Visits From A Man Named Nobody 51

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 51

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“That’s a different problem, but repenting before God is only the highest form of repentance. You sought forgiveness from Stacy, which, apparently, she gave, at least to some degree.”

The car continued along the freeway as Paul considered what his mother said. Was that what he was after? He didn’t think so. “I wasn’t after forgiveness, Mom.”

“You were probably trying to be punished because you know what you did was wrong.” Her already normally soft voice was whisper quiet. She was sad about something. It was probably because Paul wanted punishment.

“I think people should pay for what they do,” Paul said. “I think they should get what they deserve.”

“I sincerely hope not,” his mother replied. “I want to give mercy, and I want to receive mercy. I know exactly what I deserve, and that’s why mercy is so wonderful.”

“You deserve to be happy!” The comment came out in a sort of muttered growl.

“And I don’t deserve to be punished for letting your father do what he did to us?” Paul’s head jerked at the question, which came out much more like an accusation.

“You were the victim!”

“And yet I let him do as much to you.”

Paul shut his eyes and took a deep breath. He hadn’t forgotten how he’d treated her as a child. He did whatever he wanted and expected her to let him. Then he got angry at her for giving him exactly what he wanted. It never made any sense. It only got better when he and Jordan became friends. 

“That’s not the same,” Paul said.

“It can’t be both ways, Paul. We either all get everything we deserve, or we all need mercy. But I’m of the opinion that if everyone got exactly what they deserve, we’d all be in a great deal of agony. And before you make some crass extreme counterargument, I acknowledge that some people are far more evil than others, but that’s not my point.”

“There is no one who is good,” Paul said.

“That’s,” she paused in shock. “That’s exactly right. Have you been reading the Bible?”

He’d never even considered telling her before this moment. It never came up. “I read the whole thing around the time he was arrested.” Paul refused to speak his name, and he’d die a million times over before he acknowledged that man as his father. 

Not that it worked. He was literally just like him, and he deserved exactly what that man got. 

A memory flashed in Paul’s mind. It was the night of Nobody’s first visit. The bastard had passed out drunk, and a bottle had tipped over. Paul set it right to be positive the alcoholic wouldn’t trip and hurt himself.

“Paul, are you there?” He’d been years away in the past and hadn’t heard his mother.

“Sorry,” he said. “I zoned out for a second.”

“I was asking why you read the Bible then?” 

That answer would lead to a lot of other questions. Paul had eluded to Nobody once or twice, but he’d never told the whole story. As he thought, he figured he should have lied to his mother, saying he’d read the Bible after he got close to Bill, but he couldn’t bring himself to lie to his mother or about Bill.

“I was looking for answers.” That was at least a part of the truth. “I didn’t find any. I read the whole thing. I think I’ve read it two or three times, but I don’t believe any of it.”

“Because of what happened to Bill.” She said it as gently as she could given her tone, but talking about Bill was always a way to get Paul angry. 

“Yes.” Maybe by being curt, she’d know to change the subject.

“We can’t accept just part of the Word,” she emphasized the capital. “It’s all true. It’s true that he’s sovereign. It’s true that he’s loving. It’s true that he’s the righteous judge, and it’s true that he calls us when it’s our time. We don’t get to pick when, and, to be honest, I don’t know that we’d ever accept the explanation even if he bothered to give it to us.”

“That part is for certain,” Paul muttered. 

“I’m going to ask about this girl now to shift the subject.”

Paul laughed. She could have just done it.

“I’m not doing it because I’m afraid or unwilling to debate or discuss this with you,” she explained. “I doing it because I’m trying to be patient. You’ve been patient, hearing what I’ve had to say. I think any more on this subject would just be an argument neither of us wants.”

“Yeah,” Paul admitted.

“I imagine Stacy is willing to allow you this chance to change,” his mother said. 

“But why? If I’m capable of doing what I did tonight, what else am I capable of?” And there it was. The last part of his question came out in whine of agony. He was a monster. He should be locked up before he hurt anyone. He wouldn’t be sorry if a bolt of lightning struck him down.  He needed to be punished. He needed to be stopped before he became that man.

