I was able to attend church this morning. It was just me and my favorite little girl walking hand in hand into the school building where our people meet each Sunday. The boys stayed home. Their hearts aren’t ready to tell this story to others just yet. Jesse isn’t ready to manage the stimulation yet either, so he stayed home to rest. I realized as I walked in that I was wearing the same shirt I wore the last Sunday I was there, the day I came home from church to find Jesse still sick in bed, the day I took him to the ER, the day life forever shifted for us. I sat in the chair I’ve so often occupied in the past, and soaked in the goodness of God this morning as people worshiped through song and prayer and preaching. I felt as I often have throughout all of this, as though my heart was going to burst out of my body with overwhelming, God-given joy. That’s the kind of God we serve, you guys; the kind who takes an ugly disease and turns it into the biggest grace in your life. He’s so trustworthy, proving Himself over and over again. He’s not obligated to show me who He is, but He chooses to; and it’s so humbling. I was reminded through the words of my preacher-friend this morning of something I first read many years ago. It’s in the greeting at the beginning of the book of Titus, a portion of God’s word I think most of us sort of skim over when we read because it’s full of names and places we aren’t usually familiar with and can’t pronounce:
“…In hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began…”
I serve a God who never lies. From “In the beginning” to “Amen.”, every word of scripture is truth. All of it. No exclusions. No exceptions. The God who wrote the story of this earth, also wrote the story of my life and of yours. Each detail carefully mapped out, each moment fashioned for His glory and for our good. No loose ends dangle untied. No unknowns. No questions echo in His mind in the darkness. He does not sleep. He does not grow weary of caring for His children. He is not exasperated by our circumstances. He is not surprised by our hardships or by our achievements. He is in all and through all; He IS all. From dawn to dusk, He is. He is God. He was Wounded Man and He is Triumphant King. He is both Provider of Unmatchable Peace and Table-turner. He is Master and Servant, both Lowly in Heart and Most High; Powerful and Gentle, He is. And rather astoundingly, this infinitely capable God loves us and calls us His own.
“He is a tender Jesus.” He is power who chooses grace. A Good Father, He is…not harsh with His children, guiding and allowing; weeping and rejoicing; upholding, never wavering, never scrambling to keep up with our self-imposed, ever-changing realities; always aware, ever present; there. He is also honest. Honest people can be hard to come by in life, and those who believe honest people exist are even more difficult to find. Like the tooth fairy or Santa Claus, honest human beings have become an object of fiction. Harsh society has rendered people skeptical of any sincerity. Is it any wonder people don’t embrace the idea of an honest God? A real, living being who forgives openly and loves unrelentingly? Absurdity! No one does that! Some mystical “it” that lives in the skies and controls everything and everyone and waits ready to pounce on the already oppressed, and devour what’s left of a fragile existence is somehow a less daunting notion. Because at least then, we can go out of life, guns slinging, defying death and all of its horrific unknowns. We can wave our banners of suffering high, spit in the face of oppression, shout “SCREW THEM ALL!”, and explode into the death we have chosen. Because an honest God would tell us the truth, right? An honest God would bring our brokenness to the surface. An honest God would hold us accountable. An honest God would urge us to deal with our own fragility and vulnerability, our own misplaced offense. An honest God would keep His promises, and that means that the beautiful, wonderful, scary reality that we have free will to run toward or run away from Christ ends in the beautiful, wonderful, scary reality of a real heaven and a real hell that He has promised us to be true.
Charles Spurgeon once said, many years ago, that “though you abhor His gospel, He has pleaded for you”. And that is the truth, friend. He is the truth. Truth hung wounded on a splintered piece of wood; naked and exposed to brutality, beaten beyond recognition, humiliated, thirsty, abandoned, shrouded in fear; Truth cried out forgiveness on your behalf, and died. And Truth was buried in a tomb. Hope was abandoned. Grief enveloped joy. And then, miraculously, remarkably, Truth rose up from the grave. Death was slain. Hope shook the earth as perfect sacrifice tore the veil concealing our sin-filled selves from Holy God. “God, who never lies”, fulfilled the promises made “in the beginning”, and grace reconciled wandering child to waiting Father. Grace made the way for you, and for me, to walk in right relationship with an Honest, never-sleeping, never-surprised-by-any-facet-of-our-messy-lives God. And that very same God? He waits for you, friend. He waits for you to call out His name. He waits to rescue you from your own demise, to fill you with the same overwhelming joy I felt this morning even in the midst of such a turbulent season in my life. Will you trust Him, dearest? He will not fail you.
O blessed Jesus! thou hast no fury in thy spirit; when men rejected thee thou didst not draw the sword to smite, but, on the contrary, thou didst yield thine eyes to weeping. Behold your Saviour, disciples, and see whether he was not meek. He had long preached in Jerusalem without effect, and at last he knew that they were ready to put him to death; but what saith he, as, standing on the top of the hill, he beheld the city that had rejected his gospel? Did he invoke a curse upon it? Did he suffer one word of anger to leap from his burning heart? Ah! no; there were flames, but they were those of love; there were scalding drops, but they were those of grief. He beheld the city, and wept over it, and said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.” And for a further proof of the absence of all uncharitableness, observe that, even when they drove the nails into his blessed hands, yet he had no curse to breathe upon them, but his dying exclamation was, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” O sinners! see what a Christ it is that we bid you serve. No angry bigot, no fierce warrior, claiming your unwilling faith: he is a tender Jesus. Your rejection of him has made his bowels yearn over you; and though you abhor his gospel, he has pleaded for you, saying, “Let him alone yet another year, till I dig about him; peradventure he may yet bring forth fruit.” What a patient master is he! Oh! will you not serve him!” Charles Spurgeon
-We’ve had a long week of adjusting medications, scheduling appointments, and establishing a new pace of life. Jesse is, not surprisingly, making huge improvements every single day. It’s hard, often frustrating work for him, but he is handling everything with extraordinary grace.
-Our first oncology appointment is Tuesday. We should find out then what treatment will look like.
-We’ve had some issues weaning Jesse off of the steroids he’s been on for many weeks. When we’ve attempted to lower them, he’s had seizures. This isn’t unexpected at all, but we would, of course, love to keep him as seizure free as possible AND get him off of the steroids. Would you pray with us for his body to be receptive to the medications that control his seizures so that we can safely get him off of the steroids? The sooner we get him off of that medication, the better for his body.
-Your prayers and letters and texts and phone calls and visits have been an immeasurable grace of God to us. We are so grateful for each and every one of you!