THE LULU CHRONICLES
|Gary and Matty|
I remember learning the words to Jesus Loves Me in Sunday school when I was four years old. I still remember the Sunday morning I sat in a little, tiny chair at a tiny table and sang it for the first time. I was baptized when I was eleven years old. I attended youth rallies and Bible camp. I went to two Christian universities. I was married to a minister for forty-two years. I guess you could say that my faith was pretty solid.
Then my husband got cancer and the ground underneath me began to shift.
I didn’t want it to shift. I didn’t ask it to shift. But shift it did. I scrambled to hold on to every scripture that demonstrated God’s Presence. I read and re-read passages the reassured me if I but trust Him, He will direct this journey. Of course my interpretation of that was that God would make Gary well.
Gary got sicker. And I got confused and began feeling myself become afraid. I had no doubt that God was near, but I began to wonder if He had a different plan than me.
Gary got even worse. That’s when the bomb exploded in my chest and I realized that here on earth God's love guarantees nothing. And, I was left to decide if I could love Him back.
When C.S. Lewis’ wife died he wrote, “God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t.”
I thought I was a spiritual person. I had Kum-ba-yah-ed with the best of them. I left my family of origin, my southern roots, and followed my husband to a foreign land to plant a church. Wisconsin! I didn’t even own a coat when we moved here. I was a Christian pilgrim and my choices demonstrated my obedience to God.
Then Gary died. That’s when I knew that I was a fraud. I just thought I was strong in my faith. I just thought I trusted God. I just thought I loved Jesus. I thought wrong. It took Gary’s death to reveal how little faith I truly had. God, however, knew it all along.
Despite all of that something miraculous has occurred. God has taken my broken self and has begun rebuilding me from the heart out. It’s painful to face ugly truths about yourself. I thought I was a Mary, but it turns out I was more like Job’s wife. I’ve finally learned what God’s love does and does not do. In this world, it gives strength you don’t possess to slay giants. It doesn’t stop the giants from coming. After this world, there are no holds barred. God goes crazy. He throws a welcome party that’s out of this world. Think rest. Peace. Laughter. Joy. Soft bed. Good neighbors … and the list goes on.
God’s love isn’t for sissies. God’s favor could kill you. Just ask any of the apostles. But the one thing you can count on is this: God’s love never wanes. It’s deeper than the ocean and wider than the sky. It is our food, our air, and our well of water.