Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The More I Think I Know, the More I Know I Know Nothing At All

It is really true that you never understand a situation until you have had some time to gain perspective. I am finally, finally getting a little smidge of perspective about Lori's death--not peace, mind you--but perspective. What I have learned so far is that before this, I had no idea how or why I should pray. I was raised in a Christian home, a missionary kid who heard her entire life things about God and the Bible. This, I have decided, is a blessing and a curse, and it took getting the crap beat out of my soul for me to begin to really question the things I had blithely accepted as truth. Thomas Jefferson once said, "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfold fear." I get that now. Job, that paragon of virtue, questioned God. (Of course, he then got properly smacked down when God roared back in the midst of a whirlwind, "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?") Though God put Job in his place, I feel that there is no question that he admired Job's moxie a little--if he hadn't, I'm pretty sure he would have blasted Job right out of this life. So I have decided two things: one, God loved me enough to let me get mad (and I was--really, really FURIOUS) at him because he did not answer my prayer and heal Lori, but two: it is NOT okay for me to stay mad. I am a toddler who really did not want God to deny my request for something that honestly was not a BAD request. I mean, I wasn't asking for riches untold or to be super-famous or super-beautiful. I just wanted God to save my best friend's life. And he said "no." So I threw a tantrum, and like a loving father, he stood back and let me--he did not roar at me from a whirlwind and blast me into oblivion. He let me scream and stomp and throw myself on the ground, and now that I have finally shut UP already, I can let him pull me to my feet so he can say, "Are you finished? You ask why? Because I said so. That's all the reason you need. It's not an answer you like but it's all you get. You just have to trust me on this: I love you. I love Lori and her husband and her kids and her parents and her family. I am good, and I do what I do because I am God. YOU, Becky, are not. You don't get a say in this. So let it go." And because I am the stubbornest toddler to walk this earth, it has taken me about a year and a half to finally say, "Okay. You're the boss."

Which brings me to prayer. I don't pray like I used to. In fact, it took me months after Lori's death to pray at all--part of it was the stubborn tantrum thing, but part was honest bafflement. We had literally THOUSANDS of believers praying for Lori's healing all over the world (I was in Kenya when I found out about the cancer and we had dear brothers and sisters in Christ there praying for her)--and SHE STILL DIED. So why bother asking, I wondered. Was this not a noble request? I have never been so consistent, so CONSTANT in prayer as I was when she was sick--and I can only imagine her own family was as well. So what was the point? If God already has things laid out according to his purpose, then what the heck am I asking for? He will do what he wants to do, and no prayer of mine is going to change that (just ask King David when he begged for the life of his son, or Christ himself, who asked that God take the cup from him before the crucifixion). When I finally stopped being mad and started remembering how good God has been to me in my life, I was faced with a terrifying emptiness I have never experienced before. I found that I could no longer talk to one who had been in my life as long as I could remember. I could not bring myself to pray--what on earth would I say? I could praise him, but I no longer believed that God would really answer my requests. Finally, I thought of Christ and the Lord's Prayer: "This, then, is how you should pray." And so that's all I prayed: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the glory, and the honor forever, Amen. And as I prayed this prayer and ONLY this prayer, I realized what Christ was saying--it is all about God. Hallowed be HIS name. HIS kingdom come, HIS will be done. Becky and her will, surprisingly enough, don't appear anywhere in there. But it doesn't answer the question that if God is going to do what he wants to anyway, why should I bother asking for anything?

I am still not sure on this one, but I am looking. And for now, that's enough.


Paul Phillips said...

Amazing clarity, for knowing nothing at all. Once again, I'm in awe of your naked honesty and the ability to communicate not only your pain, but also the process. Would that life were more black and white, as it once seemed to be. Thanks for being willing to share not just the words, but you.

Jasmine said...

I felt a lot of this when my brother died from Leukemia. I struggled to sort out what I had been taught (the health, wealth, name it and claim it gospel) from what the truth was (God is sovereign and good...even when people we love die). The Book of Common prayer helped me pray when I didn't know how. The prayer for loved ones lost is a gentle one that was a salve to my wounds. http://www.bcponline.org/

Anonymous said...

I asked Barb C that question in MOPS one year.... I've never forgotten her answer. It's to change our own hearts, not to get God to change His plan. You should go talk to her more about this if you have time. Her wisdom is deep.
ps.. glad you're back on your blog... I've missed you.

Kassi said...

I ask this all the time. Since Abby passed away.