“We’re all capable of horrible things, Paul,” his mother said. He couldn’t know for certain without activating the holographic feature of his PID, but he thought he heard a smile in her voice. “But you’re every bit as capable of becoming a kind, loving, patient man. If she’s ever willing to talk to you, maybe ask her why she was so willing to give you such precious gift as her own body. Why was she willing to be your girlfriend? I imagine it’s because she saw the man you could be, the other man you could be. I just wish you’d focus on becoming that man instead of avoiding the other.”

Paul glanced out the window as he ran a hand down his face to dry his tears. He caught the exit to his school from the corner of his eye, but he needed to admit something to his mother. “I’m so afraid of being him.”

“But if you focus on him, so that’s your target,” she said. “You have so many better options to focus on.” 

“Bill is the only better option I have, maybe Jordan or his dad,” Paul said. “I don’t know about so many other options.”

“I do,” his mother replied. “You’ve read the Bible. You have Enoch and Noah, Moses and David, the apostles and, most importantly, Jesus.”

“I thought you were changing the subject.” Paul muttered.

“I did, for an entire minute.” She sounded pleased at her quip. “And before you argue about it for the sake of arguing, go back and look at just one of those people. Would it really be so bad to be like them?”

Paul opened his mouth to say, “yes,” but that lie wouldn’t form on his lips either.

“Then there’s Paul,” his mother said. “Now there’s a case I think you could study. You could ask yourself why he called himself the foremost sinner, and yet he was still chosen to be an apostle to the Gentiles.”

Paul didn’t know what to say that wouldn’t either start an argument or get more Bible references. His contemplative moment turned into a period of silence.

“I’ll leave you to think on it now, but I hope you will,” his mother said. “We didn’t name you after the apostle, but you seem to focus on the punishments people deserved. It would do you some good to see the value of what mercy can do.”

“Ok,” Paul said.

“Thank you.”

Wait? Did she take that as a promise to look into it? “Mom —”

“I’m sure you’re near the school now, and you should see if Stacy is willing to talk to you,” his mother said.

“Mom, I —”

“I’ll talk to you later. I love you always, my son.”

She hung up. That was a dirty trick! She hung up before he could explain he was only acknowledging that he’d heard her. He shook his head. He didn’t actually promise her anything, and she knew it. He wasn’t obligated to study any of that stuff.

The car indeed pulled off the exit and started to pull around to one of the campus’s entrances. 

… to be continued …

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 9

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 9

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.

Setbacks

Mom got pretty sick the last week. One of the treatments was causing her some problems. None were, to my knowledge, immediately lethal; but it caused the doctors to roll back some of the treatments at least until things could level out.

My parents lived in a hotel for the bulk of the week, and since my mom isn’t doing all the treatments, they even let her go home.

No one is panicking in any way, and most feel that the most important part of the treatment is still under way. But where I had more confidence this battle would be over soon, I’m wondering how these changes to the treatment affect the chances that the tumor will be small enough to pull out completely.  It’s not a setback with her prognosis, but we’re not fighting with the number of weapons we thought were available. The truth is the only thing we need is God. He’ll work through doctors, but if he doesn’t want this to work, it won’t. I’m just hoping my mom’s sickness (the illness caused by the treatment) passes, and we can get back to using the whole arsenal of treatments. We’ll just have to see.  Nevertheless, I’m thinking about her progress in the battle as I think about my progress with living a more Godly life.

The fact is, I slipped. That word has a kind connotation that I’ll let stand, but it’s a term worth investigating in yourself.

I think some people believe a person wakes up and openly declares, “I’m going to sin today.”

First off, every person sins every day. We’re human; it’s what we do. As humans, we rank offenses to create morals and societal codes, but God doesn’t have such a measuring stick. Sin is offensive to him.

I’ve always been hyper aware of most of my shortcomings and a good number of my sinful habits I need to turn from. The thing is, I think temptation, and in some cases the devil, work in ways each person has opened themselves up to. I don’t know about you; I can only speak about me and my shortcomings.

Sometimes temptation hits me like a hammer.

