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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Storm Tossed

Well, it has been a LONG time since I have posted anything here. A lot is going on these days, and not all good. Hence the title of this post - Storm Tossed. As I write this, my dad is fighting to stay alive in the ICU, where he has been a patient for over a month now. This has been the most difficult time of my life. I have an intense appreciation for all who have ever endured this type of experience. The days are long and I just want life to go back to normal, but fear it never will.

As I was walking through the ICU this weekend to visit my dad, a nurse stopped and asked me if I was the nurse from Beaumont that went to Africa this past summer. I was surprised that she would recognize me. She told me that she had seen the link to my blog on our Beaumont employee website and had been following my journey. Then my brother told me that someone from his race track asked about my blog a few weeks ago too. So - I get the hint. It is time to resume sharing my journey with anyone who cares to share in it.

Since I have returned from Africa, my life has been out of control. I have experienced so many highs and lows. I have returned to so many loving friends and family. I am blessed beyond words for all the people in my life who continually show me an outpouring of love that I do not deserve. I have returned to co-workers who gladly put up with me and my daily longing to be back in Africa. I have had a harder transition back into my life than I ever imagined. And I think a large part of that is because I no longer fit into the life I had. For this, I am grateful. I am grateful that I got to have an experience of a lifetime and be forever changed. No one could ever go where I have been and see what I have seen - and not be changed.

So, for me the challenge has been to ask myself, "what's next"? At first I thought I knew exactly what was next - leaving as soon as possible to get back to Africa. But, over the past 3 months, I know more than ever what God is saying - and what is next is obedience. The past year of my life has been a gigantic lesson in obedience. I feel God saying to me that there is obedience in going back to Africa, but there is also obedience in seeking what God is asking of me while here. The challenge is to remain obedient wherever God has placed me. For now, I am grateful that I am home. I see God's providence in having me home and I am forever grateful to have this time with my dad.

The challenge for me and for many of us is the obedience to seek after God. To seek after God in the midst of being storm-tossed. To seek after God in the midst of times of happiness and prosperity. To seek after God in times of uncertainty and anxiety. To seek after God when everything is going well and for a moment we feel like we've got it all together. To choose to seek God instead of a million other things that seem to so easily distract us from what really matters in this life.

I for one have struggled at different times in my journey with all of these. Just this past week I have struggled to seek after God in the midst of my own anger towards Him. I am angry over broken dreams and a hope that seems to be dimming with each passing day. Until today I hadn't been ready to make nice with God just yet. But, in the midst of my anger I am reminded again and again of God's unchanging goodness and love towards me. Even as I write this I don't want to admit it, I want to hold onto being angry. But if I am honest the only one my anger is hurting is me. Over the past week I have had some really good yelling sessions at God. I have screamed at Him how I feel like this is so unfair, how I feel so alone. And then I realize these are all just feelings. And feelings are fickle at best. When things get really tough, I am frightened to realize that although I am angry at the situation I cannot be angry at God. Because the only way I will ever make it through this is by running to God, not from Him. He is the only way I can make it through this. And in the moment of my surrender, God is there. I realize I may feel alone, but the truth is I never am. I may feel this is unfair, and it may be but there was never a promise that life would be fair. But, there is a promise that God will never leave me or forsake me. I may leave Him, but He never leaves me. I am so thankful for my relationship with God. That in good times and bad, in times of raging anger, God is big enough to take it, and forgive it. Not only does God forgive, but he also gives comfort like nothing else on earth ever could. There is no food, no drink, no person, no new gadget or material thing that can comfort like Father, God.

" For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And my covenant of peace will not be shaken, says the Lord who has compassion on you. O, afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, Behold I will set your stones in antimony, and your foundations I will lay in sapphires. Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies and your gates of crystal, and your entire wall of precious stones. In righteousness you will be established; you will be far from oppression, for you will not fear; and from terror for it will not come near you." Isaiah 54v.10-12,14.

"For I will turn their mourning into joy, And will comfort them and give them joy for their sorrow. Jeremiah 31 v.13


Kim said...

I soo understand!

Chris James said...

even though i walk through the valley of the shadow of death, i will fear no evil. for thou art with me. thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

thanks for your honesty friend. anger is cool. understandable and maybe even deserved. God doesn't punish us for our fears or questions or struggles. he comforts us. in his Word, through his Spirit, in the Body of Christ. i pray that you will continue to feel the comfort of our God as you pass through this horrible valley. and i will pray for your father and whole family too.

Rose said...

I woke up this morning and as I waited for my coffee to brew, I got the nudge to look at your blog even though I haven't looked at it in months.

Your words are so true and so wise. It has taken me many more years on earth to learn what you have already learned - God will never leave us despite how many times we get angry at Him. How wonderful for you to know this. Hold on to Him. Remember it's in the valleys of life that we grow closer to God.

I pray for you and your family that you all feel God's support and comfort and may you be surrounded by people that care about you. Love, Rose

Liz Dietrich said...

HI Jen! My mom just told me about this site. So amazing. Your blog has touched my heart. I pray for you and your family at this time. It makes me re-think my intentions here in Colombia. I will be home for Christmas going to Christmas Eve services at both Faith and Kensington. I MISS them both so much. You don't realize what you have until its gone....so true. Love and kisses from me...you are such a special person Jen, thanks for always being a Christian example to me. Love liz