See Part 1 here.
See Part 2 here.
See Part 3 here.
See Part 4 here.
See Part 5 here.
See Part 6 here.
See Part 7 here.
See Part 8 here.
See Part 9 here.
See Part 10 here.
See Part 11 here.
See Part 12 here.
See Part 13 here.
See Part 14 here.
See Part 15 here.
See Part 16 here.
See Part 17 here.
See Part 18 here.
See Part 19 here.
See Part 20 here.
See Part 21 here.
See Part 22 here.
See Part 23 here.
See Part 24 here.
See Part 25 here.
See part 26 here.
The Trip Home
I was talking to my friend, and we were halfway to the airport. I was actually talking to her about how much I read the Bible these days.
“There’s no way I could get through this time without the strength reading the Bible has given me.”
Then my phone rang.
Dad called to tell me that in the early morning of July 26, 2018, my mother passed away.
I don’t remember a word of that conversation. I hardly remember any of that morning if I’m being honest. Sure, bits and pieces are there, but my mind tends to focus on tasks when I’m feeling sad. Accomplishment is something that drives me (a sinful thing that, but I am a task oriented person). At that moment, getting home was something I could do.
I hung up and said a brief prayer. I told my friend my mom died, and my friend was kind enough to volunteer to let everyone at work know.
I do remember reiterating that, while I was absolutely sad, I had a degree of comfort. I believe this happened for a reason. I can say with complete assurance that I’m a better person today through the faith and comfort God granted me throughout this journey. I felt strengthened, and I know that strength didn’t come from me; it came from God.
As I went through the usual airplane process, I arranged with my brother to pick him up so that we could drive to Yuma together. I was honestly very happy to have the company.
I kept going to those same parts of the Bible I’d found the night before: Matthew Chapter 5, and Romans.
I have no idea how many times I read them. I do know that each time I read them, I felt my strength returning. It’s my opinion that Romans (while starting in a place of hopelessness) is the most uplifting book of the Bible. I’m sure there are other opinions, but my mom had just died, and whenever I felt overwhelmed, that was the Sword of the Spirt and the Shield of Faith I wielded in my battle with despair.
After I arrived at my brother’s house in Phoenix, we piled into the rented car and started the drive home.
We spent a portion of the drive talking about our regrets. I’m still of the opinion that a lot of the turmoil my family suffered is a direct result of my failure to show up when my sister called for help all those months ago.
My brother shared his regrets. They’re his, and so I won’t share them in this. What matters is we found comfort talking things out.
One issue remained unresolved at that moment. My nephew, who’s favorite person in the world, was in the car with us, and we hadn’t told him why we were going to Yuma. Whatever we were going to do, we wanted to do it with as much of the family as we could have around us.
We met two of my sisters where I returned the rental. There, my brother (in law) and sister talked for a moment, discussing what the best option would be. How do you tell a child his favorite person in the world was dead?
We decided to get home and go from there. Somewhere in that process, I volunteered.
I’m not honestly sure why I did it. I know part of me wanted to save his parents at least a piece of the heartache. As one who knew it had to be done, I’m sure a part of me just wanted to see a necessary thing finished.
So after we got home and settled in, we sat The Boy (this is how I refer to him in public/social settings) down in a circle.
I don’t remember every word I said, but I remember the way I wanted to do it. I started by telling him how much we love him.
“We didn’t tell you why we’re here,” I said. “Grandma’s gone.”
“She’s not here?” he asked. The rest of us knew, but he didn’t understand yet.
His mom explained that she’d gone to be with Great Grandma. Eventually, I said as softly as I could. “She’s dead.”
“She’s dead?” Tears immediately started falling. We pulled him in for what might be the record for largest, longest family hug ever.
He cried for a short time, but after a few minutes (as kids often do), he started running around, laughing and playing.
I’m not asserting in any way he just bounced back. He’s a curious, intuitive boy. A lot of us are still concerned about how he’s handling this, and it’s just hard to know in a time like this.
As The Boy started roaming around, I pulled my sisters (those who were there at that point) into a hug. I held them there, letting them cry in my arms, telling them we’ll be OK.
It had to be in the early a.m. at that point. I offered to read the books of the Bible I’d been reading with someone, and one of my sisters volunteered.
From there, we went to bed knowing we’d have to start picking up the pieces the next day.
Questions and Revelations
Why does Romans begin in hopelessness?
I really don’t know how to word that assertion, but it’s accurate. The first four chapters establish that we are sinners; we are worthy of God’s wrath; and there’s nothing we can do to fix it. So yeah, pretty hopeless.
Then it talks about peace with God through righteousness. It tells us of our salvation and how nothing can pull the saved from God’s love through Christ (Romans 8). So it starts by making it clear there’s nothing man can do to find salvation, but then explains how God assured our salvation. This is so that we remember that God deserves the glory for our salvation and resulting eternal life with Christ.
The unnamable question:
I’ve been pondering the best way to present these thoughts. How are you able to do this? How do you feel after it happened? Do you feel let down because God didn’t save your mom? There’s a question in there that’s composed of all of these questions.