It can be a dream. I happen to believe that we’re accountable for our dreams as we are for our random thoughts. I don’t pretend to say I have control of my dreams, but God ordained it so the Jews would crucify their savior. Even though God made it happen, they’re still responsible for their actions. This was something the church I attend actually spoke about recently.  I’m also big on responsibility. I declare that everything in my life is somehow my fault. I may not be completely (or even mostly) to blame, but for me to deny any blame for my situation is for me to admit I have no effect on the world around me.

Temptation can be an unexpected conflict. I’m at my worst when conflict comes without time or preparation. That’s when I feel the desire to be angry or judgmental, two things at which I’m particularly good.

Those, let’s call them, sudden battles are often more visual. I’ve had friends approach me and tell me they were proud of how I’d handle this situation or that.  I’ve even woken myself up a time or two. While more visual, I’m not certain they’re the more dangerous types of temptation. I wish I could tell you I overcome sin more than I don’t, but I’m just not sure. I’m afraid (which means it’s probably true) I succumb more often than I don’t. That said, I think I’m far more victorious in those more-intense, short term battles than I am against the thing I want to discuss in this segment.

Temptation can be a combination of whispers and time. Again, I can’t pretend to know what it’s like for others, but for me, I can go on a huge streak where I feel I’m doing well (relative to the Bell curve that is humanity).  But have you ever felt like temptation was metaphorically whispering gently in year ear for a whole day? A week? A month? While I might say I’ve won a victory or two against those sudden, visual battles with temptation. I don’t know that I’ve ever won against this particular form of temptation.

I think people hear on occasion that they need to keep their eyes on God. I’ve even spoken about one of my favorite little catch phrases, “Orient on God.” The fact is though, this takes consistent, vigilant effort. However, when temptation is whispering in my ear, like a dripping faucet or a song I can’t stop humming, it only takes one instant of a glance for temptation to take hold of me.

Once temptation gets a foot in the door, regardless of whether it’s a hammer that cracks your frame or a whisper that seeps from under the door, it’s all the more difficult to expel because you’ve already let it in.

So how does one shore up that door? I’m aware of the passage regarding the armor of God, but I don’t actually recall it.  It’s all well and good to have armor, but if you put on the breast plate after you’ve already been stabbed, how effective is it?

For me, I’m constantly aware of my frame of mind and my triggers. The thing is, I’m human. This is egotistical to say, but I’m pretty good at thinking about a lot of things at once. So it’s hard to focus all my attention on any one thing. This leads me to my point.

We glance from God all the time.  Perhaps you don’t like that accusation.  Very well, I glance from God all the time. I don’t do it maliciously. But the moment our motivation for what we’re doing isn’t “glorify God,” we’re turning from him. Setbacks happen from time to time. Those setbacks can’t be how the devil pulls us from God. It’s an odd compromise, knowing that you’ll always be a sinner forgiven by God because of Jesus’s sacrifice, and feeling like if one were going to sin anyway, the may as well.

I’m not claiming to be saved because I don’t sin. I’m claiming to be saved because Jesus died for all my sins — past, present, or future. The point is we can’t simply let sin creep in simply because of our savior’s sacrifice.

So how do I respond to setbacks? I usually take it as a sign I’ve turned from God, and I need to turn back. I’m most alarmed when some of my more-continuous battles are lost.

Please don’t think of it like a meter. I think that’s the wrong idea at least.  I don’t want to present the idea of, “Oops, I sinned! Guess I need a few more gallons of God juice on the way home.”

What I do think is, “Wow! I’m not keeping my mind on God, much less pleasing him.”

In his book, The problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis asserts pain is a reminder to focus on God. Could that be what’s happening with my mom? Honestly, it could be that. I don’t know that it is. To claim such knowledge would be to claim to know God’s plan. I’ll never do that. The action I take is the only course of action I can think to take.

While I can’t kneel in prayer every minute of every day, I can increase the amount of things I do. I can read more of The Bible. I can memorize verses. Some people do that, I’m not sure how I feel about the concept, and to ponder this would take a lot of time and distract from this train of thought. One thing I’ve started doing is listening to Christian music. I’ve been a huge fan of Flyleaf for years. So when I work out (which is another good thing to do regularly), I listen to that. I find that I think of sin less when I have a great song stuck in my head.  While I’m a fan, this isn’t a direct endorsement of Flyleaf. It’s an endorsement for Christian Rock, and (more importantly) Christian media.

