Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why Does GOD Feel Distant Sometimes?

A few months ago, while talking to a close friend, this question popped up.

He said, "Nearly every morning, soon after waking up, I sit down and read my Bible and spend some time with God in prayer.  Sometimes, he seems so close, like he is sitting next to me, and other times it feels like I might as well be talking to the wall.  Why does God do that?  Why does he step away sometimes?  It just doesn't make sense."

These questions really hit me that day.  They are questions that I have asked myself many times but I hadn't really talked to anyone about.  Growing up, I was always taught that the God of the universe wants to know me personally.  That if I seek him, I will find him.  In my experience, however, and I think in the experience of all humans, God doesn't always present himself close and within reach.

 Sometimes God's spirit will come out of nowhere and lift the hairs on my body and cause goosebumps to ripple across my skin and give me a sense of peace that is beyond understanding.  But sometimes, even when I am truly seeking him, it is as if there is nobody there. In these times, I often falter and begin questioning if he exists at all.

I am not a theologian and I don't think becoming one is my calling, but after pondering this question for a few months and talking to another friend about it, I think I have stumbled upon at least an inkling of an idea why God steps away sometimes.

God doesn't want the feelings of peace that he provides or our Quiet Time with Him to become an IDOL

As human beings, we are made to worship.  One way or another by choice or by pressure, we will worship something or someone.  If every time we pray, God instantly filled us with his peace and presence, we would Idolize those feelings that he gave us or would Idolize our Quiet Time with Him.  We would no longer seek after him. but would seek after that feeling.  God would basically become a drug to get a fix from.  No longer would God be in control, but we would.  He would basically be a genie in a bottle that we could make appear and give us what we wanted.  Although, we might think this is what we want, it was never supposed to work this way.

God does provide a peace beyond our understanding, but he does it on his time and when he knows it's what we need.  He is in control.  He is God and we are not.  Also, although he provides this peace, he is so much more than just a feeling.  He is way too big for us to put in a box.  Those feelings of peace are just PART of who he is.

I think it's related to why human eyes cannot see God.  If we could see God, we would worship his physical image and not who he actually is.  We would gather gold and make a sculpture of his image so we could bow down to it.   Again, we would try to put him in a box and we wouldn't respect that he is so much bigger and so much more than his physical image.  Many eyes did see Jesus, but he went away and sent his spirit instead, maybe for this very reason.

Instead, he wants us to seek after him and by Faith know that he will comfort us when we need it and will fill us with his peace when the time is right.  HE is in control and we are not.

I believe in Heaven and believe that the time will come when we will never have to feel this distance again.  But, for the time being, we can rest assured that if we seek after him, he will fill us with his presence, when we need it, not when we think we would like it.

What About You?

Have you ever wondered why God feels so close sometimes, but so far away other times?  Why do you think he keeps this distance?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Devan Joe: I'm SO Proud of MY Boy

"The van is here", Missy yelled as she peeked out our main door.

Devan's eyes instantly glimmered and a smile swelled across his face.  He grabbed his bookbag and took off out the door at a full sprint squealing with excitement all of the way to the school van.  Missy chased after him, buckled him up in the backseat and slid him a kiss goodbye. 

Just a few years ago, when Devan was first diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, uncertainty and fear filled our minds.  Flashes of dreams that we had for our little boy and had had since the beginning of Missy's pregnancy came crashing down like broken mirrors on the concrete sidewalk.

My son was going to love football.  My son, with his agile movements and quick bursts of speed was going to excel at football.  His adorable little face and handsome little body was going to have the girls knocking down our doors. 

It broke our hearts, as we went to social gatherings and saw all of the other kids playing together and Devan off in the corner by himself.  We screamed inside as our sorrow for him turned into sorrow for ourselves.  Why was he dealt this deck of cards?  Why was our family?

Slowly, over four challenging years, the dreams of who we THOUGHT our son was going to be have withered away and died like a flower after the first Fall freeze, as new dreams of who our son ACTUALLY is have blossomed like the most beautiful rose in the Spring.

