I received the news of His great work. Once again, God had to prove His ability to me. I really am a dork. A Doubting Dork. How’s that for a nickname? But I am not who I was before. My faith has grown after seeing, once again, His limitless power and love. I had to say, “Oh yeah, I know You.” I suppose I did know He could do it; I just wasn’t so sure He would do it.

I was able to share lunch with my friend recently. She looked fantastic. Radiant really. She talked about her husband, their relationship, and the things they are doing to build it up and make it strong again. There was real joy in her eyes. There are still struggles in her life, but she has seen God at work in the midst of strife, and she has felt God’s hand lead her through some dark days. I’ll bet her faith has increased lately, too. I won’t call her a doubter. No, she never gave up.

It’s hard to believe that someone who actually knew Jesus could ever doubt his ability to conquer death, but poor old Thomas did. He had to see it for himself to believe. Thankfully for Thomas, Jesus was all too happy to comply. Thankfully, He still is. Seems like he’d get tired of proving Himself to us time and again. But I think He might just like the looks on our faces each time we see what He is capable of!

What has He done in your life to show His faithfulness lately?

Mid-Teen Crisis

The day my oldest son turned fifteen was a big deal in case you didn’t know. It’s one of those “5” birthdays. Mid-decade. Fifteen also means that he would soon be driving my car. I’m not sure who decided fifteen was the appropriate age to teach a kid to drive. When I was fifteen I thought it was just fine, but now I have my doubts. I like my car. But looking on the bright side, fifteen was not sixteen.

Driving home that day from guitar lessons my son said, “Do you realize that in five years I will be twenty years old?” I thought, “Do you realize in five years I’ll be forty six?” Ick. But I said, “Yep!” After a pause he said, “I think I’m having a mid-teen crisis.” Funny boy. He gets that from me. I think all the stuff his dad and I kept feeding him about how high school grades matter, and how the decisions he makes now will influence his future, was sinking in just a bit.

It was just another sign that he is indeed growing up.

Not so long ago, he didn’t have these thoughts. Kids don’t think about time in the way adults do. Kids have all the time in the world. Yet we adults recognize there is a limit. We can hear that clock ticking. Adults know we have only so much time in which to accomplish what we feel we are supposed to accomplish in this life we’ve been given. I think my son is realizing that his hazy lazy days of childhood are numbered. That before too long high school will be history, and he’ll be off to college to begin doing whatever it is God has for him to do. I see him grasping at what is slipping away. He is finding that holding onto time is like trying to hold onto sand as it falls through his fingers.

I think one of the rules of childhood is you can’t appreciate it until it’s done. It is generally not until you are faced with adult responsibility that you can recognize those childhood freedoms for what they are. It’s too bad that we don’t value this freedom until its no longer available to us. Isn’t it funny how kids long to grow up so they can have freedom when there’s never more freedom in life than the freedom of childhood?

I don’t long to be a child again.

Spare me some of that.

I don’t long to be a child again. Spare me some of that. While I had what I consider to be a stellar childhood, there are still those things I would not want to do again. Learning to swim, braces, catty “friends”, middle school dances, and long division to name a few. Do you know they don’t even teach long division anymore? What’s up with that? But then there were those blissful summer days, loyal friendships, visits to Granny and Pawpaw’s house, and first love. (Or in my case, dreams about first love.)

As I watch my son struggle to grow up, one moment embracing it and racing ahead, and the next moment fighting with all his might against it, I feel for him. He is undoubtedly in a tough place. I can only imagine his internal struggle. I have my own internal struggle with his growing up. As I look up into his eyes now, I remember his birth and how completely overjoyed and overcome with the miracle of his birth I was. His very existence was incomprehensible to me. That I held a tiny person in my arms, when before there was none, was more than my brain could fathom. It was an absolute God thing.

I had to do some growing up of my own back then.

He was completely reliant on my husband and me for his survival. Little by little as the years marched on, he learned more and more about how to take care of himself. Still, I was always there to help with a button, to cut up his food, to caution against foolishness and danger, and help with fractions. So as the years have passed by, he has learned much. While there are still days when I think, “Have you learned anything?” (Especially when he forgets his lunch or his homework for school.) I realize he has.

Yes, in a few years he will be twenty. Ouch. We’ll try to make the most of the next few years with our son. There will be struggles for him and for us. He will get angry with us and think we are holding him back, and we will be with all our might sometimes. Yet at other times we will let him stretch his wings and fly. Those will be the toughest days of my life. It will take extreme faith. Not faith in my son’s ability, although I pray for his abilities to grow, but trust that God will indeed be faithful and just to complete His work in my son; the work that began years ago. No, the work that began when He first knew my son before the foundation of the earth. Before God knit him together in my womb. You see, God has known my son much longer than I have; has loved him and planned for him for eons. I’m coming into the game rather late, actually.

So I am going to try to settle my nerves a bit, and turn my son over to God once again. I am going to yield my plans and my desires over to God’s. And I am going to trust Him to bring about the future He has in store for my son in His perfect timing. As I watch these plans come to pass over the next several years and beyond, I will marvel again at God’s handiwork just as I did years ago. And as we struggle through these tug-of-war teen years, I will try to cherish each moment as I watch the sands of time trickle through my own fingers.