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Tears I Can’t Cry September 27, 2017

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Michael N. Johns, 09/26/2017

My daughter is crying the tears I can’t cry,
I’m too full of anger, wondering, did God lie?
When His Son said we’d do the same things He had done:
Our prayers would be answered, our victories won
But my mother-in-law is still not doing well
I prayed, and still hope of miracles to tell,
But she’s dying. Did my prayers all stop right at my lips?
Why bother praying? My doubt fairly drips
Falling like my wife’s tears and I still just can’t cry
I want God to say yes, and the doctors to try
Something that will heal her; they’re just watching her die!
Praying, You healed Peter’s mother-in-law.  Now heal mine!
I’m shattered, and there are no answers for why,
While my family cries the tears I cannot cry.

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“Prophesy! Who Hit You?” March 17, 2016

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Luke 22 is the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, and also revealed the disciples’ spiritual blindness.  While they argued over who was the greatest disciple, Jesus was being set up. Jesus knew.  But the disciples never saw it coming.

My spiritual blindness has never been questioned: Exactly like the song goes, “I am blind, and I don’t like what I think I see.”

My career path evinces my blindness.  I can’t get on a career path because I don’t know the direction to go to get somewhere productively happy.  Which also means, the people around me are blind too.  They don’t know how to help me.  And I don’t know what to ask for.  I have a job, and I don’t know what direction to go.  People tell me to “just” get another job, which sounds so easy, and makes me depressed because for me it’s not.  I’ve tried to find a job while I have a job, but the people I’ve talked to and interviewed viewed me as at best, second best for their opportunities.  At the same time as I really need “a job,” I really want a job I like.  What I want to do is write.  And use my spiritual gifts, and my education and training.  And be used by God to do good things.  And bear fruit for eternity.  And, like everyone else stuck in this present reality, take care of myself and my family.  And I’m a dismal failure at getting on that path.

Yesterday two things happened.  First, something happened to me maybe a year and a half ago, and it required money I didn’t have to fix.  I don’t want to get into the graphic and gory details, so I won’t describe the event.  At the time, it was something that could be fixed, I was told, pretty easily, but it would require an expensive process and I couldn’t afford it.  But I prayed, I trusted, and I waited in hope.  At the risk of exposing a root of bitterness, this has become, over time, a real sticking point with me spiritually, because I trusted in God, and waited for the money.    And I prayed.  I’m still waiting.  I was still praying.  Yesterday that situation, which I have been waiting in hope that God would provide what I needed to resolve, just got worse.

From the prophet:
Psalm 22: 8 “He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.”

And from the crucifixion story:
Matthew 27: 43 “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'”

Why would I expect God to help me if He didn’t even help Jesus? Well, because in the plan of things I think Jesus could have had the help if He had asked for it and could have backed out of the divine transaction, but he submitted because of the huge implications for eternity.  But for me, it’s just something I need.  It’s not a life saving miracle, it’s just a process I need to be done that now requires even more money to be done right.  I’ve already burdened my church and they’ve helped with other things.  I wanted God to answer in a more sustaining way than I’ve seen in the last few years, and there’s the sticking point.  That was what “I wanted.” In the grand scheme of things, it’s not about what I want.  But I also read that God hears and answers prayers, so I was just hoping.

Also, yesterday, adding to my already depressed state, it appears I was passed over again for something else I was hoping might happen that could possibly help me, in a life and spirit sustaining kind of way.

I’ve researched and found a poem/song I wrote for Easter back in 2013.  I wrote it trying to be hopeful, in a season when hope is hard to believe, much less find.  But it came to mind yesterday while I was processing my perceived emotional slap in the face.  It expressed my heart then and now, so I’m re-posting it here:


Maranatha, 10/27/2013, Michael N. Johns

It’s been one day that He’s been dead.
I saw Him on the cross.
The spear went in, His heart then bled,
And all my hope was lost.

He said He would be with me,
Until this age would end.
Promised we’d do greater things.
And broken hearts would mend,
But He’s gone.

It’s been two days that He’s been dead.
We laid him in the grave.
We wrapped His body, and His head.
Who can a dead man save?

He said He would be with me,
Until this age would end.
Promised we’d do greater things.
And broken hearts would mend,
But He’s gone.

It’s been three days that He’s been dead.
It’s almost like a dream.
What were the words that Jesus said?
I’ll be back soon; you’ll see.

