From a dear sister in Christ–Autumn
From a dear sister in Christ–Autumn
It was a long time ago. But I can still remember.
My parents and brother were gone from home. Watching the house and the dog, I must have been 20 something years old when the NEWS crushed my world and called my whole existence into question.
Earlier that year, my family had been shocked by the murder of my cousin’s baby girl. She was not even one year old, found outside of the house, and drowned in a ditch.
Babies like that don’t get up and walk outside while her parents are taking an 8 minute stroll, walking the dog together. It should have been perfectly safe for 8 minutes alone in her perfectly safe crib inside her perfectly safe house. Instead, someone came in, took her outside, dropped her in a ditch, and left her to die.
It had shocked our family.
Shortly after the girl had died, Jack helped me find a way to understand that perhaps her story on earth was fulfilled. Perhaps there were things God saw in her future we could not yet see, but God thought it better for her to come Home to Him. She would rest in His peace.
The biggest shock came a few weeks later. I was alone at the house when I heard the news. The woman who was supposedly responsible for the murder of my cousin’s baby was being set free by
the Justice Department because of lack of evidence. She was known to be ‘confused’ and there was a pretty clear vision of what had happened that night, but not all of it could be proven. So she was set free.
Hearing that news sent my head spinning and my heart crying out!
HOW?! How could this be? How could this young life end and this woman not pay for it? What kind of justice is that? What kind of
God would let someone get away with something as unforgivable as this!!?
My anger demanded some kind of punishment, some kind of justice, some kind of sign that God was Watching this! and Judging! DOING something!!!
To hear of this woman being set free, was just one shock too many for my fragile faith. This was not the God I had believed in for so long as a child. Not the righteous, just, and honest God who punishes the wrong and loves the right. If HE could not do something about this, who could?
I felt the ground fall from beneath me. I was lost! It felt as if God had abandoned me. If He were not around, then what had I been believing in?
Perhaps my parents and brother were right after all, and it was all just stories that they told children in school. To my family, it was a mystery how I had kept believing in the stories from the Bible I heard in school. They did not believe there was a God, and I was feeling like my certainty, my childlike trust in this God I had heard about, may have been a mistake indeed!
I needed not call my family to talk about this. They would have answered “God is not real.” But I was not ready to accept that kind of an answer.
That evening, I had to show up for duty at the local radio station. I was to be technical assistance for a few program makers and then spent the last 2 hours playing non-stop music until the airtime was over.
I rode my bike over to the studio and tried my best to get through the first two hours without too much talking.
The second program maker left the studio, the board meeting had finished up early as well, and the station manager dropped by the studio to let me know that I would be the one to close up the studio for the night. I closed the door behind them, making sure I would not be surprised by anyone coming in that had no business being there.
And started playing songs. Just random stuff I pulled out of the cd boxes next to me. And while I did, I could feel my questions just keep on whirling around in my head.
WHY?!! Why would she be allowed to walk free when my cousin and his family would have to live the rest of their lives with this loss?
While closing up, wandering about in that old house built in 1875,that we used for a studio, I found myself crying.
Angry tears. And then whispering. Angry whispers. Talking. Urgently talking. Shouting. Screaming. Yelling. Angry words. Angry questions. Questioning God out loud. Telling Him how angry I was, how unjust He had been. How much He had let me down! How furious I was!
And then, after a while… how sad I was, how confused and afraid I was, how lost I felt, thinking about a world without Him. But also how difficult it was for me to still believe that He was still true, still around… if He would let stuff like this happen.
Ain’t it funny, how you can tell whether someone is listening or not? How you can tell the difference between someone listening to you or reading the newspaper, while hidden behind that newspaper…?
Alone, in the last room that was still lit, I sat down on the floor and realized that He had been listening. All the time. To my yelling. To my whispering, my shouting, my screaming, my questions, my doubt and my fear.
