Category Archives: Stuff I’ve written elsewhere

Perfect in Weakness

A few months ago a disabled friend asked me a very deep and personal question about my relationship with my wife, and how we get through our challenges.  I was pretty challenged by her question and it honestly took me months of back-burner reflection to come up with an answer that seemed true and authentic.

Here’s a slightly re-written version of what I sent her today (some names removed, etc…)

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Hi my friend,

First, I’m sorry it’s taken so long to write back. After reading your questions and thinking about them, I realized that I didn’t have as many answers as I wanted to have for you. Heather and I will be married 18 years this year and most of the decisions we’ve made about our relationship – some of which had to be endured through some great trials – have mostly been made and settled. They do come back up occasionally, but I usually only have to remind her (or her I) what the decision was that we made together previously about such a thing.

Something else happened recently that relates directly to your question. I had a conversation with another amazing friend whom I regard as a sister that made me realize something in words that I had never been able to really articulate before. She is a remarkably insightful friend and she knows me better than I like to pretend that she does.

This sister said to me – something to the effect of – “you NEED to love others, it’s who you are.”

I knew this, but I didn’t quite get it. She’s right. I’m divinely made with a need to love and care for others. Not the same way that doctors care for the body, but in the way that you care for a soul, a heart, and maybe some of the physical needs along the way. Whether I’m involved in working with teenagers (one of my favorite things), taking care of foster kids, taking care of my kids, or taking care of my wife… and again I mean much more than the physical needs… those are the times that I feel useful and fulfilled.

Inversely, if I had nobody to care for – or even worse if I couldn’t be trusted by others to care for adults and children – then I would feel useless and empty. My life would be without meaning.

I didn’t become this person because I wanted to be, this is who I am and who I’ve always been. I find it to be completely unalterable.

Now, there are things that can (and have sometimes) take/n that away from me – my own sinful desires and actions, or the sin of others who the enemy would use to take me away from God’s purpose in my life. Maturing or growing for me has meant learning to identify those things for what they are, and then to employ the strength gained through my Faith to overcome them and get closer to my purpose.

Getting to the specific point of your question: I believe that I am made for Heather – perfectly. She believes that she is made for me perfectly, that we perfectly fulfill one-another’s needs. We believe that God brought us together for his purpose (Love) and that with us together, we are doing his work as he has prepared us from the beginning.

Heather is my sounding board, my confidence, my reassurance, my emotional strength when I doubt myself, and most importantly of all – my love. I am Heather’s strength, her resources, her comfort, her drive to make it through another day, her will to conquer her pain, and her helping hands and feet. I’m a large and strong man, and I am made to take care of more than myself.

All this just to say – we try not to see each-other as the “care-er” and the “care-ee” (your words) because the labels aren’t appropriate. If I’m being fair and honest though (and I am) – during particularly hard times of depression, struggle and pain I might occasionally hear Heather say something like “Why do you even love me? I’m such a burden and I don’t do anything for you.” So I know that she fights some of the same battles that you do. I don’t take these questions personally (anymore) because I know that it’s a reflection of her battle with darkness and not with me. Those are the times that I work hard to remind her of everything that she does do for me and of the fact that I simply Love her, and she can’t take that away from me.  I try to help her remember (and in that help myself to remember) that she doesn’t have to comprehend that I Love her and that I need to Love her, in order to accept it.

One of the experiences that I cling to that is specifically relevant to this is when – in 2009 – Heather was in a coma in ICU for a month and dying. Her outlook wasn’t good and I was pretty sure that she wouldn’t make it. God hadn’t given me any reassurance that she would, the only reassurance I gained through my faith during that time was that God was with me – and that was supposed to be enough. (long story for another time). ANYhoo… the one thing I kept praying for during that time was something like this:

‘God, I just want my wife back so I can talk to her. That’s all I really need is to be able to talk to her. I can do anything else, but I need her so I can talk to her… so she can hear me. God you know that she understands me more than anyone else on this earth. I just want to be able to talk to her.’

What he gave me instead was a much greater blessing, but during that time is when I realized that all I really needed was her heart, ears and mind.

In a very practical and real-world sense (to steal your own words) – I am the one (like your husband) who takes care of many of the physical needs (not all of them, but someday it might be all of them)… but also in a very practical and real-world sense, I wouldn’t be able to do those things without the strength I get from the relationship I have with my amazing wife.

We believe that it is God’s design that our relationship works this way and no other way (at least right now). Most of the time we joyously accept that it’s meant to be this way for all kinds of reasons that we can’t possibly understand. Sometimes – when the pain is very bad – it’s hard to understand. Some days, we just cry together. Then we pick back up, and we move on… and we continue to Love. Neither of us would ever want our Love to be any less significant or amazing than it is. Neither of us knows anyone who Loves one-another as deeply as we believe that we do. Both of us accept that it seems it must be this way in order for it all to “work” the way that it works. Both of us wish there was another way, but would also worry very much about what any “other way” would look like.

