Friday, September 2, 2011

Have you lost your hearing?

Our land is dry right now. Rain is sparse. Clouds are few if any. Weeks have gone by since the temperature has been below a one-hundred. The flowers in front? Withered or burnt. The lawn? Burnt down to the dirt. I can water with the hose, or the sprinkler, but it's just as dry by the next day. Or worse, within hours. What we need is rain. What we need are clouds. Neither are exactly what we aren't getting. It's Fall this month and it's been this way all summer.

Without rain, there is nothing but empty fields. Without rain, there is no harvest--no life. Our Oklahoma storms seems to have deserted us.

Sometimes I find myself reflecting on the past five years. The attacks. Some personal, some for selfish gain. Some of out spite and vindictive motives. The years of fighting for my children and the toll it took on me. The toll it took on my wife, our family and our marriage. What I reflect on is how I failed to embrace the storm.

It's one thing to suffer doing something wrong. But it's something else to suffer for doing what's right. But it happens. And when the storm bursts, it washes away the naive assumption that if I do right, I will never suffer.

I knew then that I was never exempt from suffering. This suffering was something I had never seen before. It was the perfect storm. So it is said. And so the winds blow. And so the boat bounces. And so the disciples wondered, "Why the storm, and where is Jesus?"

How far do you want God to go to get your attention? To the point when you have no other options? To the point when all you can do is cry out, broken? To the point we make Him our last resort instead of our first option? I faced prison. We cry out asking why. We look for miracles. We ask for a sign just to know He's there. Instead of looking for what's in the storm we blindly only see the storm.

Did I see God in my storm? I refused to hear His voice. I focused on the rain that soaked me. I focused on the hail that beat me down. I focused on the lightening that blinded me. I focused on the thunder that frightened me. I failed at the opportunity for God to be my strength. I failed at the opportunity to be an example. And what's worse...I caused others to pay the price.

It's in the clouds that God comes to us. It's in the storm that He reaches out to us. To get our attention. To seek us. To draw us close and be our strength. To bring us to a place where our trials are not because of the absence of faith, but rather because of the presence of faith. Did not God test His own Son? He was calm. He was cool. He turned the storms around and focused on His Father.

I needed answers. I needed to come out on top. I needed to be right. There were accusations, mockery and I had to stand my ground. I wanted to have my way with my accusers. Both myself and the woman I love were under attack. I needed to defend. Our children were being used like pieces to a game. To protect. When I spoke, I became angry. I prayed. I prayed for answers. I prayed for it all to stop. I prayed for words to say. I wanted my anger to be seen in full force. I wanted the last punch, the last word, the last laugh.

When I finished praying, each time I heard nothing. Where was God? He couldn't possibly leave me like that, could He? I am His child and I was struggling. I barely hanging on. Why wouldn't He speak? But I wasn't listening. Each time I handed something for Him to carry I relinquished and grabbed it back. The truth? I couldn't hear God. I wasn't listening.

Most of the time when I discipline my daughter she focuses on the consequences of her disobedience. Rather than listening to my corrections that would keep her out trouble in the future she throws a tantrum and fights against me. She has completely shut me out. My words are futile. As a result minimum consequence she would've faced becomes harsher. Lengthier.

Like my daughter I had shut God out focusing on the storm. Did not God come in the clouds to lead the Israelites? Did He not even come to be present with His Son at His death? Even He felt deserted. But God was there, in the clouds.

Like I said, sometimes I find my so reflecting on the past five years. I wasn't left without His presence. God is all around us. He jumps up and down. He throws His hands in the air, shouting, screaming our name to get our attention. Sadly we leave the God of the universe to compete with all the noise that fills up our world. How do we expect to hear His voice? We focus on the storm. Yet, that's precisely where we should expect God to show up.

Silence grows uncomfortable. It wasn't until the aftermath, when the anger, the hatred and bitterness had finally settled from my line of sight, that I heard God's voice. There is a holy anger. It's justified. It's right. It was out of my anger that I fought for my kids. But I also carried an anger of bitterness. Of resentment. I was angry at how my life turned out and it wasn't my fault. I was angry that my attackers, my accusers did not pay for their actions.

I wanted the last word. I wanted to be the hero of the situations. To be wanted by the woman I loved again. To protect her and our children. I wanted to speak out of anger. Instead I should have been speaking out of love.

I had given up. One day I walked out the front door not caring what happened next. Apathetic. I didn't care if lived or died by the end of the night. So I headed for the bar to drink as much as possible in the hopes I wouldn't survive the night. I didn't know if I could handle waking up one more day. Nor did I want to. Instead I landed myself in jail. Soon to be facing prison. It was there in the midst of a crowded bull pin that I shut the world out. It was there I looked past the clouds and the storm they built. It was there that I heard God tell me, "I've been waiting for you."

It was there that once I focused I realized God had been speaking all along. I needed to remain silent.

It was there I realized God was speaking the loudest in the storm.

There was a man who dared God to speak.

Burn the bush like you did for Moses, God. And I will follow.

Collapse the walls like you did for Joshua, God. And I will fight.

Still the waves like you did on Galilee, God. And I will listen.

So the man sat by a bush, near a wall, close to the sea and waited for God to speak.

And God heard the man, so God answered.
     He sent fire, not for a bush, but a church.
          He brought down a wall, not of brick, but of sin.
               He stilled a storm, not of the sea, but of a soul.
And God waited for the man to respond. And He waited...And He waited...And waited.

But the man was looking at bushes, not hearts; bricks and not lives, seas and not souls, 
     he decided God had done nothing.
Finally he looked to God and asked, "Have you lost your power?"
And God looked at him and said, "Have you lost your hearing?"

Psalm 9:9 NIV
The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

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A Recycled-Dad with Bipolar & Parkinson's, reflections on fathering and family life and other stuff thrown in'll love my Soap Box Rants

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Why I call myself a Recycled Dad

I call myself a Recycled Dad because of the struggles with remarriage and being a step-parent and weekend dad. This is also about my life living with bipolar and how it affects me personally, my family and my job. It also reflects on the grace God has poured out on me throughout recovery from alcohol and an eating disorder. Recycled Dad is about my reflections on the wisdom God teaches daily on fatherhood and being a better husband in spite of being bipolar.

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