For me, the most difficult faith lesson of life is that G.O.D. does NOT stand for God On Demand. He does NOT act on our wish or whim; his goal is to use our life, our struggles, even our doubt, to build a closer relationship with us. He wants us close. The dilemma is, we live in a violent, broken, and selfish world that ignores, insults and scoffs at His presence. So at times, we question; we feel abandoned and forgotten. We ask ourselves, “Where is God at times like this?” We want to know “Why?” We want God On Demand; a god who will keep us safe and show up and keep bad things from happening. That’s it, we want a god we can write into our story when a villain appears or when the plot thickens, while all the while, God is in the room, longing for conversation and eager to show us how we fit into His story.
Years ago a doctor stood over my bed and announced they were planning exploratory surgery the next day. I had been in that dismal hospital bed for 15 days, still without a diagnosis, much less a plan of action. So, surgery it was.
Before he left, he added, “I promise we are going to take slices off your liver until we find what’s wrong. You need to know that the films indicate that there is a 50% probability it may be CANCER. If it is…well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Please sign here.” (Great bedside manner)
I was speechless. I cried. I argued. I listened to praise songs for hours and then just before falling asleep, I surrendered.
Eyes wide open, in that darkened room, I looked up, face to face with God, and for the first time in my life said aloud, “If I live, I’m going to live for you and make you look good. If I die, I going to show people how to die making you look good. Either way, I’m going to make you look good.”
And in a gentle assuring voice, God said, “You’re going to be fine.”
Faith trusts his presence, regardless.
I may not agree, or like it, or understand it, but my God stands by me because he wants to, not because I demand it or even desired it. He gets face to face with me because he loves me.
Victory isn’t about my wishes coming true, nor is it about understanding why something happens. Victory is about finding God in the moment, accepting his presence regardless, and then being ready for him to put me in just the right place to tell His story from the pages of my life.
It’s all about victory.
On June 20, 1985, Jack Carter, his son Dave, and his grandsons, Dustin and Caleb, set out for a much-anticipated wilderness camping trip in Yellowstone National Park. On their journey across the lake to their favorite staging site, a freak storm came up and within minutes they were capsized and tossed into the frigid 35 degree water. They were only 75 yards from the shore, but regardless of how hard they tried, the wind and water seem to push them further and further from land.
Jack and little Dustin ended up together, clinging to a floating seat cushion; but Dave and Caleb were lost.
After a while the waves calmed a bit and Jack and Dustin began to feel a surge of hope. “We’re going to make it, Grandpa, We’re going to make it,” Dustin kept saying.
The water was just too cold. Soon Dustin’s words were slurred and less frequent. Jack kept urging Dustin to keep talking, but in the end, it was too much for him.
“I tried,” Jack said, “to keep Dustin’s face out of the water. I thought I might be able to revive him once we reached the shore, but I couldn’t grip him tight enough. We were only a few yards from the shore when he slipped out of my frozen hands and into eternity.”
After more than three hours of fighting to stay alive, a wave finally drove Jack against an old tree and he was able to gradually make his way out of the water. He created a make-do shelter between two fallen trees and fell asleep.
Early the next morning he made his way to a ranger station and within hours he was transported to Yellowstone Hospital. “I watched, almost indifferently, as the doctors worked to restore my circulation and body temperature.” Jack remembered. “They seemed to care a whole lot more than I did. Occasionally one of them remarked about my strength and how it had saved me. I was too weak to tell them how wrong they were. I could only remember that moment when my fingers could no longer grip and I lost my hold on Dustin. I could still see Dustin’s face sinking into the water as my strength failed. My strength saved no one.”
The four of them had been so eager at the beginning of the adventure, now at the end, only Jack remained.
Looking back Jack says, “God gave my son and my grandsons the ultimate adventure; they got to go home to heaven. And, that same God gave me a tragedy, a struggle to share that will give people a glimpse of hope. If God can help me through this, he can help you through anything.”
The task this week is to look back.
Search your past for forgotten moments, tragedies, those difficult times when God changed your heart, opened your eyes, gave you comfort, and put his fingerprints on your life. When was it, when God wrote you into His story. Find someone who will listen and tell your chapter in the never-ending story of the God who is always there.
Live so God looks good and feel the victory.