Then this comes to mind – not as Heather being my thorn, but that our weaknesses together being our strength together – divinely:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (ESV)

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

(emphasis added)


Creation – Subject to Revision

I was given the opportunity on my favorite message board with my favorite Atheist and Agnostic friends to respond to a remark about what Christians believe about creation.  I enjoyed writing this response and I wanted to share it here as well.  I have modified it slightly to make it read more clearly in this format.

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Part 1 – regarding an article where a Giant Platypus fossil was recently discovered, my clever friend “A” quipped:

Do God-believing people think this stuff is a joke? E.g. the five-to-fifteen million year age estimate is admittedly vague.

Which I took as a direct question – because I’m a jerk like that – but my friends tolerate and entertain me pretty nicely.  Here’s what I responded:

This is a good opportunity for me to explain something important: Not every Christian is a “young earth creationist”.

Young Earth Creationism – God made the world 6,000 years ago, humans existed with dinosaurs OR dinosaurs are a big scam, everything in Genesis is translated 100% accurately to modern-day scientific terms and it should be taken 100% literally word for word.

I am not a Young Earth Creationist.

There are lots of theories about creation that are more compatible with Christianity – save base evolution which really isn’t. I’m not a fan of Darwinian evolution, but I have good scientific reasons for this opinion!

Here’s what I know for sure about creation: God created.

That’s it.

That’s the point of Genesis. “God created.” The rest, I’m just as open to working-out the details as you lot. I freaking love Science! 🙂

I’ve met as many Christians with opinions similar to mine as I have ardent young earth creationist. It’s such a hot topic for the YEC’s that I tend to avoid it like the plague when talking to another believer… mostly because I think it really doesn’t matter to your faith today. What matters today is just that God created.

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Part 2 – my clever friend “B” wrote:

I know a bunch of folks are also getting into the combined Creationist Theory of Evolution. Basically that God created some base units that then evolved naturally into what we have today. Which Science isn’t able to disprove yet so it is as equally likely that God started it as it is that pure random chance started life.

I will say though that Young Earth Creationists scare me, how can you possibly put so much faith in one collection of vaguely similar books and yet ignore the massive collection of information that clearly shows pure, empirical evidence of the age of the earth being greater than 6000 years.

To which I responded again – as though it was directed specifically at me (it wasn’t):

Some YECs scare me too. Many of them accept what people tell them as gospel truth and never investigate any other ideas that what someone said might be wrong. God says you should investigate and question things until you fully understand them (which in theory, should be never). That seems a pretty good definition of scientific investigation. Plus, it says in the Bible that God stands outside of time. Why would he be constrained by that? Why would you take an idea as powerful as the Christian God and put him in chains by saying he is required to follow the rules of time as we humans understand it? Also – the way that they understood time 6,000 years ago and wrote about it is NOT the same as the way that we understand it today. You just can’t read it that way.

“God caused evolution and then let it happen” theory – We call that general Deism. That’s not really what I believe either. Christians believe that we serve an active and currently involved personal God. We believe in current day Miracles, that prayer is real, and that Jesus is alive (in a way that doesn’t fit the physical humanist definition of life).

So what do I believe about creation and evolution? I don’t want to appear dodgy here, so to be as specific as possible: I believe that Evolution is a quality explanation of the evidence we’ve found here on earth – as we view our universe from a Human perspective. Just because that’s the direction our scientists have gone based on the evidence they have, doesn’t make it an accurate explanation. I believe that it’s possible that Evolution IS accurate and wholly compatible with an invested, tangible, live, and direct God. If I am to believe that he created life, then why wouldn’t he have a hand in Evolution at every step? It’s not philosophically exclusionary of God’s involvement – it doesn’t have to be. I’ve just chosen to think – as a thinking man – that it doesn’t make as much sense as some have believed.

What I don’t believe is that any amount of Scientifically obtained evidence disproves Faith. I find that to be remarkably arrogant and dangerous thinking. I also find it to be a significantly un-scientific attitude. If we are to accept that we are humans, living-in and experiencing a single dimension of what we call space/time from a single perspective – testing ideas and philosophies based on that perspective and on the tools we’ve made for ourselves… then certainly it seems reasonable to also accept that there are forces and factors far outside of our ability to comprehend or observe that may quite dramatically influence those things that we can observe and test.

Given this philosophy, you could find alien life and it wouldn’t threaten my view of God.

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I’ll wrap this post up with one final comment.  I’m perfectly willing to believe that I have this wrong.  Maybe the earth IS 6,000 years old. I think it’s far more likely, however, that we all have it quite wrong and the truth is far outside of anything we’ve imagined yet.

In this context, the essence of true Science is this:  I cannot wait to learn or discover more.

If I add in Faith, it only changes to this:  I cannot wait to learn or discover more about God’s creation.