And that it was all right. But it was not. NOT enough. It was NOT alright! My stubborn mind needed proof! Because I had believed Him there before hadn’t I? In spite of what my family said, I had believed God was there!
And yet, He could not be. Because why would He let this woman walk free. How COULD He?!?
So if there really was a plan for this, if He really had this covered, and most of all, if He wanted me to believe that He was real, He was going to have to show me. And I told Him, it had to be rather obvious, because I was really not gonna go ahead and fall for “just anything” this time.
I sat there and waited, but nothing happened. Nothing. Well, beside the clock ticking on and the building getting colder from the heater being automatically turned off…
So I got up and finished the closing up. Numb and sore from my outbursts, I put on the alarm after cleaning up the last dishes, and locked the door. I turned around on the steps to the front door, to walk to my bike. The same steps I had stood on, so many nights before this one, doing the exact same thing.
And this time, I looked up and saw it. A HUGE star. Glittering like a diamond, almost as if saying
And all the way home on my bike, that big glittering star was shining ahead of me. It seemed to be there every turn I made, every corner I took. Staring me right in the eye. Right until I arrived home.
My sign from God that He is here. Everywhere. If I care to look.
I felt peace knowing that He would listen to me, and even answer my cry, however futile I may be in this huge world. That I mattered enough to Him to have that star shine brightly for me.
Now that I had proof, I had 2 choices. I could go insane trying to hold on to my control, my ideas of what justice is and what should happen.
Or I could give it up. Give up trying to understand what His reasons might be. Surrender my need to know, my need to understand, and trust in Him. No longer question Him, or His presence.
And that is what I did. I surrendered to Him. I didn’t have to understand anymore. I just had to believe. Trust. And surrender.
Sounds so simple, don’t it? It does when I write it down now. But that was only the first time I have surrendered to God. Because control is hard to give up. My need to understand is strong. I am proud enough to think I know a lot and curious enough to want to learn more. But to give up that pride, that need to know, need to understand… is one of the things that I have had to keep on doing on a conscious level or I would slip right back in to my questioning.
One thing I have not questioned like this anymore, ever, is whether God is real or not. Since that day, I have been sure of it. I have been talking to Him, although I hardly ever visit a church, although my family still has no idea why I am so certain of God. He has been there on so many occasions, if only I put my ego aside and care to listen to what He wants from me. Through relationship trouble, addictions, re-organizations at work, and depression, I have seen Him there. I have felt His Hand on my back, felt His Arms around me, felt Him listening, guiding me.
for more of Geesje’s writing, see and like her blog:
another Italian sonnet
A Seasonal Sonnet
“It came to pass…” eternal Scriptures read.
Once mist-air-dust, then mud with breath combined
Becomes a form that now can feel and bleed
To dust a trail that choices leave behind.
The frozen branch that’s leaf-forsaken, still,
Though dormant through obstinate seasons, waits
With life protected, hidden in the Root,
And beauty sleeping, quiet ‘neath the chill
In hope, will bud again on springtime dates
To be rewarded with a harvest fruit,
That is the Seed where life is introduced
With love and song and laughter to be loosed.
A fruitfulness in winter is absurd,
So faithfulness near death is then preferred.
Tomorrow will one month since my nephew Matt decided to leave this world. His family is still trying hard to deal with his decision. I drove by his grave this morning and sat there thinking about the last 42 years and all the deaths I have dealt with in my law enforcement career and life in general. Somewhere around 80 to 100 I would guess. I have held the hands of accident victims while waiting on the ambulance and trying to comfort them knowing they were not going to make it. Accidents, murders and suicides, I have worked them all. I had two close cousins that took their lives and I wondered why. I guess the worst one I investigated was a 12 year old boy that spread out a sheet in the living room of his house and shot himself. He left a note telling his single mother that he knew he was a burden to her and she would be better off with him gone. Damn that one still haunts me! As I sat in my truck by Matt’s grave this morning I thought of my pastor Dallas Stringer and his sermon a week ago. I have always said that someone who does this is thinking there is no help for them and are not in their right mind. The sermon Dallas gave dealt with verses of the bible that sometimes we misinterpret. He talked of the one we say that God will not give you more than you can handle. I don’t believe that. Dallas said that God will given us more than we can handle because he is there for us to rely on to put his arms around us and support us during those times. I wish Matt and the others would have put their trust in our Lord to pull them through the hard times. Our family and any other family that has gone through this need to quit asking why and instead reach out to God for his strength and support to comfort us. Thanks Dallas for the words you spoke.