We went to say our last goodbyes,
With perfume for the body,
I almost could not believe my eyes,
As angels greeted me

We thought we’d see his body
A cold, dead sadness,
Instead they said, Go in and see,
Fill up your hearts with gladness,
And find hope.

Two thousand years since He’s been gone,
It’s almost like a dream.
What did He say as He went on?
I’ll be back soon; you’ll see.

He sent us out to teach the world
His love, His hope, His story
I believe He will return
He’ll be back soon; you’ll see

He said He would be with me,
Until this age would end.
Promised we’d do greater things.
And broken hearts would mend,

He promised me.
I will see.
I believe.


 

So that’s it.  I won’t get into the details of me being passed over again, but it happened yesterday adding fuel to my raging emotional fires.  I partially processed the events last night.

In my spiritual blindness, not that I’m worthy to be compared to the central character of Luke 22, I felt that I was being slapped.  Except, unlike Jesus, I can’t answer the question of Luke 22:

63 And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and hit him.64 And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy!  Who hit you?

I used to have a much sharper spiritual view.  I knew.  But when you pray, and you pray, and you pray some more, and the only answers are further breakage of things that could have been repaired, that now just need to be discarded and I can’t afford replacement, and being ignored and passed over, again and again, by people I trusted and thought had my best interests at heart, the view becomes much more clouded.  In the past, I’ve been pretty naive.  I really try to be trusting and think people will do what they say they will.  I’ve learned, over time, to get certain things in writing.  But I’m not in a current situation where that makes any difference.  I’m currently where I am, looking for the exit ramp that leads somewhere better.

It’s not that my situation hasn’t improved.  It has.  I’m better off than I was a year ago.  It’s just been very slow.  I still can’t fix what’s broken, I still haven’t stumbled across the answer God surely must have already arranged and provided, and I still can’t take care of my situation for now, so it has to get worse before it’ll get better.  I thought I needed an answer, but I’ve heard a deafening silence, or worse, spiritual platitudes about whatever overly simplistic “just do this” answer, or “encouraging” Bible verses my would-be encouragers have discouraged me by providing.  Or worse, the circumstance has gotten worse because I couldn’t fix it sooner, and I still can’t fix it.  Like yesterday.

So just ignore me, you should have stopped reading already. Maybe it’s temporary.  Maybe it’ll be fixed tomorrow.  But honestly, right now, I feel as ignored by God as this guy is by the girl he loves:

I’m just in a spiritual and emotional dark place.  Again.  I feel very irrelevant.  I feel like nothing I do really matters. I feel that what I do could be replaced and done by someone else, or maybe if it wasn’t done, it wouldn’t make any difference. I feel irrelevant to God, and everyone will want to tell me I matter to God, or to fix it for myself as if I had the wherewithal or the stamina.  (I’m sure I do matter to God, only just not enough to answer my prayers yet, and not the way I thought I needed them to be answered.)  Irrelevance is dark.  I’m spiritually blindfolded.

Who hit me?  Prophesy!  Because my spiritual eyes are darkness, and my smoldering wick feels very much like it’s being snuffed out.

I wrote this not anticipating any answers, because although I wrote it about me, it’s not about me.  It’s about God’s answer to my faith.  It’s just another dark season after another dark season.  Will He answer in some miraculous way, or will He answer with more waiting, more silence, more unanswered crisis points because He knows I should be able to handle whatever evil the day has in store for me?  He’s not obligated, and neither is anyone else.  It’s nothing any different or more special than any other thing anyone else would pray about.  Life struggles are common to everyone, and we just have to endure and walk through I suppose.  But it is growing very dark for me again this year and yesterday’s events just added insults to injuries.

Will He answer in some sustaining, fulfilling way, or will it be the same minimalist response like my ongoing doldrums?  I don’t know.  I know that the minimalist responses are probably, minimally, enough.  I was just hoping for abundance, but I can’t even fix or replace what’s broken because I still can’t afford it.  Something else, that seems about 2 or 3 months ahead of a sustainable schedule, breaks and spends the reserves before they’re built up enough to take care of what I need.  Last thing was the cars.  I don’t want a next thing.

Say it:  I’m naive.  I still believe.  I still hope.  And I’m still waiting and praying.  Don’t you dare write a check. I’m not asking you.  I’m asking God.  And the answer I need is something sustaining, not a one-time thing from some poor charitable schmuck who’s a sucker for a sob story.  I need the thing, the Divine answer, that sustains and provides to fix or replace needed things, for the normal wearing out life does on everything and everybody.  And leaves behind enough for me to help the next person looking for a charitable schmuck.  And I also need the fulfilling thing to do to keep that sustenance going, that goes along with my talents, education, training, and experience.  I just haven’t found it.  “I wish I was special,” but I’m not.  If I wanted a one-time answer, I’d set up on gofundme.  And FYI: “God helps those who help themselves” isn’t in the Bible.  Unless you’re a politician.  I think at least one of the candidates probably believes that.

