Well, it seems Good Friday is a double blog entry day. My wife Candice reminds me that although what I just wrote is an important step, it is just as important to point out proof that I am on the right path. Substantial evidence. Hmm, where to begin...
For starters, the Lord lets me know through words and imagery that he is here with me on this journey. The thoughts I have when God speaks are like nothing I can think of on my own. One occasion I recall was the result of an argument Candice and I had over, are you ready? WHAT I WAS WEARING TO CHURCH! Yep, even though our pastors will now and then wear blue jeans and a checkered shirt or some such attire to church on Sunday, Candice expects me to be "presentable." At least a decent shirt and dress pants. I chose to wear my best black jeans and a good denim shirt this Sunday in December and Candice up and refused to come to church with me. It was five minutes before we were to leave the house. We were running late as it was, and now I had to beg Candice to reconsider. So, of course I bitched and chewed as I peeled off my clothes and changed as quickly as humanly possible. And then she said again that she wasn't going. I told her I didn't want to go without her and she said, "Fine, I guess we aren't going, then." And then she went back to bed.
OOOHHHH!!!! I was so mad I couldn't speak. So I got the kids out of the van and proceeded to grumble and gripe as I tied into the housework. Finally, as I was doing the dishes, I took a knee and prayed to the Father for a solution to our argument, because fighting with Candice pretty much tops the list of my least favourite things to do. Of a sudden, I saw in my mind the scene of the conflict from a third-person perspective. I saw myself railing away at how silly Candice was acting and how inconvenient she was making this. I saw myself acting like an ass! Even though Candice was not exactly being reasonable, either, that was not at all the focus of this vision. It was me. We are all responsible for ourselves and only ourselves. And responsible to one person only: God. I was shown this scene, and then these words came to me: "If you cause Candice to miss church again in this way, I will be very angry." Thoughts and visions of this nature are not the way I normally think, ever. I immediately ran to wake Candice up and share this with her.
Another proof I recall was just recently, in early February. Candice and I were on our way out from church and were going to stop and pick up some groceries before lunch. Candice had just had a disagreement with another church member and was obviously upset. Candice is struggling with her faith as it is, you see, and these situations shake her resolve in a serious way. She just lost her mother in July and had a major falling out with her grandmother as a result of the funeral arrangements and feels very alone as it is. It has affected her more than even she, I suspect, is aware.
In this case, she wanted to quit going to church, stop the fellowship with those in our community, close herself off and give up on God. I tried to reassure her that misunderstandings can be frustrating, but as a church family we are called to forgive and love one another. Of course this didn't help. After a long fruitless discussion on the way to the supermarket, I had no idea what I could do to re-encourage my wife. So we pulled into the parking lot and got out of the van. As I walked toward the store, I was met by a gentleman who seemed to be returning his cart to the store for his quarter. He asked, "Need a cart?" I nodded and went to pull out a quarter and he waved it away, saying, "don't worry about it." I handed it to him anyway, and then he looked at my daughter Raven. He said to her, "Are you going shopping, too?" She said she was, and so the man said, "Well, you'll need some money. Tell you what. If you can call this flip of the coin, you can have the quarter, OK?" Raven agreed and called heads. The man says, "Try again." So Raven calls tails and he gives her the quarter. Then he spies my five year-old, Duncan. He pulls out a quarter of his own and says, "I think you need money for shopping, too, OK?" and gives Duncan the coin. Candice and I both thank the man and he wishes us a great day as he walks away. I looked at Candice and saw a miraculous sight. She was smiling! I knew then and there it was God's hand at work. I, the man Candice loves the most, was completely powerless to make her happy, and a simple little gesture of a stranger's kindness brought such joy to her heart that I gave praise to the Lord then and there and explained to Candice what I thought of the situation. By this time we were in the store and I realized I never looked back at the man who had given Candice this joy. I had never even thought to. This leads me to the conclusion that either A) God had called upon one of his people to intercede on his behalf, or B) that he had sent an angel to touch my wife in this way. I have a feeling it's B. Either way, God is at work in our lives. I have no doubt.
A third time I was memorably aware of his presence was a scary day a while after the preceding event. I was at work and was outside at break time. Snow began falling very steadily and I had never seen such sparkle in the flakes before. Every flake that fell caught the sunlight in such a way that it flashed and shone like a twinkling star. It looked like I was living in a freshly shaken snow globe. The ground looked as if it were paved with polished diamonds. It was incredible, and I felt such peace come over me that I knew God was reassuring me as if to say, "Everything's going to be OK."
Later that day, before lunch, I got a very disturbing phone call. Candice was telling me that our two year-old, Gabriel, was having a seizure of some kind. His eyes were rolled back and he was unresponsive to her. This had never happened to any of my kids before. I told her to call the doctor and rushed home. All the way home I prayed like a madman, begging the Lord to save my little boy, to make him well. When I got home there was an ambulance in the laneway. I was even more afraid as I ran to the door. I spoke to one of the paramedics that was on her way out the door and she said Gabriel would be fine. It was just a febrile seizure, and was not as serious as it looked. We went to the hospital. The doctor assured us that it was not serious and what to do should he have a fever again. I realized at the hospital that I had forgotten altogether what God had said to me with the snow that morning. It was a lesson: Trust God when he says it'll be OK. It will! He doesn't always speak in words, but he doesn't lie.
Finally, a noteworthy thing happened to Candice the other day. She had just gotten finished making lunch for our sons, and was about to go back to the computer like she normally did, and thought of perhaps sitting with the boys as they ate. As she started to think, "Maybe not this time," she heard a voice in her mind: "Why don't you have lunch with them?" She knew it wasn't her own thought. She even said grace before they ate together that day. Further evidence that the heavenly Father has a hand in our lives.
Finally, today Candice and I had a rough day. Candice's faith cannot seem to stay strong. Her faith was in a low spot today of all days and after a day of ups and downs, and finally telling me she thinks maybe she can't follow me on this walk with the Lord and our journey together is possibly over, she decided to nap through dinner and I ended up going to Good Friday service alone. I knew the Enemy was whacking at Candice in a big way and I was determined he would not steal my joy. He would not shake my faith. He would not pull me away from the Lord. I sat alone in the pew and took it all in. The congregation seemed to respond to my feelings. I was feeling low. For no special reason, a great many of them came up and shook my hand and offered encouragement and good wishes for Candice. The senior pastor, whom I consider a good friend of ours, asked me to join him in the ritual washing of each other's feet, as is done every Good Friday, symbolically humbling ourselves in servitude to our brothers as Jesus himself did with his disciples before he gave his life for us on the cross. And finally, as we stood and took communion, I felt a reassuring hand on my shoulder, and turned to thank the person, but no one was there. I looked left and right, but saw no one at all. I choked up and thanked Lord Jesus for being there with me. After the service, I spoke with a couple more of my brothers and sisters, then went home to talk to my wife. We worked it out, and although I know this won't be the last day of uncertainty for my wife, I know God is with her. I only pray she comes to really know that too, with a lasting faith and not a fleeting one. To all you followers of Jesus out there, please send a prayer or two Candice's way. She needs all the spiritual support we as a body can muster. Thanks.
I could go on and on with little proofs that occur regularly, day to day, week to week. All along the road that I have walked with Lord Jesus, I have seen and felt and heard such wondrous things. He is truly Lord of all. And in his name we can certainly have victory over sin and death. Amen!
Next issue, I'm not sure what we'll talk about, but I guarantee it'll be interesting. See you soon.
Blessings to all and Happy Easter!