These scares and setbacks can work to bring us closer to God so long as we don’t stop the actions that helped us. Don’t take the armor of God off to begin with. Sleep in it. Live in it. Fight in it. I imagine most people take that metaphorical armor off on occasion.  That’s when I think temptation attacks. When it does, win or lose, I’ll get my armor back on, and see what I can do to remember to keep it on.

The more I do so, the more likely I am to keep my mind focused on him, which is the point.

 


 

Questions and Revelations

Does God really “hurt” people to bring them to him?

Again, Mr. Lewis asserts so. A recent sermon at church said sometimes pain is given to teach. Sometimes it’s given to punish. Sometimes it just is. This life isn’t meant to be perfect and good all the time. I don’t have any scripture to back up each statement (I’d be grateful if anyone offered some). However, the punish and teach boxes are checked. I’d spoken about David. God hardened the pharaoh’s heart, leading him to keep the Jews, causing God to take all the first-born children of Egypt. That miracle was one of many to prove God’s existence and his power.

The short answer is yes. So remember that each time you sin. I’m not declaring every sin is brutally punished with Biblical amounts of pain. I am stating that God has the sovereignty to punish sins as he sees fit. That makes me wonder though, am I the only guy who’s immediately afraid right after sinning?

Think about your parents. You ever do something, and feel a huge sense of relief after you get away with it? What about when everything goes south, and you realize your parents are going to find out. How afraid do you get in those situations?

Now, consider the fact that God already knows everything we did, are doing, and will do. So I’m afraid a large amount of time.

Why doesn’t it stop you from sinning?

First, I don’t believe  that anyone, saved or not, is without sin. I need to say that because my honest answer to the above question is, “Because I’m human.”

I just don’t let that give me a free pass to sin more or more egregiously as measured by society.

 

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

Matt

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 8

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 8

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.

Trust With Burdens

 

Today I find myself thinking of Moses. This was a man who literally sat and spoke with God. The thing with him though was from that moment on the burning bush, he was a man who tended to want to explain why he couldn’t.

God told Moses to help his people. Moses gave a list of reasons why he couldn’t. The funny thing is, while it’s one thing to know yourself, would you have any doubt if you knew God wanted you to do something?

For Moses, it was leading the Israelites to the promised land. For others, it might be something else. None of us have the benefit of a burning bush or singing angels these days.

In my mind, the task is to help my family through this ordeal.

What helps me? Faith in Jesus. Seriously, I don’t know how I’m going to pull of half of the things I think I need to. But I know anything is possible through Christ, and I know that if God wants something to happen, it happens.

Previously, I spoke about my sister. I’d mentioned she was struggling to balance her children, her life, and caring for our mother. We spoke on the phone about it.

It’s hard to think about what others feel or think when we’re focused on our labors. I feel this in a lot of areas. It’s easy to think no one is doing anything when no one is helping you. That’s not actually the case. They may indeed not be helping you, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have reasons for what they’re doing.  Alternatively, when someone is working on something, it’s easy to forget how hard it is. Have you ever decided not to look at something or worry about something because it wasn’t your job? It’d be nice to think a portion of that is born of the trust one has in the other to do the job, but isn’t it possible that person might just be grateful it’s not something they have to do?

My sister felt the toll of two-and-a-half weeks of care for our mother who has cancer. We spoke about how hard she was working. We spoke about what the rest of the family was doing. As I’d mentioned, my family isn’t prone to supportive action in crisis. But how do I help my sister and keep things from losing focus?

Even in that moment on the phone, I felt nervous. I worried this might be one of those moments where our family complains about one another or lashes out.

Here I was wondering what would have happened differently if Moses had simply said, “Yes, Sir.”

That thought gave me a bit of clarity. I could be mad. I could sympathize with this person or that person. None of that conversation would have resolved the issue. Instead, I put my eyes on what I felt mattered most.