In science, there are some things we claim exist simply by pointing out how those suggested things affect the rest of the universe. A black hole is an example. We point at the light being sucked into something, and declare that’s how we know the black hole is there.
Honestly, I get frustrated sometimes at how some try to refute God’s existence through science when it takes the same amount of faith to believe in, say, the theory of evolution as it does to believe in God. You’ve never seen God or a miracle! True, but there are absolutely no fossils linking man to monkey, not one. So for someone to claim God doesn’t exist and that evolution is real, they have every bit as much evidence to literally point to as one who claims God exists. It is a statement of faith. I digress the world at large knows, historically that Jesus existed. Beyond the Bible, there are records. Colleges give degrees to people for the study of the human life of Jesus. His existence is factual while others try to deny his deity. However one might want to argue whether Christ rose from the dead, no one, believing or not, denies he lived. Meanwhile, science has had the same 2,018 years to find the fossil showing the (hilariously titled) “missing link.” I don’t often get into debates like this, but I need to establish this information to answer this unnamed question.
No matter what someone believes. No matter what master they serve: God or science, the flesh or spirit, themselves or nature; there comes a point when the evidence to definitively prove that belief falls short through the eyes of those who cling to other beliefs.
So this is what I believe:
I am able to do this. I feel comforted through this process because of the grace God has given to me, which is sufficient to carry me through this trial though the flesh of my heart is broken.
I am so very sad that my mother has gone, but from a certain point of view, it would be worse to think God didn’t save her. Why? Because the point of life isn’t to exist until one dies.
This existence we are in is not the end, but the beginning of eternity. God saved my mom years ago when she professed her faith in Jesus and then taught us about him when we were young. Never once in my middle years or as I grew did she ever deny Christ or declare the end of her belief. To think, “God didn’t save her,” to me, implies that this mortal life is all there is.
So I hold to the belief that this life is the one in which we endure, for as long as we have to, until God calls us home.
Yes, I wish God had cured my mom of cancer, but that’s not remotely the same thing as saving her. Salvation is reconciliation with God through Jesus crucified. Everything else is secondary and just nice to have.
When I started this, I explained that 90 years of suffering still won’t compare to eternity. As sad as that day, and the days that followed, were. They are pieces, slivers of eternity that will seem as nothing especially when Mother and I are reunited in God’s kingdom.
God didn’t, hasn’t, nor ever will let someone down, but we mortals sometimes elevate ourselves above him because (in this case) I think in terms of what I want more so than what God wants. It is at these times I remind myself that all God does is for my own good.
There will be mockers out there. Someone will read this whole thing and say, “What good is your God that you showed all that faith and he still let her die?”
My reply is that “God is good, because he gave me that faith, and even through this heartbreaking loss, he allows my faith to remain because all that he does is for good, and not for evil.”
It is good that my mom isn’t being woken by pain. It is good that my mom is finally called home. It is good that I feel, deep in my heart, a strength that I simply can’t attribute to myself or anything in me, so it must be from Him.
Sure, like a selfish, petulant, and spoiled child, I want more. I cry out for my mother even while I plan to marry my fiancee.
The aforementioned doubters will say, “I thought God would give you a perfect life.”
He will, but this perfect existence is one to come, not on this world or in this time. Even if I were more selfish than I already am (which is extremely so), I can’t possibly call my life horrible. Perfect? No, but I don’t expect perfection because Jesus hasn’t returned, and I haven’t died to go to Heaven.
Those doubters will point and accuse, but I ask of them (and of you), what reason do you have to assault my faith? Why do we argue? Why do we debate? No sane person would ever point at the sky and say, “It’s blue.” No sane person would even hear a fool who jumps up and counters, “No! It’s green!”
Why? Because that person is clearly wrong, and you are clearly right. It’s fact. We don’t argue the things which we believe to be fact. We argue the things we doubt so that we might be convinced of our misperceptions or emboldened in our beliefs.
So these days, when someone tries to assert God doesn’t exist or Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, I realize I don’t have to argue. The sky is blue, and if they don’t see it, no amount of me pointing will make them see. Only God can grant sight to the blind. I can live in my belief. I can state my faith. I can do as I’ve been commissioned and spread the good news. But I, and all humanity, lacks the ability to make anyone believe.
As one who enjoys debates and the one who began this question under the framework of proof, I acknowledge that any who is convicted of their beliefs can do the same as I have just said. For I believe, and no amount of pointing will make me see anything but Christ and him crucified for my salvation.
But only one who reads this on the surface will see this as a commentary on debate. It isn’t, and I explain here to make it plain. This is a commentary on faith, which by definition can’t be proven until the end. And the reason for that faith exists because I know my mind. I know how analytical I am. And there is absolutely no internal organ, muscle or synapse that exists in me that can make we wake up and believe. Therefore; the only possible source of that faith and confidence must be external, and therefore be from God.
My faith is not justified because I got what I want out of this. Indeed, it might have been perceptually nullified. My faith is justified because I didn’t get what I want, yet I still believe.
If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog. I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.
Thanks for reading