Hey peeples, I got some things on my mind again… I grew up looking at my Dad as a super hero. He really was in my eyes. I watched him beat up people, I watched him fix stuff , he took care of us kids and made us feel safe. When I was about Ten or Eleven things changed drastically in our home and I hated the old man to the point that I wanted to murder him. I came real close a few times but I felt I couldn’t leave my mom who was mentally ill in a position where my baby brother and sister had to depend on her. Anyway as years went by, the bitterness grew deeper in all of our bones. I went to prison where I came to know Jesus Christ. I only made that move cuz Dad did… Somewhere in there I realized that my Dad loved me… He kept pushin’ for me to seek God. He kept trying to show me, tell me that the hate inside of me would one day destroy me if it went unchecked. So anyway after all these years I know longer feel anger towards my pops, I no longer feel the shame. I’m just proud that Melford N Hanks Sr is my Dad. I have seen him overcome many obstacles and kill out many demons in his life and help many others do the same in their lives. I TRULY BELIEVE MY DAD IS A SUPER HERO…
“That’s not your stomach hurting, it’s your liver!” my local Doctor said to me examining my abdomen about a belly-ache that had been bothering me a couple weeks. It never seemed to let up. It hurt when I went to bed , it hurt during the night, and it hurt when I woke up. About a constant #4 pain. I was getting very tired of trying to treat it with the customary jello and mashed potatoes limitations. Buttermilk and crackers, cokes of whatever flavor; none of it helped.
My Mom had told me years before that I always had a “nervous stomach” and it had bothered me most of my life. I had been treating for acid reflux and it seemed to help until THIS episode.
The new blood tests showed the liver enzymes at 3 times the normal limit and my pancreas was acting up too. No meds available to fix this. Ugh! “Liver” and “Pancreas” are not words you want to hear when you get results back from blood tests. And the PAIN. No relief from the PAIN in sight.
Of course, I ran to God with it. I had already been praying but I prayed some more. I remembered a Bible teacher named Bill Gothard had taught that bitterness can directly affect the liver, so I began to search my heart and the Bible about bitterness that I might still be carrying. I listened to sermons I could find, reviewed old notes, and read a book that received great reviews called Total Forgiveness by R. T. Kendall. As I began to seek God further, God uncovered a bunch of junk that I had glossed over.
Reliving the memories of those hurts and those who hurt me was painful, but the liver pain drove me on. I had hope that as I repented, with God helping me forgive, the physical pain would subside too.
Forgiving is not easy. Releasing people from penalty of the guilt without them even apologizing or acknowledging they hurt me forced me to totally lose control of the situation. As long as I held them captive as guilty prisoners in my heart, I could take them out and scream at them, even slap them around in my mind when I wanted. (Please recognize that if you are in a dangerous situation that threatens your welfare or your children you don’t have to stay there, but you will have to forgive.)
Dr. Kendall’s book helped me to realize that I not only had to release them, but to bless them. Not only forgive them, but to actually pray for them to do well AND do something nice for them if I get the opportunity. Jesus said ” do what is good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. ” With the command, comes the ability by grace to obey. So I began the process. Daily.
Every time those faces would come into my memory, I had to forgive and bless them. Every. Time. The memories eventually went away, but I still have to forgive and bless when they come to mind.
The abdominal pain was still there, but I had hope. Life without the bitterness was better and I had some new joy too.
To be continued…..