What does my mother need? Sure, that’s easy for me to ask seeing as though I’m pretty powerless to do anything on the other side of the country.  Then again, that didn’t mean I couldn’t be supportive or offer a different viewpoint.

My first need was to put the focus not on who wasn’t doing what and who was, but instead focusing on what needs to be done.

My sister felt responsible for a few complications that came up during the week.  She was tired. She was stressed.

“I’m just one person, and I can only do so much,” she said.

“Lucky for us God is infinite, and he can do anything,” I replied.

We talked about what options were available to ease some of the tension. Once I knew what all the issues were and the obstacles, I offered what help I could: Money. I’m not rich. I’m not even as stable as I was before I published my first book.

“Can I afford it? No, but God will take care of it.”

Low and behold, a few days later the family has a new plan that gives my older sister a break and helps my mom get care and help when she needs it. How much did it cost? Nothing. Of all the plans and things I considered options, the thing that’s happening doesn’t cost my family anything (at least not that I know of).  I’m not sure if the explanation is protected by some sort of agreement, so I can’t offer it here, but that doesn’t matter. The point  is, when you trust in God, things work out.

I don’t think everything’s settled.  For starters, my mom still has cancer. But the more I trust in God, the less I even have to do. It’s kind of ridiculous lately how true that is. A few chapters back, I gave my formula, and I think it still holds true. We mortals have to put in the work. If we do so, and we keep our faith in Christ, it’ll work out. I think it’s all the easier when you’re doing God’s will.

That’s a touchy subject to be honest. For now, I just feel confident that when one is doing God’s will, whatever that may be, it’s pretty simple if you trust that God is with you.

I remember somewhere in 1 Chronicles (also in Kings if I remember correctly), David was threatened by enemies. He asked God, “Should I attack them? Will you deliver them into my hands?”  God replied, “Attack them, and I will deliver them to you.”

Man I’d like to be able to converse with God on that level. I’d do it for pretty much everything. “God, should I have Raisin Brain?”  “No, have Fruit Loops.”  (No intended recommendation is made here. It’s just a metaphor.)

We don’t have that sort of luxury, but every now and again, we feel a moment, a calling. I say when you feel that, go with it.

 


 

Questions and Revelations

Does this mean if something is hard we should stop because it’s not God’s will?

How the heck should I know? I mean, it might be a trial God wants me to learn from. It might be the right thing, but the time might be wrong. Or, I could be going against God’s wishes, and he’s trying to dissuade me. All of these are possibilities. I just don’t know.

I do trust that if God absolutely didn’t want me to do something he’d either stop me by closing that door, or hold me accountable when I do it.

How do you know you’re doing God’s will?

I don’t. I sure hope I am though. In some things, I’ve felt called. On the phone that day, I felt frustrated and angry because of my own powerlessness.  Imagine how my sister felt? We could have lamented on all the things we couldn’t do or couldn’t face. I realized, however, that was an opportunity to praise God for his limitless power. It didn’t obligate him to do anything, but I swear to you all I felt something telling me to stop making it about what we couldn’t do and start driving the conversation toward God and His grace. I’m normally someone who wants to talk about a problem, as if doing so will make the problem regret existing. In this case, I felt a calm I don’t typically feel. It felt right. Praise, don’t fret. Pray, don’t dwell. It’s much easier said than done, but when you do it, it works.

Does that mean you’re never worried?

Oh if only you knew me better. I worry (or at least I’m know to worry) so much. I wonder how many people have noticed a change. I’ll say this much, my boss mentioned it to me. I confessed my feelings aren’t nearly as clear as my actions have been of late, but it felt truly wonderful to have him recognize I’m handling this well.

My mind is constantly working through things. What needs to happen? How difficult is it? What could go wrong? What can I do to prevent this?

If I’m 1,000,000,000 times closer to God than I was when this started, I (and all of us) still have an infinite number of miles to grow. We’ll never approach his grace and virtue. I think each time I accept a situation for what it is and trust God to help me through, I’m a little better.

Like Moses, there’s still a lot to actually do. But if you trust in the Lord to help you through it, the work becomes easier.

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

Matt

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 4

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 4

See Part 1 here.

See Part 2 here.

See Part 3 here.

