It has been quite sometime since my last post, but my silence over the last few months is not without reason. This may seem a bit over dramatic, but I feel like the last 6 months have been the hardest months of my entire life and as a result my faith has been tested in a way that I have not experienced before. The upside, though this season of hardship is far from over, my foundation, the rock on which I have built my faith has never been stronger.
I need to insert a disclaimer. There will be things in this post that could possibly change your view of me. It could ultimately hurt my ability to minister and carry out the work of God with some. I am ready to accept that as the consequences of my actions but it will not prevent me from pressing onward. Continuing on the path that God has set before me.
In a nutshell the last 6 months consisted of financial hardship, the death of my 38 day old niece, and the separation of my wife and I; which also means that I am separated from my kids. Of course with each trial there is a plethora of smaller hardships that have become my daily life and has crippled my faith. Feelings of loneliness, despair, anger, pain, anguish, uncertainty, faithlessness, rebellion, depression, hopelessness and so many more have had my heart and mind overwhelmed; my passion for God quenched.
At the risk of being over dramatic (again), some would say and have said that this year is shaping up to be a Job year; as in the book of Job. The guy that was stripped of everything (family, wealth, possession and health) by the Devil for the sake of God’s glory. Of course my situation is not as bad as his and my hardships are a mixed result of God’s purpose and my own choices (or lack there of), but I could see the similarities. I wish I could say that my story had the same context though. Job maintained his faith through all of his hardship. I on the other hand have not.
What led me to this place was being frustrated with and not understanding this season of life God had me in. That with the death of my niece, caused a chain reaction that had me exercising behaviors I had not done in 12 years. Rebellion against God was the name of the game and my game piece was weed (yes, as in marijuana). I wish I could say that it only happened once, but it did not. It happened several times. As if that wasn’t bad enough, in my anger and rebellion I grieved the Holy Spirit’s conviction and consciously gave into temptation. For some, this may not be a big deal. For me though, this is a major red flag to a pattern of behavior that almost killed me. It is also a gross violation of what God has spoken to me and done for me over the last 12 years. In this one choice I destroyed everything God had done in me and through me. Fortunately, God is bigger than my sin and this act of rebellion was not a surprise to Him.
Three weeks ago, after a huge fight with my wife that ended with her wanting a time of separation and moving to Cypress, I was yet again at a point of despair and hopelessness. Rightfully so, as the lack of repentance in my sinful anger was the cause of this hardship.
I reached out to my house church pastor and another friend for advice and encouragement. I knew I was in a bad place and did not want to continue on the path that I was on. I did not share with them the details of my behavior but in essence poured out all that I had been feeling and dealing with. In typical God fashion, that time of fellowship was a divine appointment that God had planned. Through them, God spoke scripture to me that would change my faith forever.
The scripture can be found in John 6:25-71. In short, Jesus teaches about how He is the bread of life and that anyone who eats His flesh and drinks His blood will find eternal life. This teaching did not make sense (not to mention just outright weird) to many who were following Jesus. As a result, many stopped following Him at this point. They literally walked away from Jesus! After seeing so many depart the faith, Jesus went to the twelve and asked, “You don’t want to go away too, do you?” In response Peter replies, “Where would we go? You have the words of eternal life!”
I have spent many years searching for meaning, purpose and value in this life. I have tried just about all this world has to offer in way of fulfillment, contentment and joy. None of which has ever come close to the life that I have found in Christ. This is a truth that I cannot deny. This scripture flipped the switch for me. For so long I had allowed my questions of “Why God?” to hinder me in my faith. I did not understand why God would give me such a big vision for His kingdom and then tell me to wait. I did not understand why God would bring a sweet innocent baby girl into this world and allow for us to experience such great joy and happiness only to replace it with pain, despair and emptiness. The many other hardships that I experienced over the last 7 years just did not make sense. Up until now, I have always been able to reconcile God’s actions. This was a side of God I had never seen before and I found myself asking, “Do I want to just walk away from all this? Is it worth it?”
If you are truly following Christ, I believe that we will all be brought to this place. A place where God’s actions no longer make sense. Where He asks us to do seemingly insane things and endure unspeakable pain for His glory and then asks us, “Do you want to walk away?” This will be one the most difficult choices you will ever have to make as it means that you will have to put your faith, trust and very life in the hands of a God that doesn’t make sense. You will have to accept that this God possibly has a plan for you to experience pain and suffering that is unimaginable. How will you respond? Will you be like the many that walk away because it is just too hard to accept or will you be one of the few that say, “Where else would we go? You have the words of eternal life”?
When faced with this same question, how did I answer? There is nothing else in this world that satisfies like Christ. Nothing! That truth is the grounds on which I have renewed my faith in God and I trust that in all my hardships, He is with me. He will never leave nor forsake me and in the end it will be for my good and His glory. In hindsight, I prayed last year that God would restore to me the joy of my salvation and today I can say that He has done just that. My prayer is that if any of you are in the same place as me, that my journey would help ease your struggle. Feel free to share in the comments below how you have experienced or are experiencing the same thing. Also, feel free to contact me should you so desire.