In First Grade now, he absolutely loves school.  He writes, he spells, and he's begun to read.  He sits down and eats with the other kids and spends a large portion of his day in the regular First Grade Classroom.  We have been amazingly blessed with a great Teacher and helpers that really care about Devan and challenge him to succeed.

At home, he plays, he wrestles, he gets into trouble and gets arnery.  He teases his sister and picks on Mom and Dad.  Not always wanting to be alone, like in the past, he LOVES being in the same room as the rest of us and looks intently into our eyes as we speak to him.  He has started to say a few words here and there, but communication still is a big challenge for him.  His receptive language, however, seems to be as clear as day.  This Summer, after a few failed attempts and finally a one-day workshop, Devan has moved out of pull-ups into big boy underwear.  I honestly didn't think it was possible for Devan to get potty-trained without being able to tell us when he has to go, but he has done remarkable.

And as for the Football, I couldn't care less.  As his Dad, one of my goals is to find some activity that he really enjoys.  Once we find that, no matter what it is, that's what we will work on.  If he grows an interest for Football, so be it, but I'm not going to push that.  Whether it's swimming, taekwondo, or gymnastics, if Devan enjoys it, I will be there right beside him. 

I know that we have many challenges ahead, but I feel like we have reached a good spot for a sigh and to embrace the progress we have made so far on our journey.

What About You?

Do your expectations of how you think things should be get in the way of the beauty of how things are?  Let the old wither away and embrace the beauty of what God has planned with the new.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sinner's Creed: A memoir by Creed frontman, Scott Stapp

The lead singer of multi-platinum, award-winning band, Creed, shares his personal story of an abusive Fundamentalist Christian upbringing, the self-destructive lifestyle of a Rock Star, and the healing power of God's Grace in his explosive, brutally honest, new memoir: Sinner's Creed.

In 1997, a little-known band of college students on the campus of Florida State University took the world by storm with such hits as My Own Prison, Higher, My Sacrifice, One Last Breath and their super hit With Arms Wide Open.  By 2003, after recording 3 studio albums, touring around the world, and selling millions of records, the band abruptly fell apart in embarrassment as massive egos collided and the lead singer, Scott Stapp, found himself buried deeply in alcohol and drug addiction.

In the years following, Scott Stapp quietly began a solo music career as the other band members formed a new band without Stapp.  Walking through much-publicized suicide attempts, severe depression and drug and alcohol addiction in the years to follow, Stapp finally surrendered his will to God and began to find healing. In 2008, after both Scott and his former bandmates stated that they would never work together again, Creed reunited with a new album and a National Tour across the United States. 

In this memoir, released on October 2nd, 2012, Scott Stapp walks us through his life as a child deeply scarred by learning about a God of punishment and impossible expectations from his stepfather.  These scars followed him throughout adolescense and adulthood finally reaching the surface as his band reached the top of the world.  Stapp walks us through the band's greatest success and biggest falls and how he found a life of sobriety through the 12 Steps of Recovery and the transforming love of Jesus Christ.  In his usual honest way, Stapp shares how that life of sobriety hasn't been a bed of roses but day by day he has begun to find the serenity and purpose that he has always reached for but could never find.

This was the best book that I've read this year.  I think any Creed fan would enjoy reading this memoir, particularly because throughout the book, Stapp describes the setting and the meaning behind many of the songs that he has written with Creed and on his solo projects.  Many Christians reading this book will also relate to the Fundamental viewpoints that Stapp was taught as a child and how those affected him as he grew up. 

If you are looking for a book full of graphic descriptions of the partying, drugs and sex that are part of the rock star lifestyle, you will not find that here.  Stapp does a great job of sharing what happened, even in a brutally honest way, but not glorifying the past sins in his life.  I particularly enjoyed this book for that very reason.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a good story of healing and redemption through Jesus Christ.

Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a free copy of this book for use in a Book Review.  I was under no obligation, however, to give the book a positive review.