When Life Falls Apart
On Thursday, January 6, 2017, my life began to change in a way I’d never experienced and wouldn’t dare to have imagined. My dad underwent surgery that morning, and before he was out of recovery, he went into cardiac arrest in an event unrelated to the procedure.
While he was initially resuscitated, he was put on life-support as the doctors spent 5 days doing everything in their power to keep him alive. However, my dad’s life was not in the doctors’ hands. It was in God’s. And on January 10th, God finally brought my dad home to Heaven.
Those that know me know how close I was with my dad. He was not just my father, but my best friend, my boss, and my Pastor. He was the greatest spiritual influence in my life, and so much of who I am today is because of him, especially in regard to my relationship with God and my passion for ministry.
The days and months that followed his death were the hardest of my life to this point. I’m thankful for the many family and friends who surrounded my mom and me with support, encouragement, and love during that time, even as they were grieving themselves.
I don’t spend much time thinking about that time of my life. It’s still too much to relive, and I don’t want to live in that place. However, there are times when I look back and marvel at how much God brought me through and how much grace I experienced in those days and months.
As I realized that it has now been 5 years since all of this took place, I began to reflect. But instead of dwelling on the experience in the hospital, or in the roller-coaster of life that I went through in the months following, I began to think about some of the things my dad taught me over my life, and how those things helped me get through the enormous trial that God had brought me to that year.
The name of my website is “The Surrendered Life.” I actually chose this title less than a month before my dad died. I had no idea at the time I picked this theme that I’d have to live it so fiercely and so soon.
So much of what I learned about the importance, the significance, and the realities of surrendered living I learned from my dad – not just in his teachings, but in his living.
Today, in honor of his 5th anniversary in Heaven, I want to begin a series where I’ll be sharing 5 areas of surrendered living that I learned from my dad in the 26 years that he poured into my life.
When I look back on my life and the moments that I believe shaped me into who I am today, I have to admit that those moments were some of the most painful experiences of my life. And yet, God used those times of suffering to make me into the person I am today.
We all have moments in life that define us, and unfortunately, they’re often related to suffering of some kind.
As much as we’d like to think that it’s the mountain top experiences that shape us, that’s rarely the case. Rather, God tends to use the valleys of our lives to grow us, to change us, and to make us into the image of Christ, and it’s those very moments that enable us to experience the joy of the mountain top.
The valley is dark, scary, and painful. Sometimes the suffering is a direct result of our own sinful choices. Sometimes it’s the result of the sinful choices of others. And sometimes it is simply the result of living in a fallen world. Regardless of the cause, the way we respond to resistance, pain, and difficulty reveals what we truly believe in the deepest part of us. In those moments, we are faced with some of the hardest questions we will ever face:
Do I really believe God is good?
Do I really believe God loves me?
Do I really believe God is in control?
Do I really believe God is all I need?
MAKING GOD ENOUGH
If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you’ve probably heard the saying, “You won’t know God is all you need until God is all you have.”
Unfortunately, it’s a common saying because, for the most part, it’s true. At least, the idea behind it is true. But the phrasing itself lends itself to the idea that you won’t really know if God is enough until you’ve lost everything. And while it’s true that you won’t know it by experience until that point, I’d say that you can know that God is enough before you lose everything. In fact, that’s actually the goal.
If we wait until we experience the loss of what we love to discover if God is enough, we will find that God is not enough. Instead, we must learn how to let God satisfy us in the here and now so that when the times of crisis come, we already know that He will be enough and He will carry us through. Otherwise, when we experience the pain and suffering that is inevitable in life, we will instead turn to ourselves or others to make us feel better, following the path of idolatry we talked about last week.
The fact of the matter is that what you believe in the light is what will be proven in the dark. If you want God to be enough for you then, you must make Him enough now.
HOW DO WE GET BACK?
When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply
In a word: passionate.