” And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”
- Hebrews 11:6
“2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.“
- James 1:2-8
Good Sunday Morning to you all!
I’m not about to get all high and mighty on you all. You know that’s not my style. But I’ve been too busy to write recently, and for good reason. This morning, I couldn’t do anything else until I wrote this brief story that happened in my life over the past weekend.
Interestingly enough, I saw him and his wife speak alongside Darryl Strawberry and another couple last Friday night. Here’s a video clip of what they’re all about:
The two Bible verses I mentioned at the start have repeated themselves in my life many times over this past year. I’m not a hard-core Bible reader, can’t quote very many verses….you get the picture. I was raised a Christian, and I have an on-fire relationship with God today that I am unable to explain yet.
I don’t know how to start this story, so how about I explain how those verses have appeared in my life, and then I’ll continue with the story…
First off, James is my favorite book in the Bible. It cuts straight through the crap and gives it to you straight-up. I apologize to the highly-starched, white-collar Christians who may be offended by that comment…but my relationship with God is real. We argue. We struggle. He pats me on the back and lets me know that He’s got me when I doubt it.
That being said, my Brother-in-law emailed me that verse a few months ago just to encourage me. Didn’t say anything to him then about it then, but of course it resonated with me (after all the struggles I’ve been through).
Cut back to the “Hebrews” verse…
I was on “Facebook” this past week, and an old friend of mine (who happens to be a Youth Pastor in North Carolina today), posts a “Verse of the Day” on Facebook and Twitter. I enjoy catching these quick breaths of fresh air when I can. Last week sometime, Hebrews 11:6 was mentioned.
2 minutes later, a brand new love of my life posted a quote that included the words “…it is impossible to please God without faith…”, without reference to the verse.
Oh wait…did I really just let that bit of information slip to the whole wide world (“new love interest”)? Oh well…I guess I will now know who reads closely….
Back to the story…
I asked her if she was referencing the verse in Hebrews. She says no, that she was just including a quote from her pastor that clicked with her. I fill her in on the coincidence that the only reason I knew what verse it was was because I had literally just read my friend’s “Verse of the Day”. Coincidence??? Maybe.
I say maybe because I didn’t have all the pieces to the puzzle at that point. I mean…my faith has been stronger than ever in the past few months. What’s up with that God?? I thought we were tight and all?
Shrug my shoulders, file it away, but make sure to keep my ears open for when he speaks to me again…
Fast forward to this past Friday night.
This love interest (which was brought into my life through God alone. This is a private story that I am still waiting for some clarity before revealing any details. Sorry!), was speaking on the phone with me….reflecting on the fantasy day we had. She then decides to share the ONLY 2 things that make her hesitate going forward…aka her 2 “Biggest Fears”.
- My potential for relapse into addiction
- My ability to be a provider for a family moving forward
Wow. Talk about HEAVY. These are my two deepest insecurities. The two issues that make me question my worth as a human being. The two fears that actually allow thoughts of suicide to creep back into my head.
So we’re talking deep stuff here, right?
So obviously it hits an emotional spot in me. But that isn’t what gets me. We continue talking for a few minutes, I agree with her on both points. I tell her these are the cards I’ve been dealt, and if she wants to build a future with me, she needs to decide if the risk is worth it.
I mean for me to promise that I won’t ever relapse is about the same as me saying I will never break a bone in my body ever again. Sure, I can take certain precautions. I can prepare myself to prevent accidents. But I can’t predict the future.
I’m going to wrap this up pretty quickly here…
Conversation continues, and I am so struck so emotionally that I am having a hard time speaking. I know I need to just end the conversation and have a quick cry. A quick “poor, poor, pitiful me” moment.
She feels it. She tenses up. She feels extremely guilty…what has she done!?
Finally I just say it….”I NEED to get off the phone. This isn’t about you. PLEASE!” (Nicely, mind you)
Spend the next 30+ minutes crying as hard as a man can cry. Shouting at God.
“Why in the HELL would you do this to me again? I’m trying hear. Sure, I’ve still got my struggles, and sure I’ve got a long way to go. But why would you bring someone into my life, only to play with my heart again. It’s just cruel, God. Why would a “just” God do this?”
Take a break. Decide to cool off. Read my Bible for a few minutes, thumb through a few verses on “Faith”. This is when I remember the verses from the week before.
Just wait…it gets better….
I step outside to smoke a cigarette. A thunderstorm is rolling through. The lightning is prolific, wind and rain are minimal. But the lightning just crackles as it goes across the sky (hence the image I start the blog with, right?). I look up, wink at God, say:
“I gotcha. It ain’t no burning bush…but when you speak to me, its like a flash of lightning…so fast and powerful, that if I’m not paying attention, I won’t catch the brilliance and power with my own eyes. Even though I know it happened.”
Following morning, I am getting dressed. Go to my old bedroom to get a shirt, where my Brother-in-Law has left a sheet of paper with James 1:2-8 printed on it laying on my dresser. I think, “Oh wow, that’s cool. I think I’ll cut it out and post it to my mirror in my bathroom, just as a reminder.”
While doing this, I also think….”You know, it would be cool to have Hebrews 11:6 posted on here too. I think I’ll go downstairs and print it out myself.”
While doing this, I also decide to check the News Feed on “Facebook”. The most recent piece of news is an image of an old friend holding a newborn child in his arms.
This old friend had become a father overnight.
This old friend was the youth pastor in Carolina that I spoke about in the beginning of the story. The one who posted the verse in Hebrews that I couldn’t figure out why it was appearing in my life. Not it made sense.
I get pissed at God. I let him know it, too! He pats me on the back, says…
“Ohhh Troy, I knew this was going to happen. Here is a whole bunch of ‘coincidental’ stuff to let you know, I still got you. Those deep, heavy issues you are so scared about? Just drop it. Let me handle it. You just keep on keepin’ on.”
Maybe…But I’m just saying, God doesn’t just wink in my life today. He slaps me right in the back of the head!
Have a wonderful day….