Cancer

I’ve always been a man obsessed with the plan. I’ve always been hateful of change. The reason for this is the simple fact that nobody changes what they’re doing for a good reason.

So when my little sister sent me a text to tell me Mom wasn’t heading home, I knew something was off. I called my older sister to see why Mom was staying at her house in Phoenix instead of going home as planned.

“It’s cancer,” she said.

They needed to do more tests and see what was going on, but they new it was cancer.

I talked with my older sister. (I have several of those. I’m speaking most specifically about my next oldest sister.) Then I got a hold of my dad, the man who’d already lost a brother and a mother to that same monster. I really hate cancer. I’m going to go on the record as saying it’s bad.

My dad is Superman. He’s calm, cool and collected. He always knows what to do. He always knows how to handle a situation. I can’t say I’ve ever actually heard or seem him cry, but that phone call was the fourth time I’ve ever heard his voice crack, and I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to do when Superman himself is struggling. He held it together.

“It’s just another bump in the road,” he told me, repeating what he’d told my mom. Like I said: Superman.

I got a hold of my brother (that older sister’s husband).  In a matter of hours, they made room in their house, got everything set up and made sure my mom would be comfortable. They didn’t even blink. All they did was focus on making their home comfortable and inviting. My brother and I stayed positive. We both still felt (and feel) that everything would work out.

I, unfortunately, was having this conversation over the phone while standing in an H & R Block waiting for an appointment. I didn’t care. When I hung up after that last phone call, I got down on my knees, put my elbows on a chair, and prayed.

“Heavenly father thank you and praise you for how generous and strong my family is being. I’m scared now, and it’s hard to fight through that fear to remember I’ve surrender this problem to you. Lord I’m reminding myself that there is no problem you can’t solve. There’s not disease you can’t heal.”

I don’t know if anyone watched. I didn’t pray out loud. I whispered the words, reminding myself that God has a pretty good habit of healing sicknesses. He’s even brought people back from the dead (I can count five right off the top of my head).

They didn’t have a lot more information, and I was too shell shocked to do much more with it. All I wanted was to do my crummy taxes. All of these events happened over the course of about four days, and each of those days dealt a new blow. Adding that to the list of what now seem pathetically hilarious other issues just felt like a new test.

So I reminded myself: The more afraid I feel, the more I’m hit, the more I’ll praise God, the more I’ll trust him.

It was hard to do it, but I did, and a week later, I’d see some of the results of that trust.

 


 

Questions and Revelations

How hard was it to pray in public like that?

Not hard at all. I wasn’t thinking about my pride or what people would think. I thought, “Hey, I’m in a pretty big pile of doubt right now, and I made a promise to God.”  I honestly wasn’t the least bit concerned with what others thought. I was honestly more concerned with how I’d react if anyone felt like challenging my freedom of religion at that exact moment.

A brief tangent: I gave real thought to the question of if people would react to my praying as I typed this post. Here’s the thing: Why is it okay to march and protest in anger, but a guy can’t pray in public without making folks uncomfortable? I could have written a sign, started shouting, and I probably would have had ten or twenty people out there shouting with me.

Why are we more willing to show our outrage at life than we are to show our faith in God?  I don’t have the answer to this question, I’m honestly asking you, the reader. Those who follow my blog know exactly how much I love the First Amendment. But that reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

But how often do people take what they want from that, and then use it against itself? One possible reason people get uncomfortable? Probably those using religion to speak out against things. The Bible is pretty clear on things that offend God. I’ve seen protests on a few of them. I listen to people speak out and talk about how people who do X are doomed to go to Hell. Funny thing is, I’ve never seen a protest against lying. That is an actual Commandment, but no one is out there shouting or warning people they’ll go to hell for it.

My theory on why: Everybody lies. It’s awful hard to shout out and condemn people for the things they do themselves. It’s awful easy to talk about the sins only some people do, the ones statistical minorities take part in. But that judgment and hate is pretty hard to muster up. Then, all of the sudden, we want to talk about God’s grace and forgiveness because those people, those who only commit the sins everyone else commits are somehow more deserving of God’s grace and forgiveness than those other, more egregious sinners.  I just read about David. God loved him. God made him king over all Israel. Then David murdered a man just to sleep with the man’s wife. Why will you never see me using God’s judgement as a platform for my protest? Because all sinners are deserving of God’s sovereignty, and I’d rather not draw more attention to myself.

