Nothing I won’t show Him, Nothing I can hide.
I’ve never known a burden that was better kept inside.
How many times I’ve known the joy and found that sweet release,
And worry turns to worship, And burdens turn to peace.
– Al Denson, In His Sanctuary, second verse
Do you have someone in your life that will tell you the tough things when you need to hear them? Someone who can see right through all your shenanigans and smoke screens and who will lay it all out in black and white? I’m talking about the things that you really don’t want to hear, but need to hear. And the one person who has the guts and love to confront you with those things. Not in a condemning or judgmental way. But in a loving way, that only is intended to help you overcome. And then they walk along side of you, helping you to push through to victory.
If you have someone like that, hang on to them. Tightly. That’s the person that truly loves you. That’s who God is to me.
If you’ve read the article and blogs from October 2019, you know all about the wonderful story of how I got the website and how exciting that all was. It was a lot of fun telling the pretty side of the story. Now let me tell you the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey used to say ...
God had been confronting me for quite some time in the months and even years previous to 2018 about some issues in my life that He wanted me to deal with. Things that always came up every time those storms blew through my life. I’d been resisting, because He was asking me to do some really hard things that I frankly didn’t want to do. The storms hadn’t hit in a very long time, so I suppose I had gotten lazy, so why bring up all that stuff again? I didn't want to think about it.
We can get lazy in relationships and take the other person totally for granted. Doesn’t matter if it’s a spouse, a friend, or even God. My self-centeredness and stubborness were some of the things He wanted to address. It’s not wise to resist God ... read the book of Jonah.
He didn’t force the issue. He just waited.
At the end of summer 2018, our 16 year old cockerpoo, Chloe, got very sick. The vet gave her 4-6 months.
In October, I hired a web company to build the website. I stayed busy during October and November scrambling to get articles written for the new site. I was totally bummed about Chloe, so I just stayed busy and tried not to think about it.
The first week of December the website was launched. I thought, God is so good to me! Gave me a nice distraction to take my mind off losing Chloe! It takes real talent ... I had raised self-centeredness to an art form! And dressed it all up in God-talk! Of course, I didn’t see it.
The second week of December, the storms hit. Out of the blue. With a veracity they never had before. Suddenly God had my full attention. But He was oddly distant. Have you ever ignored or slighted your spouse or a close friend for a while, then tried to just resume the relationship as though nothing had happened? Yeah ... it wasn’t working with God either.
On New Year’s Day Chloe stopped eating. She could barely walk. The next day we had her put down.
My heart was on fire! Why wasn’t He talking to me?! So I did what I had always done ... I retreated into myself and my room and my work. Let’s see ... self-centered, stubborn, self-reliant ... I still wasn’t getting it. And let’s add self-justification to that list. I was in pain. It wasn’t my fault.
For the next few weeks I stayed busy learning how to work with the web people, learning their part, my part, what was going to be involved in owning a website. I was planning, writing and drawing articles and new art for a regularly changing Homepage. All on top of my regular daily work and family and home responsibilities. The storms were ever present and raging. I was juggling it all while still avoiding having to face all the pain inside.
Have you ever seen a functioning alcoholic? He has a problem, and everybody knows it except him. If he is confronted he will deny it, because, after all, doesn’t he go to work everyday? Doesn’t he take care of all of his responsibilities? But he can only sustain the act for so long. And I was starting to crumble under the weight of my little performance, too.
One day in early February, I made a decision. I knew He wasn’t talking to me, but I decided to tell Him anyway. Let’s add arrogance to my growing list. I told Him: I’m going to call my web people and tell them I made a mistake. I don’t want to do the website. It’s too much. I can’t do it. I’m going to take it down.
These are the times when you find out how loved you are. When I’m at my worst and lowest, God shines the brightest. He never tells me what to do. He just shows me reality, explains to me what my options are, and then lets me make the choice. And the very thing He was trying to work out of my heart - my pride and self-centeredness - is the very thing He used on me when He finally spoke ...
He said: That’s fine. If that’s what you want to do. Call up the web people and tell them to take it down. The very people that you’ve given money to that will now be wasted. The people who spent 2 months designing exactly what you asked for and who now have spent another 2 months coaching you and catering to you. Call them up and tell them you were just joking. That you don’t really want a website. Go ahead. Call them.
But it was a good ouch. Finally He had my heart and my ear.
Painful times will always be a part of our lives. Often times we don’t cause the pain, it’s just life laying us out flat. Other times it's entirely our fault. If we would’ve just obeyed to begin with we could’ve avoided some of that pain.
But God doesn’t get derailed by our mistakes. If we could manage alone, we wouldn’t need Him. But we can’t. And we do.
Never, never, never despise the hard and painful times in your life.