Suing for Divine Intervention

For the past several years I’ve participated in a great message board with some online friends that I’ve made over the years.  This board is available to the public but it’s kind-of tucked away in a quiet little corner of the internet, way down in Australia.  Some of my friends on this board live in Australia (of course) but many are scattered around the globe.  All of them speak English either as a first or second language and live in relatively first-world free nations (many also in the U.S.).

I’m really the only Christian on that board that I know of.  The other active board members seem to represent what is actually a really healthy cross-section of the young (under 40) first world.  We used to have a devout Catholic friend, but he’s been busy lately and not around.  Some of the discussions on there can be downright nasty in terms of their content, stuff that makes me uncomfortable.  Most of them are amazing talks about “isn’t this cool” or “doesn’t that suck” or “how do you guys process this?”.

What I love the most about this message board is that it’s just bleeding with authenticity and mutual respect.  If you come in and present a well thought out argument about almost anything, you’ll get a lively and respectful discussion or debate about it.  You won’t get posts filled with personal insults or “you are wrong you stupid head!”.  I’ve tried my hardest to live up to that standard of communication on that system although sometimes I fail.

Some of the the theological thought experiments that I’ve participated in on that system have really caused me to grow and changed my own mind about some things.  I think I will start to share some of my own responses here to those concepts just to expand the audience a little and share more about my thoughts with whatever audience it is that seems to enjoy reading this narcissistic blog about ME.

—- introduction complete —-

A friend today posted an article about a real court case happening right now in Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil.  (the link is a Google Translate copy of the article)

A quote from the article (translated into English):

In Fortaleza, Ceará, owner Tarcília Bezerra built an expansion of its cabaret, whose activities were in constant growth after the creation of unemployment insurance for fishermen and various other types of bags.

In response, the Church Universal site launched a strong campaign to block the expansion, with prayer sessions in his church in the morning, afternoon and evening.

The expansion and renovation work progressed rapidly until a week before reopening when lightning struck the cabaret burning electrical installations and causing a fire that destroyed the roof and much of the construction.

After the destruction of the cabaret, the pastor and the church believers began to brag about “the great power of prayer.”

So Tarcília sued the church, the pastor and all the congregation, on the grounds that they “were responsible for the end of your building and your business” using divine intervention, direct or indirect, and the actions or means. “

In its response to the lawsuit, the church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection with the end of the building.

The judge to whom the case was referred to the author read the complaint and the answer of the defendants and to the oral opening, said:

– “I do not know how I’m going to decide this case, but one thing is evident in the records. Here we have an owner of a cabaret that firmly believes in the power of prayer and an entire church declaring that prayers are worthless “.

After I remarked that this makes absolutely no sense to me, my friend then challenged me as a Christian with this very good question

“what would you do if someone tried to sue you over some action that you believed was accomplished through your prayer?”

This was my response:

I’ve never considered prayer as a liability.

See the problem is this:  God doesn’t answer to me.  He does what he wants.  I try to pray/petition as little as possible because I seldom feel worthy to ask for anything specific… instead I’ll ask for things like “God’s will in this matter” and “peace and strength to endure for the people involved”.  That’s typically the kind of prayer I make in times of hardship.  I don’t like the idea of suggesting to God what he should do.

The funny part about that is – there IS allowance in the Bible for us to challenge God and in times of PERSONAL crisis, I have done that and seen results.  Even still, I have to think that even my part in petitioning had to be a part of his plan to teach me dependence and build my faith and if my request hadn’t been in accordance with that overall plan, then it certainly wouldn’t have been “granted”.  Relevant example – would God have saved my wife’s life miraculously (it really was a miracle) had I and others not prayed directly for healing?  I can’t really guess, because that’s not what happened.

but to be liable?

when I pray to God – I’m not hiring a hitman who’ll do my bidding in exchange for a favor.  I am no less a favored child of God than any other human and so I haven’t EARNED POINTS with him for good deeds or obedience or whatever that I can cash in for certain requests at my personal whim… and THANK GOD it doesn’t work that way.  I’m asking God… like hey dude… this sucks… if you can do something about it, would you?  If you won’t, will help me understand why not?  I think that’s almost verbatim what I prayed every night while my wife was in a coma.

So am I responsible for God’s actions?  Never.

Can a court hold me personally responsible through circumstantial cause and effect relationships?  I suppose they could try.  I’d try the argument I just gave above, but they might not buy it… they might blame me.

If they blamed me for God’s actions and I was punished, I’d file that under ‘persecution’ and you can bet I’d be praying about that too… in the same way… like hey dude… this sucks, I’m taking this rap for you… will you help me out?  and if not, will you help me understand why not?

The bible also has examples of people literally taking the rap for believing in God (boiled in oil, hung on an upside-down crucifix).  They didn’t escape their death… but then again… we really like martyrdom in ancient philosophies, don’t we?

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What do you think?