Human Strength and Frailty April 17, 2014

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We are so strong. We can endure some amazing things. Listen to older people tell stories of endurance, and I don’t mean the ones where they say they walked uphill 26 miles to school and uphill 26 miles back again. I mean the ones about the heroes who lived through wars and tortures and starvation and poverty and mans inhumanity to his fellow man. I mean the ones where the person worked from sun-up to sun-down and then came home and took care of family and home because no one else cared. There are stories about people saving others from fire, from water, from war, surviving icy exposure, desert heat, bullet holes and concentration camps.

And we are so frail. A little tiny bacteria or virus can kill you, without the correct antibodies or antibiotics or antivirals. A little tiny appendix can kill you without the correct surgery. Your heart may just up and quit one day, or even explode under the pressure of life. Your teeth. A little food particle gets caught in there too long, and you’ve got decay. Your lungs. A little cancer cell starts to multiply in the fertile, smoky environment, and you’re dead. Your liver. A little alcohol, and a little more, and pretty soon that thing is riddled with holes and all you want is a little more and a little more. A little ulcer on the stomach, a little tiny kidney stone, a little corn or heel spur or cold sore or… You get the picture. We’re good, but tiny tiny things will mess us up.

Steel shows similar traits. It’s strong, and if it’s made correctly, can cut through anything. Ginsu, or Sheffield Steel, or Chicago Cutlery, anyone? But let a little water sit on that long enough and it’ll rust. From water. Something as soft and gentle and necessary as water can destroy something so strong and dull something so sharp. Something so small, causes such great destruction.

One of my friends is a preacher, and he’s a dynamo. He’s just good. He can share a message from the Lord, and deliver the fire until your hat’s on fire with blessings, or your tails on fire from knowing what you did. We have the same kind of heart, in fact we’ve talked on several occasions and seen, that although we don’t spend time together, the same spiritual thread is weaving through both of our spirits. We may see one another once a week or two at work in our secular jobs. But something is wrong. Doctors are working on him, trying to figure out how to control epilepsy.

In the New Testament, if it were written in the modern era, they would have called certain demonic fits “epilepsy.” And they would call certain skin and nerve diseases “leprosy,” and others by their medical names In the Old Testament you can read about stuff like this and how the root cause was probably not so much an outer manifestation of the body or the skin, but an outer manifestation of some hidden sin.

I don’t think there’s sin in that man’s life. And yet I know there is because all have sinned. Still, we have medicine, a gift from God, with modern technology, another gift from God, to help us understand where these medical conditions come from and how to treat them. We’ve come leaps and bounds in treating things like AIDS and Parkinson’s and Epilepsy and Influenza and tooth decay. If there’s a bigger sinner, it’s me. All I can do though is pray for him, so the doctors figure out the small thing that’s causing the bigger symptoms to happen, and a way to control that. I love that guy like he was my own brother, and I don’t have any brothers in real life. I think he’s awesome as a husband and father, and as a friend and preacher too. And I think, that like the man who was born blind, the weakness is in him to show off how strong God is.

We are so strong, we have these endurances, and yet, we are so weak. Jesus had the cures back in the day, and he also knew the hearts. I wish we knew what He did, and how He did it. But sadly, most faith healers are either fakers, or flashes in the pan. All we can do is pray for each other. When my friend had a seizure at work, it was pretty scary. He was standing, reeling, lurching, trying to walk around but his body and his mind were failing to work right. All I could do was pray for him to be set free.

And then the most awesome thing happened. Before the seizure released him, his team all stood around him, closely, surrounding him, preventing him from falling and injuring himself. They put themselves at risk because he could have lashed out and hurt one of them. But they protected him from himself until the paramedics arrived to take him to the hospital. And then their gentle, human shield of protective restraint was replaced by straps and a gurney and medical professionals. That is probably the most beautiful and profound demonstration of “community” I have ever seen.

I need friends to surround me, to help me, and to protect me from the little things I can’t see, and can’t fix myself, that are making life spin so out-of-control. And so do we all. I hope we all have a group of that kind of friends, and also friends who will pray for the little things to let go so we can fix whatever’s broken and move on.