Sin is sin people. This creates an argument that divides from God. Some who read this will think I’m wrong because people should warn about sin. Some will argue I’m right to call others out.  I’m not trying to create another fight. But I’d rather proclaim God. Praise him publicly and worship him. All sinners deserve his sovereignty, I get that. But I’ll leave it to God to judge. I’m going to love my neighbors and praise my God. Does that make me ignorant to the things The Bible says is wrong? Does it make me disagree with the stances of some of those protestors? No, but it just starts a fight.  Those fights are the very things that divide when what I want us to do is unite.

I don’t intend to pray publicly every single day. I just don’t feel any shame over doing it when I feel it’s appropriate: Grace, hearing my mom has cancer, and before the 49ers play.

Did anyone say anything?

Nope. I’m certain I was obviously shaken and upset. I play poker well, but that’s about the only time in life where I don’t over-express my feelings. I didn’t break down and cry, but I wanted to. However, I was clearly emotional. Blessings in disguise? That day, the tax folks were really backed up. They were worried I’d be pissed they wouldn’t help me at the appointed time. If I’m being honest, had I not received that phone call, I would have been. I would have probably barked and grunted about how people should do the things they’d said they’d do when they said they’d do them. I have a tendency to do that. But that delay (I think it was like three hours), was just enough time for me to call my loved ones, figure out what was happening, get my emotions under control, and even grab so food. Had they been ready for me, I’d have gotten that news right in the middle of the appointment.

Did you still really believe God would fix this?

I did and I do. As I type this, I’ve just finished reading 2 Kings 4.  God, through one of the prophets (I can’t spell these names), brought a child back from the dead. To be honest, I’m seeing a ton of miracles in both the Old and New Testaments. I knew about Lazarus and Jesus, but God actually brought at least a handful of people back to life.  The hard part for some might be believing he’d do so today, but why wouldn’t he? Now, does that mean he will? Like I said, I believe, but it’s his call. I’m just testifying as I swore to Him I would.

What kind of Caner is it?

I’m not sure at the moment. My dad helped me understand a bit when I called him a week later (which I’ll talk about in a few weeks). I’m trying to get details and learn more, mostly because I want to find out exactly which type of cancer I’m going to go after first in what’s become a personal vendetta against the disease. My intention is to use the proceeds of any sales of this memoir to fight that specific form of cancer.

Did you actually go through with the tax appointment? 

Why wouldn’t I? If I trust God, then I should just live my life and handle my responsibilities, shouldn’t I? I’m of the opinion that had I freaked out and gone home and moped, that would be the literal opposite of trusting God. I was sad. I sent a quick message to a core group of friends who I knew would check up on me. I needed a few to get my mind together. I didn’t want to do anything. I wanted to go home, get in bed, and stay there until this was all over. The problem is, that wouldn’t have been me showing God I trust him.

I still refused (and still refuse) to be like those early Israelites who complained and shouted, “why did we do this” every time things got difficult. It didn’t work for them, so I have reason to believe it wouldn’t work for me.  I continue to believe. I made up a few new catch phrases and took further measures to obey God’s will. I’m still convinced that is the way to save my mom. He’ll take care of her. That miracle (worked through people just as he’s done in several examples in The Bible), will happen; and this testimony will chronicle that miracle.

I get that you acted like you trusted God, but did you really just shrug and move on with your day?

I bet I look like that to a lot of people. The thing is I’ve always been able to compartmentalize. But I break eventually. I’ve broken five or six times I can think about just as I type this. Each time, however, I refocus and work harder to feed my faith and trust in God. Yes, I worry. I absolutely let that fear bring me to anger (which I’ll talk about next week, but I can only do so much. My plan was that if I kept acting and doing as I should, I’d gain confidence and peace as I went. Not to spoil any of the future posts, but it’s working. The more I trust, the less I worry. The more I trust, the more things start to happen in all the best ways.
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

Matt